Friday, April 21, 2017

MA Bell's Intelligent Assistance

This post is from the book Thank You for Being Late by Thomas L. Friedman.

In 2016, AT&T opened an Internet of Things Foundry in Dallas, an innovation shop full of Network Engineers. They invited customers in with the proposition: Tell us what problem you want us to solve, and we commit that within two weeks we'll give you a prototype solution for you that works on a real live network. Every time we did this, it resulted in a contract.

- The Global Shipping company Maersk needed a sensor that could affix to every shipping container, enabling the company to track its containers anywhere in the World. The sensor had to affix to 200,000 cargo refrigerator containers, measure Humidity, Temperature, suffered any Damage, Broadcast that Data to their Headquarters, operate without Batteries, and be able to last ten years. In two weeks, AT&T Engineers built a prototype of a sensor, half the size of a shoe box, that could affix to every container, and was powered by a combination of solar and Kinetic Energy.

- Using wireless cell phone data, could tell a Signage company how many people who drove by their sign on a freeway ended up shopping in the store advertised on that sign, and if the sign was digital and changed every hour, they could tell which message was most effective. AT&T then could cut a deal on the transmission cost if they could mine the data and use it to solve the customer problems.

In the blink of an eye your friendly phone company became an all-around Business Solution Company. They needed to re-skill their workforce. They needed a smaller and smarter workforce with STEM skills.

AT&T version of Intelligent Assistance begins with the Management Teams becoming Transparent about the Company's Direction and the Skills it will need. To act on this new vision, AT&T five years ago asked all 107,000 of their Managers, which is how it categorizes all Professional employees not covered by Union contract, to set up internal profiles similar to LinkedIn accounts. They detailed their Job Experiences, Skills, Education, Certificates, and Specialties. Today, 90% of their Managers have done so. Now when a new job opens up, the first a Teams does is check the profiles for internal candidates who have the necessary skill sets. At the same time, the company posts the new jobs and identifies where they are located, the exact skills need to get the jobs, and how to get the training for those skills.

AT&T then partnered with many Universities, from Georgia Tech to Notre Dame in Oklahoma to Stanford to Online Universities such as Udacity and Coursera, to provide affordable Graduate and Undergraduate Degrees or just Specialized Training for each one of the Skills it needs. AT&T's only requirement is that you take the Courses on your Own Time, but the company will reimburse your tuition up to $8,000 a year or more for certain courses, and $30,000 over your lifetime at the company.

Then to make sure that money went as far as possible, AT&T pressed Universities to create a menu of Online Learning opportunities that would fit its Budget. Udacity and Georgia Tech created an Online Master's Degree in Computer Science for $6,000. Coursera partnered with John Hopkins and Rice to create a similar Certificate in Data Science. That's using Intelligent Assistance and spends $250 million a year in training.

The company registers all Certificates and Degrees earned by Employees in their company Profiles and can easily search them through their Big Data Tools. And if you show your motivated to get these Advanced Degrees and Certificates, you will get first crack when a job opens.

People need to know that if I am clearly motivated to Learn, I am going to get Rewarded. It is a Contract between the Company and the Employee. It's a new bargain. If you want an A in your Performance Review, now you have to do the WHAT and the HOW. The HOW is that you get along with people, you achieve results by effectively Partnering, Teaming, and Leading Change through and with others, and don't just sit in your cubicle. The WHAT is that you are not only proficient in your job but that you are reskilling to improve your Capacity,continuing to Learn, and that you are aspiring to go beyond where you are.

The new Social Contract is to be a Lifelong Employee that is ready to be a Lifelong Learner.

NYC Wins When Everyone Can Vote! Michael H. Drucker
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