Meet Alexa, your new AI assistant

Amazon announced it was releasing Echo, an intelligent voice-activated assistant, to the general public. Scredible CEO Colin Lucas-Mudd is an avid technology early adopter, and frequent Beta-tester. We sat down with him to get his thoughts on the beta version, and where he sees the product evolving in the future.

“It’s been interesting to see, or should I say ‘listen to’, the evolution of the Echo over the past month—mine arrived after a six-month wait on May 21st; long enough for me to forget that I’d been offered one of the early ‘geek’ specials. From the outset, the speech pick up and ‘understanding’ was excellent.

The background noise discrimination and understanding was, and remains, exceptional—putting Siri, Google, et al., to shame. ‘Eric’, our pet name (Amazon, when will you update the firmware to allow ‘Alexa’ to be changed?), has zero difficulty switching on the fly between my English, and my wife’s American accents and vocabulary.

It is clear that there are some genuine heuristic elements at play here, with good machine learning algorithms… And getting better. The main problem is Amazon’s bifurcation and/or ‘genie-out-of-the-box’ problem: “Alexa, what is the best online price for a Canon 200mm f4 IS lens?”. Interestingly, with certain similar questions the answer does appear in the linked IOS app, but not all. Echo certainly does not answer.

On the linked app itself, this is still ‘pre-beta’ to be frank. However, it’s improving, and the possibilities are there for all to see. At $99 it was little more than a simple curiosity. As the calendar and other features come in, I can see it being worth $179 shortly. In the future, and assuming Amazon continues to invest in the real potential, it will transcend a geek toy and become a really valuable tool.”

With such potential, one can assume we will hear Alexa’s voice reverberating off Scredible’s virtual office walls in the not too distant future.

Full article: CIO Today – Amazon Unleashes AI Assistant Echo for All

British professionals fall behind U.S in recognising social media potential

Survey of 1000 working professionals uncovers several major barriers to the use of social media at work and shows that Americans are quicker to see the benefits of being active online

DUBLIN – 16 June, 2015 – A new survey of 1,000 professionals published today by Scredible – developer of socially driven education technologies – shows that nearly half (47%) of UK professionals believe there is too much useless content on social media.

The study, which surveyed fully-employed professionals aged between 20 and 45 also finds that around a quarter of Brits (26%) think there is too much spam on social media. 29% simply do not have time to post during the working day. A further 19% are worried about what their employers might think of their social media profiles, including how what they share might be judged.

Full-size infographic: http://clk.ie/YWgvvxSCR

Full-size infographic: http://clk.ie/YWgvvxSCR

Colin Lucas-Mudd, Chief Executive Officer at Scredible plc, says: “In the UK, our research shows major barriers preventing businesses benefitting from professionals’ use of social media at work. Many UK workers share concerns over how hard it is to find good content, the time required to sift through spam, and worries their employers’ perception of using social media. As social media rapidly moves into the #1 slot, both as a marketing and support tool, this is a disaster in the making in terms of global competitiveness. Further, as it becomes more important than ever for professionals to fully understand ‘social’ as a learning and development tool, educational opportunities are being lost and career prospects dimmed.

“The UK stands out as a world leader in the creative arts, as well as the knowledge and digital economies. However, the negative perceptions of social media demonstrated by this survey will ultimately put this position at risk.”

The results show that social media service providers need to improve their offers and educate UK business stakeholders better. Many British professionals view it as an entertainment rather than business resource with 68% of respondents believing social media is most useful for keeping in touch with friends. A significant proportion (38%) believe that social media is a ‘distraction’ that should be banned at work.

The survey reveals a stark contrast between U.K. with U.S professionals, the latter of whom are more favourable towards using social media in a business environment. Some 61% of Americans recognise that social media will be important for their careers in 5 years’ time, compared with only 39% of Brits.

Lucas-Mudd continues: “The UK is renowned globally for its creative, digital industries; but history demonstrates that we often fail to exploit the enormous commercial, development, and educational opportunities presented by a more connected world. Businesses and individuals that are quickest to recognise the benefits of an active social profile will get ahead of the competition. More awareness is needed everywhere, but we Brits can certainly learn from the U.S in this regard. Something we need to do quickly if we’re to remain competitive.”

Other key findings of the survey include:

·       Only 3% think social media currently provides useful, educational content

·       Only 5% believe that social media is most useful researching

·       3% think its most useful for finding a job

·       11% of respondents think employees can damage a company’s reputation through using social media

To find out more about Scredible, visit the website at https://scredible.com/ or download from the Apple App store or on Google Play.

Article originally appeared on BusinessWire
Full-size infographic for download

Fixing the digital skills gap

Article originally appeared in Thales Learning & Development, Enhance June/July 2015.
TLD - article image

Photo credit: Thales Learning & Development, Enhance June/July 2015.

Industry Expert Q&A

We spoke to Colin Lucas-Mudd, founder and CEO of Scredible, to find out why his technology and education platform is catching people’s attention and talk about the growing digital skills gap.

What does Scredible do?

It helps business professionals acquire information and knowledge. You tell the Scredible app your goals, interests, and areas of expertise, and it looks at the aggregate data on you and others with similar goals. The aggregate data enables the application to deliver content and trend lines that are calculated to be most valuable for any given goal.

The more you use Scredible, the more accurate it gets. It is learning with you, and finding out what you don’t know… but perhaps should.  Ultimately it will predict what you should be learning next in order to attain your professional goals. Unlike news readers that deliver ‘popular’ stories, Scredible returns a deep vein of relevant, validated content from credible sources, helping professionals build their reputation online.

How does this type of app differ from, say,  a MOOC?

MOOCs have been a boon for auto-didactic self-starters and/or the economically disadvantaged. The key problem is that MOOCs, for the most part, simply apply legacy fundamentals using technological tools for delivery—they’ve not improved on traditional classroom education in any way that would make the much-needed difference.  They haven’t solved for the “telling ain’t training” problem – a problem that is amplified for time-crunched professionals.  It doesn’t matter how good the teacher is if the course material isn’t developed around the specific knowledge gaps of the student.

We are at a fascinating point in time when our global culture has reorganised around a new central hub—our mobile phone. And while the MOOC approach can never fill specific holes in a student’s knowledge, an app on a phone, driven by machine learning ‘AI’ that continuously learns from the student, can analyse – just as a great teacher would – what a student doesn’t know and then fill the gaps. This makes the learning quicker and more satisfying.

We are frequently hearing about the growing digital skills gap. What do you think is driving that?

Society is changing at an accelerating pace, as the world population grows and gains access to the cloud and connectivity tools. At the same time it is clear that the desirable and long-term rewarding jobs and careers will require a new, and ever-changing, advanced skillset—a skillset that is failing to keep pace with the knowledge economy—and the need.  In combination, these trends have combined into a volatile cocktail of uncertainty that will continue for our lifespan and beyond.

The only job security and career advancement opportunities in the knowledge economy will come to those who develop critical thinking skills around their field of interest. Skills that will be even more valuable as machine learning and AI take over many “thinking” roles. Unfortunately, in too many instances, governments, universities, and businesses are doing a less than optimal job of closing the gap between yesterday’s dogma and tomorrow’s practical skills requirements. Part of the problem lies with the way governments set the agenda, responding to today’s opinion polls rather than tomorrow’s needs to drive learning and progress.

Society is changing, the world population is growing, and there are fewer and fewer jobs for people to do.Click To Tweet

Are there any particular areas of concern?

Social business and socially equitable business is good business. This message has finally gained a hearing in the boardroom.  Unfortunately, a recent survey by Cap Gemini Consulting found that while 50% of companies see mobile as one of the two most important skills for digital transformation, 80% face a talent shortage there.

And it gets worse. In another survey of U.S. executives, 85% say they are planning Big Data initiatives but only 21% rate their company’s analytics capabilities as “more than adequate.”  Other surveys of top executives in enterprises with 50,000+ employees are even more disconcerting: Only 13% describe their social media efforts as ‘advanced’ and more than 50% say they lack basic social business skills.

It’s time for this to change.

Feature Spotlight: Relevancy

Scredible’s relevancy filter is aimed at helping you zero in on what matters most, while giving you the option to find new and surprising sources of industry insights, features and opinions from around the world.

On your desktop Scredible you’ll find the filter at the top right:

Scredible bot filter

Relevancy filter on desktop version of Scredible.

 

On the app, you’ll find it at the bottom of the screeen:

 

Scredible app - relevancy filter

Relevancy filter box on mobile app.

 

To use the filter, go into ‘Read’ and click/tap on the filter icon and slide the bar along the line. When you first build a bot, the relevancy filter is usually set to the midway point. If you slide it down to the lowest number of articles these will narrow down the results to the secondary category level you chose when building your Bot.

However, if you put the filter up to all the possible articles, your Bot will deliver a multitude of opinions, insights and features from the top level category you chose while building your Bot.

Exploring this feature gives you the opportunity to fine tune the results to your own preferences.