When it comes to the fourth industrial revolution, machine learning and artificial intelligence are at the center of the universe. Move aside, elite and longstanding establishments of formal education — the tech industry is advancing both theoretical and applied learning at a faster rate than Apple can push out an iOS update. It is “agility by fire” — the ability to move quickly but not easily, and still excel.
Small and medium-sized enterprises are brimming with intelligent, diverse and eager talent producing work as it defines and redefines itself. This reality accounts for a fast-paced, reactive, regulated yet boundaryless organization with silos of expertise. It’s a beautiful place to be. It is what industry giants have long written about when telling tales of their path to success.
SMEs are true front-line and onsite educators. Although conducting research and onsite training is not new to business savoir-faire; invested in-house researchers, a valued platform for customer support, dedicated customer experience leadership and a strong strategic learning culture all drive iterations of excellence in real time, obliged to become versions of interdisciplines, which in itself is innovative and a testament to evolutionary survival.
In the past 10 years, the academic demographic has transformed into a mix of highly educated university students and seasoned continuing education professionals seeking career complement. To a growing degree, this is because the workforce rewards interdisciplinary experience and applied learning. Formal education is not enough. Bryan Caplan, in his book “The Case Against Education,” argues that 80 percent of a college degree’s value comes from what the degree signals to employers, not the knowledge and experience gained acquiring it. The internet economy is creating new professions at a pace too fast for universities. These professions require two or three different skills, which aren’t taught in the same degree or even by the same faculty.
Along the same vein, student internships have taken on a competitive counterpart with coveted partnerships between industry organizations and academia. The nuance in this collaboration is that the industry is giving substantive value to education. This milieu gives agency for an employee within their own role and organization to be curious, to fail, to wonder, to try — to learn. Academia alone are not the keyholders to the new world of work anymore — they too had to become agile by fire.
The No. 1 culture peg for 2020 is agile learning, says Spotify HR Blog author Katarina Berg, who refers to upskilling, cross-skilling, reskilling and offskilling as “the new black.” Major strides in technology and a new internet-enabled economy open doors to a new model of education — one where the individual takes responsibility for their development, according to a HackerNoon.com post.
The tech sector not only inspires but requires learning by fire with interdisciplinary teams for real-world application that is natural in software SMEs. It’s the perfect storm. Industries struggle to integrate data, tech and software to keep pace, suffering with the upskilling required to use it. According to a global survey commissioned by Workday Rising, 22 percent of finance executives believe the ability to interpret and act upon predictions made with machine learning will be the most valuable skill to their function over the next five years. What will be different is that powerful planning tools will take these once-specialized capabilities and democratize them so people throughout an organization can use these skills.
The tech sector requires logical minds using a blend of technology, math and business analysis to solve various practical problems. This is sparked by a strong learning culture. To be innovative, it is important that learning continues to widen the scope and breadth of how we see what we do.
The tech sector survives from the understanding that developers need designers, designers need marketers, marketers need UX researchers and researchers need data scientist researchers. Any of those candidates who has learned the others’ value becomes more valuable to the organization. The role of learning is to capitalize and create the architecture of the hybrid-mind. This opportunity is constantly presenting itself in tech companies as agile and on-the-fly pods are created to problem solve, innovate and compete. This is also how the tech sector is implicitly impacting learning. As the sector continues to evolve, it survives by being agile by fire.