As I finish up my PhD in Organizational Psychology, I've come to realize the importance of absorbing the right information and acquiring knowledge. It's essential for remaining competitive as employees and organizations in our increasingly global and information-saturated world.

With jobs being automated away and artificial intelligence starting to replace higher-skilled jobs, learning quickly and being highly knowledgeable have become ever more critical. As Yuval Noah Harari says: "99-percent of human qualities and abilities are (will be) simply redundant for the performance of most modern jobs."

Today's high-tech powered environment is innovating faster and faster with automation, making personal growth and superior training high priorities for new entrants into the workforce.

That's why I was excited to get an inside look at Traena's new intelligent-learning platform. Traena is a venture-backed start-up based in San Francisco and Chicago, and has raised $500,000 in funding to put out its first version product. They are near launch and report having few, two exactly, open spaces left for their early adopters program. Their exclusive investor is Chicago-based Pandera Labs.

Powered by big-data, Traena delivers prescriptive daily micro-lessons from external consultants and internal trainers to your phone. These videos and posts are highly personalized and curated according to analytics from a myriad of sources.

Traena feels like Slack, but for learning and development, with a focus on knowledge-sharing within your organization. As a user, you can also suggest lessons to teammates.

"Empowering teams via peer to peer knowledge-sharing will be transformative for an organization because education and training have been relying more and more on employees being self-reliant," says Traena co-founder Aram Taghavi, adding: "A culture of accelerated learning is the key to a high-performing organization and we're building Traena for that purpose."

According to Gallup: "Managers need to recognize that millennials don't feel entitled; they feel empowered. [That means] they want to expand their knowledge and skills, they want to be useful, and they want their work and workplace to have meaning ... 93-percent of millennials left their company the last time they changed roles," suggesting they believed they had little or no growth opportunities.

Thus, in order for employers to create environments that excite millennials, products combining technology and self-improvement seem to be where the future is going. Companies that leverage this information will not only garner higher organizational commitment, but likely promote higher performance and productivity as well.

Put most simply: accelerated learning is becoming one of the most important traits required to remain competitive as an employee or organization. The organizations that ignore this will, in a Darwinian sense, become extinct, while those who create culture's embracing this reality will evolve.

I spoke to Traena board member and investor Ryan Redmann, and he said: "Through our work at Pandera Labs, we've had front-row seats to the impact of AI and automation tech...in parallel, we've seen that people really need (and want) modernized learning experiences that help them keep up."

Of course, apps and software these days need to be increasingly user-friendly and intuitive. Traena seems to have kept this in mind in their development of the product, as the app is very simple. When messing around with the app, I clicked one of the "trainer" channels and was given access to 30 short training videos and tips, ranging from "Planning a Meeting," to "Getting in the Right Mindset."

I can see this being a go-to tool for people when they find themselves distracted on Facebook or YouTube during work hours. This app could be used as a priming mechanism to trigger oneself back into a state of flow.

Of course, as with all apps and technology, some will see the value and others will not. Some will apply the information and others will not.

Again, as a Organizational Psychologist, I'm well aware of the importance of employee well-being and engagement. I'm excited to see tools like Traena on the market, and am excited to see from a big-data perspective the longitudinal differences of the organizations which embrace these types of tools from the one's who don't.

There are, of course, downsides to all products and ambitions. Although Traena has gotten funding and lots of good feedback, it's far from a perfect product. In my mind, the biggest downside will be is its relevance for every employee. Not every organization runs like a startup, and thus, not every organization aspires to the values Traena presents. Thus, some people will love it and others will hate it.

Published on: Apr 7, 2017