Every year, consultants at Deloitte issue a Technology Trends report.  In 2016, the report focused on the growth of several new and relatively new innovations, including blockchain technologies, augmented reality and the Internet of Things. This post examines the highlights from Deloitte’s 2016 report and considers how these trends will impact training and development over the course of the coming year.

Training for AR, IoT and Blockchain Technologies

Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

As reported in Deloitte’s 2016 Technology Trends report, “Until recently, augmented reality and virtual reality (AR and VR) technologies have served primarily as inspiration for fiction writers and Hollywood special-effects teams. Yet increasingly, both are finding more practical application in the enterprise. And while the hype surrounding each—particularly in the realms of entertainment and gaming—makes for good headlines, the real story in the coming months will likely be AR and VR’s
disruptive potential to recast long-standing business processes and tasks while opening a door to fundamentally new experiences.” Moving forward, there are several key areas of impact that organizations of all kinds should prepare:

  • Communication and collaboration: VR and AR are expected to soon deliver what earlier technological innovations never really did: Real, one-to-one human interactions.
  • Training and simulation: AR and VR will soon make it possible for IT to be actively engaged in “retooling high-cost training and simulation environments, many of which exist to rehearse critical scenarios without the risk of real-world consequences.” While this is already happening in some realms (emergency medicine), moving forward, we can expect to see this applied across industries and contexts.
  • Field and Customer Service: Soon, remote experts will be able to see exactly what field representatives can see and as a result, provide guidance as they perform maintenance or mechanical tasks.
  • Customer experience and interactive marketing: In some industries, sales pitches will increasingly involve simulated experiences (e.g., a virtual trip to an exotic location or “test” car drive carried out without getting behind the wheel or an actual vehicle).

Training Implications: For all of the above applications of AR and VR to take off, in the coming years, organizations will need to pour additional training dollars into preparing existing and new employees to work in augmented and virtual settings.  This means offering advance technical training to everyone from maintenance and repair staff to customer service representatives.

Internet of Things

Like AR and VR, the IoT (Internet of Things) continues to gain ground. As reported in Deloitte’s annual report, in 2016, 5.5 million new things were connected to network infrastructure each day and 2017, the number is expected to rise. Indeed, by 2020, the number is expected to reach 20.8 billion. (For an introduction to the IoT, read our earlier post, The Internet of Things Impact on eLearning). Amazingly, Deloitte’s consultants found that in 2016, many companies had unused IoT infrastructure built into their manufacturing machinery and IT software.

Training implications: That IoT infrastructure is currently lying dormant in many organizations suggests that the workforce has yet to catch up to the technology. This means that moving forward, organizations will need to train their employees to both leverage the benefits of existing IoT applications while implementing applications and doing so in a way that does not create security risks. After all, the IoT also means more data and with more data come new and arguably unprecedented security risks. This will also increased the need for robust cybersecurity training.

Internet of Things

Blockchain Technologies

Most people associated blockchain technologies with Bitcoin–a somewhat dubious currency innovation that may or may not last in the long term. In actual fact, blockchain is far more complex and has implications that extend well beyond currency. Deloitte’s report defines blockchain as follows:

What is blockchain? Simply put, it is a distributed ledger that provides a way for
information to be recorded and shared by a community. In this community, each
member maintains his or her own copy of the information and all members must validate any updates collectively. The information could represent transactions, contracts, assets, identities, or practically anything else that can be described in digital form. Entries are permanent, transparent, and searchable, which makes it possible for community members to view transaction histories in their entirety.

Still confused? If so, you’re not alone. Blockchain represents an entirely new way of thinking about how information is collected, shared, stored and used. Why? Because with blockchain technologies third parties are replaced with cryptology and everyone with a stake is able to run complex algorithms to certify the integrity of the data. The implications for organizations are, as one might imagine, widespread and not yet fully understood. What is clear is that some jobs, especially in finance, are about to undergo a radical shift. Technology Trends concludes, “Blockchain’s ability to replace middlemen with mathematics is precisely why this technology matters. It can reduce overhead costs when parties trade assets directly with each other, or quickly prove ownership or authorship of information—a task that is currently next to impossible without either a central authority or impartial mediator.” In this respect, we can also expect to see blockchain technologies have a notable impact on the legal profession over the coming decade.

Training implications: In many ways, we’ve been slowly but surely easing our way into the world of AR, VR and IoT for decades. Blockchain, by contrast, represents a bolder technological leap. One of the key things the blockchain is how it impacts trust. Much of business has historically been about establishing trust; in a blockchain world, traditional trust-building activities are replaced with mathematics. It seems likely that as we train workers to engage with blockchain applications, then, we will also need to train workers to trust this new trust-building technology. What previous technological innovations have revealed, however, is that learning how to use new technologies often is much easier than learning how to accept new technologies. How quickly the blockchain is embraced will depend much of whether or not the training and development community recognizes the need to introduce the blockchain as both a new technology and conceptual shift in how we do business in the twenty-first century.

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