Virtual Reality: A Great Fit for Employee Onboarding — from trainingindustry.com by Andrew Woodberry

Excerpts:

For jobs that are particularly dangerous or high-stress, introducing employees to the environment through virtual reality is a smart approach. In recent years, companies have created realistic VR applications that they have used to train people from surgeons to firefighters. Virtual reality gives new employees as close an approximation to their new workplace as they can have without actually needing to be physically present. The exposure to the simulated high-stress environment should, theoretically, make the VR users more comfortable when they actually face the real-world equivalent.

Tips for Adding VR to Onboarding

  1. Start with shorter VR onboarding videos.
  2. Add interactivity to generate a more memorable training experience.
  3. Measure the effectiveness of VR onboarding.

 

From DSC:
I appreciated that the article included the following sentence: “For industries without a lot of change, the VR training modules can be used for numerous years.”  This hints at the need to start small and be sure that your content won’t be changing all the time. If it does, VR may not be a good fit. It’s at least something to consider — along with the costs of the hardware to review/experience the training-related content (which are changing all of the time these days…and will likely continue to change for a while yet).

 

 

 

 

Excerpt:

The Top 200 Tools for Learning 2017 (11th Annual Survey) has been compiled by Jane Hart of the Centre for Learning & Performance Technologies from the votes of 2,174 learning professionals worldwide, together with 3 sub-lists

  • Top 100 Tools for Personal & Professional Learning (PPL)
  • Top 100 Tools for Workplace Learning (WPL)
  • Top 100 Tools for Education (EDU)

 

Excerpt from the Analysis page (emphasis DSC):

Here is a brief analysis of what’s on the list and what it tells us about the current state of personal learning, workplace learning and education.

Some facts

Some observations on what the Top Tools list tells us personal and professional learning
As in previous years, individuals continue to using a wide variety of:

  • networks, services and platforms for professional networking, communication and collaboration
  • web resources and courses for self-improvement and self-development
  • tools for personal productivity

All of which shows that many individuals have become highly independent, continuous modern professional learners – making their own decisions about what they need to learn and how to do it.

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
Before we get to the announcements in more detail….
can you imagine being a teacher, a professor, or a trainer — with all of the required applications
launched — if you were the presenter in this video at say the 12:45 mark?

If you are at all interesting in emerging technologies and what several pieces
of our future learning ecosystems — and meeting spaces — could easily look like,
you NEED to watch the entire presentation.


Also, they announced

Microsoft’s purchase of AltspaceVR…in virtual reality!
This clip shows them meeting in a virtual space.

 

 



 

The era of Windows Mixed Reality begins October 17 — from blogs.windows.com by Alex Kipman
Samsung unveils Windows Mixed Reality headset, AltSpaceVR joins Microsoft, SteamVR catalog coming to Windows Mixed Reality this holiday.

 

 

At an event in San Francisco we unveiled our vision for Windows Mixed Reality, announced SteamVR and AltSpaceVR are coming to Windows Mixed Reality, introduced the new Samsung Odyssey HMD, and kicked off the holiday shopping season by announcing the availability of pre-orders for Windows Mixed Reality headsets at the Microsoft Store.

 

Also see:

 



 

Inside VR & AR

Oct 4th, 2017

 

Microsoft held its long-awaited launch of Windows 10 Mixed Reality yesterday, and while most of the new devices and products had been leaked earlier, there were still some big takeaways. Here are some of them:

  • Mixed Reality: Microsoft gave a demo of what its new platform will do, covering the AR/VR spectrum with games, apps, and experiences. One such experience is Cliff House, a virtual work space and entertainment room.
  • Altspace VR: When the pioneering social VR app shut down this summer and was rescued by a “third party,” people wondered who that was. Turns out it was Microsoft, which acquired Altspace VR for an undisclosed amount. The acquisition was announced yesterday.
  • Steam VR and Halo: Microsoft had previously announced that its new Mixed Reality headsets would support Steam VR titles. Developers can now access that support, and consumers will be able to access it later this year. In addition to the hundreds of VR titles available on Steam, on Oct. 17, Microsoft will offer free downloads of Halo Recruit.
  • Odyssey and other headsets: The new Windows 10 platform is launching alongside a host of new headsets. In addition to the new Odyssey, which was made in partnership with Samsung, there are other headsets forthcoming from Acer, HP, Dell, Lenovo, and Asus.
  • 2018 Olympics: This was announced previously in June, but yesterday Microsoft briefed the press that Intel is partnering with the International Olympic Committee to bring Windows Mixed Reality experiences to the 2018 games.

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

100 Data and Analytics Predictions Through 2021 — from Gartner

From DSC:
I just wanted to include some excerpts (see below) from Gartner’s 100 Data and Analytics Predictions Through 2021 report. I do so to illustrate how technology’s impact continues to expand/grow in influence throughout many societies around the globe, as well as to say that if you want a sure thing job in the next 1-15 years, I would go into studying data science and/or artificial intelligence!

 



Excerpts:

As evidenced by its pervasiveness within our vast array of recently published Predicts 2017 research, it is clear that data and analytics are increasingly critical elements across most industries, business functions and IT disciplines. Most significantly, data and analytics are key to a successful digital business. This collection of more than 100 data-and-analytics-related Strategic Planning Assumptions (SPAs) or predictions through 2021, heralds several transformations and challenges ahead that CIOs and data and analytics leaders should embrace and include in their planning for successful strategies. Common themes across the discipline in general, and within particular business functions and industries, include:

  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is emerging as a core business and analytic competency. Beyond yesteryear’s hard-coded algorithms and manual data science activities, machine learning (ML) promises to transform business processes, reconfigure workforces, optimize infrastructure behavior and blend industries through rapidly improved decision making and process optimization.
  • Natural language is beginning to play a dual role in many organizations and applications as a source of input for analytic and other applications, and a variety of output, in addition to traditional analytic visualizations.
  • Information itself is being recognized as a corporate asset (albeit not yet a balance sheet asset), prompting organizations to become more disciplined about monetizing, managing and measuring it as they do with other assets. This includes “spending” it like cash, selling/licensing it to others, participating in emerging data marketplaces, applying asset management principles to improve its quality and availability, and quantifying its value and risks in a variety of ways.
  • Smart devices that both produce and consume Internet of Things (IoT) data will also move intelligent computing to the edge of business functions, enabling devices in almost every industry to operate and interact with humans and each other without a centralized command and control. The resulting opportunities for innovation are unbounded.
  • Trust becomes the watchword for businesses, devices and information, leading to the creation of digital ethics frameworks, accreditation and assessments. Most attempts at leveraging blockchain as a trust mechanism fail until technical limitations, particularly performance, are solved.

Education
Significant changes to the global education landscape have taken shape in 2016, and spotlight new and interesting trends for 2017 and beyond. “Predicts 2017: Education Gets Personal” is focused on several SPAs, each uniquely contributing to the foundation needed to create the digitalized education environments of the future. Organizations and institutions will require new strategies to leverage existing and new technologies to maximize benefits to the organization in fresh and
innovative ways.

  • By 2021, more than 30% of institutions will be forced to execute on a personalization strategy to maintain student enrollment.
  • By 2021, the top 100 higher education institutions will have to adopt AI technologies to stay competitive in research.

Artificial Intelligence
Business and IT leaders are stepping up to a broad range of opportunities enabled by AI, including autonomous vehicles, smart vision systems, virtual customer assistants, smart (personal) agents and natural-language processing. Gartner believes that this new general-purpose technology is just beginning a 75-year technology cycle that will have far-reaching implications for every industry. In “Predicts 2017: Artificial Intelligence,” we reflect on the near-term opportunities, and the potential burdens and risks that organizations face in exploiting AI. AI is changing the way in which organizations innovate and communicate their processes, products and services.

Practical strategies for employing AI and choosing the right vendors are available to data and analytics leaders right now.

  • By 2019, more than 10% of IT hires in customer service will mostly write scripts for bot interactions.
  • Through 2020, organizations using cognitive ergonomics and system design in new AI projects will achieve long-term success four times more often than others.
  • By 2020, 20% of companies will dedicate workers to monitor and guide neural networks.
  • By 2019, startups will overtake Amazon, Google, IBM and Microsoft in driving the AI economy with disruptive business solutions.
  • By 2019, AI platform services will cannibalize revenues for 30% of market-leading companies. “Predicts 2017: Drones”
  • By 2020, the top seven commercial drone manufacturers will all offer analytical software packages.
    “Predicts 2017: The Reinvention of Buying Behavior in Vertical-Industry Markets”
  • By 2021, 30% of net new revenue growth from industry-specific solutions will include AI technology.

Advanced Analytics and Data Science
Advanced analytics and data science are fast becoming mainstream solutions and competencies in most organizations, even supplanting traditional BI and analytics resources and budgets. They allow more types of knowledge and insights to be extracted from data. To become and remain competitive, enterprises must seek to adopt advanced analytics, and adapt their business models, establish specialist data science teams and rethink their overall strategies to keep pace with the competition. “Predicts 2017: Analytics Strategy and Technology” offers advice on overall strategy, approach and operational transformation to algorithmic business that leadership needs to build to reap the benefits.

  • By 2018, deep learning (deep neural networks [DNNs]) will be a standard component in 80% of data scientists’ tool boxes.
  • By 2020, more than 40% of data science tasks will be automated, resulting in increased productivity and broader usage by citizen data scientists.
  • By 2019, natural-language generation will be a standard feature of 90% of modern BI and analytics platforms.
  • By 2019, 50% of analytics queries will be generated using search, natural-language query or voice, or will be autogenerated.
  • By 2019, citizen data scientists will surpass data scientists in the amount of advanced analysis
    produced.

 

 

By 2020, 95% of video/image content will never be viewed by humans; instead, it will be vetted by machines that provide some degree of automated analysis.

 

 

Through 2020, lack of data science professionals will inhibit 75% of organizations from achieving the full potential of IoT.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
Getting employees to make time for L&D needs to be based upon “what’s in it for them” — i.e., the main role of the L&D Team/Department should be to create the platforms and means by which employees can learn whatever they need to learn in order to do their jobs well (as well as to learn the skills necessary to move into those new areas that they’ve been wanting to move into). They’re going to find ways to do this anyway, why not give them the tools/knowledge of the tools and the platforms in order to better facilitate that learning to happen at a quicker pace?

An L&D Team could provide content curation services themselves and/or they could connect the employees with knowledgeable people. For example, give employees the key people to connect with who are doing their jobs really well.

For example, the L&D Team could maintain and provide a list of the top 10*:

  • Internal Sales employees to connect with and learn from, as well as the top 10 external Sales people to connect with and learn from (these people may or may not be in the same industry).
  • Internal Customer Service employees to connect with and learn from, as well as the top 10 external Customer Service people to connect with and learn from (these people may or may not be in the same industry).
  • Internal Marketing employees to connect with and learn from, as well as the top 10 external Marketing people to connect with and learn from (these people may or may not be in the same industry).
  • Etc.

 

* Or top 5, or top 50, or top whatever # that the L&D Team
thinks
would be most beneficial to the organization

 

I think each employee in the workforce needs to know about the power of RSS feeds and feed aggregators such as Feedly. In fact, I advocate that same approach for most every student in middle school, high school, and college as well. We need to be able to connect with others and tap into streams of content being produced — as well as contribute to those streams of content as well. Blogs, Twitter, LinkedIn, CMSs/LMSs, etc. can provide beneficial streams of content.

 

“And learners are evolving at a quicker pace than the learning programs that support them.”

 

Also, based upon the above image, I find it interesting that the corporate L&D teams are struggling with what higher education has been struggling with as well — i.e., predicting which skills will be needed and responding as quickly as possible in order to develop the necessary learning modules/RSS feeds/content/etc. to remain up-to-date. Actually, I suspect that it’s not that the learners are evolving at a quicker pace than the learning programs that support them, rather its the required skills and needs of the positions that are evolving at a quicker pace than the learning programs that support them.

Our institutions and our L&D Departments are simply not used to this pace of change. No one is.

We need better mechanisms of dealing with this new pace of change.

One last random thought here…perhaps a portion of the L&D department will morph into creating bots for internal employees, helping answer questions at the point of need.

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

Does Your Learning Ecosystem Support Current and Future Needs? — from learningsolutionsmag.com by Andrew Hughes

Excerpts:

As L&D, we need to change the way we manage learning and training for our new and existing workforce. In fact, you should give up the idea of managing their learning at all! It is not your responsibility anymore. Instead, aim to create a culture of continuous learning and curiosity. Equip your employees with technology and tools that encourage them to collaborate, connect, and learn when they need to. You can no longer treat work and learning as different entities, because your employees need to learn all the time if you want to retain your competitive edge. They need to soak in all the information coming to them from all around and apply it to their work.

You will need to help build a technology-enabled learning ecosystem to support this trend of self-learning.

Your employees are no longer limited to learning at a specific time in a physical venue. Mobile devices and learning apps have ensured that learners can access learning content whenever and wherever they wish. They can choose their own learning path and mode of learning—videos, podcasts, text-based content, game-based modules, and so on. Learning should be a personal endeavor. If you allow your learners to choose what they wish to learn, then they can decide on the skills they need in order to excel in the real world. This gives more power to your content and makes learning meaningful to the learners.

 

 

 

Here are the top four trends that you should keep in mind while working on your corporate training strategy.

  • Trend #1: Serious games
  • Trend #2: Augmented and virtual reality
  • Trend #3: Mobile learning
  • Trend #4: Wearable technologies

 

 

These Are the Skills of the Future, According to 39 Industry Experts — from linkedin.com by Paul Petrone

Excerpts:

There’s a misconception out there that the future of work will be robots and artificial intelligence automating all the jobs, leaving nothing for majority of the world’s citizens to do.

History says that’s not the case. Over the past 120 years, there have been incredible technological advancements – cars, personal computers, the internet, smartphones, etc. – that have automated or eliminated aspects of nearly every job. But jobs haven’t gone away; instead, they’ve generally become more complex or changed scope, requiring new skills to complete them.

Hence, over the next five years, with AI and other technologies changing the market, jobs won’t go away. But the skills needed to do most jobs will change (and, in many cases, change drastically).

This sounds scary, but it really isn’t. Preparing for the future merely requires a commitment to learning – one of the most empowering activities a person can engage in. And, with all this change comes great opportunity. So, if you commit to learning and stay ahead of your industry, you’ll put yourself in position to reach your goals – regardless of where you stand now.

And while those answers were all specific to their individual fields, there were three skills we saw again and again that apply to all professionals moving forward. They are:

* A growth mindset
* Strategy
* Employee empowerment

 

 

 

Six reasons why disruption is coming to learning departments — from feathercap.net, with thanks to Mr. Tim Seager for this resource

Excerpts:

  1. Training materials and interactions will not just be pre-built courses but any structured or unstructured content available to the organization.
  2. Curation of all learning, employee or any useful organizational content will become a whole lot easier.
  3. The learning department won’t have to build it all themselves.
  4. Learning bots and voice enabled learning.
  5. Current workplace learning systems and LMSs will go through a big transition or they will lose relevancy.
  6. Learning departments will go beyond onboarding, compliance training and leadership training and move to training everyone in the company on all job skills.

 

A successful example of this is Amazon.com. As a shopper on their site we have access to millions of  book and product SKUs. Amazon uses a combination of all three techniques to position the right book or product based on our behavior, peer experiences as well as having a semantic understanding of the product page we’re viewing. There’s no reason we can’t have the same experience on workplace learning systems where all viable learning content/ company content could be organized and disseminated to each learner for the right time and circumstance.

 

 



From DSC:
Several items of what Feathercap is saying in their solid posting remind me of a vision of a next generation learning platform:

  • Contributing to — and tapping into — streams of content
  • Lifelong learning and reinventing oneself
  • Artificial intelligence, including Natural Language Processing (NLP) and the use of voice to drive systems/functionality
  • Learning agents/bots
  • 24×7 access
  • Structured and unstructured learning
  • Socially-based means of learning
  • …and more

 

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

 



 

 

Is VR the future of employee training? — from biztechmagazine.com by Phil Goldstein
UPS, Walmart and other companies are experimenting with virtual reality to prepare and coach workers.

Excerpt:

VR is becoming an increasingly common training tool for a variety of businesses. Although the relatively new tactic is not widespread, its proponents say it is the wave of the future. The latest company to adopt VR training is UPS, which recently announced plans to roll out the technology to instruct student parcel delivery drivers.

Executives at companies that use VR for training say that the technology provides users with immersive experiences that simulate real-world examples and situations they are likely to face on the job. That makes them better prepared for when they swap the headsets for the road, warehouse or store floor.

UPS Tests VR Training for Drivers
This month, UPS will start training student delivery drivers to spot and identify road hazards using VR headsets at its nine UPS Integrad training facilities.

 

 

 

 

 

Ginni Rometty on the End of Programming — from bloomberg.com by Megan Murphy
The IBM chief dares to imagine what Watson will be when it grows up, and reaffirms her pledge to hire 25,000 people over the next four years.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Do you feel we’re going to get to a point where AI will displace more jobs than it creates and we’re not doing enough to push forward with the jobs of the future?

I do believe that when it comes to complete job replacement, it will be a very small percentage. When it comes to changing a job and what you do, it will be 100 percent. “Whoa, different skills. Everybody is going to have to have a different skill because it’s going to be a threat in all our jobs.” Let me just park that thought. I want to come back to something I think that’s far more important and is related. The issue of skills is front and center in this country and many countries in the world right now without AI. We already have a world that’s bifurcating between haves and have-nots, and a lot of that is based on education and skills. This country has 5 million to 6 million jobs open. That’s about skill. This is not being caused by AI. We’ve got to revamp education for this era of man and machine. And that means you cannot insist that every person needs to be a university or a Ph.D. graduate to be productive in society. You cannot. It’s not true by the way. We’ve proven that.

You started a six-year high school program. This is a program where they take people through four years of high school, two years of a college equivalent, and then hopefully give them preference in getting into the workforce, again to work with IBM.

In the U.S., in 2015, half of our young people didn’t have an associate’s degree or a college degree. That’s the problem today: the number of people that need to be retrained. I’m far more optimistic that public-private partnerships can solve this dilemma. There will be a hundred pathways to technology becoming viral, driven by governors and states. I always remember when President Obama came to the first one, he goes, “Where are all the computers?” We’re like, “That’s not what we teach these kids.” We’re teaching them a skill about math and problem-solving that’s going to transcend any technology they deal with. The first part is a very simple formula: a curriculum of math, science. The second, give the kids a mentor and then you give them a chance at a job. We will be up to 50,000 kids, and 300 other companies have volunteered. I have a whole bunch of these kids over in Silicon Alley where we have our Watson headquarters.

 

 

I do believe that when it comes to complete job replacement, it will be a very small percentage. When it comes to changing a job and what you do, it will be 100 percent.

 

 

 

The new Autonomous SmartDesk 3 has a built-in touchscreen and AI software — from imore.com by Tory Foulk 

Excerpt:

Can your desk encourage you to stand, remind you to drink water and order you a pizza? No? Well SmartDesk 3 can.

Autonomous announced the launch of the newest iteration of its SmartDesk in a press release today, and is claiming it’s “the world’s most powerful AI-powered standing desk.”

The embedded tablet has a 7″ display and is powered by Autonomous’ own OS platform, and has both Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities so it can interact with the apps on your phone. It features many of its own shortcuts, too – you can make coffee, order food, check the weather, play Spotify playlists, and even request a ride from Uber. Because the tablet syncs with Google Calendar, it will remind you of any meetings you might have throughout the day. And in addition to all of that, SmartDesk 3 monitors how long you sit or stand and reminds you to either stretch your legs or take a break to relax when it feels you need it. After using the AI for a week or so, it will learn your habits – say, when you usually start getting hungry – and begin to anticipate your needs.

 

Autonomous' SmartDesk 3 in white

 

 

 

 

 

Unity Technologies unveils AI toolkit for training machine learning ‘agents’ — from therobotreport.com by Alex Beall

Excerpt:

Unity Technologies released the open beta version of its Unity Machine Learning Agents, an artificial intelligence toolkit developers and researchers can use to virtually train agents —whether video game characters, autonomous vehicles or robots.

“Machine learning is a disruptive technology that is important to all types of developers and researchers to make their games or systems smarter, but complexities and technical barriers make it out of reach for most,” vice president of AI and machine learning Danny Lange said in a press release. “This is an exciting new chapter in AI’s history as we are making an end-to-end machine learning environment widely accessible, and providing the critical tools needed to make more intelligent, beautiful games and applications. Complete with Unity’s physics engine and a 3D photorealistic rendering environment, our AI toolkit also offers a game-changing AI research platform to a rapidly growing community of AI enthusiasts exploring the frontiers of Deep Learning.”

 

 

 

 

How Chatbot Tech Takes Customer Service to the Next Level — from nojitter.com by Yaniv Reznik
A chatbot’s combination of personalized service and quick, efficient answers perfectly fits the needs of today’s digital consumers.

Excerpts:

Rather, today’s connected consumers want a seamless online experience that immediately allows them to self-serve when they have a quick question or choose a hybrid approach when they need that personal touch from a live representative.

Chatbots empower consumers to take charge of their own brand experience and efficiently get the answers they need. Consumers demand accuracy and convenience, and chatbots provide the perfect balance of speed, personalization, and human touch necessary for improved customer experiences.

The key to implementing chatbots that go beyond scripted responses is Natural Language Processing (NLP). Chatbots equipped with this advanced technology can understand situational context and can therefore get to the root of customer questions without putting customers on hold or redirecting them.

 

 

 

 



 

Addendum on 9/25/17:

One year later, Microsoft AI and Research grows to 8k people in massive bet on artificial intelligence — from geekwire.com by Todd Bishop

Excerpt:

One way to measure Microsoft’s AI bet: In its first year of operation, the AI and Research group has grown by 60 percent — from 5,000 people originally to nearly 8,000 people today — through hiring and acquisitions, and by bringing aboard additional teams from other parts of the company.

The creation of Microsoft AI and Research also underscores the intense competition in artificial intelligence. Microsoft is gearing up to compete against the likes of Google, Amazon, Salesforce, Apple, and countless AI startups and research groups, all of them looking to lead the tech industry in this new era of artificial intelligence.

 



 

 

 

 

 
© 2017 | Daniel Christian