Zoho Is Moving to Austin!

I recently attended Zoholics 2019 in Austin, Texas. It was quite an event. The conference opened with the big news that was Zoho is moving its headquarters to Austin! This made headline news on the front page of the Austin American Statesman, and Austin mayor, Steve Adler offered words of excitement and encouragement during his Keynote address.

Zoho also announced two new product offerings. Zoho Commerce Plus offers a comprehensive E-commerce platform that provides an end-to-end solution for the commerce vertical. Zoho MarketingHub allows businesses to coordinate marketing with sales by integrating with a number of Zoho apps (e.g., Zoho CRM, Zoho Campaigns, etc), as well as other customer applications such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Given my focus on talent management and learning and development, two Zoholics topics were of particular interest to me. One was an update on the success of Zoho University, and the second was the announcement that Zoho has a Learning Management System (LMS) currently in beta.

Zoho University

Rajendran Dandapani, Evangelist and Raconteur at Zoho gave an enthusiastic presentation on the success of Zoho University. Zoho University offers a “crusade against academic credentialism”. It was built on the philosophy that the majority of new Zoho employees did not find their 4-year degree useful in their job, the necessity for good employees, and the realization that Product Managers were frustrated by how little new employees appeared to learn in college. As a former University Professor, the word “ouch” comes to mind, but when I take a step back and think about it, there is merit in this crusade, especially in the software development industry.

One of the main advantages of Zoho University, is that students (and their families) do not incur debt during the education process. Instead, students are paid to attend Zoho University, not the other way around.

There are also a number of learning science—the marriage of psychology and neuroscience—advantages of the Zoho University approach to teaching software development. First, the emphasis is on “learning by doing”. Students spend the majority of their time in labs working on real-world software problems, and very little time in lectures. In the end, developing software solutions is more about trial and error and behavioral learning than it is about learning facts and figures. Learning by doing targets these behavioral learning centers in the brain directly. Second, the learning is in teams, is highly collaborative, and centers around solving specific, current, real-world problems. The software development industry is becoming more cross-functional and collaborative by the day. Given this fact, it is highly efficient to instill this way of thinking and approach to problem solving directly into the educational process from Day 1. Finally, when lectures are necessary a “flipped classroom” approach is utilized. The lecture material is provided using videotaped content and the classroom setting is reserved for discussion and hands on practice. This integration of knowledge acquisition and behavioral training is ideal for software development.

Rajendran also mentioned that Zoho University plans to expand its curriculum to include Technology, Design and Marketing. Finally, the new Austin Headquarters will double as a new Zoho University campus. As an Austin local, I believe that Zoho University will be highly coveted by students in the Austin Metro area.

Zoho LMS

In my individual meeting with Chandrashekar L S P (Zoho Evangelist) and Raja Ramasamy (Head of Product Management for Zoho People Plus) I was delighted to hear that Zoho is currently developing an LMS. This is exciting news and is one product that is currently lacking from the Zoho One suite. I hope to obtain a detailed briefing and to learn more about the LMS in the coming months. Stay tuned.

  1. Final Thoughts

I was impressed by the enthusiasm and loyalty of the Zoho users to the Zoho product line. Whether from organized customer and partner panels, or one-off happenstance conversations, the message that I heard was clear: Zoho users like the products, feel “heard” when they have a problem, and find the overall customer service experience to be outstanding.

I will continue to follow Zoho, with particular interest in Zoho University and Zoho’s upcoming LMS. It will be exciting to have Zoho’s headquarters “right down the block” so to speak.

 

Why Extended Reality (xR) is Poised to Disrupt Corporate Learning and Development – Part IV: xR Behavioral Skills Applications, and Recommendations

Note: If you missed Parts I, II, and III of this blog series, catch up and read

This is part of a four-blog series exploring the psychology and brain science behind the potential for extended reality tools to disrupt corporate Learning & Development.

xR and Behavioral Skills Learning: Whereas hard skills learning involves knowing what to do, behavioral skills learning involve knowing how to do it. People (aka soft) skills, such as the ability to communicate, collaborate, and lead effectively, or to show empathy and to embrace diversity, are behavioral skills. Similarly, technical skills, such as the ability to learning how to use new software, to upskill to a new software release, or to use and maintain a piece of hardware or equipment, are behavioral skills.

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Why Extended Reality (xR) is Poised to Disrupt Corporate Learning and Development – Part III: xR Hard Skills Applications

Note: If you missed Parts I and II of this blog series, catch up and read Part I: The Problem, and Part II: The Brain Science. This is part of a four-blog series exploring the psychology and brain science behind the potential for extended reality tools to disrupt corporate Learning & Development.

xR Applications in Corporate L&D

The key ingredient of xR technology in corporate L&D is the experiential and immersive nature of the technology that provides rich, coordinated contextual cues that lead to a sense of “presence”. You are either in a real-world experience augmented with information (Augmented Reality or AR), or you are transported into a new virtual world (Virtual Reality or VR). In both cases, experiential learning systems are engaged in synchrony with cognitive, behavioral, and emotional learning systems in the brain. I elaborate below.

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Why Extended Reality (xR) is Poised to Disrupt Corporate Learning and Development – Part II: The Brain Science

Note: If you missed Part I of this blog series, catch up and read Part I: The Problem. This is part of a four-blog series exploring the psychology and brain science behind the potential for extended reality tools to disrupt corporate Learning & Development.

Four Dissociable Learning Systems in the Brain

The human brain is comprised of at least four distinct learning systems. A schematic of the learning systems is provided in the figure below.

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Why Extended Reality (xR) is Poised to Disrupt Corporate Learning and Development – Part I: The Problem

(Note: This is the first of a four-party series on the Learning Science of xR in Corporate Learning.) Executive Summary Key Stakeholders: Chief Learning Officers, Chief Human Resource Officers, Chief People Officer, Chief Talent Officer, Learning & Development Directors and Managers, Corporate Trainers, Content and Learning Product Managers, Hiring Directors, Hiring Managers, Human Resource Directors,…

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Understanding the Brain Science on How the US Government Shutdown Reduces the Effectiveness of Diligent Decision-Making

  On December 22, 2018, the longest government shutdown in American history began. Approximately 800,000 employees have been affected with roughly 380,000 workers being furloughed and another 420,000 working without pay. Many of the 420,000 employees being required to work without pay make important, and often split-second, life or death decisions. This includes the Coast…

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Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning (AI/ML) and Learning Systems in the Brain

Simulating Learning Processes in the Brain With AI/ML

Key Stakeholders: Chief Learning Officers, Chief Human Resource Officers, Learning and Development Directors and Managers, Corporate Trainers, Content and Learning Product Managers.

Why It Matters: The skills necessary for success in the corporate world are varied and include hard skills, people skills and situational awareness. While L&D is embracing the use of AI/ML to analyze learners’ data and to personalize learning paths, curate effective content, and attempt to better engage learners, what L&D has failed to embrace is the application of AI/ML to model each of these distinct learning systems, and their interactions.

Top Takeaway: Corporate learning vendors would be well served to develop AI/ML models that capture the processing characteristics of the three learning systems in the brain known to mediate hard skills, soft skills, and situational awareness learning. A comprehensive AI/ML model that captured the processing characteristics of each of these three distinct learning systems could be used to develop and test products and tools that optimize content curation, learning paths, engagement, and delivery processes that will differ substantially across systems and tasks to be learned.

Vendors with the Skillset and Expertise to Build this AI/ML Tool: Cornerstone, CrossKnowledge, IBM, Infor, LTG, Oracle, Saba, Salesforce, SAP, Workday, and likely many others.

Artificial Intelligence/Machine Learning and L&D

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The Scientific Case for Augmenting Learning Management Systems with Percipio Experience Services

Leveraging Brain Science to Build a Modern Learning Ecosystem

Key Stakeholders: Chief Learning Officers, Chief Human Resource Officers, Learning and Development Directors and Managers, Corporate Trainers, Content and Learning Product Managers.

Why It Matters: Many companies today aim to deliver a more modern learning experience to their employees, but they’ve already invested heavily in a Learning Management System (LMS) or other tools that may lack some of the learner engagement and content curation features that can be found in emerging Learning Experience Platforms. They need a hybrid solution that provides services associated with a modern Learning Experience Platform that can be integrated with their existing LMS.

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Todd Maddox Ph.D.’s Top Four Scientific Observations on DevLearn 2018

If you have a passion for learning then DevLearn is for you. DevLearn 2018 was quite the event. With excellent keynote addresses, breakout sessions, numerous vendors and great demos it was action-packed. I enjoyed every minute of DevLearn 2018 and I am already looking forward to 2019.

I took a few days to gather my notes and thoughts, and I have a number of observations on DevLearn 2018. I am sure that others who attended DevLearn 2018 will highlight different topics, and acknowledging that I was only able to speak in detail with a dozen or so vendors, here are my Top Four Scientific Observations.

Whether Talent, Behavioral or Data……The Impact of Science Continues to Grow

Relevant Vendors That I Spoke With: Adobe, Allego, EdCast, Inkling, iSpring, Learning Tribes, LEO Learning, MPS Interactive, Mursion, OttoLearn, Rehearsal, Schoox, STRIVR, Valamis

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Allego’s Point-in-Time Video Feedback Trains People Skills in the Sales Brain

If you are in sales, you have likely heard stories similar to this on numerous occasions.

“I have been in sales for over a year now, and I just can’t seem to learn out to give an effective sales pitch. My sales manager tells me that my body language is off, and my verbal skills are unnatural and forced. I read all of the required sales training materials and I have even read other articles, books and blogs on the art of an effective pitch. My manager demonstrates how to give an effective pitch and I have watched many videos of others giving an effective pitch. I feel like I understand the material, but when I get in front of potential clients it doesn’t feel right, and they don’t react positively to me. I am at a loss and don’t know what to do…”

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