C3.ai was featured in a Forbes article by Adi Gaskell‚ entitled “The Tech Titan Who Pays Staff to Upskill.” The focus is on the C3.ai incentive program for employees to take online training classes to improve software development and AI/machine learning skills.

Gaskell notes that attempts at digital transformation are being held back by a shortage of digital skills. “This is especially so with AI-based transformation‚ with many companies desperate to do something with AI‚ but few‚ if any‚ advancing past pilot stage projects for want of a lack of skills‚” he states. “The fields of deep learning‚ neural networks‚ natural language processing‚ edge computing and so on are moving so quickly that it’s vital to their competitive advantage for their staff to be as informed and knowledgeable as possible.”

C3.ai CEO Tom Siebel was quoted about the program’s traction at C3.ai: “We have published a list of Coursera courses‚ and we pay our people between $1‚000 and $1‚500 to get their certificate‚” Siebel said. “It’s been really quite remarkable. We’ve had 77 employees taking 177 courses‚ with the average participant taking 2.3 courses.” To date‚ we have had five employees who have taken seven courses each‚ demonstrating that there is both broad and deep acceptance of the initiative.

The article outlines why C3.ai offers the program:

“The aim is to provide employees who have been recruited in large part because of their desire and their willingness to learn‚ with the tools they require to keep their knowledge up to date. In order for us to stay ahead of this‚ when we interview people we tend to self-select for people who are well educated and who are challenged by interesting problems‚” Siebel said. “People who have a book in their hand. We like to think of our people as self-learners‚ and this is part of our core values to be inquisitive and always learning.”

“I do recommend this to our customers‚ but I don’t know how many of them have adopted it‚” Siebel said. “Everyone has a skills deficiency in data science‚ and this is going to plague us for the next 20-30 years‚ and this is a great way to motivate people to learn the skills they need.”

Gaskell noted: “If companies are to succeed in their digital transformation efforts‚ it’s an example that they would do well to heed.”’

Read the full article here.