Cxo of the week: Apratim Purakayastha, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Skillsoft

Apratim Purakayastha, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Skillsoft. He talked about CAISY, the value of practice through simulated scenarios.

Manisha Sharma
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Apratim Purakayastha

Skillsoft delivers transformative learning experiences that propel organizations

and people to grow together. The Company partners with enterprise organizations and serves a global community of learners to prepare today’s employees for tomorrow’s economy. With

Skillsoft, customers gain access to blended, multimodal learning experiences that do more than build skills, they grow a more capable, adaptive, and engaged workforce. Through a portfolio of best-in-class content, a platform that is personalized and connected to customer needs, world-class tech, and a broad ecosystem of partners, Skillsoft drives continuous growth and performance for employees and their organizations by overcoming critical skill gaps and

unlocking human potential.


Apratim Purakayastha Chief Technology Officer is responsible for engineering, product management, cloud operations, and IT across all products in the Skillsoft group of companies. He has extensive experience in supporting rapidly growing technology companies including General Manager and SVP of SaaS at SevOne where he was responsible for its on-demand/ SaaS business segment, after holding the position of SVP Engineering.

Recently we have engaged in an interview with Apratim Purakayastha, Chief Product and Technology Officer, Skillsoft. He talked about CAISY, the value of practice through simulated scenarios, and how it works behind the scenes, using AI ethically and responsibly to mitigate biases in training data.



As Skillsoft’s Chief Product and Technology Officer, I am responsible for the overall strategy, product roadmaps, and product development for the entire Skillsoft portfolio. In addition, I am responsible for all operations, including cloud delivery and customer support. I am also the General Manager of Skillsoft’s B2B subscription business and Skillsoft’s largest P&L, partnering with sales and marketing as shared services.

Tell us about Skillsoft and its offerings.

Skillsoft operates in the epicenter of business transformations that our clients undertake by providing solutions for talent transformation. Skillsoft provides upskilling and reskilling in areas like technology skills, leadership and business skills, compliance, and health and safety. Skillsoft offers these solutions in multiple modalities, including on-demand learning, coaching, instructor-led training, hands-on labs, hands-on coding, and generative AI-based simulations. All solutions are served using Skillsoft’s industry-leading AI-driven learning platform. The ROI of our solutions is measurable, including benchmarks and assessments linked to business metrics. We serve over 70% of the Fortune 1000 companies and cater to the learning needs of more than 80 million individuals globally.


What are your primary goals and objectives in your current role?

The primary objective is to make our customers successful. That means helping them achieve business outcomes by upskilling and reskilling their talent as their business needs evolve. Results can only be achieved with widespread learner adoption. Therefore, our goal also includes engaging every learner deeply so that learning becomes natural with their workflow. We also focus on staying at the forefront of innovation, such as Generative AI.

What emerging technology trends do you believe will have the most significant impact on the eLearning and EdTech industry in the next 3-5 years?


Generative AI, like ChatGPT and Google BARD, is reshaping the eLearning and EdTech industry, revolutionizing how we communicate, learn, and work. OpenAI predicts that 80% of jobs, especially those in knowledge-based sectors, will be influenced by GenAI. Despite this, there's a significant shortage of AI and machine learning specialists. The demand for these skills is high, creating a gap. Additionally, GenAI tools are new, so there's a need for training on how to use and apply them effectively. This is where the eLearning and EdTech industry step in. Companies like Skillsoft, with their expertise, are helping organizations bridge the skills gap. We use our experience to create models for AI skills transformation, guiding professionals and companies into this new era of technology. Safety and ethics in using generative AI is also a key area of upskilling.

I also foresee a fusion between augmented reality (AR), virtual reality(VR), and generative AI – creating tactile real-life learning experiences like practicing a client presentation in a room full of virtual AI-generated people who can act as a live audience asking questions.

What, as per you, are the five important things that Skillsoft should be looking at today?


Five important areas that Skillsoft is looking at today are the evolution of online learning from passive activities, such as watching videos, to more interactive experiences, such as coding; the ongoing transformations in various industries and the implications these changes have on upskilling and reskilling efforts; how to connect investments in learning to tangible business outcomes via benchmarks, assessments, and certifications; disruptions brought about by technologies like generative AI, which are reshaping every job landscape; and the changing learning habits of the new generation entering the workforce, who seek on-the-go learning experiences in the form of micro and nano learning.

What are the key challenges that Skillsoft faces in the eLearning industry, and how do you plan to address them?

Skillsoft and its industry peers face a secular challenge of economic headwinds. “Learning” in the minds of some executives is still viewed as a “nice to have,” when in fact, it’s one of – if not the most critical components to employee retention, business innovation, and most importantly, business success. Skillsoft is addressing this challenge by showcasing tangible results. By providing concrete examples and data illustrating how learning programs directly impact these critical components, Skillsoft can demonstrate why learning should be viewed as a "must-have."


What changes is Skillsoft bringing to the industry?

Quite a few to be honest. The modern workforce and the skills employees and organizations need to succeed are evolving. We’re looking at learning innovation across three pillars – transforming how everyone works, how they learn, and what they learn.

First, we are bringing rich, blended learning to the industry. Our learning paths may contain a video, a book chapter, a book summary, a quick lab or a quick coding exercise, an on-demand coaching session, or access to instructor-led training. Second, we are bringing measurements and accountability to learning in a major way. Our objective benchmarks truly test a learner’s proficiency level in a particular area so that we can then recommend content based on proficiency levels and make learning more efficient. Third, we are bringing to the industry scenario-based practice that mirrors real-life situations. Our latest offering, the Skillsoft CAISY Conversation AI Simulator, uses innovative generative AI to simulate business and leadership conversations. CAISY creates a safe environment for employees to practice challenging work discussions with an AI-powered trainer.


Are there any upcoming projects or initiatives that you're particularly excited about?

I am excited about the evolution of CAISY into customizable scenarios tailored to specific client needs. I am also excited about how AR and VR fuse with Generative AI.