M & E Advisory

Technology and Transition

Over the last century there has been exponential growth in technology. How able are we to predict the future of technology and what are the social effects of increased technology usage?

History and future trends:
The best summary of the history of information technologies is a graph that shows the calculations per second per $1,000 from 1900 to today.[1][2] (Try googling calculations per second per $1,000) What we see when we look at these figures is exponential growth.

Up take of the printing press took hundreds of years; uptake of the radio and TV took decades; uptake of the computer and mobile phones took years. The kitsch and yet astonishing comparison that is usually trotted out in conversations like this is that there is over 100 times more computing power in our smart phone than there was in the Apollo Space Program.

Each time we reach the capacity of one technology, a new one appears that takes the technology to the next level. Vacuum tubes were replaced by transistors, which were replaced by chips, which will probably be replaced by 3 dimensional self-organising molecular circuits or perhaps even quantum computers.

I very much like the observation by Ray Kurzweil in his TED talk[3] that this exponential growth is the result of worldwide chaotic behaviour and when we view it from a distance we see the pattern and the trend.

I also like the observation from the same talk that while we cannot predict the behaviour of a single molecule we can predict the behaviour of gasses. While we cannot predict the behaviour of an individual, we can predict the behaviour of crowds. This, combined with Philip Rosenthal’s observation[4] that when the internet was being built no one knew or had time to think what it would become, provides us with a glimpse into the nature of evolution. Evolution is:

  • Chaotic at the micro level
  • Predictable at the macro level
  • Out of any one person’s control
  • Happens through market (for want of a better term) forces
  • Is exponential

In the 1950’s predictions about life in the year 2000 primarily revolved around a continuation of the transport revolution; flying cars, space travel etc. Rarely was the revolution in ICT predicted. While people like Ray Kurzweil might be able to predict the continuation of the deflation of price and the increase in the computing power of technologies, it is unlikely that we can predict the area that will have the most profound effect.

“We will succeed in reverse engineering the brain by the 2020’s” Ray Kurzweil. [5] And according to Kurzweil’s figures, it will be available for $1,000!!!

The key areas that technology is affecting presently include:

  • Information
  • Communication
  • Biology

Interestingly, from my experience working with a number of companies in the pharmaceutical industries, the revolution in the chemistry industry seems to be passing and being replaced by the biotech industry. Pharmaceutical companies’ pipelines of new drugs are slowing in comparison to the heydays of the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s.

According to Jeremy Butler[6] there are four key stages in the development of information technology. They are:

  • pre-mechanical (3000 BC – 1450 AD)
  • mechanical (1450–1840)
  • electromechanical (1840–1940)
  • electronic (1940 to present)

Social issues:
There is no doubt that ICT has provided us with the opportunity to be more aware of issues and incidents with an increased breadth and depth. While the volume and speed of information has dramatically increased, the quality of that information and where the public choose to focus its attention is still in question.

ICT can also exacerbate the well documented psychological preference for confirmation bias.[7] Users of ICT can search for and find information to support current biases, incorrect assumptions or factually incorrect information. You can even join groups to further your own ignorance.

There is an increased ability to capture and store information about us. This will always be used for good and bad purposes. Yes some people use it to market and advertise … and perhaps that isn’t a bad thing … at least now I only have to sit through ads for things I’m actually interested in. The drawback is the reduction in serendipity of the discovery of something new outside of my current interests.

Yes, we lose privacy and perhaps even our identity, and what we gain is sharper information about how we act and how to improve our society and environment to better suit our preferences.

There are an increasing number of studies that suggest that ICT is rewiring our brains. Professor George Patton from the Royal Children’s Hospital’s Centre for Adolescent Health in Melbourne says he sees kids who engage in electronic media for the whole day and believes it is rewiring the brain.[8]

Concerns around the social effects of ICT include:

  • decreased attention span
  • a preference for width of information rather than depth
  • increase in obsessive behaviours such as ‘liking’ things on Facebook and constant monitoring of incoming messages
  • Increase in distractibility

Science fiction or fact:

After reading Sam Harris on free will[9], Robert Wright on evolutionary psychology,[10] listening to Ray Kurzweil[11] and seeing things like Harvard bioengineers and geneticists storing 700 terabytes of info in 1 gram using the double helix of DNA[12] … And you start to wonder that perhaps life is binary and perhaps we are not that far away from being able to create life itself!!!


[1] Kurzweil, Ray, http://www.ted.com/talks/ray_kurzweil_on_how_technology_will_transform_us.html Filmed Feb 2005, Posted Nov 2006

[2]  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FLOPS This page was last modified on 28 September 2012 at 15:22

[3] Kurzweil, Ray, Ibid

[4] Rosenthal, Philip, http://www.chabad.org/multimedia/media_cdo/aid/1521866/jewish/A-Brief-History-of-the-Internet.htm © 1993-2012 __Chabad____Lubavitch__ Media Center

[5] Kurzweil, Ray, Ibid

[6] Butler, Jeremy G., “A History of Information Technology and Systems”, University of Arizona.

[7] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias This page was last modified on 13 October 2012 at 18:13

[8] Professor George Patton, Page 78, Sun-Herald, 14th October 2012.

[9] Harris, Sam. 2012, Free Press, United States

[10] Wright, Robert. 1995, The Moral Animal: Why We Are, the Way We Are: The New Science of Evolutionary Psychology, Vintage, New York.

[11] Ibid

[12] http://www.extremetech.com/extreme/134672-harvard-cracks-dna-storage-crams-700-terabytes-of-data-into-a-single-gram By Sebastian Anthony on August 17Business Management Articles, 2012 at 10:22 am

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The importance of measuring Training ROI

Company management always wants to make sure that their financial investment on training yields sufficient returns. Training ROI metrics include defining reasons and training goals, training costs and amount of return.

Many companies spend a good fortune on training to increase productivity, enhance employee retention and reduce waste. Of course, they want to make sure that the return on investment on training pays off. Training should be measurable in order to determine effective ROI.

Companies offer training to their superiors, employees, clients and even suppliers. This can be conducted through outside training firms, an in-house training department or a combination of both. Training costs include payment of trainers, payment of participants for off-work time and expenses for travel and accommodation.

Managers and employees must drop their work hours to attend training sessions. The company is not only paying them even without rendering work, but it can also lose productivity or sales in the absence of their personnel. Moreover, the company may have to shoulder travel and lodging costs for off-site training.

When measuring training ROI, the company must measure the estimated productivity loss, hourly rate, training costs and other expenses related to the activity. An important factor in measuring training ROI is defining training goals. To measure training ROI, measure the amount of money made before and after the training, in which such an improvement should be compared with the training cost.

In many instances, there may be no measurable goals for a training session. This usually applies to trainings for managers, in which measuring the results of this type of training can be very difficult. However, if the goal of the training is to boost employee productivity, it is important to determine metrics before and after the training to determine training effectiveness. Training costs can then be compared with the profits’ real improvement to determine training ROI.

For instance, the specific goal of safety training may be to reduce the rate of accidents. You ca create statistics to verify its training effectiveness. When training customers, on the other hand, a good way to determine training effectiveness is reducing service calls. Maintenance costs for a service call staff and repairs may be compared with the costs incurred for training the customers. There are some companies that are using service calls as a way of generating revenue. This is usually a short-term method of making money. If a customer is required to make service calls and send in the product for repairs, then s/he may switch to another competitor. A quality, user-friendly product is a surefire way to establish repeat business with customers.

In addition, measuring training ROI from suppliers can be done through the improvement in the quality of products and services provided for. This will lead to a quantifiable reduction of product and service problems as well as enhanced quality of the end products.

Bottom lineFree Web Content, companies offer training in order to boost productivity which is important in order to yield more profit and ensure company success. Training investment consists of training costs and time spent by the employees from their work. Measurement of the effect on the firm’s profits and real improvements before and after training and comparison with the training costs can help determine the company’s return on investment.

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How to Make the Research Objectives

It could be summarized from the discussion that research objectives should be inclined with SMART concept and resource accessibility, consistency with research topic and research problem are some of the important aspects that should be considered by a researcher to give a direction for his/her research.

The determination of research objective is a difficult to manage task for a student after the selection of appropriate research topic in his/her interest area. The research objectives help to determine the direction of the research study and also ensure that the research is exploring something new and specific to the research topic. Most of the students face difficulty in determining the research objectives in an effective manner, so that they could increase the reliability and validity of their dissertation work. After the selection of appropriate research topic, it is essential for the researchers to determine the objectives of their study, which they are thinking to be achieved and explored through their research study.

The research objectives should be formulated in a manner that they help in determining that the research study will explore something new or will add more insights in the existing theories. The research objectives should be formed in SMART manner, which determines the significance of a research study. The SMART objectives mean specific, measurable, agreed, realistic, and time bound.

The SMART objective would ensure the significance of research as it will increase the research reliability and validity. It is because the SMART components of the research increase the significance of research study. As per the SMART pattern, the research objective should be specific, which should state what exactly you are going to achieve. The inclusion of measurable component depicts that objective should be determined in a way that it could be measured in qualitative or quantitative manner.

The research objective should also be in an agreed manner as it should include the acceptance of researcher as well as reviewer. It would increase the significance of the research study to attract the users. At the same time, a researcher should form the challenging objectives, but similarly, they should be achievable by him or her. It would also be effective to make the research objectives more clear and to increase the understanding of target users about the research study. The last element that should be considered while formulating the research objective is its virtue of being time bound. The objectives should be formulated with the clear end date and specific time limit, which would make the research study more significant for the users.

Along with the SMART concept, there are several aspects that should be considered by the students while formulating the research objectives for their study. The first aspect that should be considered is the ability of student to achieve that objective. It is because if the student is not able to achieve the prescribed objectives, then it will be his/her failure to accomplish the research objectives. The objectives should also be consistent with the research problem or research topic as it is a common mistake that is done by the students in their studies.

The consistency with the research problem will be effective for the researchers to move their efforts in right direction and to increase the research accuracy and usability. Resource accessibility is another aspect that should be considered in objective making as it will help to determine the availability of data that is required for the accomplishment of dissertation in a most significant manner.

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Assessing the Value of Industrial Hygiene Monitoring

Many companies witness firsthand the value of Industrial Hygiene Monitoring during their everyday operations.  The evaluation of risks that employees are exposed to on a daily basis helps improve the wellbeing and safety of each employee at the facility.  The employees are trained to understand the dangers they face on a daily basis and how to remain safe.

Many companies witness firsthand the value of Industrial Hygiene Monitoring during their everyday operations.  The evaluation of risks that employees are exposed to on a daily basis helps improve the wellbeing and safety of each employee at the facility.  The employees are trained to understand the dangers they face on a daily basis and how to remain safe.

A Certified Industrial Hygienist can help your facility by starting with an onsite visit to assess the specific challenges of your facility.  Detailed notes will be taken about each job role, along with the various hazards that each job role encounters.  A detailed report is then compiled and presented to the management team at your company.  The hazards will be specific to each job role along with ways to safeguard the employees.  Hazards could be chemical, biological, or physical.

Further ongoing analysis may be required for some job roles.  Monitoring equipment may be placed at specific points in the facility or even directly on the employee.  This equipment allows for ongoing analysis to ensure all of the hazards are identified so they can then be reduced or eliminated from exposure to the employee.  The employee may be issued Personal Protective Equipment to utilize for their specific job role.  A painter may be required to use a respirator and a full body suit.  The respirator will have specific filters to ensure the fumes are not inhaled by the painter, while the full body suit will protect their clothing and skin.  The company may need to invest in additional equipment to aid in each job rolePsychology Articles, as recommended by the Certified Industrial Hygienist.  A paint booth could be required for the volume of production required with its own ventilation system so the entire facility is not contaminated.

Each facility presents unique challenges that can be identified through comprehensive Industrial Hygiene Monitoring performed by a Certified Industrial Hygienist.  This ongoing partnership between the Certified Industrial Hygienist and your company will provide a safer work environment for each employee.  The company will benefit from employees being healthy and productive.  Your company should see a reduction in the amount of sick time taken and a decrease of workers compensation claims.  The overall bottom line will then see the benefits of Industrial Hygiene Monitoring for the ongoing future.  Long term savings start with calling a Certified Industrial Hygienist to begin working with your company and making that first on site visit to assess your company’s needs.

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