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Web Seminars Series

 

How will Salesforce reach $10 billion sales? Will Twitter be a Salesforce product or sell to Disney? How will Einstein close more sales for you and me?

Discover the answers at Dreamforce October 4-6, Moscone Center. Join our editors at these seven Must Attend events:

 

1.       The Sales Executive Summit at Marriott Marquis.

Forty-four sales leaders from Amazon Web Services, LinkedIn and Twitter (to name a few) share their secrets to culture, development, leadership and technology integration. Pre-registration required. Tues, Oct 4th 8:30 AM – 4:00 PM at Marriott Marquis

2.       Tony Robbins Keynote

Get ready for a sales workout with Robbins. He will define, confound, and motivate sales performers. Can’t wait to get my fix. Tues, Oct 4th 4:30-6:30 PM at Moscone Ctr

3.       Shark Tank Meets Dreamforce at DreamPitch Competition.

Marc Cuban, Will.i.am and Chris Sacca judge the next great salesforce cloud app from creative idea-ologists. The winner can receive up to $200,000 in cash and prizes. Tues, Oct 4th, 1:00-2:00 PM Moscone West, Keynote Rm 3

4.       Marc Benioff Keynote

A must attend session for all Dreamers. Let’s see Einstein at work. What is the roadmap to $10 billion? Stay tuned here. Wed, Oct 5th 1:00 – 3:00 PM Moscone Ctr

5.       U2 concert for Dreamfest & Benefit for UCSF’s Children’s Hospitals.

Got a $1000 to donate, this is ‘the concert’ to attend. Wed Oct 5th Daly City Cow Palace

6.       Einstein is in the building.

This keynote reveals AI for Everyone and what it means. Thur Oct 6th 3:00-4:00 PM Moscone Ctr

7.       CloudExpo is the place for innovation, sales and technology.

Don’t miss the opportunity to view the creativity of this community in one place. Tues-Fri Oct 4-7th, hours vary. Moscone Ctr.

Not coming to Dreamforce?

You can still see the Keynotes via Salesforce LIVE at Dreamforce Streams. OR, you can attend your local Dreamforce Hangout.  

 

Published in Top Stories

Neuroscience Should Be Changing the Way You Design Sales Training

BY MARGIE MEACHAM

Suppose you had the chance to be present at the very moment of a world-changing discovery? Imagine sitting next to Marie Curie in her lab as she discovers the power of radioactivity or walking with Neil Armstrong on the moon. Maybe you are seeing the DNA double-helix for the first time with Watson, Crick, and Wilson. If you had the chance to be a part of one of these great moments of discovery, would you take it?

Right now, we all are embarking on a great adventure. We are discovering how the brain really works by watching it in the very act of cognition. We are expanding our understanding of how the human brain, a quivering bundle of more than 400 billion neurons, uses electrical charges to transmit and store sensations, feelings, decisions, fears, thoughts, and even our sense of self, on a constant and ever-changing basis. Someday soon, we’ll unlock the code that allows our brains to retrieve the sights, smells, and sounds of your seventh birthday as vividly as the first time you experienced it. And we’ll start to figure out what this wonderful, beautiful landscape of neurons, dendrites, and axons means to those of us who strive to help people learn.

For the past decade, advances in neuroscience have shed new light on how the brain learns. While this science is still in its infancy and there are more questions than answers right now, many teachers, instructional designers and trainers are implementing brain-aware techniques into their work as educators. Yet a quick review of the top 20 sales programs in 2016 offers pretty much the same solution selling approach that has been in vogue for decades. While the rest of the education and training profession is finding new ways to apply the expanding understanding of how brains work, sales trainers often seem stuck in the past. This would be fine if the selling techniques of the past were actually working, but new research shows that people often make a major purchase decision in spite of the sales person, rather than because of him or her. If you want to give your organization a competitive advantage, here are some practical applications of brain science you can use today to revitalize your sales training programs.

TEACH SALESPEOPLE HOW THE BRAIN MAKES DECISIONS

Think about a major purchase decision you made recently. You probably conducted careful research online, compared feature sets, searched for product reviews, sought out the opinion of friends and colleagues, and ultimately, made what you consider to be a logical decision. At least, that’s how you felt during the process. But you might be surprised to learn that the brain processes emotional and purchasing decisions in the same place — revealing that our emotions factor into any major purchase.

Recently, two different research teams at Duke University discovered that they were studying the same part of the brain to understand two brain functions that were previously thought to be completely unrelated: emotion and high-value purchasing decisions. The region that is getting all this attention is the vmPFC (ventromedial prefrontal cortex), which is located between the eyes in the front of the brain. By watching this region while people are making decisions, scientists have discovered that it’s most active when the subject is asking questions such like: “Is this product or service really worth the price I would have to pay to acquire it?” “Will I regret this decision later on?” “Is this really the very best choice I can make in this situation?”

In answering questions that appear to be about discoverable facts, the vmPFC considers some expected factors, such as the cost of one product compared to a similar product with similar features, expected financial benefits from the acquisition and use of the product, and so forth. But it also factors in some less quantifiable considerations, including status, emotional satisfaction, excitement, and small rewards such as snacks or prizes. This was quite surprising, because the scientists expected to see the cerebral cortex, the seat of our conscious thought, running the show. It turns out that the cerebral cortex doesn’t become involved in the decision until much later in theprocess. What’s considered the logical part of the brain starts coming up with reasonable sounding explanations for a purchase decision after it has been made at an unconscious level. In other words, by the time you can explain the pros and cons of two competing products to yourself or another person, your brain has already decided.

So, did you buy that expensive human capital management application because it would give you more hard data about the effectiveness of your leadership development program, or because it would make you feel smarter than your peers? The answer is most likely a bit of both. If sales people are too focused on making a logical case for their customer, they may miss significant opportunities where the buyer is responding emotionally to the perceived benefits of a particular choice. As a sales professional myself, I am imagining a few readers right now nodding their heads and thinking, “Ah, so that’s what happened to the sale I was sure I had sewn up.”

As early as 1994, Antonio Damasio made the case that emotions are a critical part of the brain’s decision-making process. Because emotions and logic are linked in our decision-making process, we must teach our sales people to allow time for buyers to process the emotional content related to their decisions. Remember that these emotions are happening at an unconscious level, so it may take some prodding to help the buyer bring these feelings up to the surface where they can be examined and discussed.

TEACH SALES PEOPLE THAT THERE REALLY IS POWER IN POSITIVE THINKING AS LONG AS IT’S GENUINE

Many sales training programs focus on the skill of influence. The reasoning is that if you can persuade the buyer to have the same enthusiasm for your product that you display, he or she will be buy it. An interesting study has studied the process of influence by observing brains trying to sell ideas to other people. One group was assigned the role of the intern. Group members were told to bring movie ideas to members of the other group, the producer, and convince these people to make movies from their ideas. Interns were assigned these ideas, which they were supposed to sell.

By viewing a live MRI scan during the experiment, scientists discovered that they could accurately predict whether or not a producer would buy an idea by looking at two responses in the brain: anticipated reward and what’s considered the salesperson effect. If the intern believed that her idea would be accepted, her brain anticipated this success and produced dopamine, delivering a positive feeling of success. She literally experienced her success in her mind before it happened. If the intern did not believe the idea would be accepted, it generally wasn’t. This is pretty much what common sense might tell us, right? We’ve all been told that positive thinking yields better results than negative thinking, and this research confirms that intuitive belief.

In addition to the reward-behavior predictor, scientists found that some people were just more convincing than others. When these people spoke about their ideas, the same area of the brain was stimulated in the intern’s brain and in the producer’s. In other words, the presenter was able to trigger the reward stimulus in another person’s brain. The scientists called this the salesperson’s effect.

It isn’t clear if this effect is the result of some sort of innate ability or brain structure, or something that can be developed over time. Further studies likely will answer those questions.

Soon it may be possible to hire salespeople by watching their MRIs as they attempt to sell something to another participant. We might be able to determine a leader’s communication skills by measuring the strength of his salesperson effect on team members’ brains. If we can discover the mechanism that is triggering this effect, we may be able to even train people to enhance this ability. What we do know is that when two people are communicating well, they are literally in sync, in that their brain waves produced by the electro-chemical communication between neurons is modulating at the same frequency. In a video from a neuroscience conference in Amsterdam, several pairs of people sit quietly and use the feedback coming from sensors that picked up their brain waves to synchronize, which is indicated by the color (or wavelength) begin produced by their brains.

Daniel Goleman, expanding on his initial work in emotional intelligence, has discovered that the brains of two people who trust each other have a remarkable symmetry — their brains are so in sync that they exhibit high levels of brain activity in the same parts of the brain at the same time. The same synchronicity has been found in couples dancing and musicians playing together. Many successful sales professionals have sensed this syncing of brain waves when things are going extremely well in the sales process.

TEACH SALES PEOPLE TO BUILD TRUST THROUGH GENUINE CONNECTIONS

Neuroscience suggests that the less we trust the salesperson, the riskier we believe the purchase decision and the less likely we are to act, regardless of the product’s benefits. Approach-avoidance conflict is a term used to describe a major decision that has both appealing and unappealing elements to it. Since most people inherently mistrust salespeople, nearly every major purchase decision falls into this category. How can we feel good about a deal we’ve just made with a perceived devil? Neuroscientist Paul Zak was one of the first to identify the neurotransmitter oxytocin as an indicator of a high degree of trust toward a stranger, as exhibited by heightened levels of oxytocin. Oxytocin and other “messenger molecules” are released in response to internal and external stimuli, flooding specific parts of the brain and triggering specific emotional reactions. Zak found that the more oxytocin is coursing through your brain, the more likely you are to trust people. It stands to reason that if we can stimulate oxytocin in the buyer’s brain, we can overcome the deeply ingrained tendency to distrust a sales representative. Here are a few behaviors that stimulate oxytocin and make us believe that an individual is trustworthy.

1

The Power of Touch

Being touched by another human being stimulates oxytocin and other transmitters and increases the feelings of trust toward that individual. Zak found that hugging, in particular, generates high degrees of trust in both participating brains. Handshaking can also improve the degree of trust between two individuals and make the prospect of striking a deal more likely.

2

Storytelling Builds Trust and Connection

Stories have a profound effect on the brain. Brain imaging studies have shown that when we are immersed in a story, our brains respond as though we are the protagonist of the narrative. Therefore, stories about others buying and using the product can help buyers see themselves making the purchase decision and generate positive emotions about the product and the salesperson.

3

You Can’t Fake Trustworthiness

Some sales training companies try to give sales representatives a list of behaviors which, if practiced, will increase their ability to generate trust and build relationships. If only it were that simple. In “The Selfish Gene,” Richard Dawkins explains that our brains are highly tuned survival machines, so at some point in our evolution it must have become necessary to detect lies in order to stay alive. Today, our brains are capable of detecting false statements or actions within milliseconds. We may not be able to express the reaction in words, but we know at “a gut level” (really a brain level) that some people are not genuine. Trustworthiness cannot be faked; your buyer’s brain will detect the falsehood every time. Turning again to my review of the top 20 sales training organizations, I see a familiar pattern. Their content seems to focus on external behaviors that will make salespeople appear more credible. Neuroscience tells us that we should focus instead on teaching sales professionals to be genuine, sincere, and trustworthy — a much bigger challenge with a much greater potential payoff.

WHERE DO WE GO FROM HERE?

We’re still figuring out how to use the exciting information coming out of neuroscience, but we can start applying these and other insights now, to make our sales training – and all our training programs – more brain-aware. It’s a brave new world and learning professionals have the opportunity — and the responsibility — to continue to adapt as new information becomes available. Whether we realize it or not, we are observers to one of the greatest eras of discovery in the history of the human race. We’re living in the early days of the age of discovering our true selves, and it is going to change not only how we view the sales profession, but how we understand ourselves.

—Margie Meacham is the Chief Freedom Officer, Learningtogo. She helps people learn and improve performance by applying our evolving understanding of how the brain works, as revealed through neuroscience.

Published in Top Stories

Collaboration, innovation and high performance are the mark of this year’s winning organizations.

BY CLAIRE JOHNSON

The sixth annual Learning! 100 Awards honor the world’s top learning organizations for innovation, collaboration and performance. The Learning! 100 are comprised of 60 corporate enterprises and 40 public sector honorees from government, nonprofit and education. These organizations confront the pressing issues of global competition, innovation and constant change. This year, Amazon Web Services shares how the largest cloud service company in the world can innovate at a rate of 722 new solutions annually while decreasing costs. Scripps Health takes training from the classroom and surgical urgical centers to their new simulation center where practice breeds success and improved patient outcomes. Think of the training challenges of Ingersoll Rand which brings 32 organizations organizations together under a single sales excellence program across a global sales teams.These are just a few of the great works the learning and development teams across the 2016 Learning! 100 have accomplished, all while generating outstanding financial performance. How is this possible? All of the Learning! 100 winners share a similar vision: Learning is an organizational imperative; Senior leadership leads or supports learning across the organization; and many, (84 percent), have a learning leader who drives positive impact on the business. Meet these organizations, all 100, in the following pages and upcoming upcoming events,web seminars and articles by Elearning! Media Group.

 

#1 Private Sector

Amazon Web Services’ Outcome Based Account Management Program Delivers

More than 10 years ago, Amazon Web Services started as a storage service. Today, it offers more than 70 services for compute, storage, databases, analytics, mobile and enterprise applications. The organization announced 722 significant new features and services in 2015 which is 40 percent more than what was introduced in 2014. In 2015, Amazon became the fastest company to reach $100 billion in annual sales and Amazon Web Services reached $10 billion in annual sales. The two companies are very different — one serves consumers and the other serves enterprises — but both have grown organically over time and have placed an emphasis on uncovering — rather than dictating — company culture which contributes to their successes.

Consistent with the Amazon Leadership Principle of keeping the custome rfront-andcenter, the Amazon Web Services approach to selling startswith the customer and works backward.It defines success through the customers’ eyes based on each’s individual priorities.The program,Outcome Based Account Management Program Implementation for the Global Sales Organization, has been hugely successful, which is why it’s receiving the No. 1 ranking in the Learning! 100 awards.The program is being delivered internationally and isreceiving a 4.2 score out of 5 from global participants.

Outcome-Based Account Management (OBAM) is the process, tools, competencies, and dialogue architecture for initiating and solidifying customer relationships through focus on the journey of the seller in a lifelong strategic relationship. The program offers a number of components which is what makes it effective including pre-call, pre-work, one-day live collaborative training session, three post-workshop coaching calls and on-demand OBAM playbook. Customer-driven products and solutions are at the heart and soul of this program and the results are in:

>> More than 90 percent of Amazon Web Services builds was requested by customers.

>> Amazon Web Services has dropped prices 51 times. >> Amazon Web Services continues to introduce low-cost services such as Aurora (a database engine), QuickSight (a business intelligence service), EC2 Container Service (a compute container service) and Lambda (a server-less computing capability).

Amazon is working with well-known companies to innovate and fulfill their needs. MLB Advanced Media is an example of a customer that consistently helps reinvent the customer experience with the help of Amazon Web Services’ Kinesis which processes real-time streaming data. It works to measure every pitched ball’s movements more than 2,000 times per second, stores the data onAmazon S3 and then performs pitching analytics and so many others on Amazon EC2. Collectively, the suite of services generates nearly 7TB of raw statistical data per season shedding quantitative light on baseball myths and pearls of wisdom.

Netflix is another well-known company Amazon Web Services serves. About seven years ago, decided to move all of its applications to the cloud. It opted to work with Amazon Web Services because of the greatest scale and broadest set of services and features. With the success of Netflix’s transition, Infor, Intuit and Time, Inc. have decided to move their application to Amazon Web Services. Amazon Web Services already attracts more than 1 million customers and as the team continues its rapid pace of innovation that allows more capabilities for builders, it will be easier to collect, store and analyze data, allowing access from more geographic locations and rapid growth in mobile and connected devices. With this rate of growth, Amazon Web Services is No. 1 on the 2016 Learning! 100 top learning organizations.

Amazon Web Services is a first-time Learning! 100 award winner.

WHILE ALWAYS KEEPING THE CUSTOMER IN MIND, AMAZON WEB SERVICES CONTINUES TO GROW RAPIDLY:

Amazon Web Services QR 2

 

#1 Public Sector

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s Leadership Development Program

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL), a premier applied science laboratory within the Department of Energy, serves more than 6,500 employees in a number of technical disciplines including physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, and computer science among others. The researchers work together to achieve technical innovations and scientific breakthrough in areas such as nonproliferation, cybersecurity, clean energy, climate change, manufacturing and medicine. There’s an emphasis on values and employees are encouraged to uphold them with the way they interact with one another, sponsors, stakeholders and the public. LLNL senior leaders recognize that a highly capable, innovative and sustainable workforce, led by talented management is essential to the success of the Laboratory — that’s why the Leadership Development program was developed.

Learning is aligned with strategic business goals and embedded in the workflow, accelerating business impact and organizational agility. LLNL’s learning program connects with talent management, linking skills and competencies with succession planning and leadership development. Employees are empowered to take charge of their career development, supported by a program that promotes learning and knowledge sharing throughout the employee lifecycle.

LLNL’s learning program features ULearn, their online learning center, at its hub. More than 65 percent of LLNL has a U-Learn account which consists of a portfolio of resources that are responsive to the Laboratory’s environment, mission, skill base and future. ROI surveys reveal that 96 percent of employees believe that U-Learn benefited them and 80 percent of learners were able to apply what they learned within six weeks. Further, LLNL revealed the return on investment for the program was 1,129 percent or a benefitto-cost ratio of 12.8 to 1. The Leadership Development program uses a blended learning approach by incorporating online resources found in U-Learn into its curriculum as well as pre-assessments, coaching opportunities, project work, and instructor-led workshops.

Financially challenging times and new workforce expectations require leaders and learning programs to be cost-effective and integrate technology. The Leadership Development program was created as a solution to address both these needs. Drawing on a self-assessment conducted with the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business which identified strengths and gaps in leadership capabilities, the plan for integrated leadership development programs began, addressing needs at multiple career levels, aligned with the strategic direction. Today’s program has evolved to include an intentional roadmap for leaders that builds their skills as they gain tenure. LLNLs’ leadership program has three curriculum components: culture, leadership and accountability. A culture of trust, development, and innovation helps prepare leaders to improve their skills to be able to deliver on LLNL’s mission. An institutional set of leadership competencies help leaders move the organization forward and make informed decisions and each leader is account able for their decision, no matter the outcome. When an individual has been identified for a leadership role, he or she will create a 180-day assimilation plan and over the following four years, will work closely with management and the learning organization for assessment, feedback, performance tools and workshops.

Lawrence Livermore National Labs QR

 

#2 Private Sector

At Vi, Learning is a Leadership Competency

Vi operates residential facilities for active and retired adults operated by Hilton Hotels. Vi employs 2,946 people across 10 facilities and its corporate office. Vi’s strong collaboration with business partners and alignment of learning strategies and initiatives are what drives results. What makes Vi unique is how the company’s Learning and Organizational Development department engages with its business partners. Responsibility for learning is viewed as a leadership competency and is part of each leaders’ annual goals which are tied to compensation. This partnership has manifested in high levels of employee and resident satisfaction, high levels of employee retention and strong financial and quality performance. performance. Nine out of 11 of Vi’s locations have won awards as top employers and best places to work in 2015.

Vi’s future success depends upon developing future leaders with the same cultural DNA. Vi’s Breakthrough Leadership Program does just that. It leverages the best of classroom, virtual and collaborative learning and multi-faceted evaluation techniques to measure each aspect of the program. Vi partnered with organizational development faculty from DePaul University to identify what specific elements of Vi’s leadership training program were effective and worked to refine what specific elements contribute to participant success. In the past, Vi strictly relied on program participant retention, promotion rates and participant and managerial feedback to assess program effectiveness. Although each component of this program offers the benefit of providing unique learning, insight, and reinforcement of concepts, each learning event has its own training assessment associated with it. A determination of overall program effectiveness requires capturing information about learners that is based on the objectives of the entire program, not simply tied to a given learning event. The end goal was to design a more systematic approach to assessing training outcomes connected to learning across the program.

As a result, Vi implemented a variety of assessment tools for participants, their managers and peers. These assessments were taken before the start of the program, during the program, and after the program ended to measure the effectiveness of each program element. In addition, Vi’s Learning and Organizational Development team engaged senior executives throughout the entire program (including virtual sessions) to reinforce key concepts and share personal learning. Vi invested in key partners such as faculty from DePaul University, Harvard Business and TalentSmart to deliver best in class solutions. Successful training effectiveness assessment depended on using multiple methods and sources of data and focused on outcomes known to be empirically associated with increased learning readiness, training motivation, transfer of training and job performance. Findings included:

>> Emotional Intelligence scores exceeded benchmark data across all dimensions by 10 percent. Overall emotional quotient scores increased seven percent to 86 percent with a 75 percent benchmark.

>> Knowledge gains were evaluated pre-class, after class and one year later, and showed a 25 percent increase in knowledge.

>> Attitudes and skills evaluated pre- and one year later reported an 11-percent average gain across all dimensions including self-efficacy, utility, transfer motivation, role clarity, supervisor support, skills self-assessment.

>> Engagement in leadership development activities asking for feedback by capabilities increased from 30 to 80 percent. >> All 13 dimensions measured saw a nearly 90 percent increase in abilities.

VI is a six-time Learning! 100 award winner.

HEAR FROM THE WINNER:

Vi QR

 

#2 Public Sector

DAU’s Performance-based Strategic Plan

Defense Acquisition University (DAU) graduates 240,000 students annually, serves more than 1 million learners per year and is on the cutting edge of social and mobile learning, as well as virtual learning. DAU’s efforts to develop and implement innovative learning strategies have enabled the organization to achieve international recognition as a premier corporate university. Looking ahead, organizational leaders continue to examine emerging trends and technologies to ensure that the university offers the best capabilities to the workforce, a task that requires constant self-assessment and reinvention.

The Department of Defense’s priorities are changing; its current challenge is to not just to do more with less, but to do it better and smarter. Additionally, DAU has achieved global reach and phenomenal growth, superb customer feedback, and an industry-wide reputation and accreditation for excellence.

To address these challenges, DAU’s Performance-based Strategic Plan for Shaping the Future incorporates its unique enterprise learning strategy, the Acquisition Learning Model (ALM) into its first three goals that guide all of the university’s efforts to adapt and improve. The three-year DAU Performance-based Strategic Plan for Shaping the Future incorporates the organization’s unique enterprise Learning Strategy, the Acquisition Learning Model (ALM), into its first three strategic goals: foundational learning, workflow learning and performance learning. DAU has integrated with shared assets from all three to create a powerful learning environment for the new workforce. It recognizes that foundational learning delivered in classroom and online courses must be connected to robust learning that goes on continuously, outside of structured courses that includes workflow learning which helps workers just in time and on the job. Performance learning targets students through high-impact consulting with specific challenges for programs, organizations and individuals.All three are integrated to create a powerful learning environment for the new workforce. The plan is implemented through a continuous multi-year process. The first year is executed and managed by an annual performance plan that is organized by five strategic goals and more than 100 performance tasks to be completed. These are cascaded down through the leadership team and to individual faculty and staff via their incentive plans to complete.

Another important DAU challenge is to help the new workforce and generation of learners succeed on the job. They will have fewer career opportunities for which to learn and gain experience, fewer mentors to help them learn, and fewer resources, yet still they must prevail. Meeting the demands of this new workforce has already driven significant changes in how they approach workforce learning and development. As a result, they are increasingly relying on DAU learning assets on the job. This new set of challenges has ushered in a paradigm shift from where everyone must play a role in learning and development and successes are gauged upon others’ rather than solely on each individual.

The DAU’s strategic plan has been recognized as an award-winning best practice, received a six-year accreditation and has been awarded a commendable rating by the Council of Occupational Education.

DAU is a six-time Learning! 100 award winner.

HEAR FROM THE WINNER:

Defense Acquisition University QR

 

Read more and see the full list of Learning! 100 Companies:  http://elmezine.epubxp.com/t/185271-elearning-august-september/16

Published in Top Stories

The 2016 edition of the Enterprise Learning Conference also marked the debut of the Learning! Champions Awards Luncheon. Frank Anderson, former president of the Defense Acquisition University, received the Lifetime Achievement Award and opened the award ceremony. We are proud to share the insights and inspiration shared by five of the Learning! Champions. (Scan QR code.)

 

 

 

 

 

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Jill Betters, Marketing Manager of Commercial & Agricultural Programs, CertainTeed Corp.

 

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Frank Anderson, former President, Defense Acquisition University

 

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ReLita Clarke, Corporate Training Manager, immix/group, an Arrow Company

 

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Dr. Christopher Washington, Provost & Chief Academic Officer, Franklin University

 

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Steven Stone, Vice President of Learning, Performance & Development, USAA

Published in Top Stories

Innovation and the entrepreneurial spirit have led to some of the 21st century’s greatest companies, products and services. Business leaders have seen the power that a single out-of-the-box idea has to transform an organization — or even an industry — in a short amount of time, and now corporate innovation programs have become a central business practice. Most of today’s graduates and CEOs probably didn’t think they’d be spending their careers hunting for unicorns, but that’s increasingly the task of today’s leaders. The market is hungry for the next billion dollar idea that will make a company an overnight success, or keep it relevant in a technology-driven economy.

To compete, companies should always be looking for new and innovative ways to engage customers and improve products and services. Smart leaders know this responsibility can’t rest solely in the C-Suite. Harnessing the power of a diverse workforce and unique employee perspectives is one of the surest ways to generate out-of-the-box ideas, services and products that set a company apart. This makes workforce development, and having an aggressive strategy in place to recruit, develop and retain a highly skilled workforce that can stay ahead of the curve, extremely critical.

The Tech Skills Gap

The rapid advancement of technology within corporate America, has led to a new kind of skills gap where employees who are fully-qualified within their field find themselves falling behind due to a lack of technological savvy or drive to innovate within their organization. A recent University of Phoenix survey found that only 37 percent of working U.S. adults consider themselves entrepreneurial within their own positions — also known as “intrapreneurial.”

The tech skills shortage is also deeply impacting information technology professions. The demand for tech-skilled employees is growing far faster than the pool of qualified candidates.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2010 and 2020, computer science careers are projected to grow by more than 22 percent, making it one of the fastest growing occupations during that time period.

The result is that some job seekers feel like their skills are outdated and their contributions to the company are stymied. Employers are consequently frustrated by the skills gaps between employees and the evolving needs of the organization. 

A Regional Approach

Cities rely on the strength of their workforce to fuel growth of urban populations, maintain housing prices and to insulate against negative economic impacts. Human capital is arguably the single most important factor in evaluating a city’s resiliency. When looking at cities that have reinvented themselves, Boston tops the list, having transitioned from a dying manufacturing town in the early 1980s to the vibrant information city it is today. Researchers argue this result is, in part, due to the fact that in 2000, half of Bostonians between age 25 and 34 had college degrees. 

Educational institutions have an opportunity and obligation to increase the relevance of their degrees by advancing their offerings to meet the needs of employers and job seekers in every community in the United States. Universities are uniquely positioned to assess local market conditions and tailor educational programs to ensure residents have the skills for meaningful careers and that businesses have qualified workforces that keep them in the market. There are several cities across the country working closely with higher education to boost the size and skills of their workforces and improve the labor market for employers, including the new “techtopia” of Las Vegas.

Las Vegas, a New Tech Hub?

Though most commonly known for its party culture and the “What happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” mentality, Las Vegas is quickly becoming an IT-centric economy. Clark County is home to more than 37,000 IT professionals, making up nearly 70 percent of the total IT workforce in Nevada according to the Nevada Government Office of Economic Development. Between 2014 and 2023, the number of jobs in that state is expected to grow by more than 10 percent.

The desert city has also been a launch pad for some of the most well-known, award-winning gadgets and technological advances introduced to the global stage in recent years. Las Vegas is home to the world’s largest trade show and platform for innovation, The International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), renowned for introducing some of today’s most revolutionary products, including smartphones, wearable tech devices and Wi-Fi enabled appliances. 

Zappos.com, the largest online shoe store, found its home in the heart of the city and has even made inroads to revitalize downtown Las Vegas with the Downtown Project, an initiative to take the city from good to great and transform it into a hub for inspiration, entrepreneurism, creativity and innovation. SuperNAP, one of the world’s most advanced technology ecosystems is also housed in Las Vegas and is an active partner in the city’s tech revitalization.

Igniting Innovation at RedFlint

Las Vegas is poised to be a major player when it comes to innovation and business, and that is why University of Phoenix is investing in the city of Las Vegas to provide an innovation resource that incubates and accelerates the ideas that solve today’s business challenges.

RedFlint, an innovation experience center, will immerse visitors in an experiential, hands-on learning environment that will foster the skills and strategy development necessary to revolutionize a business and industry from the inside out. University of Phoenix College of Information Systems & Technology, University of Phoenix School of Business and Iron Yard Ventures are working to satisfy the needs of the entire business spectrum using real problems facing communities and businesses to help cultivate the creative thinking that will lead to tomorrow’s business solutions.

RedFlint helps employees looking to update their technology skill sets and get their hands on the latest software and technologies; new businesses looking for entrepreneurial support; and established businesses looking to kick-start innovation and development programs. Additionally, the center will provide space and training events to assist local nonprofits, K-12 educators, small businesses and other community organizations.

This open-concept center, situated in the Bank of America Plaza building in downtown Las Vegas, will provide businesses and the community the opportunity to experiment with new technologies and business angles to create solutions to local business, industry and city challenges. However, the RedFlint team aims to help businesses in a way that will be felt far beyond the bright lights of Las Vegas.

It only made sense to open RedFlint in a city that is as forward thinking as the center will be. The RedFlint center will serve as a dynamic innovation ecosystem for the Las Vegas business community to experience and test new concepts, programs and technology.

RedFlint Innovation Center will hold an open house on October 13, 2016.  

Published in Top Stories

 

aNewSpring recently introduced an advanced interface in support of blended learning including “The Blended Learning Cookbook,” a set of recipes to create innovative and effective learning journeys. The e-book is meant to provide learning designers how-to insights on creating rich blended learning. The e-book has been well-received by L&D professionals in the Netherlands and internationally with more than 12,000 downloads.

“We see a big movement from traditional to blended learning programs. Among our clients we’ve seen first-hand that the leap to full-fledged e-learning did not result in the desired outcome. By adding online elements to a traditional learning classroom, we’ve recognized that learning technology is not meant to replace classroom instruction but rather to enhance it,” says Brant Seethaler, Commercial Director, aNewSpring.

—Learn more: http://www.anewspring.com/blended-learning-cookbook/

 

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Udacity plans to become the first credentialed institution in the world to offer an autonomous driving nanodegree. The company is partnering with Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, Didi, Otto, and Nvidia for the online nanodegree. Each partner will control a different aspect of the curriculum. Mercedes Benz is helping with software, Otto is going to help design projects for students to do, while Nvidia is going to guide the overall trajectory of the curriculum.

Udacity believes that there aren’t going to be enough engineers graduating from premiere institutions like Carnegie Mellon, Stanford and MIT because BCG estimates the market for autonomous vehicles will be at $22 billion in less than 10 years.

Each session is 12 weeks long for roughly a nine-month training session and applications for the first session close September 27.

Students will build autonomous software that is applied to an actual vehicle in their capstone project.

 

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The serious game Pacific, designed by Gamelearn, was recognized with a gold medal in the 2016 International Serious Play Awards. The award recognizes projects that promote participation and multiply learning opportunities in both the education and corporate training sectors.

Pacific is in video game format and is designed for the development of leadership skills. It was launched with the aim of becoming a practical manual on how to run and manage high-performing teams.

Pacific turns leadership into a survival adventure to develop management skills such as:

-Defining roles, responsibilities and objectives

-Analyzing the needs of the team, improving processes and increasing motivation

-Resolving conflicts within the team

-Improving communication for the delegation of tasks

-Encouraging teamwork and performance orientation

Developed in 3D animation and HTML5 language to be adaptable to a variety of devices, Pacific is available in eight languages and requires only an internet connection.

—Learn more: https://game-learn.com/

 

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Machine learning has come a long way in recent years. Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence Research Lab (FAIR) has developed a number of machine learning tools that go beyond object recognition, and has given them to the public. Developers are encouraged to play with and code the company’s open sourced tools. Although FAIR is not the first company to release its tools, one thing that sets it apart is that the tools recognize two-dimensional images rather than just depth sensors. Also, rather than putting a box around images, it can almost see each detail in the photo.

Facebook hasn’t made use of these tools just yet, FAIR released them early, allowing developers to work on them and solve short-term problems that can be built upon and into a bigger picture for future Facebook projects.

Tech giant Google is also working diligently to develop several AI programs. Google’s TensorFlow machine using technology is used to save farmers’ time with sorting cucumbers, using machine learning to recognize each cucumbers’ attributes such as color, shape and size. An Arduino Micro uses the information to control the actual sorting and a Windows PC trains the neural network with images. Currently, it takes two or three days to train the program using low-resolution photos, but this example shows just how advanced and profitable machine learning can be.

Machine learning can be beneficial for the environment. One of the major obstacles that big data centers face is keeping their servers cool because of the amount of energy used. Google is now using its DeepMind artificial intelligence to manage the power usage in parts of its data centers. The company tracked variables like temperature and pump speed to come up with an energy-efficient cooling method and ended up reducing the amount of electricity needed for cooling by 40 percent. 

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Teachers can now take their students on virtual reality field trips through Google’s new Expeditions educational virtual reality app. The app works with Google Cardboard, the company’s virtual reality viewer. With more than 200 expeditions to choose from, students can experience historical landmarks, diving underwater with sharks, visits to outer space and more. Teachers act as guides using curated descriptions, talking points and questions for students to get the most out of each experience.

A higher-end version with premade viewers, a teacher device and more is available for those who have a larger budget for their classrooms.

—Learn More: https://vr.google.com/cardboard/apps/

 

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