Microsoft and Intel unite to bring blockchain to businesses with Coco Framework – from digitaltrends.com by Lulu Chang

Excerpt:

You still may not know what bitcoin is, but soon, you could be working with the technology that powers the cryptocurrency. Intel and Microsoft are working together to bring blockchain into the workplace, and it’s all contingent on a new framework they’re calling Coco. Heralded as a first-of-its-kind innovation, the goal is to jumpstart widespread adoption, particularly among businesses, of blockchain technology. After all, blockchain allows for secure and speedy transactions, which are key to many modern businesses.

As Microsoft noted in a news release, the Coco Framework is meant to reduce the complexity currently associated with blockchain protocol technology. As such, the company notes, the framework could pave the way for “more complex, real-world blockchain scenarios across industries — like financial services, supply chain and logistics, healthcare and retail — further proving blockchain’s potential to digitally transform business.”

 

Blockchain technology may seem a bit foreign to most, but Microsoft and Intel are hoping to bring it to businesses around the world.

 

 

 

The Platform Chronicles: 10 Questions with Phil Komarny, Chief Digital Officer at the Institute for Transformational Learning at UTx — from medium.com by Bruce Richardson
On the first blockchain app on Salesforce and the pursuit of lifelong learning

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Welcome to the The Platform Chronicles, a new publication designed to introduce readers to some of the most innovative partners that have developed applications on the Salesforce platform. This issue focuses on Phil Komarny and UTx’s plans to dramatically change Higher Ed.

Question #1
Phil, Can you tell us more about the University of Texas’ Institute for Transformational Learning and its relationship with Salesforce?

At the Institute for Transformational Learning we are charged with developing technologies that will power the delivery of educational experiences for our 215,000 students. Though this work we have created a platform that leverages a persistent profile of each of our learners. The platform, Totelic, also has the potential to integrate with each of our 14 campuses student information and learning management systems.

Thinking deeply about the learner’s lifelong journey, we also created a data model that places the learner at the center of the experience. Using Salesforce as our CRM we are afforded a 360-degree view of each learner. The data that resides in many siloed data stores on every campus today has now been wrapped around each learner to create a digital reflection of their abilities and goals.

 

A quick insert of a graphic from DSC:

 

 

Instead of replacing the ERP systems, we enhance them with our integrations so that each of our campuses has an innovation engine at their disposal. Creating new experiences for learners like modular certificates that stack toward a larger credential over time is now a reality for our campus partners.

(Editor’s note: Totelic was created by the UTX Institute for Transformational Learning, and is a “Learner Relationship Management” (LRM) system?—?that is basically a learning environment-agnostic dashboard that monitors a learner’s progress through any connected learning experience, e.g., a 3-credit course taught in Blackboard or a Salesforce Trailhead module. It normalizes the data stream and feeds a few algorithms that provide motivational guidance and track pace, progress and overall performance. It also has an integrated service model that leverages Salesforce communities to provide connection for everything from mentoring to events.)


Blockchains are being used for many things today. From crypto currency to tracking shipping containers and diamonds, the immutability, security and validity of this distributed data store create a new way to think through our current business process, policies and laws of any enterprise.

At a recent event at MIT, The Business of Blockchain, I was stunned to see each vertical represented with one omission?—?education.

After reading Phillip Schmidt’s Medium post about work they were doing at the MIT Media Lab that would effectively store any fellow’s digital credential to a blockchain, I envisioned how that approach might work for our platform.

While on a hike, I was pondering the application and the ChainScript was born. This application would be able to provide every learner in our system a way to own, manage and share a record of their academic accomplishments by storing their information on a blockchain.

To validate this approach we have created our proof of concept as private blockchain to allow us to focus on the different applications of the technology before we take the solutions to a different fabric.

 

 

Microsoft is working on its own commercial blockchain framework, expected to arrive in 2018 — from geekwire.com by Tom Krazit

Excerpt:

Starting next year, Microsoft plans to release an open-source framework that will allow businesses to implement blockchain technologies as part of their business processes.

The project, known as the Coco Framework, aims to help companies use blockchain ledger technologies to facilitate transactions between customers, suppliers, or anyone with whom they do business. Coco Framework will work with any ledger protocol and can run on any cloud provider’s services or on on-premises servers, Microsoft representatives said. The company plans to release more details on its approach later on Thursday.

Blockchain is the underlying technology behind the Bitcoin digital currency, but it has lots of other potential uses that have technologists and venture capitalists excited. It allows users to keep a record of transactions (or really anything that transpires between different entities) in a secure, decentralized “ledger.” Think of it like a database that isn’t tied to a server or public cloud, but rather a cascade of data points that work together to continuously update and verify a record of activity.

 

 

 

The Truth About Blockchain — from hbr.org by Marco Iansiti and Karim Lakhani

Excerpt:

The parallels between blockchain and TCP/IP are clear. Just as e-mail enabled bilateral messaging, bitcoin enables bilateral financial transactions. The development and maintenance of blockchain is open, distributed, and shared—just like TCP/IP’s. A team of volunteers around the world maintains the core software. And just like e-mail, bitcoin first caught on with an enthusiastic but relatively small community.

TCP/IP unlocked new economic value by dramatically lowering the cost of connections. Similarly, blockchain could dramatically reduce the cost of transactions. It has the potential to become the system of record for all transactions. If that happens, the economy will once again undergo a radical shift, as new, blockchain-based sources of influence and control emerge.*

* From DSC:
   “What if…?” comes to mind here…

 

In a blockchain system, the ledger is replicated in a large number of identical databases, each hosted and maintained by an interested party. When changes are entered in one copy, all the other copies are simultaneously updated. So as transactions occur, records of the value and assets exchanged are permanently entered in all ledgers. There is no need for third-party intermediaries to verify or transfer ownership. If a stock transaction took place on a blockchain-based system, it would be settled within seconds, securely and verifiably. (The infamous hacks that have hit bitcoin exchanges exposed weaknesses not in the blockchain itself but in separate systems linked to parties using the blockchain.)

 

 

 

Microsoft Is Working to Make Blockchain Faster and More Popular — from finance.yahoo.com and Reuters

Excerpt:

Microsoft is working on technology that it believes can make blockchain-based systems faster and more private, as it looks to speed up use of the distributed database software by enterprises.

The company said on Thursday that it had developed a system called Coco Framework, which connects to different blockchain networks to solve some of the issues that have slowed down their adoption, including speed and privacy concerns.

Coco, whose names stands for Confidential Consortium, will be ready and made open source by 2018, Microsoft said.

It is currently compatible with Ethereum, one of the most popular types of blockchains and can make it roughly 100 times faster, Microsoft said.

 

 

 

 



Addendum on 8/17/17:

 

 

 

 
 

Nearly half of companies say they don’t have the digital skills they need — from hbr.org by Jeremy Goldman

Excerpt:

The companies that think their employees’ digital IQs are unimportant are probably few and far between. After all, in just one decade the concept of “digital” has changed from a niche skill set to something that’s mandatory for virtually all blue-chip companies. If you don’t feel that your employees’ digital IQs are competitive, you have a major problem on your hands.

Unfortunately, for many companies, that’s exactly the situation they find themselves in. On a global basis, companies are losing faith in their digital smarts. In PwC’s 2017 Global Digital IQ Survey, 52% rated their digital IQ as strong. Compare that with 67% and 66% in 2016 and 2015, respectively. The survey, conducted among 2,200 technology executives, identified critical skill gaps such as cybersecurity and privacy.

 

 

 

155 chatbots in this brand new landscape. Where does your bot fit? — from venturebeat.com by Carylyne Chan

Excerpt:

Since we started building bots at KeyReply more than two years ago, the industry has seen massive interest and change. This makes it hard for companies and customers to figure out what’s really happening — so we hope to throw some light on this industry by creating a landscape of chatbot-related businesses. There’s no way to put everyone into this landscape, so we have selected examples that give readers an overview of the industry, such as notable or dominant providers and tools widely used to develop bots.

To put everything into a coherent structure, we arranged companies along the axes according to the functions of their bots and how they built them.

On the horizontal axis, the “marketing” function refers to a bot’s ability to drive exposure, reach, and interaction with the brand or product for potential and current customers. The “support” function refers to a bot’s ability to assist current customers with problems and to resolve those problems for them.

On the vertical axis, “managed” refers to companies outsourcing the development of bots to external vendors, whereas “self-serve” refers to them building their bots in-house or with an off-the-shelf tool.

 

 

 

 

 

Radically open: Tom Friedman on jobs, learning, and the future of work — from dupress.delotte.com by Tom Friedman, Cathy Engelbert, and John Hagel

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Tom Friedman: My thoughts on the future of work are very influenced by my friend, a business strategist, Heather McGowan. She really describes that what’s going on is that work is being disconnected from jobs, and jobs and work are being disconnected from companies, which are increasingly becoming platforms. That’s Heather’s argument, and that is what I definitely see.

[A good] example is what’s happened to the cab business. In Bethesda, we have a [local] cab company that owns cars and has employees who have a job; they drive those cars. They’re competing now with Uber, which owns no cars, has no employees, and just provides a platform of work that brings together ride-needers—myself—and ride-providers. And I do think that the Uber platform model, and the way it is turning a job into work and monetizing work, is the future of work.

And that will have a huge impact on the future of learning. Because if work is being extracted from jobs, and if jobs and work are being extracted from companies—and because, as you and I have both written, we’re now in a world of flows — then learning has to become lifelong. We have to provide both the learning tools and the learning resources for lifelong learning when your job becomes work and your company becomes a platform.

So I’m not sure what the work of the future is, but I know that the future of companies is to be hiring people and constantly training people to be prepared for a job that has not been invented yet. If you, as a company, are not providing both the resources and the opportunity for lifelong learning, [you’re sunk], because you simply cannot be a lifelong employee anymore unless you are a lifelong learner. If you’re training people for a job that’s already been invented, or if you’re going to school in preparation for a job that’s already been invented, I would suggest that you’re going to have problems somewhere down the road.


CE: In a recent report from the National Bureau of Economic Research, some leading labor economists did an analysis of net new employment in the United States between 2005 and 2015, and found that about 94 percent of that net new employment was from alternative work arrangements—everything from gig to freelance and off-balance-sheet kinds of work.

I think that’s why we need to teach filtering, literally, to our students. There should be Filtering 101, Filtering 102, Filtering 103. How do I filter information so I get enough of it to advance, but not so much that I’m overwhelmed? How do I filter news?

 

 

…it seems to me that rule number one is you want to be radically open. And that’s a really hard sell right now, because it feels so counterintuitive, and everyone’s putting up walls right when you want to be, actually, radically open. Why do you want to be radically open? Because you’ll get more flows; you’ll get the signals first, and you will attract more flow-minded people, which I would call high-IQ risk-takers. That’s from a country point of view, but I have to believe that’s also right from a company point of view: that you want to be plugged into as many discussions, as many places, and as many flow generators as possible, because you’ll simply get the signals first in order to understand where the work of the future is coming from.

 

 

[GE] offered $20,000 in prize money — 7,000 to the winner, and the rest split up among the other finalists. Well, within six weeks, they got over 600 responses. The 10 finalists were all tested by GE engineers, and they picked the winner. None of the 10 finalists was an American, and none was an aeronautical engineer, and the winner was a 21-year-old from Indonesia who was not an aeronautical engineer, and he took more than 80 percent of the weight out of this fastener.

No, let’s actually create jump balls and access all the talent wherever it is.

 

 

And what did the best artisans do? They brought so much personal value-add, so much unique extra, to what they did that they carved their initials into their work at the end of the day. So always do your job [in a way that] you bring so much empathy to it, so much unique, personal value-add, that it cannot be automated, digitized, or outsourced, and that you want to carve your initials into it at the end of the day.

 

 



From DSC:
If what Tom, Cathy, and John discuss here is true, think of what that means for our students. Our students need to be digitally literate, online, adaptable, lifelong learners, and they need to be highly comfortable with change. They need to be tapped into the “flows” that the authors describe (what they refer to as flows, I call “streams of content” — if I’m understanding their perspective correctly). They need to think entrepreneurially, as Friedman asserts.

Also, they discuss three new social contracts that need to evolve:

There are three new social contracts that have to evolve here. Government has to incentivize companies to create these lifelong learning opportunities. Companies have to create the platforms for employees to afford to be able to take these courses. And the employee has to have a new social contract with themselves: “I have to do this on my own time; I have to be more self-motivated.” More is on you.

…and thus enters my vision that I call Learning from the Living [Class] Room. A global, powerful, next generation learning platform — meant to help people reinvent themselves quickly, cost-effectively, conveniently, & consistently.

 

 

The Living [Class] Room -- by Daniel Christian -- July 2012 -- a second device used in conjunction with a Smart/Connected TV

 

 

But there is no more important survival skill than learning to love learning.

 

 

…because you simply cannot be a lifelong employee anymore unless you are a lifelong learner.

 

 

Always think of yourself as if you need to be reengineered, retooled, relearned, retaught constantly. Never think of yourself as “finished”; otherwise you really will be finished.

 

 



 

 

 

From DSC:
Reviewing the article below made me think of 2 potential additions to the Learning & Development Groups/Departments out there:

  1. Help people build their own learning ecosystems
  2. Design, develop, and implement workbots for self-service

 



 

Chatbots Poised to Revolutionize HR — from by Pratibha Nanduri

Excerpt:

Self-service is becoming an increasingly popular trend where people want to perform their tasks without needing help or input from anyone else. The increasing popularity of this trend is mainly attributed to the increasing use of computers and mobile devices to electronically manage all kinds of tasks.

As employee tolerance for downtime reduces and preferences for mobility increases, the bureaucracy which exists in managing everyday HR related tasks in the workplace will also have to be replaced. A large number of companies have still not automated even their basic HR services such as handling inquiries about holidays and leaves. Employees in such organizations still have to send their query and then wait for HR to respond.

As the number of employees goes up in an organization, the time taken by HR managers to respond to mundane admin tasks also increases. This leaves very little time for the HR manager to focus on strategic HR initiatives.

Chatbots that are powered by AI and machine learning are increasingly being used to automate mundane and repetitive tasks. They can also be leveraged in HR to simulate intelligent SMS-based conversations between employees and HR team members to automate basic HR tasks.

 



 

 

Making the future work for everyone — from blog.google by Jacquelline Fuller

Excerpt:

Help ensure training is as effective and as wide-reaching as possible.
Millions are spent each year on work skills and technical training programs, but there isn’t much visibility into how these programs compare, or if the skills being taught truly match what will be needed in the future. So some of our funding will go into research to better understand which trainings will be most effective in getting the most people the jobs of the future. Our grantee Social Finance is looking at which youth training programs most effectively use contributions from trainees, governments and future employers to give people the best chance of
success.

 

Helping prepare for the future of work

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

The way we work is changing. As new technologies continue to unfold in the workplace, more than a third of jobs are likely to require skills that are uncommon in today’s workforce. Workers are increasingly working independently. Demographic changes and shifts in labor participation in developed countries will mean future generations will find new ways to sustain economic growth. These changes create opportunities to think about how work can continue to be a source of not just income, but purpose and meaning for individuals and communities.Technology can help seize these opportunities. We recently launched Google for Jobs, which is designed to help better connect people to jobs, and today we’re announcing Google.org’s $50 million commitment to help people prepare for the changing nature of work. We’ll support nonprofits who are taking innovative approaches to tackling this challenge in three ways: (1) training people with the skills they need, (2) connecting job-seekers with positions that match their skills and talents, and (3) supporting workers in low-wage employment. We’ll start by focusing on the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia, and hope to expand to other countries over time.

 

 

 

 

Campus Technology 2017: Virtual Reality Is More Than a New Medium — from edtechmagazine.com by Amy Burroughs
Experts weigh in on the future of VR in higher education.

Excerpts:

“It’s actually getting pretty exciting,” Georgieva said, noting that legacy companies and startups alike have projects in the works that will soon be on the market. Look for standalone, wireless VR headsets later this year from Facebook and Google.

“I think it’s going to be a universal device,” he said. “Eventually, we’ll end up with some kind of glasses where we can just dial in the level of immersion that we want.”

— Per Emery Craig, at Campus Technology 2017 Conference


“Doing VR for the sake of VR makes no sense whatsoever,” Craig said. “Ask when does it make sense to do this in VR? Does a sense of presence help this, or is it better suited to traditional media?”

 

 

Virtual Reality: The User Experience of Story — from blogs.adobe.com

Excerpt:

Solving the content problems in VR requires new skills that are only just starting to be developed and understood, skills that are quite different from traditional storytelling. VR is a nascent medium. One part story, one part experience. And while many of the concepts from film and theater can be used, storytelling through VR is not like making a movie or a play.

In VR, the user has to be guided through an experience of a story, which means many of the challenges in telling a VR story are closer to UX design than anything from film or theater.

Take the issue of frameless scenes. In a VR experience, there are no borders, and no guarantees where a user will look. Scenes must be designed to attract user attention, in order to guide them through the experience of a story.

Sound design, staging cues, lighting effects, and movement can all be used to draw a user’s attention.

However, it’s a fine balance between attraction to distraction.

“In VR, it’s easy to overwhelm the user. If you see a flashing light and in the background, you hear a sharp siren, and then something moves, you’ve given the user too many things to understand,” says Di Dang, User Experience Lead at POP, Seattle. “Be intentional and deliberate about how you grab audience attention.”

 

VR is a storytelling superpower. No other medium has the quite the same potential to create empathy and drive human connection. Because viewers are for all intents and purposes living the experience, they walk away with that history coded into their memory banks—easily accessible for future responses.

 

 

 

Google’s latest VR experiment is teaching people how to make coffee — from techradar.com by Parker Wilhelm
All in a quest to see how effective learning in virtual reality is

Excerpt:

Teaching with a simulation is no new concept, but Google’s Daydream Labs wants to see exactly how useful virtual reality can be for teaching people practical skills.

In a recent experiment, Google ran a simulation of an interactive espresso machine in VR. From there, it had a group of people try their virtual hand at brewing a cup of java before being tasked to make the real thing.

 

 



 

Addendum on 7/26/17:

 



 

 

 

4 ways augmented reality could change corporate training forever –from by Jay Samit

Excerpt:

In the coming years, machine learning and augmented reality will likely take both educational approaches to the next level by empowering workers to have the latest, most accurate information available in context, when and where they need it most.

Here are four ways that digital reality can revolutionize corporate training…

 

…augmented reality (AR) is poised not only to address issues faced by our aging workforce, but to fundamentality increase productivity by changing how all employees are trained in the future.

 

 

 

 

Want to Build a Culture of Learning? You Need to Embrace Failure — from learning.linkedin.com by Paul Petrone

Excerpt:

Six questions that determine how your company really feels about failure
It’s great to say your company welcomes people experimenting and failing. But does that actually happen in practice?

To assess how your company really feels about failure, Andreatta suggests asking yourself these six questions about your culture:

  • Do people admit when they don’t know something or ask for help?
  • What happens when someone makes a mistake or fails? Are they teased or shamed or are they encouraged to look at what happened and try again?
  • When people make mistakes or challenge ideas, do they ultimately get sidelined, demoted or red?
  • Do people admit their mistakes and take responsibility for fixing them or do they blame others?
  • Do managers and leaders share stories of how they took risks or recovered from a failure?

 

“All of the amazing training programs in the world won’t help if people don’t feel safe enough to stretch and grow,” Andreatta said.

 

 

 
© 2017 | Daniel Christian