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PwC Up front | Issue 5 | Harnessing technology

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Up front Summer 2014 45 The results Axonify now has 32 employees and some 30 clients, most of them global brands. They include fashion house Burberry Group Plc, chocolate maker The Hershey Co., pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson Services, Inc., Toys"R"Us, Inc. and Wal- Mart Stores, Inc. Over a six-month pilot period in 2012, Wal-Mart decreased reportable safety-related incidents at eight distribution centres by 54 per cent. Axonify lets clients choose from a basket of games; they can turn existing learning content such as videos and written material into question modules on specific topics. The company also has four instructional designers on staff who create questions out of existing materials at clients' request. The future Axonify has an ongoing relationship with the Rotman institute whereby the company delivers anonymized data that provides insight into how to optimize its product to improve retention and participation, and to make predictions about behaviour that might be important to its customers. "Customers who are using the platform to reinforce product and pricing information are finding significant differences in the levels of knowledge retention of employees who use Axonify and those who don't," Leaman says. "This has a direct correlation to their performance on the job." Uf Customers who are using the platform to reinforce product and pricing information are finding significant differences in the levels of knowledge retention of employees who use Axonif y and those who don't. Carol Leaman President and CEO, Axonify Challenges | Growth The strategy Having sold data analytics service PostRank Inc. to Google Inc. in 2011, Leaman had a strong entrepreneurial track record. That helped her raise $5-million in venture capital from Canadian and U.S. backers to assess the e-learning market and overhaul the platform. Under the name Axonify, Leaman and her team redesigned it to serve more users, make adding new games easy and allow customers to tackle a wide range of problems. Workplace injury prevention is one hot area. Sample questions: What do you do when something is too heavy to lift? Where can you get help with something that's too high to reach? Other applications for the cloud-based program include helping salespeople digest and remember rapidly changing product specs. The more complicated the information, the more retention matters – and that's where cognitive neuroscience comes in. Axonify is collaborating with York University's Faculty of Health and the Rotman Research Institute at the University of Toronto's Baycrest Health Sciences centre to better understand how the brain absorbs and retains information. "If you repeat something to someone up to five times in 30 days, his or her ability to remember that piece of information long-term is greater than 90 per cent," Leaman explains. Waiting longer before repeating a question can also help improve retention. "The idea is trying to grow the spacing between each iteration to make it a little bit harder for the person to remember the answer," Leaman says. "It challenges the brain and makes those neural pathways just that much more solid." Challenges | Talent Quizzes and games, with incentives for employee participation, help workers learn and retain information like product specs, workplace safety rules and other instructional content.

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