Technology allows us to have a go

I presented at the Pearson VUE Testing Centre Managers Conference and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The audience was full of comments and questions which showed me a genuine level of engagement.

I talked a lot about how the technology in our midst is shaping how we live and work, with a special emphasis on some of the trends that will impact how we learn in the future – on the go, in modular form and both alone and in social groups. The cool thing with technology that must be embraced is that there is never really a good time to start using it – to open a Twitter account, launch a Facebook page or start a YouTube channel – but it is so easy to have a go, to start and update and change as we progress and evolve. Technology facilitates trying things and learning along the way. Our mantra at Pearson is ‘Always Learning’ and technology in this respect encourages us to use these tools and platforms to try stuff and be comfortable with making a mistake, because you can adjust, correct and continue on your pathway to greatness.

The thing that pleased me the most about the conference is when a lady stood up at the end of my session and explained that she works part-time, whilst also creating music for meditation. She described how she has learned to create CDs of her music and put them onto CD Baby and has since made her first sale on Amazon. This is the beauty of technology.

Everyone should be a part of IT

Carlota Perez, leading economist at Cambridge University and an expert in global techno-economic paradigm shifts, explains that every 70 years, a disruptive technology emerges that alters the foundations of the economy. The 5 ages of transformation to date include the industrial revolution; the age of steam and railways; the age of steel, electricity and heavy engineering; the age of oil, cars and mass production; and the age of information and telecommunications.

It interests me to see the technology changing so much and so fast. Will technology ever reach a settling point or just continue to evolve ad infinitum; it cannot be too long before it becomes a utility much like electricity and gas, and I can see just one global and seamless wireless network where every device we purchase is connected.

Technology has been a catalyst for taking away precious time – by being better connected we are working longer hours. On the train to London this week I counted as many people on their smart devices as those reading or sleeping and you can just see the frustration as we travelled through a tunnel and they lost connectivity! I look forward to when my fridge has sensors and RFID chips embedded in its doors that recognise when I am out of bread and milk and can order it on my behalf, when my camera (or phone) automatically uploads my photos to my piece of the Cloud immediately as I am taking them and my casserole tells me which ingredients go next into the pan – all so I can get back some of the previous time that technology has taken away in the first place!

So where has the week raced away to exactly? It included a long trip to South Africa for the CompTIA member conference in Johannesburg, a great networking and education event for the leading IT vendors and training companies, and then swiftly back again to host meetings with some of our largest partnerships in Europe: Zenos, the UK’s leading IT apprenticeship provider, the Oxford and Cambridge examinations board (OCR) and Intel. Intel are diversifying into some cool new areas, look forward to seeing more of that. Is there a connection between the people I met this week, regardless of location and business focus – there clearly is. Each party is looking for ways to improve the skills of their staff, customers and partners to differentiate them in the workplace. Technology appears to be accelerating change, and yet we don’t have the skills we need to even keep pace with the demands. There is a common recognition that unless we have the skilled people in place to manage and develop this technology, and to put it to effective use, we may not get the best out of it from all quarters, and quite possibly never get the time back that so many people crave.

The two fellows in this picture were idling away in the sunshine at the Lion & Rhino Park in Johannesburg earlier this week – not a care in the world as we drove past. I wonder if they heard about Steve Jobs’ announcement of the iCloud! 

The Intelligence of Things

The annual gadget extravaganza is under way in Las Vegas and thousands are there to digest the announcements. I read, and like, the term “intelligence of things” from the event, and manufacturers are upgrading their products with technologies such as GPS, internet and bluetooth to inject connectivity and new life into them.  “Everything connected” appears to be the trend and connectivity will spread beyond computer-related devices to everyday products such as meat thermometers and toasters. Hardware will be worthless without the app.

CompTIA Member Conference

Strange feeling you get when an event is over for another year. All the build up and hard work, I didn’t want it to end. Our CompTIA Member Conference 2010 was a success. Great people, great exchange and great networking. To see 400 delegates work the floor, make new contacts and engage in conversation made me very proud. Our role at CompTIA is all about bringing the IT community together, to learn, network, engage and explore, and I felt we achieved that. Lots of focused roundtables and panel sessions with real quality and industry expertise. My personal highlight was the brilliant keynote presentation by Sir Ranulph Fiennes, peppered with humour, ace delivery and the very best in storytelling.

CompTIA Breakaway 2010

The 2010 Breakaway conference is almost at an end. What a great event. More than 1,000 participants, very good speakers, great entertainment (especially Tuesday-night rodeo) and a high-quality industry awards dinner. The theme of course was technology – trends, products, an emphasis on IT healthcare – but it was that old chestnut that won the day for me, people. When you get people face-to-face to talk, network and do business, the dynamic is incomparable.