The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Computer Science Education Week

education2.pngThe National Science Foundation (NSF) and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) kicked off Computer Science Education Week earlier this week with an event in Washington, D.C., celebrating new commitments and partnerships among the Federal government, school districts, nonprofits, foundations, private industry, and others that will expand access to, and student learning in, computer science in the K12 space.

 

If we think the millennials are digital natives, this next wave will embrace IoT and other computing advances to a whole new level.

 

It always makes me wonder how the future of services is being embraced within our educational systems and what we should do about it.

The use of experience and an organizational error culture

 

opps.pngI recently came across a blog on the error culture of organizations. It was focused on: when it comes to learning from errors, it is how an organization behaves that is important.

 

“…when errors do occur, they aren’t swept under the rug. Instead, they’re treated as valuable learning opportunities that help companies avoid the repetition of similar mistakes in the future.”

 

With all the new technology around us and new business trends the old adage that “if you are making mistakes you’re not learning” in more relevant than ever.

 

On the other hand, we need to benefit from those previous errors. I see lots of discussions about ITIL and ITSM and their role in helping organizations deliver more reliable services. These are not just academic exercises, the learnings (of the users, operations…) need to be reinvested in improved practices, even in these very dynamic new models.

 

All too often, the new flexible techniques view basic operational approaches as constraining or even unnecessary. It makes me ask people how they will understand the ‘normal’ operations of the system and be able to see a pattern where intervention is needed. One thing is clear, you don’t want to learn how to fire a gun in the middle of a firefight. Similarly, you don’t want to diagnose a system for the first time when it is going (or has gone) down. Experience is needed to help talk people through this process, since it is rarely taught and needs to be felt.

 

A little bit of the Internet of Things

invention.pngThe Internet of Things doesn’t have to be only about new things, it can also be about adding automation capabilities to existing devices. Makers have been playing with this for a while, but littleBits electronics is the first set of components I’ve seen that addresses both the consumer and education markets in such a broad fashion.

 

It reminded me of those 101 electronic projects kits that were around when I was growing up. I’ve never touched this product, but it does show how wide the exposure is likely to be, in a relatively short time. It will be interesting to see what kinds of innovative solutions people will generate with a modular approach like this that hides some of the more difficult ‘plumbing’ issues.

Service Innovation Workshop with NSF

SaaS.pngJust finished up a very interesting couple of days at a workshop to develop a research agenda for service innovation. The objective was to define a roadmap for future service innovation research and education for the NSF as well as academic and industry partners.

 

This was a very diverse group of about 60 people that broke into working groups to look at service innovation from a number of angles. One thing that almost all the groups appeared to rally around was the thought that the service modeling techniques currently in use (and simulations) are not up to the task of bringing diverse groups to a consensus and (more importantly) action.

 

We tried to avoid the typical trap of spending the entire meeting defining ‘service innovation’ and instead focus on areas where NSF funded research would do the most good (e.g., automation, incorporating knowledge into service system design, skill definition and education for next-generation service innovation) -- generating value.

 

There was one area where I had a bit of concern: the goal of human-centered service systems. I don’t have too much of a problem where the humans determine the value and consume the result (focusing attention on the unique), but if humans are on the critical path of executing the service, there had better be a good reason since I still view that human attention is going to be scarce.

 

We did get into an interesting discussion of if it is attention or understanding intention that is scarce?!?

 

There was also an interesting idea coming from the DIY space that if you can be a consumer in the future you can be a producer in the future. We’re not there yet, but it does show the level of disruption that might need to be embraced.

 

One great outcome for me was the opportunity to meet a number of like-minded people who have problems where I and others at HP can help address.

Component skills of future roles?

 

juggle.pngThe other day I focused on the changes for education and automation… But what about our expectations? There is a great deal of concern about the elimination of jobs. Is the foundation of that really based on our inability to embrace the super-human capabilities that will be enabled and how that will change the roles we play?

The same automation that eliminates jobs also gives us significantly more capabilities – skills where humans excel. No matter how much we automate, there will likely always be work opportunities where human skills will be valued – until Skynet takes over.

 

We can now cultivate a network that spans thousands where just a few decades ago our network of ‘friends’ would likely be measured in double digits. The value of our flexibility, intuition and relationships will likely continue to be valued.

 

What are the component skills of the jobs of the future? Here are a few ideas:

  1. Change management – Individuals that can help others embrace change and transition to new modes of operation. They will need to be experts at context transfer.

  2. Transcendental optimization – Those that can move beyond just simple tweaking (that can likely be automated) to breakthrough optimization approaches.

  3. Disassemblers – What you shut down can be as important as what you start. These skills will focus on how to shut down existing environments.

  4. Strategic futurists – Roles that focus on envisioning the future and can convey that to others effectively.

  5. Ethicists – Functions that focus on the ethical and legal use of technology.

  6. Unique recognition – Although most situations can be handled in a standard way, those that can recognize when something is unique or at a critical inflection point will be crucial.

  7. User interface design – Although there will be less user interfaces required, the need to share that information and focus attention to greatest effect will be critical.

  8. Evangelist – Every good idea needs to be marketed effectively to be embraced.

  9. Modeler – All models are wrong but some are useful. The ability to effectively abstract complexity out of systems is a critical skill.

  10. Juggler – Keeping a number of balls in the air will continue to be crucial.

  11. Fixers – Abstraction is what makes many types of technology useful to the common folk. Sometimes though it doesn’t work and extraordinary measures will be required. Those who can do this best, will always have a job.

These can be aggregated together into thousands of new functions. What do you think?

 

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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
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