Friday, April 28, 2017

Is LinkedIn Everything It Can Be As a Professional Portal? A Rhetorical Question?

Anyone who has been associated with LinkedIn over an appreciable amount of time has noticed a variety of changes, some good and some quite questionable.There are two agents of change in the transformations that we have seen. First, there are the changes made by those who form the administration of LinkedIn. Their primary motive is to attempt to make the overall experience pleasant for all users while maintaining their original mission of creating an environment for professionals from many strata of our societies to connect, discuss common issues and form professional bonds. This mission is useful in that we all have a professional story to tell and as users we have a desire and an essential need to learn and grow.

Secondly, there are changes made by those participants in LinkedIn who make up the subscribers to all the professional forums set up in LinkedIn which represent the many professional interests which have a common thread running through them which is the use of technology as it pertains to the specific interests of groups. Having stated that we should stop, step back and ask an important question:

"Is LinkedIn everything it can be as a professional portal?"

To begin to answer such a question, we need to look at the status of LinkedIn but more importantly, the perceptions of LinkedIn on the part of the participants.

The Nature of LinkedIn and Participant Perceptions

Looking at the stats on LinkedIn, we see some interesting forms of growth:

Credit: www.LinkedIn
The stats as they appear show an impressive pattern of growth but to be honest in such as assessment, we have to ask:

"Impressive pattern of growth compared to what?"

The natural response on the part of many individuals would be to compare its growth to social media giants such as Facebook  and Twitter but do we really want to use them as the comparative standard? We claim that LinkedIn is a professional portal but then to compare it to social media portals we run the risk of forfeiting its professional status. This is where we have to take a reality check and ask :

"What are the perceptions of the subscribers to LinkedIn in terms of how they think it is used?"


In looking at the above survey results, do the responses reflect more a perspective that LinkedIn is a professional portal or that in fact it is another clone of Facebook or Twitter?


It is interesting that two articles have recently appeared that predict the demise of LinkedIn as a professional site due to the ever changing perception that it is steadily transforming into just another social media portal.


In an article by Jaakko Paalanen titled: "The Death of LinkedIn"(April, 2017) , he points out an interesting juxtaposition that is occurring between the focus of Facebook and LinkedIn when it comes to promoting business interests. In a second article by Daniel Tunkelang titled: "How LinkedIn Could Be Disrupted" (April 2017), an interesting point is made that despite the big data that LinkedIn collects on subscriber preferences and offerings, they are not staying ahead of the curve when it comes to innovating and as a result, down the road, an opportunity exists by rising competitors to disrupt it.

The Problem and Potential Solutions

At this point in time one might ask whether or not we see evidence of this drift of LinkedIn towards becoming more of a social media site. For many people on LinkedIn, this has been a resounding yes. Consider the number of times people have complained about the amount of social media content appearing on LinkedIn and the number of likes that such complaints have garnered. To those who are complaining, I would offer these challenges:

"What are you doing personally to change this?"

"How often have you, personally, instigated a discussion that is in line with the mission of LinkedIn?"

"How often do you personally respond to posts in more than the traditional 140 characters of a social media site such as Twitter?"

"How much time are you willing to allocate to a thoughtful response to a post or are you still time's prisoner?"

As much as we dislike the misuse of LinkedIn, it would be hypocritical not to admit that we are also part of the problem. 

So, what are some possible solutions?

  1. Get involved in discussions in meaningful ways that promote the stance that we are all learners and can profit much from the expertise of others.
  2. Promote and encourage discussion. Even though LinkedIn can be a one-stop "tip factory", it needs the help of subscribers to truly help it become more innovative.
  3. Make a point of sharing articles that caused you to stop and think with others.
  4. Stop complaining and making excuses for the quality of LinkedIn by leading by example.

These are just a few ideas but the last word of wisdom, I leave to a cartoon character:

Credit: Walt Kelly

[If you find this article interesting, pass it on but more importantly discuss it. Also, it might be helpful to share this article on LinkedIn itself but I will leave that up to the reader!]

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Exploring the Dark Side of Big Data

 A Big Data Scenario: " I have a story to tell........"


 I confess that I have a fondness for military and espionage fiction. There are many interesting story-lines that authors have exposed me to. As my profile indicates, I am an explorer even when I am reading fiction. When I become engaged in this genre, I try to work out problems presented in scenarios to the characters to not only consider different potential solutions that I would try if I was the character but also to predict the potential outcomes of each potential path. Naturally, risk assessment, performance capability and real time intelligence are all important factors to be considered. With regards to real time intelligence and similar to the game of Chess, it is important to develop an accurate profile of your opponents because in doing so, the accuracy of your predictions as to their intentions and ways of thinking increase dramatically, percentage wise. The more data that you have to work with the higher the probability that you will arrive at a complete picture of what you are dealing with.

This week I started reading a  novel offering by noted military fiction author, Mark Greaney who has taken the helm in continuing the successful series started by the late author Tom Clancy. The title of this particular work was: "True Faith and Allegiance" (G.P. Putnam & Sons, 2016). What was most intriguing was the story line which goes something like this:

"In Mark Greaney’s Tom Clancy True Faith and Allegiance, someone with inside knowledge and access to personal details of key military and government personnel has been selling that information to enemies of the United States.

Credit: www.Military

 The actual breach occurred as a result of oversight on the part of a security organization tasked by the U.S. military to put their database through security tests to make sure that it could not be breached. However, when the organization was finished, it forgot to delete the database from its servers. Overtime it was forgotten about until a disenchanted but highly intelligent predictive analyst was able to take the raw data and organize it into very precise and targeted intelligence that could be sold to the highest bidder. He was able to make alignments between this data and all other sources of data coming from everything from social media to personal e-mails and text messages from cell phones. This resulted in precise real time profiles of targets of interest."

As I read this it suddenly hit me! What this is really about is how Big Data could be used by a criminal organization to subvert democracy for their own gains. Then a flood of questions came into my mind such as:

  • Is it possible via the use of  Big Data for a gifted predictive analyst to pinpoint what I am doing at a given hour on a given day with precision? My first response was that such precise predictive personal data is not possible even with the high level of technology that we have access to. However, then I remembered how much personal information people routinely place on social media such as Facebook, Twitter and also on simple apps such as common e-mail.
  • With the advance of the Internet of Things technology (IoT), will we be contributing to the growing data on our daily activities? What about technology that takes sensor readings of our vital signs during exercise activities?
  • With the multitude of businesses online and governmental, are appropriate safeguards being taken to protect who has access to the data and for what reasons? Data breaches have happened much more frequently in the last decade than ever before. Well known department stores such as Winners have made headlines with the loss of personal customer data.
In a specific article titled "One of the biggest hacks happened last year but nobody noticed" by Zack Whittaker for Zero Day pointed out that a data base containing detailed information on 52 million people was stolen. With that information coupled to incoming data from many sources such as social media, profiling just took on a whole new meaning within the context of Big Data.
The Nature and Definition of Big Data

Lisa Arthur, Teradata Applications CMO and Forbes contributor, explains that Big Data “is a collection of data from traditional and digital sources inside and outside your company that represents a source for ongoing discovery and analysis.

 She asserts that traditional data must be included in Big Data because it is an important piece of the Big Data picture. Indeed, incorporating data from all sources is key to optimizing the insights gained with Big Data.

 Some of the first organizations to embrace Big Data were online and startup firms. Firms such as Facebook, eBay, Google and LinkedIn were built around Big Data from the very beginning. Surely, as an online worker you have felt a little "creeped out" by Google's uncanny ability to read your mind about your needs and your personal preferences before you had even publicly acknowledged them.

When we look at the characteristics of Big Data, there are three main characteristics:

Credit: Nasrin Hussain
As implied above, Big Data generates volume from the storage and processing of very large quantities of digital information that defies analysis using traditional computing technologies. With the rise of the great potential of quantum computing, these barriers will be wiped away.



A second characteristics of Big Data is velocity and as can be judged from the statistics below, this complements the power of Big Data.

Credit: Nasrin Hussain

A third characteristic is variety. With the advent of the IoT technologies, the variety of data is about to expand even more.

Credit: Nasrin Hussain

Two other characteristics that are sometimes considered are value and veracity. Summarizing these characteristics in a simple graphic might produce the following:


Therefore it is easy to say that Big Data and Predictive Analytics are the most intriguing trends in learning innovation. Naturally, business leaders who are new to the concept have questions. The answers to such questions could have a very profound effect in how their business plans for future growth with regards to global market share move forward. Such questions as:

  • What is big data and how can it impact my company?

  •  Can it be used to help us deliver what we have promised our clients in a more efficient and cost effective manner?

  • Can it help us grow as a company to meet the potential we know that it has and help us find and develop new markets in a very globally competitive economy?

The Seductive Potential of Big Data for Business and Education

With the break-neck pace of the rolling out of new technologies, we have to stop and ask what is its potential for prospering business and education. For business, David Strom(2015), a world known expert on networking and communications technology suggests that there are three main ways that Big Data can help business:

  •  Make it more predictable
  • Replicate your initial successes or trials
  • Enhance customer engagement
 It is the last item on the above list that holds Big Data's greatest promise:


 Another very alluring aspect of Big Data is the promise of increasingly positive growth in revenues for business organizations that make use of Big Data.

To add to this positive picture as suggested earlier, the growth in the number of data sources will increase as technology advances making the profiling of customers and competitors all the more precise to the point where predictions about future habits of such groups gain in accuracy making decision making more effective. As early as 2013, the seeds of what Big Data could mean for business organizations were starting to show life.


Then there is the possibility of expanding the business to capitalize on  national and global opportunities:

Credit: Nasrin Hussain and Pranjal Saikia (2014)

"So, given the positive growth picture, what is the down side of all this?"

Exploring the Dark Side of Big Data

As businesses rush to take advantage of the great potential of Big Data, there are some cautions that business is failing to recognize which could have a dramatic impact on the future health and welfare of the organization. Some of these are as follows:

  1. The Dazzle of New Technology: Business organizations want to not only protect their market share globally but also open up potentially new markets never explored before. New technologies are held up as the "holy grail" by which to achieve this end. Business leaders have a responsibility show distinctively improved ROI to stock holders that make quarterly reports glow. However, in the scramble to adopt new technologies it is important to step back and consider the possible vulnerabilities that such technologies might open up. A case in point is the "cloud" technology. Obviously, with the huge increase in data that is becoming available from multiple sources, storage needs to be effective to meet the new demand. However, not everything is as it appears to be.
 In an article titled: "The dirty dozen: 12 cloud security threats" written for InfoWorld magazine by Fahmida Rashid (Mar. 11, 2016), we are being dazzled by the technology and not taking the necessary security precautions. This is not just an organization IT problem. It is a decision maker problem because it is the decision maker who is being swayed by effective digital marketing that is being applied.

2.    Making Data Security a Priority: The obvious question that needs to be asked is whether or not business organizations and decision makers are making data security a high enough priority. As indicated earlier, the threats are real and a number of very high profile data breaches have caused dramatic drops not only in stock value but also in the confidence that clients and the public in general have in very well known business organizations.
 Bernard Marr  a best-selling business author, keynote speaker and consultant in strategy management, performance management, analytics, KPIs and big data in an article titled " Why is Big Data so dangerous?"(Sept. 14, 2016) outlines 5 key risks that Big Data presents to business organizations. Who has access, what kind of budget have business organizations allotted to data security and how the data is used are key ideas for business organizations to pay attention to. As can be noted in the following structural diagram, how secure are the numerous access points especially if the cloud is used as a storage depot?


3.    The Role of e-Learning and Education: One of the last elements you would ever expect to have an impact on Big Data is education. However, you would be surprised what education is putting at your front door. If we look deeper into how technology handles data, we would arrive at the machine language of the specific technologies. At this level, how a piece of technology will deal with data can be directed right at the very heart of the machine. Another flashy trend dealing with technology is to teach young people at a very early age how to do programming and machine language coding. At first, your response might be, "so what?". However, consider the fact that many attempts to hack the networks of business organizations are coming from very talented young people who are not only curious but also are interested in how far they can go before someone tells them that this type of activity is wrong. We are now teaching them how to access the very heart of computer language but are we doing the teaching with an emphasis on the responsibility of acting in ethical ways? In the atmosphere of social action and moral relativism perhaps we have opened a box that we should not have opened.

E-Learning and education have roles both within the learning culture of business organizations as well as formal education. These tools need to be used not just for training as in the business context but also to help employees and students develop skillsets that help them engage in the vision and mission of making the quality of life of others better. They need to understand the need how to shut the door on dangerous uses of Big Data if not for the fact that their own data is part of the mix.

As suggested by the Tom Clancey novel, some story-lines you never want to see become realities....

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Critical Thinking and the Crisis of Credibility

On numerous occasions I have raised the alarm through posts that students in educational institutions are being taught "what to think instead of how to think". As a result of this entrenched attitude within education systems, education has become less about effective, authentic learning and more about indoctrination of views held on a variety of topics that favour only one side of topics and dismiss other points of view without considering the evidential merit of these points of view. We see the fruit of this on many university campuses where even speakers holding alternative points of view are denied access to campuses or if given access, their presentations are harassed by those with opposing points of view. A case in point here in Ontario, Canada is the case of Professor Jordan Peterson, who is a University of Ontario Psychology professor who is due to speak to a sold out crowd at the University of Western Ontario in London.


 Due to the fact that Professor Peterson does not agree with the use of gender neutral pronouns in his classroom and openly criticizes the rise of political correctness on university campuses, the university is charging the student group who invited him to speak a $1200 fee to cover security which is not something they do in an equitable fashion when dealing with speakers invited to speak. Professor Peterson has made his views known on YouTube and is open to rational discussion on his views.

Credit: www.the College

As a result of this retreat away from rational thought and discussion, societies are experiencing what I would term a " crisis of credibility". A crisis of credibility occurs when foundational systems such as education systems, religious systems, law systems, and systems of labour which were the bedrock institutions originally designed to serve the people, lose the confidence of the people they were mandated to serve. The obvious question then becomes:

"What are the causes of this crisis of credibility?"

Some of the causes that can be identified, as relating to education, the family and society in general might be the following:

  • The increase in priority of asking learners how they "feel" about topics instead of educating them in the skills of thinking about topics, being able to state what position they hold on issues based upon authenticated and verifiable evidence. Learners are repeatedly exposed to a variety of social issues in our societies without being given the necessary thinking skillsets needed to form informed opinions. This happens at the earliest level of education when students have only rudimentary thinking skills but are requested to take stands on social issues. A good example is the issue of bullying. Young people are taught to use emotionally laden terms and  take specific actions but are never clearly given the root causes to the issue for them to have a complete picture.

Credit: Robert John Meehan

Without this, they learn that feelings are what you should base your decisions on and therefore your actions. Anyone who has an opposing opinion, you should not have to listen to and to protect yourself, we have a vocabulary built up to dismiss them altogether thus freeing you from being upset. Please clear on this! I am not saying that feelings are not important because they are and we all have them. I am saying that it is wrong if they take the place of reason altogether.
  • Moral relativism has been a destructive influence on our understanding of the difference between  what should be considered morally "right" behaviour and what should be considered morally "wrong" behaviour in our societies. The end result of this is societies coming to the conclusion that there is no " right" or "wrong" behaviour. A case in point on this is the declaration of cities and states to be "sanctuary cities". Simply put the rationale, based upon "feelings" is that it is o.k. for illegal immigrants to break our laws and by declaring our city or state to be a "sanctuary place", we the guardians of the rule of law are going to help them do it and we are going to feel good about ourselves for doing it. Such acts lead to a very disturbing question:

"If elected officials who were elected to uphold the rule of law in government, encourage the breaking of our laws and abrogate the processes designed to maintain stability of law enforcement and protect the constitutional rights of all citizens then how can we in good conscience hold citizens accountable for the breaking of other laws?"

Stopping a False Paradigm

One of the first steps that we need to take in education is to stop promoting a false paradigm that is relegating reasoning to a frill topic in schools. In the past, the paradigm that has allowed our civilizations to advance may have looked like this:

Important issue---->identify all sides to the issue---->examine the evidence supporting each side carefully through effective research---->take a position on the issue---->defend your position passionately through effective debate

We may have been inspired by an issue that truly moved us and consider an important issue or the events of the day required that we investigate due to a possibly negative impact on our lives. So, although "feelings" may have started us to take action, we followed a paradigm of necessary investigation based upon reason.

So, what has changed?

New Paradigm: 

Important issue----->only one side of the issue presented for acceptance-------> use of selected emotional multimedia assets are used to suggest how you should feel about the issue----> based upon your feelings, put pressure on others who do not share your viewpoint through the use of dismissive vocabulary that uses ad hominem argumentation as a tool to censor debate------> engage in forcing the point of view into enforceable laws upon all people.

The end result of this new paradigm which we even now see being played out in the current events and in social media circles is the systematic sabotage of the great gift that we all have for critical thinking.

So, how do we stop this type of paradigm from continuing to wreak havoc on the intelligence of learners?

The Systematic Re-Integration of Critical Thinking Skills

We can not as civilized societies remain civilized as long as we allow this paradigm to be constantly reinforced throughout all levels of the education systems and the curriculums that they subscribe to. As thinking individuals, we hold that the following truths should be available to all citizens with the understanding that the goal is to strive to help improve the quality of life for all people.

  • Critical thinking skillsets are not frills but as essential for our survival as civilized societies who have to deal with complex real world problems in effective ways that bring solutions that benefit all people. We have already identified what comprises such skillsets:

  • Every citizen is entitled to hold an opinion and have the right to express the opinion giving supporting evidence that can be verified. If I disagree with the opinion, I have the right and obligation by means of providing evidence that disapproves that opinion, to act responsibly.

  • When I hear an opposing opinion and am tempted to use popular dismissive vocabulary terms, I have a responsibility to clearly define those terms. I have an obligation that if others question the validity of my definition to listen to their objections and answer their challenges.

  • I have to accept the possibility that I just might be wrong if the evidence supports that I am in error even if it might hurt my feelings.

E-Learning: The Potential and the Danger

One question that may have occurred to you is:

"What does any of this have to do with e-Learning?"

One of the great advantages to e-Learning is that it is no longer dependent upon local constraints but instead has a global reach. The problem of the disassembling of a paradigm that has served civilizations well in favour of the false paradigm noted above is not just a North American problem. It is evident in the education systems of many countries on a global scale that this problem is pervasive. We see in in discussions in global politics and even as far as organized sports among countries.

The time to stop this paradigm is now so that your children and their children will enjoy a quality of life that puts the needs of others above self-entitlement but even more importantly, that the decisions they make and defend passionately, are based on the building blocks of sound reasoning. 

Together, we can overcome the great crisis of credibility that we now face. We must overcome it....

Monday, February 27, 2017

Part III: AI or Humanity--Can AI and Humans Play Nice?

Much of what has been said about AI in the past has been tied to the field of Robotics. From books such as" I, Robot" by Isaac Asimov to t.v and movie series such as Star Trek to movies series such as the Terminator movies, artificial intelligence life forms have been portrayed more as a threat to humanity than as a support and aid to humanity. Much of what was written and portrayed suggested that humanity needed to develop ways to limit artificial intelligence life forms from evolving to become more dominant over man.


In Asimov's "I, Robot", guidelines were programmed into robots that placed limits on their development.

Credit: Nrudakova

The great fear was that the AI would advance to the point where human beings were not needed to be involved in the working life of societies at all and at worst that AI beings would become sentient or self aware beings such as what was portrayed in the Star Trek: The Next Generation with "Commander Data". For the "baby boomer" generation, the words of  H.A.L. in the movie titled: "2001-A Space Odyssey" still haunt our memories.


Credit: www.

With self aware AI beings some were predicting that these new self aware beings would determine that humanity was too deeply flawed to pay attention to and that necessary resources of the planet could be better utilized through the elimination of humanity.

Credit: www.33rd


Jerry Caplan, an expert in the field of AI describes what we should all know about AI and its potential impact on our lives in general and business organization that are striving to compete in a global economy. Although the following YouTube segment is a little long, it is worthwhile to get a good understanding of what AI means to us.

Credit: Carnegie Council for Ethics in International Affairs

How Should Business Organizations Plan?

In a Canadian news broadcast this week (Feb. 6, 2017) an economic think tank predicted that 40 % of the present jobs will be taken over by automation. Statistics for other countries can be easily found but I would predict that the percentage is higher in countries such as the United States, Great Britain, China & India. The results of such a prediction coming to pass can be reduced to two events:

  • Disruption of societies due to the increase of unemployed workers which not only then places the social support networks of such countries under duress but also creates a crisis for governments in trying to balance their books. The cascading effect for business organizations means loss of potential sales.
  • A second possibility is that decision makers take note of the pace of change and then take steps to enable employees to retrain with the goal of acquiring new skillsets that technology will create a need for. This means having a plan driven by a vision of how new technology will be integrated in the way the business organization does business.


The idea of coming up with an effective plan recognizes the need to be proactive rather than reactive because the future of your best assets, your employees, is at stake. Engaging them with a clear vision of the way forward and how they are integral to that plan is an essential.

Credit: www.

We also need to heed the warnings given by very intelligent leaders about regarding the potential drawbacks to using artificial intelligence. The drawbacks arise if we fail to recognize that there is a moral imperative in how we move ahead in the adoption of new technologies. The question that innovators, scientists, business leaders, and technology leaders need to ask is:

"Just because we have the technology to do this, should we do this?"

Views of Intelligent Leaders On the Use of Artificial Intelligence

Some very intelligent and well respected leaders in technology and science have been quick to voice their concerns about the rapid adoption of artificial intelligence:


Credit: www.Quote

As ominous as these statements appear, AI will continue to be integrated into the fabric of business organizations and our daily lives.

The integration of AI based "intelligent assistants" into the fabric of our lives will advance faster  than even the growth of social media.

Credit: BI Intelligence, 2015

Besides the development of online chatbots integrated into the global online business presence, with the advancement of Microsoft Hololens technology we will see intelligent assistants take holographic form as in the example of Cortana.


Discussion of the advances of technology and business is all well and good but the question still remains:

"How do businesses get started on a proactive path in adopting AI and what part can e-Learning play in this?"

Some very important business understandings need to be considered:

Credit: Frank Diana (2015)

Five First Steps for Planning for the Adoption of AI into a Business Organization

  1. Identify work areas within the business that involve repetitive, time consuming actions that could better be served by automation. It is important to re-task the talents of employees involved in such labour to higher skilled positions.
  2. Create learning profiles for employees that identify present talents that they have and then plot areas of potential growth for them so that they advance to higher skillsets that will be required as technology advances.
  3. Create a "technology sandbox" both within the organization and online where employees can go to try out new technologies and applications. Time should be timetabled in where employees have the opportunity to try out these new areas of learning and the online site for this should be open to employees 24/7.
  4. Hire a "learning principles guru or expert" who will have the responsibility of tracking employee learning and presenting new opportunities for employees to advance their skillsets into new areas of technology and applications. This individual should have a separate line for advancement within the organization.
  5. Create a "learning culture" within the organization that encourages employee engagement in innovative and creative thinking. The environment should involve a forum where employees may collaborate with each other in the organization but  on a global scale. The opportunity should be available for a collaborative group to present and defend innovative ideas that they have come up with.

Business Prospects for the Further Development of Chatbots in Business

The operative goal in the use of chatbots in business organizations is to free up employees so they can focus on the higher end skillsets that involve creativity and innovation. This is in line with what a firm called Venture Radar predicts.
These are just a few ideas to promote more discussion within business organizations about how this might take shape in their own specific context.

As for the warnings about AI, as much as we would like AI intelligent assistants to become more and more human, we have to keep in mind that the model, the human being, that we are using is far from perfect and like Asimov's three laws of robotics, we need to make sure that what we do with AI technology leads to a better quality of life for all people and not just those who have business interests.

Next: "Exploring the Dark Side of Big Data"

Monday, February 13, 2017

Part II: 21st Century Technology and Business Organizations-The Year 2016 Trends

The previous question that decision makers need to consider stated:

"With the explosion of technology advancement in 2016, how do I know which technologies will allow my organization to compete effectively in the globally connected economy?

To begin to answer this question, you need to do some honest, professional introspection  as a group of decision makers and ask yourselves whether or not your mindset is still entrenched in the ideas of the industrial economy which has been the foundation for business vision, mission and drive since the Industrial Revolution or have you come to the realization that this particular mindset is anachronistic given the new realities of 21st century societies and you desire to make change work?

Mindset defines and directs vision, mission and drive in building the future of an organization. So, this process needs to be considered in the light of what actually is happening in the global economy and also in the lives of employees.

Technology Trends of 2016: Gauging the Impact On Business

During the year 2016, the following technologies came into the limelight and much speculation was offered on such technologies could revolutionize business as we know it:

  • Microlearning
  • Mobile Learning
  • Virtual Reality and Augmented Technology
  • Gamification
  • Blended Learning
  • MOOC's
  • Big Data
  • Social Media
  • IoT
Much has been written about each of these technologies in relation to their potential for changing business but there is a technology that has been evolving in the background, out of the limelight that all of the listed technologies will be impacted by and stands to have a much greater impact on business organizations than those listed. The technologies being referred to here are called  "intelligent agents or bots" and "Artificial Intelligence".


The Rise of the Intelligent Machine or Agent and Business Change

Right now as some business decision makers read this, their eyes are probably glossing over and they saying to themselves this technology will have no credible impact on my business organization. First it is wise to define what we mean by the terms that we are using. 
Credit: Shehzad Ashraf (2014)
 It is worth noting that in the above definition that the list of things that humans do better has already shrunk due to the effects of Moore's law on technology growth. If computers using AI are doing things better than humans already ten the natural progression for the use of AI by machines takes the form of the "bot" or "intelligent agent".

Credit: Yisela Trentini (2016)
Putting these two ideas together into a business context, we start to see why employees have good reason for concern in regards to their future job security. Simply put, the advantages of an intelligent machine over a human are:
  • Intelligent machines are more efficient and can mass produce product faster, requiring no breaks other than scheduled maintenance. This means increased productivity without loss of time since the machines can work 24/7. What needs to be noted is the nature of the work that the machines are more productive and efficient at doing.


Before rushing to judgment, consider the following ways that Artificial Intelligence and intelligent agents can be beneficial in moving business organizations into more favourable positions for growth in the 21st century global economy by first looking at what features bring to the table.

Credit: Monique Calisti
What this means for business organizations in regards to the use of the intellectual capital resting in their employees is that they need to capitalize on the talents of their employees by effectively helping them develop higher order skillsets in their learning that will at the same time enable them to work with and capitalize on the features that AI and intelligent agents have to offer.

Chatbots and Business Organizations

One of the rising uses of AI in relation to business organizations is the development of the "Chatbot". 

Credit: Teewee Ang
This trend only predicted in 2014 by the CEO of Google, Sundar Pichai, is already moving ahead in the integration of chatbots into a variety of business contexts.

At this point in time, these very pertinent series of questions should occur to you:

"What precisely is a chatbot? How can it be utilized in our business organization and will we like the cost?"

Credit: Teewee Ang
If this sounds somewhat familiar it is because we have already seen innovative glimpses of it in such science fiction movies as the Avengers. Of particular note is the character of Ironman (Tony Stark) and the relationship that he has with his "intelligent AI assistants". What should occur to you is that in using chatbots, a new type of cross disciplinary thinking skillset will be required in order to interact with intelligent assistants.


If at this point you feel yourself becoming skeptical keep in mind that many of humanity's innovations were first predicted in science fiction. For example the use of Lasers, scanners...etc were first predicted in science fiction and lest we forget the works of Jules Verne's innovation of a nuclear powered submarine, the Nautilus, we should endeavour to keep an open mind.

However, returning to our questions, how will chatbots be of value to business organizations?

 As can be seen, there is a number of business goals that chatbots can help reach in making a business organization more effective in the globally connected business economy. What this does for the learning culture of a business organization is that it enables employees to re-direct their time to collaboration and innovation thinking which represent the highest levels of human talent, with the decision makers being able to engage and make connections with employees in the learning culture and guide the vision of the organization.


A Practical Example Of A Business Chatbot: The HR Assistant

An HR individual reading this title might think this is suggesting that his or her role in the business organization is at risk but it is not. With the introduction of AI and intelligent assistants into the learning culture of a business, re-definition of various roles is an effect but it is not a negative one but in fact an enriching positive one for the individuals involved. Emphasis is placed upon their best qualities and talents while relegating repetitive but necessary time consuming tasks to an AI HR assistant.



Drawbacks To AI Assistants?

You may have noticed that the questions above have not all been answered. The reason deals with what some very highly intelligent people have been warning about the adoption of AI. This deals with conflicting visions of the future use of AI as a help to humanity and it has ramifications for business organizations. The final segment will look at what is being said in a world already living on edge in many respects.

Part III: AI Or Humanity - Can AI And Humans Play Nice?

Friday, January 27, 2017

First Post in E-learning Industry

My first post to e-Learning Industry will be on Jan. 29, 2017. Part II of this post will go to the reviewer shortly after.