Interview with CTO & VP, Brainier – Mike Begin

Mike Begin from Brainier talks about employee learning in today’s digital world and how it can help in obtaining better employee engagement.

1. Tell us about your role in Brainier?
As Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for Brainier, I oversee Product Development and Information Technology. I lead our internal team of engineers and developers, and also work closely with Brainier Sales & Customer Service teams. Some of my primary responsibilities include: defining product roadmaps and vision, designing architecture and infrastructure for our SaaS solutions, implementing technology strategies, and meeting with our prospects and customers.

2. Can you tell us about your journey into this market?
I was always interested in technology and started with building computers and then web development. My passion grew into Network & System Administration which brought me to Brainier almost 20 years ago. I quickly became part of our Product Development team, and we launched our first SaaS (before it was even called that) LMS platform in 2001. That officially began our transition from an e-Learning Content Company to a Cloud-Based Platform Company. Today, Brainier is an award-winning Software Technology Company specializing in Enterprise e-Learning Solutions.

3. How do you think technology is changing the HR Sector?
For the most part, I think technology generally makes things easier and more accessible. With everything moving to the cloud, administrators can improve efficiency and productivity by enabling integrations and automating processes. Supervisors can more quickly access and manage information from anywhere, and end-users have countless options to “connect”. For better or worse, AI and Machine Learning are streamlining and replacing many tasks that were previously a significant part of someone’s job role. The required skill-sets and tools are evolving, but I see the output and added efficiencies as a big plus.

4. How has digitalization eased the process of learning, especially for employees?
E-learning has eliminated many of the traditional barriers, such as extensive travel and costs, by providing on-demand, always-on access from any device, anywhere. As more Millennials and now Gen Z employees join the workforce, additional modalities of learning and micro-learning are increasingly important. With instant access to information, employees can be brought up to speed faster to make significant contributions to their employers.

5. Your platform is considered as the most advanced, cohesive and customizable learning management platform, how do you define it?
The Brainier LMS is a pioneering and award-winning SaaS solution specializing in cloud-based learning technology. Brainier handles traditional LMS duties with ease. Tasks such as Content Authoring, User & Group Management, and Assigning & Reporting. Where Brainier really excels is through some of the advanced functionalities like Multitenancy, Social Learning, Gamification, AI & Machine Learning, Knowledge Management, and much more. Now in its fourth generation, the new Brainier LMS was designed from scratch over a three-year period. Many years of customer feedback and constant innovation have served us well in designing each new version and product. The all-new Brainier UX uses the newest technologies in Angular and REST APIs throughout our platform to provide an incredibly fast and enjoyable experience, regardless of device or bandwidth connection.

6. How does your platform help in achieving better employee engagement?
Fun and intuitive interfaces help, and administrators can easily create captivating Landing Pages to immediately engage learners with company specific colors, logos, and current initiatives. Brainier also inspires friendly competition with Gamification by enabling learners to collect animated Badges for any high-level performance metric. Top performers earn points to advance on the Leaderboard and level-up by achieving a higher Rank. Social Learning is part of Brainier’s DNA, and Forums and Discussion Boards empower users to easily find and share critical information, discuss best practices, and collaborate with mentors and subject matter experts. Powered by Brainier’s evolving AI, Machine Learning algorithms curate personalized content libraries throughout our platform. These course catalogs are specifically tailored to each individual or job function, and provide a highly relevant learning experience designed to optimize user engagement.

7. E-learning is considered as the future of learning & development, what is your take on this?
The job titles and descriptions of tomorrow are often, as yet, unwritten. Technology is changing the landscape of work, and to prepare for that, a new landscape of learning is required. This continues to be a primary driver for many of our innovations. Brainier includes out-of-the-box Content Authoring Tools enabling administrators and managers to quickly and easily develop any type of Knowledge Asset or Learning Object with tracking built-in. We also continue to blend real-world knowledge tracking with e-learning, and our new Behavioral Evaluation object provides a comprehensive way to validate knowledge obtained in a virtual or hands-on scenario – Using a multi-point, scorable knowledge check with user & manager sign-off for Kirkpatrick Level 3 Behavioral Evaluations.

8. What advice would like to give to the upcoming HRTech Start Ups?
If developing an application, try the free offerings from AWS, Google, or other major cloud service providers. Setup separate environments for at least Dev and Prod. Use source control with Github or Bitbucket. Develop your application with an API from the start, even if you don’t open that API to third-parties right away, it will enable many future opportunities.

Just get started, don’t be afraid to fail, iterate and keep moving forward.

9. What work related hack do you follow to enjoy maximum productivity?
We try to keep tasks and to-dos out of email by utilizing other SaaS applications that are better suited alternatives. When I’m focused on something, I may even close email for a period of time to avoid interruptions. I also stay organized by reducing clutter and keeping lots of little electronic to-do lists and cross things off as they’re completed.

10. How do you prepare for an AI-centric World?
From a business perspective, we’re exploring many new AI and Machine Learning opportunities for Brainier products and services. As younger generations of workers step into more leadership and management roles, we’re seeing a shift in the types of tools and workflows that they prefer, and we want them to maximize their productivity with Brainier. From a personal standpoint, I embrace it. I love getting the latest gadgets and automating my home and life with all sorts of smart devices and voice assistants. My kids love it, and somewhat surprisingly, my wife is really starting to embrace it too.

11. What are the major developments you are planning, in recent times?
Brainier is working on future releases to include: New Integrations, Advanced Gamification, Native Mobile Apps, Talent Management Lite, Evolving AI, Content Marketplace, Infrastructure, and more.

12. Can you tell us about your team and how it supports you?
I have an excellent core team of engineers and developers, all based here at our corporate headquarters in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They’re a rock-star team and really make me look good. The number and quality of new features and products we’ve been able to ship in the last 18-24 months has been astonishing, and we’re not slowing down! We also have an award-winning Customer Service & Support team based here as well.

13. Which Book are you reading these days?
The Qualities of Leadership by Art Mortell (a Brainier Faculty member).

14. We have heard that you have a very joyful work culture, we won’t mind having a look at some of the pictures?

15. Can you give us a glance of the applications you use on your phone?

Mike Begin CTO & VP, Brainier

Mike Begin is the Chief Technology Officer & Vice President of Brainier, a SaaS-based learning technology company in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He has been leading Brainier's IT & Product Development efforts for 20 years. Mike and his team of Brainiacs are passionate about building platforms and technology solutions that help to educate, engage, and empower employees.


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