Benefactors of Free Community College or Technical Training

Providing universal access to higher education is a step in the right direction – whether or not the tab is picked up by federal and state governments. (Theoretically, non-profits, employers, and educational institutions could also chip in to make this happen.) President Obama recently proposed America’s College Promise where the government provides two years of community college for free. According to some early estimates, this proposal has a $60 billion price-tag.

If all states participate, an estimated 9 million students could benefit. A full-time community college student could save an average of $3,800 in tuition per year.[i]

Free Community College

Free Community College

Of course, there are many benefactors of this proposal: low-income families, less mature teenagers, veterans looking to validate skills, and ‘middle-skill’ professionals.

It is difficult for low-income families to put a student through college. Sure there are currently loans and grants offered for the families in need, but cutting the ‘red tape’ and telling these families everything is free is inspiring. If the proposal is accepted, more low-income students will go to community college.

Many teenagers are just not ready to enter a traditional four-year, on campus college program. They are not ready to take full accountability for their learning – attending class, doing homework, and balancing a social life. America’s College Program stipulates each student gets a mentor and must maintain a C+ average to stay in the program. A majority of community college students stay at home.

A proponent of America’s College Promise says it would benefit our veterans. They will be able to build upon their ‘technical skill and management expertise’ from serving and earn a degree – making them better job candidates. [ii]

Sixty percent of graduating high school students attend a community college. It’s expected that as many as 25 million of all new job openings in the next decade will be for middle-skills jobs. In a 2014 survey, Accenture found that 69 percent of about 800 human resources executives said that middle-skill talent shortages “regularly affect their performance.”[iii]Clearly, this program would affect a large segment of the American population. It sets a new bar for education achievement of Americans.

Some other thoughts on the proposal:

  • Akin to another public initiative of adding one to two more years to high school. Both programs are designed to get students college credits and prepare for the final two years of a bachelor’s degree. It is not only about saving on tuition, but also giving students more time to mature for a higher order learning experience.
  • In a circuitous way, we are already paying for a large chunk of unpaid student loans. The federal government takes the burden of reparations for students who default on their loans, so our tax dollars are being used already.
  • Many community colleges face challenges to keep their doors open. One example is San Francisco Community College that almost collapsed without outside stimulus. A federal funding plan guarantees a revenue source, which makes it easier for community colleges to build a healthy foundation.
  • Skills gap due to a lack in technical skills. The program should increase the number of skilled workers. Community colleges offer accelerated programs to build these much-needed skills – engineering, programming, etc.
  • Puts pressure on the traditional four-year programs to reduce their tuition. Students have the option to take two years free at a community college, then transfer their credits and finish the last two years to earn a bachelor’s degree.
  • Provides resources to improve graduation rates by assigning a mentor. Community college dropout rates now hover somewhere between 66 percent and 80 percent.[iv]

Thinking in term of a Skills-Based Approach, there are alternative ways to build and validate the same technical skills; some of them include online training, certifications, apprenticeships, internships, coding camps, etc. Perhaps the program should cover two years of community college and other equivalent ways to build necessary technical skills. (Put a cap on the total expense and limit all programs to two years.) The president has also proposed the American Technical Training Fund, which is meant to expand beyond community colleges to other training institutions.

America’s College Promise guarantees everyone has access to higher education and training, so it increases the chances Americans find gainful employment and enjoy fulfilling lives. Moreover, it gives lower-income families a chance. For this reason, the essence of the program, I hope universal access to higher education becomes a reality – regardless if the president’s proposal gets approved (which is unlikely).

[i] http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2015/01/09/fact-sheet-white-house-unveils-america-s-college-promise-proposal-tuitio

[ii] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/obamas-college-plan-the-most-important-since-gi-bill-dan-smolen

[iii] https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/free-community-college-answer-shortage-middle-skill-workers-selingo

[iv] http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/20/opinion/david-brooks-support-our-students.html

Skills-Based Approach: Slide Show

Improve Your ‘Collective Intelligence’

I recently talked about humans using machines to improve a ‘collective intelligence’, but another way to improve ‘collective intelligence’ is through teams or networks; so the two terms together:

INTELLIGENT SYSTEMS + NETWORK/TEAM (YOU AS A MEMBER) = COLLECTIVE INTELLIGENCE

Collective Intelligence

Collective Intelligence

With social media, you engage with a network and build concepts collectively. Someone has an initial inspiration such as a blog or article post and then a network responds through commentary. That initial concept usually evolves into something deeper and richer. This exchange is especially effective in LinkedIn, perhaps because professionals’ reputations are at stake. In A World Gone Social, the authors summarize it:

By sharing knowledge and best practices, the community grows, collectively.[i]

Professionals are able to claim a concept (something they are researching or thinking about) and attract interested parties through a network. The best ways to distinguish the concept is to create a hashtag, something all of the social media platforms use for conversations. Of course, a traditional search in social media or Google on the concept also works. Once there is a following, you have effectively created a feedback loop – an effective way to collectively build a concept.

Your network also feeds you relevant content, stuff they have created or curated. Intelligent systems also feed you content through algorithms. Because of the massive amount of content produced on a single day, you cannot read everything. Much of your ‘daily knowledge gain’ is based on what content is fed to you. Many of us get our daily news from Twitter and Facebook.

But probably the biggest gains in ‘collective intelligence’ comes from groups working together and using technologies to solve problems. A well-cited article Evidence for a Collective Intelligence Factor in the Performance of Human Groups has two strong conclusions. First and foremost, it is possible to measure and sometimes predict a group’s collective intelligence. Second, it is strongly correlated with “the average sensitivity of group members, the equality in distribution of conversational turn-taking, and proportions of females in the group” – not strongly correlated with the individual intelligence of its members. To the ballyhoo of those trying to improve team dynamics, it turns out motivation and cohesion are also not good predictors. [ii]

The takeaway is leaders should improve the ‘collective intelligence’ of their teams. Introducing new technologies and applications could be an effective way to improve this ‘collective intelligence’. Moreover, they should create a structured environment where all team members have equal time to share their ideas. Perhaps flatter companies where team members have an equal voice and status is the optimal structure; this is something the authors harp on in A World Gone Social. Social networks and technology make it possible to do all of this virtually. In the future, ‘collective intelligence’ will be more commonly referenced than ‘individual intelligence’.

Intelligence in all its forms relates to personal branding. Think about it. In an evaluation of a person’s reputation (personal branding is synonymous with reputation management in many ways), two things always come up: that person’s smartness and how well he or she works with others. Your maximum level of expertise with a skill set is largely determined by your individual intelligence (and to some extent your collective intelligence). Your identity and connectedness defines what networks you can tap into to maximize your collective intelligence.

[i] Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt (2014). A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt To Survive. New York: AMACOM.

[ii] http://www.sciencemag.org/content/330/6004/686.full

Online Personal Brand: Slide Show

Transition to a Digital Classroom

The traditional education model is being disrupted by a new technology laden model. In the few books I have read on the future of education, every expert predicts this transformation – where technology delivers personalized and adaptive learning, levels educational gaps, and centers on reaching competencies. In Getting Smart, Tom Vander Ark summaries the advice of a public school CEO:

A perfect storm of reform… abandon seat-time requirements, stop buying textbooks, use open education resources on inexpensive tablet computers, and stretch staffing by moving students online for at least part of the day.[i]

Digital Classroom

Digital Classroom

Funding for education comes largely from property taxes, so wealthier communities have significant advantages over poorer communities; some of them include: scope of extracurricular activities, quality of teachers, and availability of learning resources. (As a high school soccer official, I have learned you can tell a lot about a community by the state of the school building and facilities and a general vibe from team members and the coach.) Vander Ark suggests considering funding education on a ‘per student’ versus ‘per community’ basis to address an achievement gap. Online learning is scalable and cost-effective so might help make education more egalitarian. Moreover, online and blended learning programs translates to less time sitting in a classroom at a school; therefore, some of the expense associated with maintaining a ‘brick-and-mortar’ facility goes away.

Vader Ark talks about the ability for students to learn at their own pace. Students who get bored in the traditional, sit at a desk for eight hours a day might get more stimulated by using online learning resources. Perhaps it becomes easier for students to graduate high school earlier; once students satisfy the required competencies they get a high school degree. Students might also take AP courses to satisfy college electives, which results in saving a couple of years of tuition. Other students might travel, intern, or participate in the community to learn more about themselves. (This extra time for self-exploration might be an effective way to address many students being immature and lacking focus with what they want to accomplish in college.)

Applying the Skills-Based Approach methodology in education makes sense for a number of reasons:

  • Vander Ark talks about ‘playlists’ in a curriculum. Students, teachers and parents participate in planning what skills a student needs and how to build them to reach a desired competency. The end result is a ‘playlist’ – a sequential, personalized, and adaptive learning approach.
  • Self-guided learning. There are no boundaries in building an expertise with a skill set. If a student identifies a core-competency or passion, he or she continues to build necessary skills online. The rigid, time sapping structure of subjects tied to grades is less relevant.
  • Competency based learning. Teaching experts all talk about the need to move away from learning based on grade levels where students are largely grouped based on age. Rather, students should learn based on how they learn best and what motivates them. It is more effective to tie competencies to the building and validating of a skill set – especially as students learn at varying rates and levels.
  • Gamification. It does not matter how students build skills, so learning through games is an exciting way to introduce intrinsic and extrinsic motivators. Badges are an excellent ways to present and validate an expertise with particular skills. (Vander Ark discusses Tony Roland’s, CEO of Mangahigh, realization that “gaming was really luring kids into skills-based learning”.)
  • Plethora of online learning resources. Students might learn from online courses, games, social media communities, video tutorials, and digital media (e-books, whitepapers, blogs, articles, and slideshows). It is practical and efficient to think in terms of skills when you are building skills from many different sources.
  • Threads education and career planning. Skills are tangible, something you can continue to build and validate after you graduate from high school and college. Think skill sets throughout your life – education, employment, and other experiences.

 

[i] Tom Vander Ark (2014). Getting Smart: How Digital Learning Is Changing the World. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Coding As A ‘Universal Skill’

Writing code is becoming a universal skill with boundless opportunities. Thinking like a computer – in logic, functions, loops, and objects – has its advantages. Computational thinking is rooted in logic and mathematics, but also requires creativity and ingenuity. With a basic proficiency, coding is a lot of fun. You can think of something – a game, puzzle, graphic, or web page- then write a program to create it; all you need is a computer and the Internet. Perhaps children start programming imaginary worlds rather than using traditional wooden building blocks.

One initiative is the Hour of Code, which to date, claims to have had seventy-five million participants. The concept is to expose a novice to programming. According to the website:

“Every student should have the opportunity to learn computer science. It helps nurture problem-solving skills, logic and creativity.”[i]

Coding

Coding

There are a few reasons why exposing children to programming is advantageous. First, as mentioned in the directive above, there are many transferable skills related to programming: problem solving, computational thinking, and novel thinking. Second, the results of programming – software and hardware applications – are used in every discipline and subject. It is useful to have basic coding skills. Third, there will always be high demand for programmers. Programing knowledge is a good career safety net. Finally, like learning a foreign language, children build coding skills faster.

Of course, there is an element of inspiration. To develop a passion for something, you need to be exposed to it. Moreover, many of the Internet startups start with a concept and then the founders spend countless hours programming it. You cannot predict when and if you might come up ‘that concept’. For example, Mark Zuckerberg was a psychology major at Harvard when he got the ‘Facebook concept’; he then utilized what programming skills he possessed to build the platform.[ii]

Future creativity might be stifled if we do not have an underlying concept of how programs work. Many of our current applications are extremely complicated and require years of knowledge to even make a contribution. It makes sense to get students learning about programs early in their education.

College students are padding their degrees by taking ‘certificates and coding boot camps’. According to a study, liberal-arts graduate can nearly double the available job opportunities by adding relevant technical skills.[iii]

Coding is powerful because you can program just about any concept: business processes, games, websites or mobile applications, and productivity boosters. All it takes is an understanding of how programs work, an underlying framework, and some imagination.

I learned basic coding skills in college as part of a computer applications minor. I practiced coding in my first job out of college where I created an order entry application for a small company. Throughout my career, I have coded a countless number of solutions: a mass distributed application for insurance appraisal offices, music store for a rock band, art gallery portfolios, sales and profitability application for a foreign multi-national, a personal website platform, a video gaming league, summer camp registrations, etc. The thing I love about coding is its flexibility – you can code just about anything; there is a solution to every problem.

[i] http://hourofcode.com/us

[ii] http://www.quora.com/How-did-Mark-Zuckerberg-train-himself-to-be-a-programming-prodigy

[iii] http://www.wsj.com/articles/college-diplomas-with-a-side-of-specialized-study-1416589926

Original Image © Depositphoto/  olly18 #7682758

Why Create Content?

As the world becomes social, we are still establishing rules and norms with little precedence. Never before in our history could ordinary individuals connect with masses of people through networks like the Internet and social media. But there are clear implications, such as managing an online reputation, competing for an audience, and amplifying one’s individual thinking. One question related to establishing an online personal brand is whether you should start a blog. If you do, what should a blog post be comprised of and how frequently do you post? In Social Networking For Career Success, Miriam Salpeter summarizes the main benefits of blogging:

(Blogging) expands your circle of influence and lets you engage in two-way communication with colleagues and mentors in your field from around the world… Helps you become known as an expert. (And helps you ‘Get Found’ in a Google SERP.) [i]

Why Create Content?

Why Create Content?

I have been managing this blog for two and a half years and have my own formula for successful blogging. Here are some of my thoughts:

Ms. Salpeter and other experts suggest writing a blog “at least three times a week”. Perhaps you might have this type of participation to rev up a new blog or it is the core to your personal or company brand. Otherwise, I think this is too frequent for a number of reasons. (Publish once a week.)

  • Quality trumps quantity. Develop a concept rather than simply publish for the sake of it. Four primary tasks in creating a blog entry include: researching a concept, sharing your insight, writing the content, and designing a smart graphic. Strive for compelling content.
  • Your time is valuable. Blogging might be inexpensive, but it is time-consuming. At least consider your time spent on blogging in terms of a ROI and if it brings you happiness.
  • Your audience is bombarded with content on a daily basis. Build up anticipation. Get your audience excited to read your latest insight on a particular day every week.

Keep the blog short because your readers have a short attention span. In my opinion, a blog with one paragraph and without any references or stats is an immediate turnoff. Wouldn’t you rather read something of substance? I think a comfortable medium is between 400 to 800 words. To grab my readers’ attention, I always include visual content. To show I did some homework, I guarantee at least one quote.

“Broadcasting instead of engaging is not an acceptable trap to fall into.”[ii] I understand why you want to tame your promotions when you are selling something, however, what about when you are giving away something for free? You are essentially giving away your concept and hard work. At a minimum, you want for it to be read by audience. There will always be some element of broadcasting.

“Your network is your net worth and your greatest career asset.”[iii] For the vast majority of your connections, there is no real deep, personal relationship; in other words, you cannot have a meaningful, interactive and personal exchange with thousands of connections. You can do it with a cadre of a few hundred people you know. But for the rest, making connections involves formal and informal reputation management – personal branding and gossiping, respectively. Obviously, you must commit to responding to comments and requests and remain authentic – the size and scope of your audience fuels your influence.

If you can spare five to ten hours a week, like the challenge of being insightful and have basic writing skills, you should consider blogging as a part of your online personal brand. You might take on a ‘thought role’. Effective blogging reinforces each element of my online personal brand model: validates your skill set, radiates your aura (by sharing your personality), and establishes an identity (by helping you ‘get found’ on networks).

[i] Miriam Salpeter (2011). Social Networking For Career Success. New York: Learning Express.

[ii] Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt (2014). A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt To Survive. New York: AMACOM.

[iii] Dan Schawbel (2013). Promote Yourself: The New Rules For Career Success. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Cautions in ‘Going Social’

In A World Gone Social, Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt share a compelling case why businesses and persons must establish a social media presence – their future depends on it.[i] Here are some of the underlying themes in their book:

  1. Everyone – employees, customers, competitors, and candidates – is using social media; according to a study referenced in the book: “46 percent of the US population reports having accounts on three or more social networks”.
  2. A social media interaction is usually a more intensive, personalized experience than traditional marketing channels. (It is also much less expensive.)
  3. Interacting in social media collectively within an organization creates ‘company culture’.
  4. A social media presence has become a pillar in personal and company branding. Social media is a platform that promotes and amplifies individual thinking.
  5. Think the acronym “OPEN: ordinary people extraordinary network”.

Social is not change for change’s sake. It is a monumental shift in how we think, work, and live.

 

Cautions in 'Going Social'

Cautions in ‘Going Social’

Three conclusions I had after reading the book and reflecting on my experiences:

Participating in social may not cost much, but requires a significant commitment. The authors say there is not much of actual expense in running an organic social media campaign, which is true. However, it requires time, attention, and diligence. They say you may spend on average two hours a day in social media (often seven days a week). Moreover, it is not two hours you knock off in one sitting. It requires multiple bursts throughout the day, something they imply when they say you are expected to respond to requests within two hours.

Embrace algorithms to make sense of massive flows of content. As everyone establishes their online presence and creates and curates content, we become inundated with the flow of knowledge. We cannot read all of the knowledge in our subject area created on a given day and, therefore, become increasingly dependent on a personal network and machine algorithms to feed us relevant content. Frequently they use the phrase “More Social. Less Media”.  Perhaps they are trying to say that  a back-and-forth personal interaction is priceless . I agree.

Exciting to jump on the social bandwagon but the road will have bumps. Everyone wants to become an expert in a discipline, where they get recognized for their work and have interactions with an audience. Not everyone captures the attention of an audience. For example, 71 percent of tweets are ignored[ii] and a small minority of users – around .05% of the site’s population – are generating half of all Twitter posts[iii]. (Granted these articles were published in 2011, perhaps these stats have improved.) Not everyone can be an expert. The average income of a LinkedIn user is a $109,000 and over 60 percent of LinkedIn users make over $66,000 – making connections is a lot about the high income earners you know. To be egalitarian, social must: be accessible to all, have communities, and allow status movement.

I think Coine’s and Babbitt’s social revolution is spot on. My only concern is the vastness of it all: billions of people and millions of companies vying for influence and content creation and dissemination at a magnitude we have never experienced before. A common perspective with personal branding is to create a personal marketing plan that mimics how a company brands a product. This is a good start, but tilts to an upper echelon of professionals (at least in my opinion). There are too many professionals. (This is why I suggest a functional perspective to personal branding.) Similarly, I fear social media might become a ‘popularity contest’ where influence is decided by the number of connections in your network and how many impressions you get on your posts. Hopefully, the authors’ notion of building communities based on an OPEN framework is adaptable to the massive growth in online communications we are and will continue to experience in the Social Age. I recommend picking up a copy of their book, they provide plenty of examples and stats to buttress their thesis.

[i] Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt (2014). A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt To Survive. New York: AMACOM.

[ii] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/12/71-percent-of-tweets-are-_n_759176.html

[iii] http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/03/28/twitter-study-statistics_n_841666.html

Original Image © Depositphoto/  lightsource #7854546

What’s Needed of ‘Generation Flux’

In the Information Age, we look to a new generation to guide us: persons who are willing to disrupt traditional business models, move quickly, and think ‘out of the box’. Robert Safian defines them as “Generation Flux – a group of people best positioned to thrive in today’s era of high-velocity change”.[i] He makes the point that being part of this generation has nothing to do with age, but rather adaptability; though I think younger generations are more familiar with the latest technologies and have less dependencies. What is needed of ‘Generation Flux’?

Generation Flux

Generation Flux

Stamina. We have all heard the sleepless dedication stories of startups. An initial cadre works together around the clock in tight confines to develop and take a service to market. They work hundred hour weeks now for a huge future payoff. This was the case with Apple, Facebook, Microsoft, Napster, Google, and countless other companies. In many of today’s company cultures, there is a blurry distinction between personal and professional time.

Tech savviness. Technologies are moving so fast, there is disruption happening in many areas; in other words, it is easier to start new than modify the old. (This is something Clay Christensen points out with the movement towards online learning; it is fundamentally different from the traditional education model, so requires a new perspective.)

Commitment. Young professionals delay getting married and having children to a later period in their life. Look at the recent perk offered by Apple and Facebook that allows female employees to freeze their eggs for later pregnancies.[ii] Because of fewer dependencies, it is easier to make a deep commitment with a company.

Empowered. They are engaged and want to lead. According to a global survey, nearly 7 out of 10 millennials say that “achieving a managerial or leadership role is important to their careers”.[iii] Whether they step into leadership right away or work towards it, Millennials want room for growth.

Influence. A powerful trend is having ‘rock stars’ at almost every company. Professionals create influence by building large followings in social media outlets, especially: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn. (LinkedIn has a mature audience with an average age of 44.)

Purpose. Willing to merge business, society and community interests as part of an overall strategy. Safian says: “(there are) a rising breed of business leaders who are animated not just by money but by the pursuit of a larger societal purpose.”

Creativeness. Being able to think of new, creative ideas is essential to fuel innovation. Much of our traditional education model is based on memorizing ‘facts and information’ and thinking in a confined rules based environment. Regardless, novel and adaptive thinking has become precious.

As we move away from a traditional business model, companies must adopt new ways of doing things to survive. In the book A World Gone Social, the authors say:

Burdened by a failure to adapt to this new environment, many have lost their footholds in the new business climate; some are already nearing extinction.[iv]

[i] http://www.fastcompany.com/3035975/generation-flux/find-your-mission

[ii] http://www.slate.com/blogs/xx_factor/2014/10/14/apple_and_facebook_now_cover_egg_freezing_for_their_employees.html

[iii] http://www.ere.net/2014/11/21/millennials-and-leadership-what-it-all-means

[iv] Ted Coine and Mark Babbitt (2014). A World Gone Social: How Companies Must Adapt To Survive. New York: AMACOM.

Intelligent Systems Make Us Smarter

Is it possible to support advancements in intelligent systems from a compassionate point of view? Perhaps by leveling the playing field with intelligence, we might tackle one of the most bitterly contested characteristics of man. We face ‘intelligence battles’ on a daily basis – in classrooms, social settings, and in the office. Much of our status in society is based upon intelligence.

Intelligence

Intelligence

What if everyone had a memory booster, something like a personal hard drive? Many of today’s geniuses have impeccable memories. What if everyone accesses the same reservoir of ‘facts and information’ from intelligent systems? (Currently access to primary sources of knowledge is costly, which creates an advantage for those who can afford it.) Could there be a baseline IQ because of boosts in cognitive thinking?

There are still geniuses, naturally brilliant people who are thought leaders and influencers; use of intelligent systems simply allows for them to solve ever increasingly complex problems. Quora recently posed the question: What would an IQ of 500 or 1000 look like? It elicited over 200,000 views and 200 followers. One respondent suggested a person at this level of intelligence might learn a language in a day, read a book in an hour, or solve our current unsolved problems.[i]

There are smart people. With universal access to AI, smart people represent a larger segment of the population. The bell curve for IQ becomes taller and standard deviations smaller. More smart people follow their passions and interests, rather than being excluded because of their natural intelligence. In addition, smart people without access to a proper education use AI to catch up.

Finally, there are people who have less natural intelligence but have a more satisfying life because of AI.

Soft skills, character and personality become paramount in employment decisions. We are starting to see this now. Many of the leadership coaches say emotional intelligence (EQ) often has more value than cognitive intelligence (IQ).

It will be interesting to see if those who have access to intelligent systems share them with the general public. Naturally intelligent people lose an advantage – something that gives them power. Having a high IQ, SAT, GMAT, GRE, or LSAT – all tests largely driven by raw intelligence – practically guarantees access to a top college and future employment.

Barring geniuses, intelligence in the future will be measured by adaptive, conceptual and novel thinking skills. Now we come up with a relevant question and it is something to ponder over a period of time; but in the future, we get an immediate response from an intelligent system. So we ask a series of questions, modifying each question based on previous responses. In addition to being responsive, creative ‘out of the box’ thinking becomes a highly sought after skill.

An intelligent system:

  • Pulls together content from a multitude of sources and puts into a ranked list based on relevancy. Intelligent systems tap into a vast amount of online information.
  • Cross-disciplines and subject areas to solve increasingly complex problems. An intelligent system synthesizes information from many disciplines.
  • Processes all types of content: website, documents, narratives, graphics, and videos. Intelligent systems already have image and video recognition; it only gets more advanced.
  • Allows intuition to be validated by sources immediately. Smart people come up with ideas without doing the necessary research, an intelligent system does it for them.
  • Taps into the Internet of Things. Intelligent systems access into the growing number of sensors to understand behaviors, and add context to experiences.

Yesterday, IBM unveiled the enterprise email system Verse to the world. What separates Verse from its predecessors, according to a press release, is how it learns employees’ preferences and then provides “instant context about a given project as well as the people and teams collaborating on it”. And an intriguing ‘future option’ allows users to “query Watson on a given topic and receive a direct reply with answers ranked by degree of confidence.”[ii] If your company invests in Verse, you might have access to the smartest supercomputer on the planet.

I thought of an example where I could have used an advanced intelligent system to save weeks of painstaking work. Earlier in my career, as an economist, I had the task of collecting data for business valuations. One step is to get financial ratios of comparable companies. I could see myself asking an intelligent system: “Hey there, could you give me the financial ratios of the top ten comparable companies to…?”

Current Technology/Human Interaction Intelligent System
Identify companies based on financials.
  • Create a complex query string in Moodys.
  • Transfer the results into Excel.
  • Complete multiple iterations of this process to get a final list of companies.
  • Hears criteria through a verbal command.
  • Works across platforms and understands idiosyncrasies between iterations.
  • Outputs results in Excel in minutes.
Read companies 10Ks, profiles
  • Read each document individually.
  • Sort them based on relevancy (a time-consuming process).
  • Reads and processes the documents, then makes recommendations (in minutes).
Calculate financial ratios
  • Input comparable companies’ financial numbers into Excel, calculate ratios.
  • Calculates ratios instantaneously.
Each time the intelligent system goes through the process it gets better. It does it faster. It understands and remembers why you make decisions to keep or drop comparable companies. Eventually, the intelligent system does everything based on the initial criteria and produces results in minutes.

[i] https://www.quora.com/What-would-an-IQ-of-500-or-1000-look-like

[ii] http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/45402.wss

Original Image © Depositphoto/ maxkabakov #20722549

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