Marty Kauchak, Group Editor attended the 3 Dec. special event 'A View from the Top: Disruptive Technologies That Will Transform Training' and filed this report.

The senior-level panel provided several insights on disruptive technologies, from the perspective of the defense community and adjacent high-risk markets. Daniel Serfaty, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, Aptima, Inc, moderated the panel that included Mike Knowles, President of Cubic Mission and Performance Solutions and Senior Vice President of Cubic Corporation; Don Ariel, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Raydon Corporation; Marlo Brooke, Chief Executive Officer and Founder, AVATAR Partners; and Ulrik Juul Christensen, Chief Executive Officer, Area9 Group.

A Disruptive Operational Environment

The industry leaders initially described an overarching disruptive environment – building the business case for learning technologies and enablers to thrive and support learners achieve their goals.

Cubic’s Knowles pointed out as the US military pivots to prepare for a near-peer fight, it no longer “owns” all of the warfare domains, and as such, will compete against extremely capable adversaries. Decision makers will no longer have the luxury of being contemplative and making deliberate decisions. Accordingly, individuals, units and staffs must be trained and prepared to operate and respond “in seconds”. Moderator Serfaty observed disruption has been occurring for at least 10-20 years in the learning environment. The corporate executive said during this time, there has been an acceleration of the pace of knowledge needed to do a job, and with it the urgency “to provide training at the time and place of need – just in time training.” To meet this “phenomenal challenge”, precision learning and precision training at scale are further needed.

Exponential Benefits

Marlo Brooke is no stranger to MS&T. The industry executive noted learning enterprises are receiving exponential benefits from MR, including use cases in which errors have been eliminated, training times have been reduced by 91%, times to trouble shoot have been reduced by 75% - all for starters. Raydon’s Ariel said while data has been a game changer in learning, his company has also pursued other opportunities to disrupt training, in particular by offering with mission reconfigurable training devices and other strategies. Area9 Group’s Christensen offered that human errors in medicine and other fields are occurring from individuals having 70% of knowledge, and built the case for shrinking the amount of time to learn and increasing the ability to absorb knowledge – helping to close that 30% “gap”.

Obstacles and Aids to Technology Adoption

The panel members cited impediments to bringing technologies and enablers to bear to permit learning enterprises right themselves and thrive in a disruptive environment.

Knowles told delegates this moment is an “us event”, where industry, the military and other stakeholders must find avenues to more quickly get learning technologies into the hands of warfighters. To that end, he cited the US DoD’s increased use of Other Transactional Authority contracts and other acquisition vehicles, to more quickly move advanced technology projects into prototypes and further along in the acquisition cycle. Knowles pointed out one Cubic success with a compressed acquisition process – delivering to the US Army STE CFT an instrumentation product which permits direct/indirect fire training without a laser.


Ariel built the case for culture being an obstacle to bringing disruptive technologies into training portfolios, noting individuals in processes fear change and simply doing something a new way, are concerned about job loss and reassignments, and are challenged by myriad other issues. Moderator Serfaty noted the continued need to augment the capacity to learn with AI, and further asserted that data needs to be analyzed in real time, not only in after-action reviews – a technology focal point which is being addressed by an increasing number of S&T companies.