[part 2] How will emerging technologies in 2020 and beyond impact the decisions learning leaders make about their teams? So whether that’s how we upskill for capabilities or develop our people to prepare for new roles – especially roles or new positions that haven’t existed before – what do we need to be thinking about emerging technology’s impact on our L&D teams? 

Learning Leader Q&A, 2019 Fredrickson Learning Summit | Minneapolis, MN

Which technologies? 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a good example to begin with, since AI-based solutions have maturity. Given as such, what skills and capabilities have already been deconstructed by AI to the point it matches or exceeds people in that capability? 

Think broader than just L&D.

Reflect on how AI has learned to mimic and extend the five human senses – sight, touch, hearing, taste and smell.

Let’s start with the first three – take a look around us – in what domains is Artificial Intelligence already being leveraged for sight, touch and sound?


AI can now see better than humans; we’re using it to read radiologic scans and tissue samples; inform legal research and documents; auto generate and write journalism pieces and news articles. 


AI-assisted tactile touch is now so sophisticated, its motor skills and finesse at manipulating physical objects are so refined, that many medical facilities use AI-mediated robots to perform delicate surgeries. 


AI can now, for some functions, hear and speak as well as humans. Consider our conversations with our smart speakers and smartphones, that both talk and listen. 

It’s AI and Natural Language Processing (NLP) on these devices, whether you’re talking about Siri, Cortana or Alexa. 

Consider our own behaviour – we’re talking to inanimate objects; inanimate objects that respond to us and take action on our behalf. 

It’s like that Disney movie starring Mickey Mouse in Fantasia – where objects come to life; where everything all around us, all these objects in our environment, suddenly interact with us – and us with them.

These objects are animated by AI, transforming them into smart devices and intelligent algorithms that we can use to augment or automate our work.

If we’re using these AI-based solutions in our personal and consumer lives, how might they be used in our professional practice? 

Historically, one instance of AI is applied to one function or one discrete task, where it performs that function – or mimics that human sense – exceptionally well. Now we’re starting to have integrated experiences, where AI uses multiple ‘senses’ to perform an activity or task.

So what does that mean to us, as learning leaders, and to our teams within an organization? 

What does that mean to roles, is it going to create additional jobs? 

Does that mean there’s going to introduce new roles to the team? 

Does that also mean that it’s a threat, that there are possibilities that it’s going to not only disrupt us but deconstruct us? 

How does AI automation already take some tasks and activities from us, ones we’re deeply familiar and associated with, that we enjoy performing as a means for making a living?

Quite frankly, if AI already has the capability to perform many of our tasks and activities, then disruption is not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when

So list them.. Which routine L&D tasks require vision, sight, reading, listening, speaking – even touch?

How Might Artificial Intelligence Augment Instructional Design?

As one example, let’s deconstruct instructional design. 

There are AI solutions available that can read and analyze content faster than we can.

How might AI, then, augment how your instructional designers:

  • collaborate with subject matter experts;
  • perform content reviews; 
  • discover content gaps;
  • uncover alignment and assessment gaps; 
  • use data to determine, inform, design and shape the solution(s);
  • Identify opportunities for improvement;
  • measure progress;
  • evaluate success?

How might AI augmentation and automation applied to the  instructional design process accelerate output, reduce costs and improve outcomes?

That’s just one technology (AI), and one L&D area of expertise (instructional design) to serve as one example – there are many, many others.

Beyond AI – Additional Emerging Technologies to Keep Pace with Business

When it comes to other emerging technologies, like Blockchain, 5G, Internet of Things, data analytics, chatbots, conversational queries, voice interfaces, etc – think of them as layers over the same enterprise architecture that’s going to extend and enhance the tech stack and our organization’s superpowers. 

Keeping up with these emerging and maturing technologies is part of what’s required to keep pace with the business.