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AR & VR training as it relates to the Baby Boomer manufacturing-exodus

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What or who is a Baby-Boomer and how does the term apply to AR & VR training?

According to the good folks at Google, a Baby Boomer refers to a member of the demographically large generation born between the end of WWII and the mid-1960s. Because of their numbers and the relative prosperity of the US (and global) economy during their careers, the baby boomers are an extremely economically influential generation. This demographic’s prominence in the industrial and manufacturing industries is no less dominant.

Baby boomers are retiring. This generation has reached an age at which they had always considered “scaling down” to be the logical next/last step. They have knuckled down, followed the rules, put in the hard yards and, for the most part, reached their ambitions. The qualities which characterised their peer group – loyalty, work ethic, independence and self-assuredness have stood them in good stead. The now-impending void in terms of skill and experience is a problem in more areas than most industries care to mention of even acknowledge. Every sector needs to train its new workers quickly and effectively.

To make matters worse, the future prospects of industry, MILLENNIALS are twice as likely as baby boomers to worry about automation causing them to lose their job. Pair this fact with the notion that outdated and archaic methods of training is pretty much commonplace, where this Generation Z’s education is concerned, and you have yourself the very base ingredients for a skills-gap nightmare.

Millennials are digital natives, most of them born with pad/pod or tablet in-hand. They thrive on immediate gratification and have to be constantly engaged. Shorter attention spans are also evident of this generation, where micro-learning and “information nuggets” form an integral part of their learning style. They prefer precise learning with bite-sized content instead of going through elaborate lessons. Learning and training have to become a fully immersive experience through the use of VR headsets, allowing users to move through scenarios and places as if they were doing it in real life. As a generation weaned on computer gaming, millennials respond very well to virtual environments.

AR has also proved itself to be a key tool for training.  With AR’s ability to create a see-through effect and merge the physical and virtual worlds, it can help create more successful interactive training scenarios. VR boasts large field-of-view and complete immersion capabilities, however, creating VR experiences can be time consuming and expensive.  AR has now emerged as significant resource for instruction curriculum as well.  With AR’s ability to create a see-through effect, and merge real and virtual worlds, it can help create interactive training sessions.

Many AR companies already offer tools that allow users to create their own augmented training procedures. While simple training procedures can be created for smartphones and tablets, advanced training programs require more sophisticated hardware, such as Real Wear glasses and the Microsoft HoloLens. To create advanced training applications, trainers perform various tasks step by step (bite-sized learning) while wearing the smart gear and recording all their steps along with voice instructions. In this process instruction impresses on two senses (visual and auditory). Trainers can also add augmented objects, instructions, and labels to their training applications. The process has a very real blended learning base, incorporating different mediums. Once a training application is created, trainees can reuse the same program multiple times. Trainees wear the AR hardware and are given step-by-step instructions. As they complete each step, AR application recognises this and gives the trainees the next instruction. This way, AR helps create interactive training sessions that offer trainees a hands-on experience.

The question of whether or not Millennials’ needs need to be catered to has become obsolete. This generation is the immediate future and rather than incorporate the head-strong attitudes of the exiting Baby Boomers, industries (across the board) need to take a leaf out of the Generation Z playbook and adapt to evolve.

Augmented reality and the benefits of incorporating it effectively in engineering? 

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 Augmented reality (AR) is an emerging computer technology where the perception of the user is enhanced by the seamless blending between a realistic environment and computer-generated virtual objects coexisting in the same space”. How far, you may wonder, have advances in the field of engineering come since this quote was published by Research Gate in November of 2014? Well, if we jump forward as little as a year from when this definition was coined, we could already report that (in 2015industrial applications accounted for more than 25% of the augmented reality market share.  

The early adopters then were Boeing, Airbus and Bosch, who (for differing reasons) dipped their respective toes into unknown waters for the sake of innovation. The former made very effective use of the incredible advantages AR offered in terms of aircraft wire harnessing and smart AR applications for error prevention. German giant Bosch, in their quest for uber-resourceful maintenance, had a significant hand in propelling (then) start-up Reflekt into the annals of AR-manufacturing-solution greatness.  

In a world where budget decisions are based on profit-and-loss and not so much on the promise or premise of product-innovation, one must look very closely at ROI. Return-on-investment is a key factor in determining where funds are channelled in any industry. Once the vision is realised and the yield is favourable, any bean counter worth his or her salt are eager to re-commit. Getting them to do so initially, is a completely different story though. 

It therefor makes sense to look at unlocking the cost saving benefits of incorporating augmented reality applications into most, if not all industries. The targeted use of Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality can in fact help to significantly reduce costs throughout the entire design and development phase of a product, but can also be extended to any company area, from after sales services to marketing, passing to training. 

For the purposes of Practeria’s core focus, it makes sense to look at training. It is well documented that VR and AR scenarios allow for the safe and secure training and practising of perilous tasks in safe environments. This keeps management cost down, as accidents have heavy losses (of a resource and human nature) attributed to it. AR saves on time spent on ineffectual training, injured employees’ absence from work, and of course boosts production on the back of increased efficiency. 

The remote nature inherent to AR is naturally also a big budget-talking point when talking a bout training. Thanks to the Augmented Reality technology, it is possible to instruct those who will use the product through interactively presented textual or graphic information, 3D images or videosIn this way, it is possible to provide distance-training to the customer, with the result of reducing both travel costs and often exuberant rates associated with on-hand expertise. 

“Time is money”, and adopting an effective augmented solution into your business, saves you on both. 

 

Machine Learning & Augmented Reality, where do businesses stand?

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As touched upon in our blog leading up to this one, end-users drive trends and consumer journeys. Their thirst for readily-available, constantly evolving encounters is quite literally unquenchable. Customised experiences are in higher demand than has ever been the case.  

Companies that embrace “disruptive tech” as augmented reality has come to be defined, have the best possible opportunity to remain on the cutting edge of personalization. Augmented Reality can no longer be confined to the ambit of movies or gaming, and paired with machine learning, lucrative businesses prospects are in endless supply. Aspects like computer vision and artificial intelligence contribute collectively to bring AR principles into the “real world”.

Let’s use “search” as the one criterion where augmented reality can truly be a game-changer. Searches have always been text-dominated – you type words into a “search” cache and results are forthcoming. But soon submitting a query to Google by “typing” it became either old-fashioned or too much of a hassle… Some folks even entertain the thought that spelling (or the self-consciousness associated with incorrect spelling) weighed in on the move away from typing to speaking of “voice search”.  A voice command is now effectively the norm when using tech – from driving, past Spotify, all the way up to Netflix.

What if machine learning can afford companies the option to implement visual search? A truly convenient and super-simple scenario can now be created. Shoppers could upload pictures to a website and “search” similar items. Through machine learning, computers are able to “see/identify” detail and match related items across a company’s inventory. Better yet, this process can happen directly on the web, in-the-moment so to speak. Now AR can be incorporated to “try on” those items. The level of customer satisfaction will undoubtedly soar along with the amount of data that can be accumulated and repurposed at a later time for frame of reference or re-marketing.

If we forget about the consumer for a moment (just a minute, not to worry) and look at stock and inventory management, the logistical ease that AR brings to the equation cannot be overlooked. Imagine the quality and clarity of instructions that come with/through the aid of AR headsets… Visual order picking, exact object-location and a host of other relevant Intel is available at the “flick of a switch”… and what a switch it could be?! In terms of training the advantages are also valuable as it relates to both curbing of costs and limiting danger. The goal is surely to be able to use the capabilities of ML as the foundation for AR-based, realistic instruction.

Again, the key is personalising and how ML could customise educational experiences designed to take advantage of a specific employee’s current knowledge, knowledge gaps, and best learning practices.  Once this foundation is determined it can (and should be) used for further training that assimilates with the job itself. The possibilities are endless, and the technological advances are too great to overlook. It is the belief of Practeria and many other companies like that baseless (and fear-based) stereotypes concerning AR and ML should be eradicated.

 

Immersive Marketing and Sales

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We take our lead from the last paragraph of our previous blog. We addressed VR as it serves our consumer-driven reality and how the data extracted from its inclusion, has become vital in proactive consumer relations. Part and parcel of pre-preemptive, client-driven service is your company’s marketing and sales strategy.

Seeing as customers can now experience a service or product as realistic as modern-day simulations allow, the playing field has changed dramatically – in favour of the end-user. Or does it cut both ways? Awe-inspiring visualisations contained ultra-conveniently within a headset transports buyers to an almost unimaginable alternate reality. Talk about upping the stakes in terms of a customer journey… However, in the same instance businesses who use VR for marketing and sales are afforded the competitive edge. Their content/product becomes not only fun and aspirational, but thoroughly engaging as well.

A modest booth has become superior to renting large convention settings and although this spells bad news for the landlords of these monstrous venues, it plays right into the hands of the manufacturers who actively employ VR in the marketing efforts. All of a sudden, the experience is not only altered astonishingly, but it is made all the more personal in terms of the interaction in a small, dare we say intimate, space.

Prospective shoppers might have been somewhat interested in what you or your competition had to offer, when the overpowering novelty of the introduction of dreamlike VR simulations rapidly draws them to your display. The highly enviable scenario now plays out where the consumer asks the product-related questions without the salesmen having to convince prospects of the potential experience.

Those moments where “words simply cannot describe the amazing benefits of your product or service offering” all but disappear. In its place, an experience so real it tantalised virtually (excuse the pun) every sense known to man…

Needs, wants and desires have been noted and taken into account. The manufacturer understands his target-market, what they want and has a good idea of what they can afford. The next step is simple – provide them with the best possible (and tangible) medium to experience it and in the process realise that the “cannot do without it”. The possibilities are endless, provided that VR is embraced, mastered (to the best of your resources) and made part of your sales pitch…

In closing, if you heed one lesson or take to heart one piece of content from this blog, let it be the fact that the rise of virtual media is changing and will change the marketing landscape forever. Consumers will be immersed within a product to such an extent that they (as laymen) can clearly and very easily see it benefits and how it will make their lives better.

Where does VR training give business the biggest boost?

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Virtual reality training has its origins as an instructional method called “simulated training.”
The idea of simulation training in the aviation industry, dates to the early 20th Century, through simulations that included replica models of actual equipment used. They’ve kept on utilising re-enacted pilot preparing in light of the fact that the expense of fuelling a plane is as yet more costly than the expense of an authentic recreation.
Numerous schools and universities can’t bear the cost of expensive labs, so as with the aviation industry, educational institutions have been quick to adopt VR. Virtual science labs provide a way for students to gain valuable laboratory experience without investing in high-tech lab equipment or materials.
On par with the extensive “cost” implications, health and safety considerations also come to mind… In some industries, simulations allow employees to experience hazardous scenarios without actually endangering themselves…
Construction workers are afforded the opportunity to “experience” perilous errors in a virtual environment and (under the correct guidance and supervision) learn from these experiences. A virtual encounter, unlike a training manual or a physical instructor, forces the trainee to come to grips with their anxieties, preconceived ideas, and emotional responses to a situation.
The educating of medical professional can also hugely benefit from virtual reality training. It is crucial to underscore that VR learning augments class lessons and book chapters and not replace them. As Dr. Eric Bing from Dallas’ Southern Methodist University (SMU) puts it, “By using the simulations, students are able to identify potential gaps in knowledge.”
VR also represents an opportunity to quickly train medical professionals on new instruments or complex, new procedures. While a resident at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS), British orthopaedic surgeon, Dr. Alex Young started pondering the stress of emergency medicine and how he wasn’t being properly trained to deal with this trauma (pun intended). This eventually led him to co-develop Virti, a medical training platform focused on building “soft skills” in augmented and virtual reality simulations.
Closer to home for us at Practeria, the VR-inspired advantages in the field of engineering remains not only fascinating, but revolutionary. Arguably the most significant case in point would be how virtual reality is utilised in the CAD design process. Should CAD programs aim to introduce VR (as a visual resource) into the design flow, engineers could by all indications create/conceive entirely in the virtual sphere.
Conversely, virtual reality amalgamation with the cutting-edge CAD processes, underscores one of the leading causes of designs-failure: interferences. One of the crucial innovations of prevailing CAD tools is that it can pinpoint where our assemblies are non-functional, either because parts overlap or don’t fit together. The addition of VR provides designers with the ability to view these obstructions comprehensively and meticulously. The net result undoubtedly being that a practical and efficient solution is established faster and with relative ease. As with any industry, technological advancement in engineering is spearheaded by an overwhelming need to be economical where resources, skill and time-management is concerned.
Perhaps the best indication of how VR serves our consumer-driven reality, is how it has changed mindsets in terms of consumer relations. VR offers every business the chance to rethink how they present to and engage with, their customers. When someone is interacting with you in a virtual and digital world, a huge amount of data becomes available on how they act, react, and interact. The net result – leaner, meaner, and customer-centred business models will become commonplace and be characterised by traits like efficiency, pro-activity, advances skills-training and productivity.

Our Post-Crisis Reality

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One cannot help pondering our post-crisis reality and how the world will change after this pandemic. We couldn’t help but think about what our own professional world will resemble and more generally how the world of work will adapt…

We’ve highlighted a few aspects characterizing this contrasting subjective awareness.

More time at home for everyone 

First off, this pandemic is not so much an isolated incident with a definite end-date. The current outbreak should be brought under some form of control by the end of the (European) summer, experts speculate. However there are bound to be more “after-shocks” to come with lockdowns in different cities/regions becoming the norm throughout 2020 and 2021. People will be expected to exercise social distancing regularly and religeously.

 

Reset of the global economy 

 We can already see that some businesses will not recover from this crisis so unemployment will increase in the short term. The retail sector analysts say that the current trade freeze is a nail to the coffin of the British high street – a famed retail epicentre. This crisis has already reshaped numerous sectors within a space of a month – everything from tourism or entertainment. The net-result of this economic shift is quite simply that some sectors will be changed beyond recognition. Others sadly will vanish altogether.

A new way to contribute to society

Due to the aforementioned global reset, some of us will face the dire reality of unemployment. Careers will collapse due to the vanishing of the demand for certain jobs. These people will require certain resources to survive and need to acquire different skills to exist in society. The onus will rest on governments and those who will be lucky enough to return to their pre-crisis jobs, to financially support these groups until they acquire the skills needed for their new reality. 

Shift in skills demand

After a short period of readjustment, new businesses and business models will pop up to serve this new reality. Old competencies will be replaced by a demand for new skills. In his book, the “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” Yuval Noah Harari offers a good example – “the replacement of human pilots by drones has eliminated some jobs but created many new opportunities in maintenance, remote control, data analysis, and cybersecurity.” 

Urgency of reskilling to survive

We can only speculate what those new jobs will be, but whatever these new vocations resemble, people will have to re-skill quickly to play their parts. Some will opt for an easy option and switch to jobs that don’t require extensive training e.g. from retail to warehouse jobs. The more realistic eventuality though will be that loads of people will see this imposed ‘crossroad’ as an opportunity for reinventing their career. Some might even opt for a completely new profession. 

Lockdown to upskill 

How much more appealing this career reinvention would be if we could be trained to become a skilled in a medical field in a fraction of the time. Also, how much more realistic it would be to pursue a new career dream if we could afford to have a break from earnings for a period of study. Across the globe, governments have committed to paying their citizens to stop working due to the fear of spreading the virus. This is already shifting our attitudes towards earning: “it is not a moral hazard to pay people without expecting work in return.”  Dr. Lynette Nusbacher, a strategist and former government advisor argues that ‘Instead of individual value to the economy being calculated by how much they produce, it would be based on their consumption – the way in which they spend the money given to them by the government.’

If the lockdown time and the ‘lockdown money’ were spent on developing new skills desperately needed by the economy surely it would be a win-win for individuals and society.

Cure for the global pandemic of skills shortage 

Shouldn’t we make this crisis a turning point and a reason for resetting our mindsets and economic mechanisms as Dr Nusbacher suggests? Coronavirus or not the job displacements and skills shortages have been looming since automation, digitalization and advancements in AI entered key industries such as Manufacturing, Healthcare or Financial sector. Thus, professional reinvention is more important than ever. A desire for a sustainable and fulfilling life in new reality will push us to reinvent our career thus we will have no choice but to start and never stop learning again.

Bottom line is that there has never been more urgency for lifelong education and for innovative ways of training people faster and more sustainably than now. Harari hopes that ‘if we manage to combine a universal economic safety net with a strong community and meaningful pursuits, losing out jobs to algorithms may actually turn out to be a blessing.”

SBH I4I Event 4 September 2019

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Formed partnership with Salem Balhamer Holding (SBH) to build our presence in Saudi Arabia’s Eastern Province. The event helped advance the adoption of Industry 4.0 manufacturing processes in the Eastern Region of Saudi Arabia.

My Future 4 at CTICC

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Practeria is proud to be exhibiting at the upcoming My Future 4 exhibition and conference at the Cape Town International Convention Centre from the 1st to 3rd October. The Summit highlights the impact the 4th Industrial Revolution has and will have on every industry and career choice. It is not merely a buzzword that can be ignored, and parents, children, students, and graduates need to keep up to date with changes happening on a daily basis.

The workforce of tomorrow will have to prepare for careers that may not even exist now and will need to develop skill sets to cope and thrive. The My Future 4.0 Summit focuses not only on the jobs of tomorrow but the skills needed for those jobs.

Please visit Practeria at Stand B4 and find out how we can help you prepare the workforce of the future.

See the link: My Future 4.0

COVID-19: Why Rwanda should embrace blended learning

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Students are advised to make use of the education modules available online. / Net photo.

Since the first confirmed case of coronavirus in Rwanda, the government tightened measures it deemed adequate to mitigate the risks of transmission of the virus. Among others, a decision that all schools and higher education institutions (both public and private) would close for an initial two-week period starting Monday, March 16, 2020.

The health ministry has announced this is likely to be extended due to the continual increase in the number of patients.

With more than 400 million students disrupted due to the spread of COVID-19, Rwandans included, we are experiencing a watershed moment for education systems around the world.

It tragically illustrates the need for educational institutions to build a technological backbone and digital competency to weather this crisis, and to enter a new era of teaching and learning in a digital world.

Therefore, the government’s education bodies realized that if nothing was done for students to continue learning in a formal way while at home, we can expect the fact that this global pandemic will shake the education system.

“We are instructing all the lecturers to upload all the modules online, so that they are made accessible to every student,” Dr Charles Muligande, University of Rwanda’s Deputy Vice Chancellor in charge of institutional capacity, tells Education.

The same case applies to primary and secondary schools, where students are urged to use REB’s learning platform, which is elearning.reb.rw.

DR Ndayambaje Irenee, Director General of Rwanda Education Board, tells Education that since the closure of schools due to COVID-19, the number of people visiting the platform has multiplied three times.

However, though these measures have been put in place, it is necessary to assess whether students and teachers are prepared to use this online system, and if this mode can be adopted as credible for education in Rwanda.

To students

Audrine Iradukunda, an assistant lecturer in Kigali-based Southern New Hampshire University (which uses blended learning mode), says that this is a good initiative that is in drive with the competency-based curriculum.

“As students are in this unexpected break, blended learning shall help them to embrace more tech-skills practices as long as they engage with a laptop in most of their activities”, she says, adding that those tech-skills are crucial to Rwandan students in this era of technology.

Egide Abimana, an education consultant with six years’ experience of coaching students via Google classes, narrates how he has seen blended learning manufacturing a weak student into a well-rounded individual with a good sense of what education means.

“Whenever you know you are responsible for yourself, you become mentally mature and committed. In face-to-face teaching, you just sit and wait for a lecturer to feed you, cram what he fed and do the exam,” he says, adding that in blended learning, you make your own research which allows you to be more proactive.

To teachers (facilitators)

According to, Tharcisse Maniragaba, a senior physics facilitator at Byimana School of Sciences, blended learning removes most of the excuses and barriers that students face in their academic life.

“Blended learning removes the excuses of absences due to weather conditions or sicknesses and other obstacles. This is true because all classes are online and a student can access them any time,” Maniragaba saysm stipulating that nothing can stop you, it is about self-pace.

Challenges

However, in this academic journey, several challenges are still down the road if blended learning is to be pursued: Poor internet connection, lack of enough laptops and small percentage of 52.8% who have access to electricity means.

Dr Irénée Ndayambaje says that they are aware of the challenges and are going to find a way to stream those courses on radios and TV to be able to reach all the students. 

Dr Charles Muligande says that they are going to negotiate with telecommunication companies to lower the prices for UR students using the e-learning platform, and says that there should be no worry for students who could not access the internet because the courses will resume from where they stopped before the quarantine.

“For students engaging with online materials, it is just a way to keep track of their studies, but once the students are back, they shall be starting afresh”, he told Education.

Experts also say that this blended learning is more applicable in non-calculation courses for higher learning students. If used for lower level students, parents’ supervision is obligatory.

Why data literacy is key to surviving Industry 4.0 (Dr. Nick Jewell, Director of Product Strategy, Alteryx – Gigabit Magazine)

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Look out of your window today and, while you might not realize it, the world is in the midst of a revolution.

Things might appear totally normal. People are still commuting to and from work, shops remain open for business, and communication lines are functioning as they should. But we are actually living through the early stages of the Fourth Industrial Revolution which is sometimes also known as Industry 4.0.

Coined in 2016 by the founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab, the term refers to new technologies becoming intertwined with our day-to-day lives and how they will connect us, our bodies and our buildings like never before. While it is the sci-fi nature of AI and robotics that grabs the headlines, the key to their success is the data that they rely on to work.

All three previous industrial revolutions have been characterized by massive changes to the way the world works. Whether it was the Agrarian Age changing the way we farm and eat, the Industrial Age transforming manufacturing, or the Information Age spawning rapid advances in computing and digital systems, each one has led to an increase in how much data we generate as a species.

Now, as we enter the Analytics Age, we finally have the tools to make sense of it all and potentially solve any problem the world has ever faced. But there are reasons to be cautious too.

Not every change brought about by the previous industrial revolutions has been a benefit to all, with the new developments initially limited to those with the necessary money to invest, leading to a polarisation of wealth and power.

Technology has moved so quickly in recent years that a digital divide has opened up, and with unprecedented automation in particular set to alter the landscape like never before, there are similar fears that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will actually increase inequality in a world already plagued by it. 

Of course, it doesn’t need to be that way. These new technologies have the potential to kickstart economies and improve lives worldwide – so how do we stop people and businesses from getting left behind?

Data now informs all kinds of areas of the modern world, with the good use of it leading to better decision-making and more profitable businesses. Data literacy should, therefore, be treated as a crucial skill for pretty much everyone. That does not mean everyone needs to become a qualified data scientist. But for companies to successfully implement digital transformation initiatives, they must first focus on building a culture of data literacy within their company. Only by empowering data workers at all levels of the company, regardless of technical acumen, to become more data literate as well as improve their analytic knowledge, will companies succeed.

Training employees to use analytics tools can help companies to capitalize on the information that is at their fingertips. Forums such as the Alteryx Community are full of data science and analytics experts, keen to share new ways of working with data. After all, new technologies offer many exciting possibilities, but there is no point in having all this extra data if nobody knows what to do with it. According to a 2019 study by NewVantage Partners, 92.5% of respondents blamed people or processes for an inability to adopt a data-driven approach to their business.

We should, however, pay particular attention to those traditionally left behind by technological progress. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is defined by its focus on science and tech – a world dominated by men, and particularly white men. This diversity imbalance puts women at an immediate disadvantage as the world and workplaces are changed by emerging technologies.

Although gender, ethnic and cultural diversity in technology and analytics is no longer a rarity. For organizations to benefit from this recent increase in diversity, a collaborative and supportive infrastructure must be created to enhance the industry, culture, and workspaces with the missing half of the human experience.

The analytics space is particularly attractive for women – almost half of the analytics professionals are women. With a diverse group of analysts around the table working through insights to solve for key business insights, the approach is richer when women and men work together to deliver answers.

The most successful firms over the next decade or so will, therefore, be the ones that understand the need to transform their workforces in line with their data management practices to ensure nobody gets left behind.

Alteryx embodies this approach with its Alteryx for Good program and Women of Analytics initiative, which use events, discussions and community activities to share knowledge and encourage diversity at every level. These help to ensure that projects are completed collectively rather than in cultural silos, making any challenges easier to overcome. 

The potential of Industry 4.0 is huge – but revolutions don’t take place in a vacuum. The key component to success—data literacy—comes from within, and companies will only realize that full potential if they foster data-driven cultures fuelled by collaboration and diversity, presenting an opportunity for everyone to accelerate their careers by embracing analytic roles.

By Dr Nick Jewell, Director of Product Strategy, Alteryx