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NDB Bank Establishes a Federated Training Solution

The rapidly advancing globalized corporate environment, and the geographic expansion of corporate networks within and outside the country have brought into focus the urgent need for widely spread knowledge enhancement and training facilities. Therefore, it is clear that quick access to information, knowledge and quality training, are a crucial imperative in order to survive and progress in today’s highly competitive business environment.

Unprecedented advancement in ICT technology within the past couple of decades has opened the door to immense possibilities in developing solutions to overcome impediments not only of space and time, but also the ineffectiveness of knowledge transfer which have hitherto retarded progress in the field of training and knowledge enhancement.

With internet enabled solutions the limitations of time and space experienced in the past have disappeared, giving way to vast possibilities by enabling the much needed training and knowledge enhancement to be speedily accessed by anyone at any time. All you need to progress in this new and exciting technological environment is the will to become technology savvy and the genuine intention to learn, and you are on your way to acquiring the competitive edge in today's highly competitive corporate environment.

However, in training, as in all other services particularly in the field of IT, there are factors to be considered in terms of effectiveness of knowledge transfer, user friendliness in technology usage, the ability to hold the attention of the user, and maintenance of service, just to name a few. It is imperative that the end user gets an easy to understand, quality product, with uninterrupted service for the investment made.

i-Context which is in its 5th year of operation is an organization dealing with the development of web based learning solutions for knowledge enhancement and training needs of the corporate sector. It has successfully completed the challenging task of developing a training portal for the employees of NDB Bank PLC in Sri Lanka. My explorations into the joint effort of these two entities to upgrade the knowledge & skills of bank employees not only threw up many salient factors regarding the perceptiveness of Ms. Ishani Senaweera (Vice President- Human Resources of NDB Bank) and her team in the human resources department, but also the professionalism and commitment of the i-Context development team headed by Channa Gunawardena to ensure that all expectations of the client organization were adequately met. Indeed these two organizations together have a story to tell which is exemplary and well worth emulating.

Anjana Ratnasara, Co-Founder/CEO of i-Context described his organization as a one stop shop for all e- learning needs. He explained that ‘i-Context’ stood for ‘interactive context’ which involves changing the context or the mode of training delivery depending on the medium which is most suited for the particular knowledge transfer. He went on the say that in any project they undertake, they first do a training needs analysis and then advise the client on the best mode of delivery which may range from PC to mobile phone to Internet Enabled TV. In addition to providing the technical solution tailor-made to meet the client’s needs, they go the extra mile in creating the customized learning material with the help of subject matter experts.

I asked Rohan Manasseh HR Manager, Consumer Banking Training at NDB what prompted him to go for an e- learning solution and why they chose i-Context to execute the training portal. He said, that since the year 2008, NDB has been steadily growing and now there are 66 branches scattered throughout the country. Providing the conventional type of face to face training to all these branches was impossible. As such they felt the need for the staff to have access to an online training platform utilizing existing infrastructure. Out of six contenders i-Context won the bid to develop the training portal as they offered the best customized solution suited to their needs.


Ms. Ishani Senaweera (VP),
Head of Human Resources at NDB Bank PLC

NDB bank gives due consideration on training and ensures that all employees go through a myriad of sessions on personal enrichment and other varied sessions that are conducted by NDB’s very own central training unit. This led them to invest in the setting up of a state of the art training centre; a unique Training and Development proposition. It is equipped with an auditorium, with a seating capacity of 75, 3 discussion rooms with facilities to operate 20 computers in each, where employees can access the training material at any time and discuss relevant issues. The facility is complete with a modern cafeteria as well. Being an organization which is performance based she emphasized the need to provide equal opportunity for knowledge enhancement and training to each and every employee where all material can be accessed on their own volition in their own time.

The Bank provides the supporting infra-structure and the opportunity to get trained and also helps develop their confidence levels. She said that she is happy to note that the training facility is being used 93% of the days in the year.

The Bank’s concept is to support them in career advancement and provide the facility without making it mandatory. It was encouraging to note that staff response to the e-Learning and Social Learning portal was very high as there is evidence to prove that 65% – 75% of the staff had utilized the platform for training and knowledge sharing.



I asked her what was most outstanding and appealing in their partnership with i- Context. She said “firstly, they were willing to cordially work with us. There were weekly discussions at the development stage and we conducted a 60 day user testing operation involving all departments and bank branches.We tested the e-Learning portal after it was installed for 1 year before we made a statement about it, and we are happy to note that the post implementation attention by i-Context was very good, as we have had no down time of the portal for the past one year.

I asked Sujeewan Sivagnanam and Royston Joseph who are two end users of the e-Learning portal about their views on this training mode. Sujeewan said that the portal was effective as it saved time in providing the training modules on demand. Information available on the portal was more focused as opposed to reading it from a book.

Royston said "I am not very computer savvy. I feel that a mix of face to face training and e- learning is better. However, I like it as I can do it at my own leisure"

Finally I asked Anjana of i-Context about how his solutions aim to mitigate the absence of the human element in e-Learning. He explained that the landscape is changing and in many of the renowned universities such as the University of Phoenix and DeVry and the Khan Academy, the human aspect is eliminated. With the advancement of broadband and portable internet enabled devices such as tablets and smart phones the way people learn is going to change. “We as EduTech domain specialists believe in doing one thing right”, he said.


Ms. Chrishanthi Jayawardena (COO), Mr. Russell de Mel (CEO) and
Mr. Sanjeev Kulendran (AVP) of NDB Bank PLC at the Launch of the e-Learning Portal

Judging from the response of NDB to the e-Learning and Social Learning portal developed by i-Context and the progressive thinking of CEO Anjana, there is no doubt that i-Context is well on its way to being a market leader in e-Learning and Social Learning Solutions.


i-Context Powers Knowledge Management at Dialog Axiata

With the volume of new products and services being provided by Dialog Axiata to its growing customer base, Dialog ensures that their Contact Center Agents and Front Office Staff are well versed with each and every aspect of these offerings to serve their ever growing, loyal customer base. Recognition of the criticality of this success factor has helped them to become a market leader in Customer Service.

In order maintain their Number One mobile operator status, Dialog makes a significant investment in the training and development of their employees. To help them further enhance the management and dissemination of product and corporate knowledge, i-Context Content Convergence (Pvt) Ltd., a pioneer in e-Learning and Knowledge Management (KM) Solutions in Sri Lanka has provided Dialog with the iBrainstorm Social Learning Portal powered by the iKnowledgeKMS Knowledge Management System. This Knowledge Management System was launched recently, greatly enhancing the knowledge management practice which has been active at Dialog, especially in the contact center.


Exchanging of agreements to implement Knowledge Management (KM) Solution.
L to R, from Dialog Axiata, Prasanthan Subramaniam, Rochelle Gomez, Hemaka Balasuriya (Manager Customer Experience),
Kapil Sharma (GM - Group Service Delivery Management) and from i-Context Anjana Ratnasara (CEO), Channa Gunawardena and Bevin Gabriel

The iKnowledgeKMS Knowledge Management System has been developed with Web 2.0 features which enhance interaction and collaboration among users, and aspects of social learning to improve both user participation and the quality of captured knowledge items, facilitating knowledge dissemination across the organization. Role based security, customizable workflows and powerful reporting features ensure that the iKnowledgeKMS can be easily deployed to suit the needs of any organization.

Bevin Gabriel, head of Sales and Business Development at i-Context stated “with the rapid growth taking place after the end of war in Sri Lanka which has resulted in ever increasing demand for knowledge based services in telecommunication, banking, hospitality and health industries, we see a great deal of interest in leveraging knowledge management to improve service levels and competitiveness. Dialog, being a company that has always invested in technology wisely to retain their industry leadership, has been among the leaders in utilizing Knowledge Management practice to ensure corporate growth and sustainability.”

Channa Gunawardena, Solutions Architect at i-Context mentioned that “its use of appropriate new technology, rich and relevant feature set and a licensing model conducive to local market needs helped the iKnowledgeKMS Knowledge Management System, a totally Sri Lankan product, to win against some of the biggest names in the global software industry.”

In conclusion Anjana Ratnasara – CEO, i-Context said that “It is a fulfilling experience to be working with a technology thought leader and an early adopter of i-Context’s enterprise e-Learning Suite. Dialog has taken another bold step forward by taking the strategic decision to extend the solution to include a Knowledge Management system, recognizing the importance of the knowledge worker in today’s business environment. As long time partners we at i-Context are extremely pleased to have provided this solution to Dialog Axiata”.


IIHE and i-Context sign MoU to provide best in class ICT enabled services to students

The Imperial Institute of Higher Education (IIHE), recently signed up with i-Context (Pvt) Ltd, to deploy a comprehensive Academic Management and Virtual Learning environment, the Virtual Academy®.

Virtual Academy® is the latest cloud based application offering from i-Context, a fully integrated, centralized administrative and e-Learning platform that unifies services, academic delivery, administrative management, and reporting for the range of private, public, and postsecondary education institutions.


Dr. T.S Weerakoon (CEO – IIHE) & Anjana Ratnasara (CEO/Director – I-context) exchange MoUs’ while
Varnika Soysa (Snr. Manager – Marketing, IIHE) & Bevin Gabriel (Head of Business Development & Sales, I-Context), look on

Imperial Institute of Higher Education (IIHE), the ONLY institute in Sri Lanka, which is DIRECTLY associated with the University of Wales, UK, to offer degrees in Business, Software Engineering and MBA. Keeping in line with the vision of providing best in class facilities to students, IIHE is now re-located conveniently at a spacious campus near Majestic City. This new development will now further enhance the student experience, with features such as, online student registrations, web based payments, re-visiting lectures if in the case of students being absent or be present at the lecture from a remote location via internet, etc.

Speaking at the event, Anjana Ratnasara, CEO of i-Context stated “Sri Lanka's quest is to become a knowledge hub and it is of paramount importance to have skilled human capital available in the country to achieve this objective. Institutions such as the IIHE play an integral and important role in nurturing the skills and talents of our youth, to fulfill the aspirations of the nation. Therefore we feel privileged to partner with IIHE to provide the Virtual Academy® solution, which will enable them to streamline the academic administration, and to enhance the learning experience of their student population using cutting edge ICT advancements, while also helping Sri Lanka as a nation to fulfill its country development goals.”

“We are excited about the capabilities of this system and the transformation that it will bring to the IIHE” said Dr. Thilak Weerakoon, Chief Executive Officer at IIHE. “In order to provide the best possible learning and administrative environment for the IIHE , we needed a product that is flexible, integrated, and easy to use, with 21st century technology. I’m confident that, after a comprehensive evaluation, we have selected the right solution which will cater to the present and future needs of IIHE.”


The role of the knowledge worker

With Sri Lanka moving towards becoming the wonder of Asia, many innovative and strategic development initiatives are being introduced and carried out to accelerate the country’s growth, in keeping with the milestones set.

In this context, it becomes imperative that Sri Lanka has a skilled work force to drive these initiatives to its successful completion.

With Sri Lanka making significant advances in the field of ICT, and with IT penetration reaching village level, the time has now come for us to embark upon creating a new era, where Sri Lankans would be on par or even surpasses developed nations with relation to the level of literacy and creating a knowledgeable and skilled workforce who would be sought after by every nation.

This paves the way for individuals to develop themselves, thus, fostering innovation and research.

In the current context where the world has globalized, connecting many countries and people and with the advancements in information technology, which has created a ‘Information Society’, it has further evolved into the ‘Knowledge Economy’ or ‘Knowledge-based Economy’ which we see today, where people seek and gain knowledge through the use of the internet or various publications and through one’s own insights and experience.


Knowledge management and social learning plays a pivotal role in the growth of an individual

With an ever increasing competition amongst organizations, countries and even among individuals, the sharing and retention of knowledge has become a key factor in ensuring one’s competitive advantage and reinforcing one’s position as ‘the key player’.

Knowledge is in essence, experience, information and insights gained by an individual through time, or processes and practices of an organization.

Knowledge Management (KM) comprises capturing, retention, dissemination and refinement of this knowledge into meaningful information.

With eLearning solutions that provide formal learning becoming quite popular and widespread in commercial organizations, managers of Human Resource and Training departments are now comfortable with the idea that an increasing number of training programs can be provided in e-mode.

With this growing acceptance, there is also increasing interest in the area of informal learning or social learning.

The delivery of informal learning itself is undergoing a transformation, driven and inspired by the success of knowledge and content sharing sites such as Wikipedia, Flickr and YouTube and social networking sites such as Facebook.

Two facts have been made apparent with the success of these websites; first, that though many mediums of solitary entertainment are now available people still yearn for human interaction and second, that a majority of people who are in the possession of information, knowledge or entertainment content do like to share it with others, be it for fame, prestige, the simple need to help someone else or the desire to make the world a better place.

Another aspect that affects the sphere of e-Learning is the success of “Professional Networking” sites such as LinkedIn, where increasing numbers of people stay in contact with ex-colleagues and professional associates, be it to create new business or career opportunities or simply to maintain relationships.

What is interesting is that this mechanism, with information that is only validated by one’s community of associates, is quite effective when the need to locate a Subject Matter Expert arises.

In today’s Information Era, where individuals require instant and easy access to information and the ability to transfer knowledge freely, it is imperative that organizations and institutions consider the retention and dissemination of knowledge and invests on a mechanism which would enable them to have an edge over competitors and to secure this invaluable asset of information for future use.

In order to succeed in this rapidly evolving context, an individual as well as an organization must equip themselves with the latest information, secure age old trade secrets and also retain the wisdom and knowledge, which a person gains through experience.

In the context of an organization, due to employee turnover, the organization faces the risk of not only loosing experienced employees but also the knowledge and expertise gained by the individual.

The only mechanism of securing this knowledge is by creating a knowledge sharing culture, where individuals are encouraged to share their experiences, thoughts and practical know-how, thus, creating a knowledge empowered worker.

With the advent of blogging, social networking, micro messaging and the creation of distributed corporate cultures, knowledge management has taken on a new face where social learning components, such as, rating, tagging and ranking has been introduced into knowledge management solutions along with collaboration mechanisms of commenting, suggestions, bookmarking and creating a complete knowledge management solution.

The iKnowledgeKMS was developed after an in-depth study of this sphere, incorporating Web 2.0 functionality, using Microsoft. NET as the platform.

The product encompasses the capture of knowledge, in any digital or non-digital form, through documents, images, audio and video clips, and customizable work flows, to ensure that knowledge items submitted by users are verified before publication for mass consumption.

The product reinforces collaboration and includes social learning features through commenting, rating, ranking, tagging, suggestions and flagging to motivate contributors and to ensure accuracy and the continuous improvement of the knowledge base.

In this information age, knowledge management and social learning plays a pivotal role in the growth of an individual, an organization as well as a nation as a whole.

Hence, it becomes crucial that we as an organization and as individuals, look into the use of this practice to gain and retain a competitive advantage and to retain knowledge and expertise of individuals within an organization, and finally in the country itself, thus, making Sri Lanka the true wonder of Asia.


Knowledge Management & Social Learning makes head-way in Sri Lanka

With post civil war Sri Lanka moving towards becoming the wonder of Asia, many innovative & strategic development initiatives are being introduced and carried out to accelerate the country’s growth, in keeping with the milestones set. In this context, it becomes imperative that Sri Lanka has a skilled work force to drive these initiatives to its successful completion. With Sri Lanka making significant advances in the field of ICT, and with IT penetration reaching village level, the time has now come for us to embark upon creating a new era, where Sri Lankans would be on par or even surpasses developed nations with relation to the level of literacy and creating a knowledgeable and skilled workforce who would be sought after by every nation. This paves the way for individuals to develop themselves, thus, fostering innovation and research.

In the current context where the world has globalized, connecting many countries and people and with the advancements in information technology, which has created a ‘Information Society’, it has further evolved into the ‘Knowledge Economy’ or ‘Knowledge-based Economy’ which we see today, where people seek and gain knowledge through the use of the internet or various publications and through one’s own insights and experience. With an ever increasing competition amongst organizations, countries and even among individuals, the sharing and retention of knowledge has become a key factor in ensuring one’s competitive advantage and reinforcing one’s position as ‘the key player’.

“We have an obligation and a responsibility to be investing in our students and our schools. We must make sure that people who have the grades, the desire and the will, but not the money, can still get the best education possible - Barack Obama”

“Those that know, do. Those that understand, teach – Aristotle”

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest - Benjamin Franklin”

Knowledge is in essence, experience, information and insights gained by an individual through time, or processes and practices of an organization. Knowledge management comprises of capturing, retention, dissemination and refinement of this knowledge into meaningful information. With e-Learning solutions that provide formal learning becoming quite popular and widespread in commercial organizations, managers of Human Resource and Training departments are now quite comfortable with the idea that an increasing number of training programs can be provided in e-mode. With this growing acceptance, there is also increasing interest in the area of informal learning.

The delivery of informal learning itself is undergoing a transformation, driven and inspired by the success of knowledge and content sharing sites such as Wikipedia, Flickr and YouTube and social networking sites such as Facebook. Two facts have been made apparent with the success of these web sites; first, that though many mediums of solitary entertainment are now available people still yearn for human interaction and second, that a majority of people who are in the possession of information, knowledge or entertainment content do like to share it with others, be it for fame, prestige, the simple need to help someone else or the desire to make the world a better place.

Another aspect that affect the sphere of e-Learning is the success of “Professional Networking” sites such as LinkedIn, where increasing numbers of people stay in contact with ex-colleagues and professional associates, be it to create new business or career opportunities or simply to maintain relationships. What is interesting is that this mechanism, with information that is only validated by one’s community of associates, is quite effective when the need to locate a Subject Matter Expert arises.

In today’s Information Era, where individuals require instant and easy access to information and the ability to transfer knowledge freely, it is imperative that organizations and institutions considers the retention and dissemination of knowledge and invests on a mechanism which would enable them to have an edge over competitors and to secure this invaluable asset of information for future use.

In order to succeed in this rapidly evolving context, an individual as well as an organization must equip themselves with the latest information, secure age old trade secrets and also retain the wisdom & knowledge, which a person gains through experience. In the context of an organization, due to employee turnover, the organization faces the risk of not only loosing experienced employees but also the knowledge & expertise gained by the individual. The only mechanism of securing this knowledge is by creating a knowledge sharing culture, where individuals are encouraged to share their experiences, thoughts and practical know-how, thus, creating a knowledge empowered worker.

With the advent of blogging, social networking, micro messaging and the creation of distributed corporate cultures, knowledge management has taken on a new face where social learning components, such as, rating, tagging, ranking etc. has been introduced into knowledge management solutions along with collaboration mechanisms of commenting, suggestions, bookmarking etc. as well, creating a complete knowledge management solution.

i-Context’s iKnowledgeKMS™ was developed after an in-depth study of this sphere, incorporating Web 2.0 functionality, using .NET 3.0 as the platform. The product encompasses the capture of knowledge, in any digital or non-digital form, through documents, images, audio and video clips, and a customizable verification work flow, to ensure that knowledge items submitted by users are verified by Subject Matter Experts before publication. The product reinforces collaboration and includes social learning features through commenting, rating, ranking, tagging, suggestions, flagging etc., to motivate contributors and to ensure accuracy & the continuous improvement of the knowledge base.

In this information age, knowledge management & social learning plays a pivotal role in the growth of an individual, an organization as well as a nation as a whole. Hence, it becomes crucial that we as an organization and as individuals, look into the use of this practice to gain and retain a competitive advantage and to retain knowledge and expertise of individuals within an organization, and finally in the country itself, thus, making Sri Lanka the true wonder of Asia.

 
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