We recently sat down with Shwetabh Mittal, the head of product and corporate strategy for Coursera for Business. Shwetabh was excited to provide a peek into how our product roadmap is developed and share some of the most exciting upcoming new features. In particular, he shares how he’s thinking about skills-based features in the wake of the Global Skills Index, and provides his initial thoughts on what our recent Series E fundraising round means for the Coursera for Business product experience.
Tell us about yourself and your experience.
My background is in business strategy and building products in technology companies. I have spent time in multiple companies such as Google, LinkedIn, EMC, VMware and, most recently the last 3 years at Coursera. My expertise lies in understanding market needs and customer pain points, developing strong strategies to capture the market and build products that achieve great product-market fit for the end customers.
Personally, I am a passionate learner who spends 6-8 hours every week learning new concepts as things change faster than ever in the technology industry. I am beyond excited about growing the role of technology in providing global access to high-quality education at affordable prices. I currently reside in the San Francisco Bay Area with my wife. We are avid travelers and have traveled to 26 countries together. Our goal is to get to 50 countries within the next 10 years!
What has you so excited about the work you are doing at Coursera?
As a life-long learner and ardent believer in democratizing education for the world, I am incredibly excited about the work we’re doing at Coursera. Education is one of the most powerful tools for millions to lift themselves out of poverty. It has contributed to an ever-burgeoning middle class around the globe. The online education industry is ripe for disruption. It is becoming common for an individual to change multiple jobs in their life and hence they are expected to keep learning throughout their life to develop the skills they will need to stay on top of their game.
Access to the right skills is going to be an even bigger requirement for businesses and economies to succeed, more critical than ever before. They are witnessing a skills landscape that is changing faster than any of our previous generations. This pace is being fueled by the digital transformation in almost every field or function possible. Keeping this in mind, our goal is to build Coursera into a skills management and deep skilling partner for employers around the globe.
Tell us about your product roadmap. How do you approach getting it built and what are the key inputs?
Building a product roadmap is an iterative process during which the product team works closely with our customers to seek their input. The starting point really is to understand the customer needs and pain points, which happens through multiple channels such as product advisory boards, customer advisory boards and individual discussions with customers. Once the product team has a good understanding of customer needs, we delve deeper to understand which needs are the most acute and will impact the biggest set of our customers. In parallel, we evaluate the market trends of where the overall learning and development market is headed and synthesize these learnings as features in our product roadmap. It helps us create a version of the product roadmap which we then iterate on with our customers to refine and finalize.
Can you tell us your top priorities for the Coursera for Business product in 2019? How does the recent series E funding impact these priorities?
We are focusing on six key areas in 2019:
- Making the administrator functionality more powerful and flexible
- Adding more reporting & connecting data-based insights to that reporting
- Enriching our API to help with deeper integrations with customer LMS systems
- Deepening engagement through improved content discovery for learners on our platform
- Helping our customers measure skills transformation on Coursera
- Other exciting enhancements, that while we aren’t ready to share details yet, we can’t wait to get in front of our customers later this year!
Raising another round of funding is a very exciting moment for all of us here at Coursera. This additional funding will help us increase our investments in strengthening the Coursera for Business product, deepen our relationship with our business customers and bring delightful new functionality at a faster pace.
We’re excited to learn more about how these priorities will impact the product experience. Can you talk about the admin functionality in particular and what customers can expect to see?
Providing more powerful functionality to our Admins is our first big focus area. An important part of that is to enable them to buy and structure the product the same way their organizations are structured. For example, this would enable a customer to buy centrally as an L&D organization and then distribute and cap licenses by each Business Unit. Another big area that we will be working on is to provide more tools and functionality to Admins to engage with different learner populations across their organizations. For example, an admin could send a congratulatory note to learners who finished a course in the last week or send a reminder to learners who need a nudge to complete or make meaningful progress in a course. We believe that these tools will help business leaders to motivate and engage their learners.
How about reporting and data-based insights? Can you tell us more about what are you doing to help customers understand the impact of Cousera’s learning on their employees?
We are currently researching a prototype concept that will help enterprises understand the skills their learners are learning on Coursera, their aggregate skills levels, and their most skilled employees. We are hoping to get this functionality in the hands of our customers sometime in Q3.
Connecting learners to the right content is critically important. What are some of the things you are doing for learners to make it easier to find the right content for their learning needs?
We have conducted multiple experiments to improve the content discovery experience for our learners. In Q2 we are working on launching new search filters and a browse experience that will provide more options for learners to find the content that is best suited for them. In addition, we are going to experiment with surfacing short form video modules from our courses to help our learners engage with popular Coursera content in a shorter time increments.
Last question! How would a customer go about sharing their feedback and help provide input into the Coursera product experience?
We love feedback and the more the better:
- Apply to join our Product Advisory Board to get a direct line to our product managers
- Provide feedback through our regional Customer Advisory Boards
- Provide feedback to your CSM who can put you in touch with our product managers
- Coming soon, provide feedback to our team from within the product