From Trump Impeachment to Technology Supernova - The Month That Was


Superpowers are everything –whether in a title or in a device that sits comfortably in the pocket of 3.3mnpeople worldwide. In the former case, it is (currently) about a certainPresident of the United States surviving impeachment the same way he built hispowerful presidency - by assaulting facts and seeking to expand the limitationsof the office he is accused of abusing. The latter is far more reassuring as mobilelearning is projected to grow at a rate of 26 percent by 2026, to reach USD 95billion in 2026 from USD 8 billion in 2018. That mobile technologyis touching the lives of almost every human being on this planet is reason enoughfor L&D to sit up, take notice and adopt. It’s a superpower that’s handy,affordable and always on.

As for me, I have my personalsuperhero.

With a scarf tied around his neck,trunks pulled over his ill-fitting slacks and a fisted hand sticking out in thesky, my 6 year old dashes around the house calling himself Superman. While Ifind this deeply endearing, I often worry if his spidey craze will ever wearoff. Not from the standpoint of considering himself invincible, but wearingwhat best belongs underneath the clothes, secretly “under”.

Well that’s hardly a secret whenthe US has got a bitter ‘secret’ news pill to swallow in the form of an Appleengineer formerly accused of stealing trade secrets from the technology giant fora Chinese startup has now been found to be hiding a classified file fromthe Patriot missile program.

I digress.

But when distractions in oureveryday lives have become the norm, we are all but derailing from our intendedobjectives.

It has taken just one episode foreveryone back home to know that my well-meant suggestion, “Come, let’s read youa bedtime story” actually means “Baby, you read the story while I get my lastdose of social media for the day”. Are we really to be blamed when we have gotour phones vying for our attention, offering distractions every minute, everyday?!

It’s no different at work too. Thatemail notification, that IM, that Like, that this, that that, everything eatsinto our mind space negatively impacting productivity. But not all’s lost.

Citrix Systems is trying to improvethe office technology experience by bringing a Facebook-like newsfeed to workcomputer and smartphone through an IntelligentDigital Workspace that uses machine learning (ML) to aggregate informationfrom dozens of outside apps into a single place. Yes, that reduces togglingbetween windows and systems, the signing in and the signing out, butdistraction does it cure? Time and use cases will tell.

Speaking of ML, it’s now known thatAppleuses privacy-preserving machine learning, called Federated Learning, to improveits voice assistant without hoovering up data on our phone. In simplerwords, it is this technology that wakes up the voice assistant on your phone whenyou say “Hey Siri,” but not when the same phrase comes from your friends orfamily.

What Siri has done for Apple users,Amazon’s Alexa is doing for the Android (and iOS) community. My kid, till date,thinks that Alexa is a grown up child hiding inside a speaker diligentlyprocessing his requests - from Nerf Blasters to AI-provoking questions like“Why does my mumma always boss me around?”

With such a wide user base anddiverse applicability, the marketplace for virtual assistants is global. Somuch so that AIAssistants are touted as the future of corporate training. Training willbecome more engaging and personalized with an intelligent assistant, regardlessof whether it is related to organizational information, policies or processes.

However, this technology influx isgiving rise to some serious workplace challenges. A new research by Swinburne’sCentre for the New Workforce and YouGov, revealsAustralian workers are not sufficiently preparing for work being transformed bydigital technology with 61 per cent of Australian workers thinking thattheir current skill set is not suited for the next five years of work. Closerhome, paucity of talent in high-growth sectors like Fintechunderlines the need for adaptive and personalized learning solutions deliveredthrough technology platforms to bridge the skills gap.

Interestingly, learning is the onlyway to stay ahead of the disruption curve and Telanganastate (in India) has ranked number one by reaching 20,000 field staff during2018-19 to impart training on 12 soft skills modules and threedomain-specific modules on RTI, Office Procedures, and Finance & Accounts,apart from Sustainable Development Goals. Now that’s a lofty goal achieved!

Meanwhile, the US House JudiciaryCommittee has postponed a vote on two impeachment charges against PresidentDonald Trump. Mr. Trump continues to deny any wrongdoing and life goes on forall US citizens.

That’s perhaps what superpower inreal life looks like.

Me, I don't consider myself asuperhero. I am just an ordinary woman doing extraordinarythings.

‘Themonth that was’ is a monthly column covering the hot and the happening in theeLearning, L&D and learning technology space presented in a light,easy-to-digest format. While the aim of these posts is to keep the HR and theLearning & Development fraternity abreast with the latest news and views,it is a vent out for the author, Pranjalee Lahri, who deals with aone-and-a-half men pair – her hubby and her 6-year old son – as she moonlightsas a wife and a mother.