- - Tuesday, April 16, 2019

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

It would be nice to think we could automate all combat roles out to machines, and spare our sons and daughters the horrors of combat. However, I don’t think at this stage of our technological development that this is possible.

There is still evil in the world, and it will take the guts and ingenuity of the American soldier to confront it as they have done in the past, do so now, and will have to do in the future. The near-term solution, as the military searches for force multipliers to stretch ever so limited dollars as far as possible, is to train our military personnel better, make them more effective and search for the best equipment possible to make their tasks as safe as possible.

Our military has been using gaming technology for some time now to increase the skills of the men and women who serve our great country. In fact, many of the games that are out in the commercial market have their roots in the military, pushing the technological envelope for weapons and training development. Back in the mid-1990s, as a U.S. Air Force pilot, we used virtual reality in our simulators to train for difficult missions before they were ever flown. Today, that technology is commonplace, and even antiquated, as ever more capable systems now can sometimes replace our biological sensors with artificial intelligence.

However, many military skills are simple rote memory. Having the knowledge to deal with a problem, or create a solution instantaneously from a set of tasks where the work flow has been seared into your subconscious, can mean life or death in a combat situation. Examples of this are plentiful, like calling in an airstrike, bandaging a wound, directing artillery fire, or simply knowing how to dig a fast hole…fast. It is tasks like these where work force training on mobile devices can have a big impact, so that no stress or strain can erase them.

The same phenomenon happens at the coffee bar just as often as on the battlefield, although the stakes are not as existential — not life and death, just the satisfaction of your customer. Your front line sales personnel are critical to your business’ success. They can make you or break you. Instead of automation, why don’t we train our employees better, to retain and delight customers instead of destroying relationships with them perhaps for good.



In search of answers to the automation issue, I recently spoke with Sam Caucci, CEO of 1Huddle, a mobile workforce training company that uses gaming to upskill employees better and faster than legacy methods. He has worked with private as well as public sector workers, domestically and abroad.

“The key value a brick-and-mortar retailer can provide that online retailers can’t match is an in-store experience. What happens to shoppers in your store can either bring them back or drive them away (and toward someone else’s website).

“Many prominent businesses squander the one major opportunity they have to provide added value that online retailers can’t. And you know the adage, “A reputation takes a lifetime to build and a second to lose.”

As we face the approaching automation of menial labor across the West and eventually the developing world, business owners would be wise to seek to take work force training to the next level, in order to retain and keep employees happy, as well as customers.

“Today’s new employees are entering the workforce less prepared than ever before. Colleges are not getting people up to speed. Changes in the workplace have left colleges in the dust. Young people have less experience. They spend less time talking and putting them in front of others to perform a job is a big challenge for them. It’s taking longer to get them ready for prime time. Employers need to realize this,” Mr. Caucci declared in a recent report.

Using gaming to train employees on their mobile devices is sweeping the corporate landscape. Governments can help this process by simply getting out of the way. If a barista wants to improve her latte-making skills on her phone while waiting for the commuter train into the city, she should be allowed to do so, regardless of bureaucratic work rules that can hamper an employee’s drive to better their career.

The gaming industry is bigger than television and radio combined. The future is technology at the retail counter and in the cockpit. Mobile gaming can be a highly effective training process that will empower our employees, not automate them out of existence.

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