MAXX Potential

Who Owns My AI-Generated Clone?

A Professional's Look at AI Ethics

By Tucker Mahan, Director of Emerging Technology

AI-generated video clones, once a thing of the future, are now here. For the past few months, I’ve been exploring the possibilities of AI-generated clones. I’ve learned how to help my clone have a wider spectrum of emotion and pronounce words correctly. It’s been an adventure.

When I helped my Mother-in-Law clone herself, I ran into security measures with my chosen AI video content creator, HeyGen (Affiliate link). It prompted a question: who owns my AI-generated clone?

I want to say that I own my AI-generated clone, but let’s talk about tech advancements, ethical implications, legal landscape, and the current industry perspective.

Advancements of AI

AI is reshaping the landscape of technology as we know it. We’ve watched the rapid evolution of machine learning algorithms, enabling systems to process vast datasets and learn patterns. This deep learning has empowered AI models to simulate human-like neural networks. They comprehend complex data structures. It’s insane.

The tech advancements we’re seeing in AI includes Natural Language Processing (NLP), which helps machines to understand and generate human language; AI robotics, which means intelligent automation in several industries; and AI-powered recommendation systems, which provides image recognition and smart suggestions.

AI can generate a virtually indistinguishable likenesses of a human from a photograph for AI videos, and this means that it’s easier than ever before to impersonate famous individuals. Advancements in AI means that we need our ethics, legal landscape, and industry perspective to keep up.

What are the Ethical Implications of AI Video Clones?

Copyright misinformation, privacy, misuse – there are a lot of ethical issues to consider. Any innovative technology is going to raise concerns. It’s part of the process. 

Now what are the downstream effects? For some areas, like copyright and intellectual property concerns, there’s this conversation about originality and ownership. When AI systems are generating video clones that mimic a person, or are inspired by a person, who holds the copyright to that AI-generated creation? What if an AI-generative clone company went off the wire and started using me as a widely available clone?

On a personal level, who owns the HeyGen clone of me that I made?

HeyGen is clear, stating, “In any case where we find out an individual’s image, likeness or voice is used without their permission, we will take down the relevant content and take appropriate action against the user that engaged in the unauthorized use.”

I like to think that my likeness is mine. I don’t want to see myself saying stuff that I haven’t approved, especially when it’s hard to tell if it’s actually me or not. HeyGen assures users that, “We only use our user’s data to improve our models with the user’s consent and user videos are private by default.” There is also a licensing fee to be able to use the model they built using my video, which can feel weird at first, like “I pay them to use myself in videos?” However, I recognize it is an advanced model that requires resources to run, generate, store, and don’t get too hung up over the cost.

Bigger picture, always check the terms and conditions with the platform you choose to use for AI-generated content, videos, audio, clones. The ownership rights generally may be retained by the user, especially if the AI tool is used for personal purposes.

What about Copyright and AI-Generated Content?

The higher level viewpoint of copyright concerns is these natural language processing models were trained on datasets. They may reproduce copyrighted material without attribution. If AI-generated content uses copyrighted material without citing the source, that’s a lawsuit. 

When ChatGPT was originally rolled out, it was much freer in its responses, and as the platform existed longer and started picking up a larger user count, the early adopters noticed changes in how the AI would respond to certain questions.

AI continues to evolve, and we’re starting to see a new content licensing approach. Part of designing a large language model includes deciding what corpus or body of text to use to train the model. Licensing allows these models to utilize content in that corpus, but it also introduces complexities around ownership and copyright of the output. When an AI generates content, such as text, images, or music, it often does so based on the vast amounts of data it was trained on. This raises questions about who holds the copyright to the generated content: the developers of the AI, the owners of the original data used for training, or the users who prompted the AI to generate the content.

The legal landscape for copyright law is still adapting to these challenges. As everyone navigates this new territory, I think it’s crucial for anyone involved in the creation or use of AI generated content to stay informed about the latest legal developments.

What’s the Legal Landscape for AI-Generated Clones?

We’ve already discussed the issues of consent and privacy, and it’s important that we keep talking about the problem of replicating someone’s image or voice without permission. Two main thoughts seem to be in play: regulate AI-generated content with explicit consent or reconsider intellectual property laws. Intellectual property rights, including copyright and trademark considerations, help shape legal frameworks. 

As technology advances, let’s keep considering the liability for malicious use or unintended consequences. It’s important that the laws don’t fall behind tech advancements, and yet, it is possible that they will. On a company level, the best thing to do is to establish clear guidelines that balance innovation with the protection of individual rights. 

I think this can happen if legal experts, industry stakeholders, and policymakers collaborate on a legal framework that ensures responsible development and use of AI-generated video clone technology, while balancing the interests of content creators, AI developers, and end users.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re using AI-generated video clones:

  • Respect Intellectual Property Rights
  • Obtain explicit permission to use someone’s likeness
  • Pay attention to ongoing legal regulations for AI
  • Use best practices when it comes to AI ethics

As the Director of Emerging Technology at MAXX Potential, I’m interested in continuing to explore the possibilities of AI, and we build automated workflows to help your team get more work done. Reach out about your project.

MORE POSTS

Who Owns My AI-Generated Clone?

A Professional's Look at AI Ethics

By Tucker Mahan, Director of Emerging Technology

AI-generated video clones, once a thing of the future, are now here. For the past few months, I’ve been exploring the possibilities of AI-generated clones. I’ve learned how to help my clone have a wider spectrum of emotion and pronounce words correctly. It’s been an adventure.

When I helped my Mother-in-Law clone herself, I ran into security measures with my chosen AI video content creator, HeyGen (Affiliate link). It prompted a question: who owns my AI-generated clone?

I want to say that I own my AI-generated clone, but let’s talk about tech advancements, ethical implications, legal landscape, and the current industry perspective.

Advancements of AI

AI is reshaping the landscape of technology as we know it. We’ve watched the rapid evolution of machine learning algorithms, enabling systems to process vast datasets and learn patterns. This deep learning has empowered AI models to simulate human-like neural networks. They comprehend complex data structures. It’s insane.

The tech advancements we’re seeing in AI includes Natural Language Processing (NLP), which helps machines to understand and generate human language; AI robotics, which means intelligent automation in several industries; and AI-powered recommendation systems, which provides image recognition and smart suggestions.

AI can generate a virtually indistinguishable likenesses of a human from a photograph for AI videos, and this means that it’s easier than ever before to impersonate famous individuals. Advancements in AI means that we need our ethics, legal landscape, and industry perspective to keep up.

What are the Ethical Implications of AI Video Clones?

Copyright misinformation, privacy, misuse – there are a lot of ethical issues to consider. Any innovative technology is going to raise concerns. It’s part of the process. 

Now what are the downstream effects? For some areas, like copyright and intellectual property concerns, there’s this conversation about originality and ownership. When AI systems are generating video clones that mimic a person, or are inspired by a person, who holds the copyright to that AI-generated creation? What if an AI-generative clone company went off the wire and started using me as a widely available clone?

On a personal level, who owns the HeyGen clone of me that I made?

HeyGen is clear, stating, “In any case where we find out an individual’s image, likeness or voice is used without their permission, we will take down the relevant content and take appropriate action against the user that engaged in the unauthorized use.”

I like to think that my likeness is mine. I don’t want to see myself saying stuff that I haven’t approved, especially when it’s hard to tell if it’s actually me or not. HeyGen assures users that, “We only use our user’s data to improve our models with the user’s consent and user videos are private by default.” There is also a licensing fee to be able to use the model they built using my video, which can feel weird at first, like “I pay them to use myself in videos?” However, I recognize it is an advanced model that requires resources to run, generate, store, and don’t get too hung up over the cost.

Bigger picture, always check the terms and conditions with the platform you choose to use for AI-generated content, videos, audio, clones. The ownership rights generally may be retained by the user, especially if the AI tool is used for personal purposes.

What about Copyright and AI-Generated Content?

The higher level viewpoint of copyright concerns is these natural language processing models were trained on datasets. They may reproduce copyrighted material without attribution. If AI-generated content uses copyrighted material without citing the source, that’s a lawsuit. 

When ChatGPT was originally rolled out, it was much freer in its responses, and as the platform existed longer and started picking up a larger user count, the early adopters noticed changes in how the AI would respond to certain questions.

AI continues to evolve, and we’re starting to see a new content licensing approach. Part of designing a large language model includes deciding what corpus or body of text to use to train the model. Licensing allows these models to utilize content in that corpus, but it also introduces complexities around ownership and copyright of the output. When an AI generates content, such as text, images, or music, it often does so based on the vast amounts of data it was trained on. This raises questions about who holds the copyright to the generated content: the developers of the AI, the owners of the original data used for training, or the users who prompted the AI to generate the content.

The legal landscape for copyright law is still adapting to these challenges. As everyone navigates this new territory, I think it’s crucial for anyone involved in the creation or use of AI generated content to stay informed about the latest legal developments.

What’s the Legal Landscape for AI-Generated Clones?

We’ve already discussed the issues of consent and privacy, and it’s important that we keep talking about the problem of replicating someone’s image or voice without permission. Two main thoughts seem to be in play: regulate AI-generated content with explicit consent or reconsider intellectual property laws. Intellectual property rights, including copyright and trademark considerations, help shape legal frameworks. 

As technology advances, let’s keep considering the liability for malicious use or unintended consequences. It’s important that the laws don’t fall behind tech advancements, and yet, it is possible that they will. On a company level, the best thing to do is to establish clear guidelines that balance innovation with the protection of individual rights. 

I think this can happen if legal experts, industry stakeholders, and policymakers collaborate on a legal framework that ensures responsible development and use of AI-generated video clone technology, while balancing the interests of content creators, AI developers, and end users.

Here are a few things to keep in mind if you’re using AI-generated video clones:

  • Respect Intellectual Property Rights
  • Obtain explicit permission to use someone’s likeness
  • Pay attention to ongoing legal regulations for AI
  • Use best practices when it comes to AI ethics

As the Director of Emerging Technology at MAXX Potential, I’m interested in continuing to explore the possibilities of AI, and we build automated workflows to help your team get more work done. Reach out about your project.

I Taught My Mother-In-Law How to Clone Herself

A Professional’s Tools for AI-Generated Videos

By Tucker Mahan, Director of Emerging Technology

AI is more user-friendly than ever before.

If AI makes it possible for anyone to write up an article or create a video, it stands to reason that we’re about to see so much more content online. A statistic from Europol said 90% of the Internet will be completely AI generated by 2026. It might even be faster than that. 

This unlocks so many possibilities. AI tools are user friendly and intuitive, enabling people who are not tech-savvy to use them, which brings me to how I taught my mother-in-law to use an AI tool to clone herself.

Cloning My Mother-in-Law

In a recent conversation with my mother-in-law, we were discussing AI and my latest blog post “What are the Biggest Concerns and Best Benefits about Deepfake Technology?” came up. Her immediate reaction, “Oh my gosh, you have to clone me!” 

The plan was that I would take her video and voice recordings, set up her account, and start creating webinars for her. It was a good plan. I’ve been working with HeyGen (affiliate link) AI-generated videos for a while, and I’d be able to get her up and running pretty quickly, with plenty of time before her upcoming meetings.

I set up her account and completed most of the steps. And then I hit a problem I didn’t foresee, but I can’t even be mad about it.

One of the steps for cloning via HeyGen requires the person to upload a video with a consent script that contains a secure token. I didn’t think it would be a problem to use FaceTime. I was wrong. It didn’t work, and I couldn’t just go to her house because I was sick.

So there I am, training my mother-in-law to do technology over a phone call because she has to be the one to make the video, read the script, and upload it immediately to HeyGen.

Sure, I was frustrated that I couldn’t just do what I had intended, without an elevated account tier. I had her permission, but HeyGen made sure of it. They demonstrated that they’re keeping consent and privacy at the forefront of their product development.

That’s just one reason why I like HeyGen.

The HeyGen tool is user-friendly, and it’s been cool to explore. Use our affiliate link to sign up for a HeyGen account.

Training the Audio of My Mother-in-Law’s Clone

I encouraged my mother-in-law to read her script with a wide range of emotions. As with most Generative AI tools, higher quality input will produce higher quality results. If you train a voice clone with a very natural, no excitement voice tone, it’s not going to be able to express a wide range of emotions. Any clone will speak just like the provided sample, and adding cues like “said excitedly” or “said emphatically,” will flex as far as your sample did. 

We experimented with ElevenLabs, which is focused on Multilingual Voice AI such as Text to Speech or Speech to Speech. In general, Voice AI is getting better at lifelike speech, being able to clone human voice samples with less data and produce quality results. In fact, utilizing some of these tools, emotions, pauses, and pronunciation guidance can be incorporated in a text transcript, and the effects will come through in the audio.

Another tip I shared with my mother-in-law was to consider keeping her voice sample relevant to the material she intended to produce, using any industry specific terms that may come up often in her webinar script. Doing so will help the AI better replicate how you pronounce specific words or phrases, although there are methods to fix those errors later using the in transcript prompting. For example, I know without a doubt whenever I’m typing “MAXX Potential” to be spoken by AI, I should use “m a x” instead of “m a x x” to avoid issues. 

Choosing the AI Clone Video

When my mother-in-law and I were hatching the idea of developing her AI clone for her webinars, we had a choice for her AI video: the video clone avatar and photo avatar.

For video clone avatars, these are created using video footage and then can lip-sync the audio text whereas photo avatars will animate a still image with lip syncing to the audio text. We opted to use a Fine-Tuned video clone avatar, as the results are typically much more realistic. That said, being able to animate a person’s picture into a video is beyond useful and a much faster solution. 

In the end, we created an AI video for my mother-in-law that had her in it sharing the information that her audience wanted, and it was without needing my mother-in-law to spend hours in a filming studio. 

Tucker’s Top Key Takeaways for AI

  • Understand AI capabilities, and you can make yourself more efficient.
  • AI is the most user-friendly that it’s ever been.
  • Responsible use of AI means protecting privacy.
  • Garbage in; garbage out AKA Learn better AI prompting.

Explore AI Clone Capabilities

AI has dominated the conversation in the tech industry for the last year, and it’s here to stay. This tech revolution means that each of us can have an AI sidekick to get tasks done, bring virtual personalities to life, and solve problems. If you’re not exploring the AI capabilities for your business, it’s time to start.

As the Director of Emerging Technology at MAXX Potential, I’m interested in continuing to explore the possibilities of AI, and we build automated workflows to help your team get more work done. Reach out about your project.

Resources

MORE POSTS

I Taught My Mother-In-Law How to Clone Herself

A Professional’s Tools for AI-Generated Videos

By Tucker Mahan, Director of Emerging Technology

AI is more user-friendly than ever before.

If AI makes it possible for anyone to write up an article or create a video, it stands to reason that we’re about to see so much more content online. A statistic from Europol said 90% of the Internet will be completely AI generated by 2026. It might even be faster than that. 

This unlocks so many possibilities. AI tools are user friendly and intuitive, enabling people who are not tech-savvy to use them, which brings me to how I taught my mother-in-law to use an AI tool to clone herself.

Cloning My Mother-in-Law

In a recent conversation with my mother-in-law, we were discussing AI and my latest blog post “What are the Biggest Concerns and Best Benefits about Deepfake Technology?” came up. Her immediate reaction, “Oh my gosh, you have to clone me!” 

The plan was that I would take her video and voice recordings, set up her account, and start creating webinars for her. It was a good plan. I’ve been working with HeyGen (affiliate link) AI-generated videos for a while, and I’d be able to get her up and running pretty quickly, with plenty of time before her upcoming meetings.

I set up her account and completed most of the steps. And then I hit a problem I didn’t foresee, but I can’t even be mad about it.

One of the steps for cloning via HeyGen requires the person to upload a video with a consent script that contains a secure token. I didn’t think it would be a problem to use FaceTime. I was wrong. It didn’t work, and I couldn’t just go to her house because I was sick.

So there I am, training my mother-in-law to do technology over a phone call because she has to be the one to make the video, read the script, and upload it immediately to HeyGen.

Sure, I was frustrated that I couldn’t just do what I had intended, without an elevated account tier. I had her permission, but HeyGen made sure of it. They demonstrated that they’re keeping consent and privacy at the forefront of their product development.

That’s just one reason why I like HeyGen.

The HeyGen tool is user-friendly, and it’s been cool to explore. Use our affiliate link to sign up for a HeyGen account.

Training the Audio of My Mother-in-Law’s Clone

I encouraged my mother-in-law to read her script with a wide range of emotions. As with most Generative AI tools, higher quality input will produce higher quality results. If you train a voice clone with a very natural, no excitement voice tone, it’s not going to be able to express a wide range of emotions. Any clone will speak just like the provided sample, and adding cues like “said excitedly” or “said emphatically,” will flex as far as your sample did. 

We experimented with ElevenLabs, which is focused on Multilingual Voice AI such as Text to Speech or Speech to Speech. In general, Voice AI is getting better at lifelike speech, being able to clone human voice samples with less data and produce quality results. In fact, utilizing some of these tools, emotions, pauses, and pronunciation guidance can be incorporated in a text transcript, and the effects will come through in the audio.

Another tip I shared with my mother-in-law was to consider keeping her voice sample relevant to the material she intended to produce, using any industry specific terms that may come up often in her webinar script. Doing so will help the AI better replicate how you pronounce specific words or phrases, although there are methods to fix those errors later using the in transcript prompting. For example, I know without a doubt whenever I’m typing “MAXX Potential” to be spoken by AI, I should use “m a x” instead of “m a x x” to avoid issues. 

Choosing the AI Clone Video

When my mother-in-law and I were hatching the idea of developing her AI clone for her webinars, we had a choice for her AI video: the video clone avatar and photo avatar.

For video clone avatars, these are created using video footage and then can lip-sync the audio text whereas photo avatars will animate a still image with lip syncing to the audio text. We opted to use a Fine-Tuned video clone avatar, as the results are typically much more realistic. That said, being able to animate a person’s picture into a video is beyond useful and a much faster solution. 

In the end, we created an AI video for my mother-in-law that had her in it sharing the information that her audience wanted, and it was without needing my mother-in-law to spend hours in a filming studio. 

Tucker’s Top Key Takeaways for AI

  • Understand AI capabilities, and you can make yourself more efficient.
  • AI is the most user-friendly that it’s ever been.
  • Responsible use of AI means protecting privacy.
  • Garbage in; garbage out AKA Learn better AI prompting.

Explore AI Clone Capabilities

AI has dominated the conversation in the tech industry for the last year, and it’s here to stay. This tech revolution means that each of us can have an AI sidekick to get tasks done, bring virtual personalities to life, and solve problems. If you’re not exploring the AI capabilities for your business, it’s time to start.

As the Director of Emerging Technology at MAXX Potential, I’m interested in continuing to explore the possibilities of AI, and we build automated workflows to help your team get more work done. Reach out about your project.

Resources

What are the Biggest Concerns and Best Benefits about Deepfake Technology?

Understanding the Deepfake Landscape

By Tucker Mahan, MAXX Potential Director of Emerging Technology

Playlist

11 Videos

All content above is AI generated, aside from the blog excerpt. Some translations may be inaccurate but are provided for learning purposes of technology’s current capabilities.

Have you ever needed to be filmed and when you watched the video back you were cringing? I have. With deepfake technology, you could skip the filming and still bring your face and voice to the content that you’re creating – maybe without some of those awkward gestures and mannerisms.

A few years ago, deepfake was a possibility only available to the people who understood what was going on behind the scenes. Now deepfake technology programs make it far more user-friendly though it still requires some technical skill.

So what is deepfake? Deepfake technology uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create, edit, modify, and alter video and audio, allowing the image or sound to become more believable and real. This means that technology can now mimic real humans both in image and sound fairly accurately.

Like any other advancement, deepfake tech offers opportunity and concern. While the general population gets a kick out of impersonating famous celebrities, bad actors are tapping into super convincing phishing content, such as vishing (voice impersonation) or smishing (sms impersonation).

With every new capability of deepfake comes the need for smart protection for your company, yourself, and your tech.

Want to skip the read? Allow “Tucker” to narrate for you:

Biggest Concerns in Deepfake Technology

Do bad actors adopt technology like this faster than the general public? It’s possible because most tech advancements take a minute to digest, understand, and determine an action plan. 

If bad actors are learning deepfake technology alongside enterprises, it’s very possible that enterprises are still vulnerable to malicious attacks – not to mention social engineering since most people are unaware of this new technology for phishing.

Bad actors are most likely to target people who are unaware of deepfake technologies, meaning that companies, communities, and schools need to start educating people about the possibility of deepfake-based attacks.

When it comes to my biggest concerns for deepfake technology, I see three main categories: misinformation and manipulation; social engineering attacks; and identity theft and fraud.

Misinformation and Manipulation

We often rely on the phrase “seeing is believing;” however, deepfake technology is making it even more difficult to discern real content from fabricated content. I see it a lot on social media where someone will reshare an image, believing the product to be real, and a quick image search reveals that the product is fake. If you look closely, you may be able to spot the AI-generated bloopers in the photo, but it’s becoming harder and harder.

Deepfake technology can already generate celebrity lookalike videos, and now AI-created “virtual influencers” are on the rise. I have more questions than answers on what we’ll see next, but I expect a lot of repercussions in the form of changing copyright laws, lawsuits, and governance acts through these uncertain times.

Social Engineering

Social engineering is all about using what you know or can find out to be able to break confidentiality. Deepfake social engineering attacks elevate the risk because now bad actors can impersonate trusted contacts of their target using voice clone and face swap. 

For example, there was a season of time where companies were being targeted by bad actors who were impersonating the CEO to email or text employees, asking them to buy gift cards. The urgency of the text along with the authority of the company CEO likely worked on a lot of people. Deepfake will make these attacks even more sophisticated.

Identity Theft and Fraud

Tech experts warn that deepfake technology could be used by bad actors to bypass biometric authentication in scenarios where a face scan is used. This could give bad actors access to crucial information, secure areas, or devices.

Sumsub published its Identity Fraud Report in November 2023, and it found that deepfakes accounted for most of the AI-powered fraud attacks. In fact, AI-powered techniques were among the top five tools used in fraud online in 2023.

Potential Benefits of Deepfake Technology

It’s up to personal opinion whether or not the benefits of deepfake technology outweigh the security risks; however, opportunity is there for dope advancements. Companies will be able to upgrade their security systems to fight threats, red team detrimental issues, accommodate people with hearing loss, and receive better translations.

I’d break the benefits of deepfake technology into three different categories: Interpersonal, security, and media.

Interpersonal Possibilities

I was at a conference a couple of years ago where one of the speakers was hypothesizing on the potential use cases of deepfake technology, and he presented the idea of using your last saved voicemail of your grandfather with deepfake technology so that you could hear his voice again. That idea seemed super cool, and deepfake could help us remember our loved ones better.

Another company is exploring what deepfake can do for sms, iMessage, and WhatsApp where users could set their chosen language and then all incoming messages would be automatically translated.

Security Measures

Deepfake and generative AI technology can create powerful training grounds for security teams to red team specific situations in order to make security advancements. Companies will be able to better protect their data as attacks become more refined.

We already know that deepfakes have the potential to be used to circumvent biometric authentication security, so it’s important for companies to use this information to find more holes in the security systems.

Media Madness

Channel 1 News shocked people with the possibilities by promising a platform that would individualize news to you. They promise personalization powered by generative AI with its full launch in 2024, think TikTok meets Hacker News.

For content creators, the deepfake possibilities are super beneficial because they could create a deepfake version of themselves that could do their educational content, advertising, and so much more. Again, this sounds great to me, as I’d love to never be in front of a camera again.

Lip sync dubbing will improve so much from deepfake technology. It will be possible for movies in other languages to have actors who appear to be speaking the dubbed language rather than lips that move to the original filmed language.

Recognizing Deepfakes

Spotting deepfakes will become a necessary skill for most people, especially in scenarios where a bad actor could be seeking sensitive information. 

When it comes to social engineering, you can have the best security system in place, but if your company and team are not educated on recognizing deepfake phishing attempts, then your company is vulnerable. Train your people.

Some of the best ways to recognize deepfake impersonations are with attention to detail and critical thinking.

  • Where’s the emphasis on audio voices?
  • Is the pitch variation off from a normal cadence?
  • What’s the pause length between words and sentences?
  • Does the accent match the person you know?
  • Are there odd blinking patterns?
  • Do hand gestures line up with the content?
  • Are the mannerisms right for the person you know?

People’s voices fluctuate according to the situation. If you’re happy, that adjusts the tone, pitch, and emphasis of how someone speaks. Take a clip of someone who’s happy and use it in a deepfake tool where you’re trying to be threatening, the tone might not match the message. 

Humans also quickly pick up on accents from other areas, so a voice clone won’t always match the accent of a person without a large sampling of how they speak. While I’m not a linguist, accommodation within language is fascinating, as it suggests humans adjust their speech to mirror one another in order to inspire better collaboration. Voice cloning isn’t good enough to pick up this nuance.

One of the best ways to recognize deepfakes is to interact with deepfakes in video and audio often. With so much of our day-to-day being in the digital realm, it’s time to realize that all digital content could now be fake.

Conclusion

The possibilities of deepfake are great, and with that great power comes specific responsibility to be smart around deepfake security and use cases.

If you’re not excited about the possibilities of deepfake technology, look it up. I honestly believe that deepfake will bring some advanced attacks from bad actors to our companies, and it’s worth knowing about. Don’t get caught off guard. 

Do you think Deepfake is a Threat or an Opportunity? Tell us your thoughts!

MORE POSTS

What are the Biggest Concerns and Best Benefits about Deepfake Technology?

Understanding the Deepfake Landscape

By Tucker Mahan, MAXX Potential Director of Emerging Technology

Playlist

11 Videos

All content above is AI generated, aside from the blog excerpt. Some translations may be inaccurate but are provided for learning purposes of technology’s current capabilities.

Have you ever needed to be filmed and when you watched the video back you were cringing? I have. With deepfake technology, you could skip the filming and still bring your face and voice to the content that you’re creating – maybe without some of those awkward gestures and mannerisms.

A few years ago, deepfake was a possibility only available to the people who understood what was going on behind the scenes. Now deepfake technology programs make it far more user-friendly though it still requires some technical skill.

So what is deepfake? Deepfake technology uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to create, edit, modify, and alter video and audio, allowing the image or sound to become more believable and real. This means that technology can now mimic real humans both in image and sound fairly accurately.

Like any other advancement, deepfake tech offers opportunity and concern. While the general population gets a kick out of impersonating famous celebrities, bad actors are tapping into super convincing phishing content, such as vishing (voice impersonation) or smishing (sms impersonation).

With every new capability of deepfake comes the need for smart protection for your company, yourself, and your tech.

Want to skip the read? Allow “Tucker” to narrate for you:

Biggest Concerns in Deepfake Technology

Do bad actors adopt technology like this faster than the general public? It’s possible because most tech advancements take a minute to digest, understand, and determine an action plan. 

If bad actors are learning deepfake technology alongside enterprises, it’s very possible that enterprises are still vulnerable to malicious attacks – not to mention social engineering since most people are unaware of this new technology for phishing.

Bad actors are most likely to target people who are unaware of deepfake technologies, meaning that companies, communities, and schools need to start educating people about the possibility of deepfake-based attacks.

When it comes to my biggest concerns for deepfake technology, I see three main categories: misinformation and manipulation; social engineering attacks; and identity theft and fraud.

Misinformation and Manipulation

We often rely on the phrase “seeing is believing;” however, deepfake technology is making it even more difficult to discern real content from fabricated content. I see it a lot on social media where someone will reshare an image, believing the product to be real, and a quick image search reveals that the product is fake. If you look closely, you may be able to spot the AI-generated bloopers in the photo, but it’s becoming harder and harder.

Deepfake technology can already generate celebrity lookalike videos, and now AI-created “virtual influencers” are on the rise. I have more questions than answers on what we’ll see next, but I expect a lot of repercussions in the form of changing copyright laws, lawsuits, and governance acts through these uncertain times.

Social Engineering

Social engineering is all about using what you know or can find out to be able to break confidentiality. Deepfake social engineering attacks elevate the risk because now bad actors can impersonate trusted contacts of their target using voice clone and face swap. 

For example, there was a season of time where companies were being targeted by bad actors who were impersonating the CEO to email or text employees, asking them to buy gift cards. The urgency of the text along with the authority of the company CEO likely worked on a lot of people. Deepfake will make these attacks even more sophisticated.

Identity Theft and Fraud

Tech experts warn that deepfake technology could be used by bad actors to bypass biometric authentication in scenarios where a face scan is used. This could give bad actors access to crucial information, secure areas, or devices.

Sumsub published its Identity Fraud Report in November 2023, and it found that deepfakes accounted for most of the AI-powered fraud attacks. In fact, AI-powered techniques were among the top five tools used in fraud online in 2023.

Potential Benefits of Deepfake Technology

It’s up to personal opinion whether or not the benefits of deepfake technology outweigh the security risks; however, opportunity is there for dope advancements. Companies will be able to upgrade their security systems to fight threats, red team detrimental issues, accommodate people with hearing loss, and receive better translations.

I’d break the benefits of deepfake technology into three different categories: Interpersonal, security, and media.

Interpersonal Possibilities

I was at a conference a couple of years ago where one of the speakers was hypothesizing on the potential use cases of deepfake technology, and he presented the idea of using your last saved voicemail of your grandfather with deepfake technology so that you could hear his voice again. That idea seemed super cool, and deepfake could help us remember our loved ones better.

Another company is exploring what deepfake can do for sms, iMessage, and WhatsApp where users could set their chosen language and then all incoming messages would be automatically translated.

Security Measures

Deepfake and generative AI technology can create powerful training grounds for security teams to red team specific situations in order to make security advancements. Companies will be able to better protect their data as attacks become more refined.

We already know that deepfakes have the potential to be used to circumvent biometric authentication security, so it’s important for companies to use this information to find more holes in the security systems.

Media Madness

Channel 1 News shocked people with the possibilities by promising a platform that would individualize news to you. They promise personalization powered by generative AI with its full launch in 2024, think TikTok meets Hacker News.

For content creators, the deepfake possibilities are super beneficial because they could create a deepfake version of themselves that could do their educational content, advertising, and so much more. Again, this sounds great to me, as I’d love to never be in front of a camera again.

Lip sync dubbing will improve so much from deepfake technology. It will be possible for movies in other languages to have actors who appear to be speaking the dubbed language rather than lips that move to the original filmed language.

Recognizing Deepfakes

Spotting deepfakes will become a necessary skill for most people, especially in scenarios where a bad actor could be seeking sensitive information. 

When it comes to social engineering, you can have the best security system in place, but if your company and team are not educated on recognizing deepfake phishing attempts, then your company is vulnerable. Train your people.

Some of the best ways to recognize deepfake impersonations are with attention to detail and critical thinking.

  • Where’s the emphasis on audio voices?
  • Is the pitch variation off from a normal cadence?
  • What’s the pause length between words and sentences?
  • Does the accent match the person you know?
  • Are there odd blinking patterns?
  • Do hand gestures line up with the content?
  • Are the mannerisms right for the person you know?

People’s voices fluctuate according to the situation. If you’re happy, that adjusts the tone, pitch, and emphasis of how someone speaks. Take a clip of someone who’s happy and use it in a deepfake tool where you’re trying to be threatening, the tone might not match the message. 

Humans also quickly pick up on accents from other areas, so a voice clone won’t always match the accent of a person without a large sampling of how they speak. While I’m not a linguist, accommodation within language is fascinating, as it suggests humans adjust their speech to mirror one another in order to inspire better collaboration. Voice cloning isn’t good enough to pick up this nuance.

One of the best ways to recognize deepfakes is to interact with deepfakes in video and audio often. With so much of our day-to-day being in the digital realm, it’s time to realize that all digital content could now be fake.

Conclusion

The possibilities of deepfake are great, and with that great power comes specific responsibility to be smart around deepfake security and use cases.

If you’re not excited about the possibilities of deepfake technology, look it up. I honestly believe that deepfake will bring some advanced attacks from bad actors to our companies, and it’s worth knowing about. Don’t get caught off guard. 

Do you think Deepfake is a Threat or an Opportunity? Tell us your thoughts!

Demystifying Spooky AI Technology Fears

How AI Technology Benefits Employees and Companies

By MAXX Potential

From science fiction to reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology evokes many emotions in humans, whether it is fear or intrigue. AI technology has become a part of our daily lives from the in-home speakers that answer our questions to chatGPT and other LLMs that have revolutionized software’s generative capabilities. It’s exciting and terrifying.

Tech professionals guess at what these advancements will mean for humans, and some people experience so much fear about what AI could mean for our world. We wanted to talk about some of those spooky AI technology fears and do our best to demystify them.

Body Snatching: AI will replace human jobs

As language learning models, automation, and machine learning advances, it’s no surprise that workers fear for their jobs. Common questions circulate: Will machines replace humans? How can I protect my job? What can I do to work with AI now?

Some version of automation has been in use since the 1700s to handle repetitive tasks, and yet, the skill of automation now can be seen as scary. Automation and machines should replace workers who may face dangerous scenarios every day where a machine would be better equipped and safer to handle the work. 

“While I do believe that years later AI will take away some jobs I do believe that it will open many other types of job opportunities that could be more technical or something that we never would have thought of before.” Says James Stanley, MAXX Apprentice, in “From Hobby to Innovation: Exploring AI Passion Projects.”

The truth is that AI technology is inspiring workers to reimagine job roles.  AI allows humans to focus on higher-level responsibilities that use skills like critical thinking, creativity, and empathy. AI can enable workers to be more productive, take on more fulfilling responsibilities, and create entirely new types of jobs. With thoughtful implementation, AI can be harnessed to create positive economic and workforce impacts.

Poltergeist Prejudice: Perpetuated Bias, Ethical Concerns, and Irresponsibility

AI technology speeds up tasks like sorting through resumes for a job opening or tracking data. With that said, AI systems can inherit and amplify existing societal biases. This raises a number of concerns as more and more organizations turn to AI technologies for the automation capabilities. 

A National Institute of Standards and Technology report shared a study of 189 facial recognition algorithms and how most of them demonstrated bias. The researchers reported that the technology falsely identified Black and Asian faces 10 to 100 times more often than they did white faces. Women were also more often falsely identified.

Governments seek to determine best ways to regulate AI with New York City being the first to pass a law in 2021 with rules enforced this July. Thoughtful design and smart governance frameworks are required to ensure that AI doesn’t perpetuate societal problems. Companies and governments deploying AI must audit for biases, ensure transparency, evaluate use cases carefully, and institute human oversight measures.

In a “New Regulatory Approach to Facial Recognition,” Jason Schultz, a professor at the New York University School of Law, believes that facial recognition companies must consider new, consent-based approaches to their image gathering as right-of-publicity claims gain momentum. As technology advances so too must the guiding principles and frameworks to protect privacy, avoid bias, and disrupt irresponsibility.

AI Data Voodoo: Protecting User Data While Leveraging AI

Data breaches are scary, and bad actors are discovering new ways to use AI technologies to access user information, such as the AI-controlled botnet data breach with TaskRabbit in 2018 or the more recent and accidental Microsoft AI researchers data leak. Protecting private information alongside the use of AI is important.

Three possible solutions to protecting user data include federated learning, differential privacy, and encrypted data. Federated learning trains AI models with decentralized data stored on user devices while differential privacy anonymizes data by adding controlled noise. End-to-end encryption also helps keep information secure. 

Let’s not forget that AI and automation are powerful tools in cybersecurity, and they have demonstrated accelerated data breach identification and containment, saving companies as much as USD 1.8 million in data breach costs according to the Cost of a Data Breach 2023 global survey.

With deliberate effort, companies can find ways to benefit from AI while also earning user trust through robust privacy protections. Establishing oversight groups and following frameworks like the EU’s GDPR can guide policies that give users more control over their data. Being transparent, providing opt-out options, and restricting data usage are key principles.

Bewitching: AI Dependence vs. AI Assistance

Artificial Intelligence can be scary because some view it as a complete replacement of humans across the board; however, that skips the fact that humans have a unique ability to make decisions based on data as well as external factors. AI technologies can be a great tool, but they work best with a human manager. The goal of AI should be to augment, not replace, human intelligence.

One article observes that “the fear of AI often boils down to the fear of loss – loss of control, loss of privacy, and loss of human value.”

Some solutions for preventing overreliance include having humans remain “in the loop” for consequential decisions rather than fully automating them. Companies and governments deploying AI should also conduct impact assessments to anticipate risks. Additionally, requiring transparency and explanation from AI systems can build understanding and trust in their capabilities.

AI can be viewed as a powerful collaborative tool rather than a decision-making authority. While AI dependence is a valid concern, keeping humans ultimately in control can allow society to reap the benefits of AI assistance without surrendering our agency or discernment. The ideal future combines the strengths of human and artificial intelligence.

The key is shaping policies, education, incentives, and labor models to focus AI on enhancing humans rather than replacing them. With forethought, humans and AI can positively co-evolve. Truth is that AI is not even ready or able to completely replace humans.

 

Interested in learning about how AI can cut business costs and boost company productivity? Reach out to MAXXpotential.com about your interest in optimizing your back office capabilities.

MORE POSTS

Demystifying Spooky AI Technology Fears

How AI Technology Benefits Employees and Companies

By MAXX Potential

From science fiction to reality, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology evokes many emotions in humans, whether it is fear or intrigue. AI technology has become a part of our daily lives from the in-home speakers that answer our questions to chatGPT and other LLMs that have revolutionized software’s generative capabilities. It’s exciting and terrifying.

Tech professionals guess at what these advancements will mean for humans, and some people experience so much fear about what AI could mean for our world. We wanted to talk about some of those spooky AI technology fears and do our best to demystify them.

Body Snatching: AI will replace human jobs

As language learning models, automation, and machine learning advances, it’s no surprise that workers fear for their jobs. Common questions circulate: Will machines replace humans? How can I protect my job? What can I do to work with AI now?

Some version of automation has been in use since the 1700s to handle repetitive tasks, and yet, the skill of automation now can be seen as scary. Automation and machines should replace workers who may face dangerous scenarios every day where a machine would be better equipped and safer to handle the work. 

“While I do believe that years later AI will take away some jobs I do believe that it will open many other types of job opportunities that could be more technical or something that we never would have thought of before.” Says James Stanley, MAXX Apprentice, in “From Hobby to Innovation: Exploring AI Passion Projects.”

The truth is that AI technology is inspiring workers to reimagine job roles.  AI allows humans to focus on higher-level responsibilities that use skills like critical thinking, creativity, and empathy. AI can enable workers to be more productive, take on more fulfilling responsibilities, and create entirely new types of jobs. With thoughtful implementation, AI can be harnessed to create positive economic and workforce impacts.

Poltergeist Prejudice: Perpetuated Bias, Ethical Concerns, and Irresponsibility

AI technology speeds up tasks like sorting through resumes for a job opening or tracking data. With that said, AI systems can inherit and amplify existing societal biases. This raises a number of concerns as more and more organizations turn to AI technologies for the automation capabilities. 

A National Institute of Standards and Technology report shared a study of 189 facial recognition algorithms and how most of them demonstrated bias. The researchers reported that the technology falsely identified Black and Asian faces 10 to 100 times more often than they did white faces. Women were also more often falsely identified.

Governments seek to determine best ways to regulate AI with New York City being the first to pass a law in 2021 with rules enforced this July. Thoughtful design and smart governance frameworks are required to ensure that AI doesn’t perpetuate societal problems. Companies and governments deploying AI must audit for biases, ensure transparency, evaluate use cases carefully, and institute human oversight measures.

In a “New Regulatory Approach to Facial Recognition,” Jason Schultz, a professor at the New York University School of Law, believes that facial recognition companies must consider new, consent-based approaches to their image gathering as right-of-publicity claims gain momentum. As technology advances so too must the guiding principles and frameworks to protect privacy, avoid bias, and disrupt irresponsibility.

AI Data Voodoo: Protecting User Data While Leveraging AI

Data breaches are scary, and bad actors are discovering new ways to use AI technologies to access user information, such as the AI-controlled botnet data breach with TaskRabbit in 2018 or the more recent and accidental Microsoft AI researchers data leak. Protecting private information alongside the use of AI is important.

Three possible solutions to protecting user data include federated learning, differential privacy, and encrypted data. Federated learning trains AI models with decentralized data stored on user devices while differential privacy anonymizes data by adding controlled noise. End-to-end encryption also helps keep information secure. 

Let’s not forget that AI and automation are powerful tools in cybersecurity, and they have demonstrated accelerated data breach identification and containment, saving companies as much as USD 1.8 million in data breach costs according to the Cost of a Data Breach 2023 global survey.

With deliberate effort, companies can find ways to benefit from AI while also earning user trust through robust privacy protections. Establishing oversight groups and following frameworks like the EU’s GDPR can guide policies that give users more control over their data. Being transparent, providing opt-out options, and restricting data usage are key principles.

Bewitching: AI Dependence vs. AI Assistance

Artificial Intelligence can be scary because some view it as a complete replacement of humans across the board; however, that skips the fact that humans have a unique ability to make decisions based on data as well as external factors. AI technologies can be a great tool, but they work best with a human manager. The goal of AI should be to augment, not replace, human intelligence.

One article observes that “the fear of AI often boils down to the fear of loss – loss of control, loss of privacy, and loss of human value.”

Some solutions for preventing overreliance include having humans remain “in the loop” for consequential decisions rather than fully automating them. Companies and governments deploying AI should also conduct impact assessments to anticipate risks. Additionally, requiring transparency and explanation from AI systems can build understanding and trust in their capabilities.

AI can be viewed as a powerful collaborative tool rather than a decision-making authority. While AI dependence is a valid concern, keeping humans ultimately in control can allow society to reap the benefits of AI assistance without surrendering our agency or discernment. The ideal future combines the strengths of human and artificial intelligence.

The key is shaping policies, education, incentives, and labor models to focus AI on enhancing humans rather than replacing them. With forethought, humans and AI can positively co-evolve. Truth is that AI is not even ready or able to completely replace humans.

 

Interested in learning about how AI can cut business costs and boost company productivity? Reach out to MAXXpotential.com about your interest in optimizing your back office capabilities.

The Synergy of Humans and Machines in Modern Cybersecurity

By MAXX Potential

Modern cybersecurity invokes an intricate dance between humans and machines, especially in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. The music that holds this dance together is the Security Operations Center (SOC). 

The SOC team monitors the entire IT infrastructure, including applications and communication, of a business every hour of the day. The team, along with their cybersecurity software tools, detects cyber threats in real time and addresses them. The teamwork between human and machine optimizes the process.

As machines gain more abilities through Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Language Learning Models (LLMs), it’s crucial for humans and companies to keep up with these changes. At the forefront of these advancements are those teams who implement cybersecurity with the aid of smart technology to keep information safe.

Machines Scale; Humans Synthesize

One of the fundamental aspects of the human-machine partnership in cybersecurity is the ability of machines to process vast amounts of data at lightning speed. Machines excel at tasks that require sifting through massive datasets, identifying anomalies, and flagging potential threats. This computational prowess is unmatched by human capabilities.

“The need for Cybersecurity in the first place is because of malicious actors trying to get into other people’s systems.” MAXX Apprentice Sherlene Eke points out.

Sherlene works alongside the SIEM tool, QRadar to protect against cyber threats. Used mainly for Security Logging and Incident Response, QRadar streamlines the generation of identified security threats and triggers alerts from various other security tools. Sherlene responds to alerts and determines next steps with her team when needed.

Cybersecurity software tools are important to protecting information, and at the end of the day, we need humans to maintain and work alongside these tools. Sherlene says it best. “Every software can have glitches and requires constant updates/patching not just to make it secure but also to keep up with new technologies.” 

SOC professionals shine in their ability to synthesize information delivered by their cybersecurity software. Through intuition and context, humans discern patterns and recognize the broader implications of the data processed by machines. While machines can identify anomalies, it’s often the human who determines whether an anomaly is a legitimate threat or a false positive.

Adaptability in a Changing Landscape & Learning Together

The cybersecurity landscape is in a constant state of flux, with cyber threats advancing at an alarming pace. The solution to staying ahead of cyber threats is through the adaptability of teamwork between humans and machines.

Humans possess the remarkable ability to adapt to new and unforeseen challenges. The capacity for critical thinking and problem-solving allows them to stay ahead of bad actors who are constantly devising new tactics. 

“Many tactics used in malicious messages still slip past the automated systems.” Julia Brigden, MAXX Apprentice, shares. She works with Mimecast, an advanced phishing and fraud detection security tool. 

“I think we all want to assume the automated system will prevent problematic messages from getting through, but the fact of the matter is I still have to investigate and remove dozens of malicious emails daily.” Julia said.

In the face of ongoing and smarter cyber threats, the dynamic partnership between humans and automation is key to staying resilient and managing cybersecurity.

Embrace the Power of Organization

A great cybersecurity team is not only supported by security software, but they also are made up of individualized teams with specific roles. An organization’s cybersecurity team includes an incident response team, global support team, risk team, app security team, and the physical security team. Each team has a role to play in protecting the business. When a business faces a cyber threat, these teams band together to eliminate the threat.

In incidents involving data breaches or cyberattacks, the human element becomes crucial in managing the impact on the company, the workers, and the individuals. People are the ones who work together with their security tools to eliminate the security threat and determine further solutions.

“There will always be a human element,” Sherlene shared. “Maybe not fully involved in the day to day but in the background of it.”

The Future of Cybersecurity is Human and AI Partnership

It’s not a matter of choosing one over the other but rather recognizing the complementary strengths that humans and AI bring to the table.

“The major takeaway is human vigilance is a very important and necessary part of cybersecurity.” Julia shared.

In a holistic approach to security, humans and machines work hand in hand. Machines process vast amounts of data and identify potential threats, while humans apply their intuition, adaptability, and emotional intelligence to make informed decisions. This synergy creates a formidable defense against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats.

Partner with MAXX Potential on your next project at MAXXpotential.com/contact.

MORE POSTS

The Synergy of Humans and Machines in Modern Cybersecurity

By MAXX Potential

Modern cybersecurity invokes an intricate dance between humans and machines, especially in a rapidly evolving digital landscape. The music that holds this dance together is the Security Operations Center (SOC). 

The SOC team monitors the entire IT infrastructure, including applications and communication, of a business every hour of the day. The team, along with their cybersecurity software tools, detects cyber threats in real time and addresses them. The teamwork between human and machine optimizes the process.

As machines gain more abilities through Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Language Learning Models (LLMs), it’s crucial for humans and companies to keep up with these changes. At the forefront of these advancements are those teams who implement cybersecurity with the aid of smart technology to keep information safe.

Machines Scale; Humans Synthesize

One of the fundamental aspects of the human-machine partnership in cybersecurity is the ability of machines to process vast amounts of data at lightning speed. Machines excel at tasks that require sifting through massive datasets, identifying anomalies, and flagging potential threats. This computational prowess is unmatched by human capabilities.

“The need for Cybersecurity in the first place is because of malicious actors trying to get into other people’s systems.” MAXX Apprentice Sherlene Eke points out.

Sherlene works alongside the SIEM tool, QRadar to protect against cyber threats. Used mainly for Security Logging and Incident Response, QRadar streamlines the generation of identified security threats and triggers alerts from various other security tools. Sherlene responds to alerts and determines next steps with her team when needed.

Cybersecurity software tools are important to protecting information, and at the end of the day, we need humans to maintain and work alongside these tools. Sherlene says it best. “Every software can have glitches and requires constant updates/patching not just to make it secure but also to keep up with new technologies.” 

SOC professionals shine in their ability to synthesize information delivered by their cybersecurity software. Through intuition and context, humans discern patterns and recognize the broader implications of the data processed by machines. While machines can identify anomalies, it’s often the human who determines whether an anomaly is a legitimate threat or a false positive.

Adaptability in a Changing Landscape & Learning Together

The cybersecurity landscape is in a constant state of flux, with cyber threats advancing at an alarming pace. The solution to staying ahead of cyber threats is through the adaptability of teamwork between humans and machines.

Humans possess the remarkable ability to adapt to new and unforeseen challenges. The capacity for critical thinking and problem-solving allows them to stay ahead of bad actors who are constantly devising new tactics. 

“Many tactics used in malicious messages still slip past the automated systems.” Julia Brigden, MAXX Apprentice, shares. She works with Mimecast, an advanced phishing and fraud detection security tool. 

“I think we all want to assume the automated system will prevent problematic messages from getting through, but the fact of the matter is I still have to investigate and remove dozens of malicious emails daily.” Julia said.

In the face of ongoing and smarter cyber threats, the dynamic partnership between humans and automation is key to staying resilient and managing cybersecurity.

Embrace the Power of Organization

A great cybersecurity team is not only supported by security software, but they also are made up of individualized teams with specific roles. An organization’s cybersecurity team includes an incident response team, global support team, risk team, app security team, and the physical security team. Each team has a role to play in protecting the business. When a business faces a cyber threat, these teams band together to eliminate the threat.

In incidents involving data breaches or cyberattacks, the human element becomes crucial in managing the impact on the company, the workers, and the individuals. People are the ones who work together with their security tools to eliminate the security threat and determine further solutions.

“There will always be a human element,” Sherlene shared. “Maybe not fully involved in the day to day but in the background of it.”

The Future of Cybersecurity is Human and AI Partnership

It’s not a matter of choosing one over the other but rather recognizing the complementary strengths that humans and AI bring to the table.

“The major takeaway is human vigilance is a very important and necessary part of cybersecurity.” Julia shared.

In a holistic approach to security, humans and machines work hand in hand. Machines process vast amounts of data and identify potential threats, while humans apply their intuition, adaptability, and emotional intelligence to make informed decisions. This synergy creates a formidable defense against the ever-evolving landscape of cyber threats.

Partner with MAXX Potential on your next project at MAXXpotential.com/contact.

Building Bot Builders: RPA Accelerates Learning and Saves Businesses Time

RPA Development, Automation Anywhere, & Streamlining Processes

By MAXX Potential

Sam Ardis, MAXX Apprentice, pictured here who's been working with RPA

“[Robotic Process Automation (RPA)] allows for so much work to get done in a short period of time and doesn’t require a lot of learning new languages or frameworks.” Sam Ardis, MAXX Apprentice, shares. “You can just hit the ground running a lot faster using RPA and because of that, I will always prefer RPA Development.”

Sam has worked on a RPA project for an Enterprise Customer for the last 9 months, and we had a chat with him. 

Let’s jump into the interview.

MAXX Potential: What were your initial thoughts about RPA? How has your perception of RPA changed over time, and what aspects of the process do you particularly appreciate?

Sam: When I first learned about the opportunity for an RPA assignment, I researched it and had reservations about whether delving into it would divert me from my established path or if it would truly involve coding. 

Once on the contract with the Customer, I was able to look through the code base for different projects and watch other developers code using RPA. I was surprised by how much could actually be done using RPA and how much easier it is to understand the code. 

I really appreciate how fast it is to have a request come in for a new bot, then outline, build, test, and push the bot into production within 1-3 months. That’s true even for beginner RPA Developers. 

MAXX Potential: Can you provide specific examples of tasks or processes that you successfully automated using RPA’s Automation Anywhere?

Sam: Recently I was tasked with developing a bot that does the formatting, balancing, and file management for the one of the Customer’s internal finance team. 

Basically the Bot takes deposits from customer policies and formats all of that data into excel spreadsheets based on certain criteria.

This bot is over 700 lines of code and took about 2-3 months for me to complete and get it running smoothly in production. It saves about 2 hours per business day and only takes 15 minutes or less to run each day.

MAXX Potential: What are some of the benefits that you have experienced as a developer through working with RPA’s Automation Anywhere?

Sam: Using Automation Anywhere has lots of benefits like a quick learning curve, fast development time, code ready at all times, and no complicated setup process just to name a few off the top of my head.

MAXX Potential: Can you talk about your interests before working on an RPA project? What sparked your curiosity to break into tech?

Sam: I have followed an untraditional path to get into the tech field. I started out in a completely different career path and soon realized it wasn’t going to provide me with the environment I wanted to be in. I started to rethink what I really wanted to do. 

I started putting together my love for technology, research, math, problem solving, and creativity. That led me to software development eventually in my early 20s. I immediately dove head first into all the websites, YouTube videos, and learning resources I could find. That led me to joining a full stack web development bootcamp called Lambda school (now called Bloom Institute of Technology). I completed that bootcamp after 40 hours per week for 9 months! 

I was ready to get a job at that point but I struggled to land any positions due to my experience. So I joined a college and started learning more about computer science and software development through that avenue. I also joined an IT program, ShiftUp, that helped me learn a lot of skills for other tech positions. 

Right after that I heard about Maxx Potential and was able to skip right into the interview process. And about 11 months later, here I am.

MAXX Potential: How do you compare your experience with RPA to more traditional development methods?

Sam: I think traditional development methods have advantages like more flexibility in how things are coded, more powerful and up to date systems, maybe better performance at times, and is best used towards interactive applications. 

RPA is specifically used for automating processes that are typically done manually by a human. Things that you would frequently do in a business or other profession that would save time if it was automated. Those are the main differences with traditional vs RPA development.

MAXX Potential: Do you have any final thoughts you want to share about RPA?

Sam: You can do pretty much anything you need to and all the tools are at your disposal. It’s really only limited by your coding skills, logic, and creativity.

I have learned a lot from using RPA and being able to help a large business save time and money, become more efficient, and reduce human error. I will always look to automate anything I can in the future.

Ready to partner with MAXX Potential on your next RPA project? We believe in transforming talent strategies and streamlining processes to drive efficiency and productivity. The future of your business awaits, and we are excited to be your trusted partner on this remarkable expedition. Contact us today at MAXXpotential.com/contact.

MORE POSTS

Building Bot Builders: RPA Accelerates Learning and Saves Businesses Time

RPA Development, Automation Anywhere, & Streamlining Processes

By MAXX Potential

Sam Ardis, MAXX Apprentice, pictured here who's been working with RPA

“[Robotic Process Automation (RPA)] allows for so much work to get done in a short period of time and doesn’t require a lot of learning new languages or frameworks.” Sam Ardis, MAXX Apprentice, shares. “You can just hit the ground running a lot faster using RPA and because of that, I will always prefer RPA Development.”

Sam has worked on a RPA project for an Enterprise Customer for the last 9 months, and we had a chat with him. 

Let’s jump into the interview.

MAXX Potential: What were your initial thoughts about RPA? How has your perception of RPA changed over time, and what aspects of the process do you particularly appreciate?

Sam: When I first learned about the opportunity for an RPA assignment, I researched it and had reservations about whether delving into it would divert me from my established path or if it would truly involve coding. 

Once on the contract with the Customer, I was able to look through the code base for different projects and watch other developers code using RPA. I was surprised by how much could actually be done using RPA and how much easier it is to understand the code. 

I really appreciate how fast it is to have a request come in for a new bot, then outline, build, test, and push the bot into production within 1-3 months. That’s true even for beginner RPA Developers. 

MAXX Potential: Can you provide specific examples of tasks or processes that you successfully automated using RPA’s Automation Anywhere?

Sam: Recently I was tasked with developing a bot that does the formatting, balancing, and file management for the one of the Customer’s internal finance team. 

Basically the Bot takes deposits from customer policies and formats all of that data into excel spreadsheets based on certain criteria.

This bot is over 700 lines of code and took about 2-3 months for me to complete and get it running smoothly in production. It saves about 2 hours per business day and only takes 15 minutes or less to run each day.

MAXX Potential: What are some of the benefits that you have experienced as a developer through working with RPA’s Automation Anywhere?

Sam: Using Automation Anywhere has lots of benefits like a quick learning curve, fast development time, code ready at all times, and no complicated setup process just to name a few off the top of my head.

MAXX Potential: Can you talk about your interests before working on an RPA project? What sparked your curiosity to break into tech?

Sam: I have followed an untraditional path to get into the tech field. I started out in a completely different career path and soon realized it wasn’t going to provide me with the environment I wanted to be in. I started to rethink what I really wanted to do. 

I started putting together my love for technology, research, math, problem solving, and creativity. That led me to software development eventually in my early 20s. I immediately dove head first into all the websites, YouTube videos, and learning resources I could find. That led me to joining a full stack web development bootcamp called Lambda school (now called Bloom Institute of Technology). I completed that bootcamp after 40 hours per week for 9 months! 

I was ready to get a job at that point but I struggled to land any positions due to my experience. So I joined a college and started learning more about computer science and software development through that avenue. I also joined an IT program, ShiftUp, that helped me learn a lot of skills for other tech positions. 

Right after that I heard about Maxx Potential and was able to skip right into the interview process. And about 11 months later, here I am.

MAXX Potential: How do you compare your experience with RPA to more traditional development methods?

Sam: I think traditional development methods have advantages like more flexibility in how things are coded, more powerful and up to date systems, maybe better performance at times, and is best used towards interactive applications. 

RPA is specifically used for automating processes that are typically done manually by a human. Things that you would frequently do in a business or other profession that would save time if it was automated. Those are the main differences with traditional vs RPA development.

MAXX Potential: Do you have any final thoughts you want to share about RPA?

Sam: You can do pretty much anything you need to and all the tools are at your disposal. It’s really only limited by your coding skills, logic, and creativity.

I have learned a lot from using RPA and being able to help a large business save time and money, become more efficient, and reduce human error. I will always look to automate anything I can in the future.

Ready to partner with MAXX Potential on your next RPA project? We believe in transforming talent strategies and streamlining processes to drive efficiency and productivity. The future of your business awaits, and we are excited to be your trusted partner on this remarkable expedition. Contact us today at MAXXpotential.com/contact.

How to Diversify my IT Team

Unlocking the Potential of Diversity to Drive Tech Innovation

By MAXX Potential

Are you ready to drive innovation through diversity in your IT team? Diversity in tech is the key to unlocking untapped ideas and enhancing problem-solving capabilities.

In today’s fast-paced world, prioritizing diversity within your company benefits your entire organization from profitability to out-of-the-box solutions. Developing a diverse tech team requires consideration to celebrating employee diversity and recognizing potential cultural communication barriers.

What Does Tech Diversity Look Like

A diverse IT team brings together individuals from various backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. This diversity of thought allows for a more comprehensive approach to problem-solving, as different viewpoints can lead to creative solutions that may have otherwise been overlooked.

Diversity in the IT industry has been shown to increase profitability and revenue. A study conducted by McKinsey found that companies with diverse executive teams have a 25% higher likelihood of experiencing above-average profitability. Diverse teams have a wider range of skills and insights, enabling better connection with unique customer bases to drive business growth.

By embracing diversity in tech, companies can ignite innovation and position themselves for success.

5 Practical Steps to Diversify Your IT Team

To achieve diversity in tech and reap the benefits, your company needs more than to just hire people from all backgrounds and demographics. The point is to have a team that works well together, and that means developing a space where every voice is heard and barriers are mitigated.

Curate a Safe Space for Ideas

Psychological safety opens the doors to untapped ideas that can shape the future of technology. It encourages individuals to challenge the status quo, think outside the box, and push boundaries. By embracing diverse perspectives in the brainstorming process, companies can harness the full potential of their IT team and drive innovation forward.

Another mentality that can help companies with diverse teams win is promoting the concept that the “best idea at the table wins.” Expertise takes a backseat to creativity. This collaborative culture gives every voice equal weight during a brainstorming phase.

Celebrate Employee Diversity

Creating a diverse and inclusive team is not just about ticking boxes or meeting quotas; it’s about celebrating the vibrant tapestry of talent and perspectives that each individual brings. In the world of diversity in tech, embracing employee diversity and encouraging everyone to bring their whole selves to work changes problem solving in beneficial ways.

By valuing and recognizing employee contributions, we create an environment where everyone feels seen, heard, and empowered to make a difference.

Identify and Solve Communication Barriers

In the book Outliers by Max Gladwell, he shares a story of how cultural backgrounds and communication norms caused plane crashes. Communication matters. When multiple people from different cultures, societies, and backgrounds work together, they may all be talking, but they are likely relying on different norms.

Diverse people create diverse solutions, so to work together, companies must identify and address any barriers that inhibit actual understanding between parties. This could mean providing resources and support for individuals who might have language differences, and it also may mean developing a script for passing information between coworkers.

Develop Clear Work Expectations and Flexible Arrangements

Setting clear work expectations and boundaries can help ensure that everyone on the team feels respected and included. This includes understanding and accommodating diverse cultural practices and allowing for flexible work arrangements when possible. When employees and managers are clear on work goals and measurements, everyone succeeds.

By establishing consistent practices and expectations, diversity in tech can thrive as each individual is given an equal chance to contribute, regardless of their position or background. This mitigates power imbalances and ensures equitable opportunities for all team members. 

Build External Partnerships and Networks

Building external partnerships and a diverse tech talent pipeline expands your connection to communities and resources outside of your company. External partnerships allow you to collaborate with organizations that are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. Access mentorship programs, workshops, and events that focus on increasing diversity in tech.

Networking with diverse individuals and communities can also help you build a more inclusive IT team. By reaching out to underrepresented groups, attending industry conferences and events, and actively engaging with diverse communities, you interact with talented individuals who may bring unique perspectives and skills to your team.

Diversify Your Tech Team with a MAXX Potential Partnership

At MAXX Potential, we believe in the power of diversity in tech. We understand that by partnering with organizations like ours, you can take a significant step towards creating an inclusive and innovative IT team. Our mission is to support businesses in diversifying their tech workforce and reaping the benefits that come with it.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to partner with MAXX and take your IT team to new heights of diversity and success. Together, we can create a future where inclusivity is the driving force behind innovation in the tech industry.

Ready to partner with MAXX Potential? Reach out today at MAXXpotential.com/contact.

MORE POSTS

How to Diversify my IT Team

Unlocking the Potential of Diversity to Drive Tech Innovation

By MAXX Potential

Are you ready to drive innovation through diversity in your IT team? Diversity in tech is the key to unlocking untapped ideas and enhancing problem-solving capabilities.

In today’s fast-paced world, prioritizing diversity within your company benefits your entire organization from profitability to out-of-the-box solutions. Developing a diverse tech team requires consideration to celebrating employee diversity and recognizing potential cultural communication barriers.

What Does Tech Diversity Look Like

A diverse IT team brings together individuals from various backgrounds, experiences, and perspectives. This diversity of thought allows for a more comprehensive approach to problem-solving, as different viewpoints can lead to creative solutions that may have otherwise been overlooked.

Diversity in the IT industry has been shown to increase profitability and revenue. A study conducted by McKinsey found that companies with diverse executive teams have a 25% higher likelihood of experiencing above-average profitability. Diverse teams have a wider range of skills and insights, enabling better connection with unique customer bases to drive business growth.

By embracing diversity in tech, companies can ignite innovation and position themselves for success.

5 Practical Steps to Diversify Your IT Team

To achieve diversity in tech and reap the benefits, your company needs more than to just hire people from all backgrounds and demographics. The point is to have a team that works well together, and that means developing a space where every voice is heard and barriers are mitigated.

Curate a Safe Space for Ideas

Psychological safety opens the doors to untapped ideas that can shape the future of technology. It encourages individuals to challenge the status quo, think outside the box, and push boundaries. By embracing diverse perspectives in the brainstorming process, companies can harness the full potential of their IT team and drive innovation forward.

Another mentality that can help companies with diverse teams win is promoting the concept that the “best idea at the table wins.” Expertise takes a backseat to creativity. This collaborative culture gives every voice equal weight during a brainstorming phase.

Celebrate Employee Diversity

Creating a diverse and inclusive team is not just about ticking boxes or meeting quotas; it’s about celebrating the vibrant tapestry of talent and perspectives that each individual brings. In the world of diversity in tech, embracing employee diversity and encouraging everyone to bring their whole selves to work changes problem solving in beneficial ways.

By valuing and recognizing employee contributions, we create an environment where everyone feels seen, heard, and empowered to make a difference.

Identify and Solve Communication Barriers

In the book Outliers by Max Gladwell, he shares a story of how cultural backgrounds and communication norms caused plane crashes. Communication matters. When multiple people from different cultures, societies, and backgrounds work together, they may all be talking, but they are likely relying on different norms.

Diverse people create diverse solutions, so to work together, companies must identify and address any barriers that inhibit actual understanding between parties. This could mean providing resources and support for individuals who might have language differences, and it also may mean developing a script for passing information between coworkers.

Develop Clear Work Expectations and Flexible Arrangements

Setting clear work expectations and boundaries can help ensure that everyone on the team feels respected and included. This includes understanding and accommodating diverse cultural practices and allowing for flexible work arrangements when possible. When employees and managers are clear on work goals and measurements, everyone succeeds.

By establishing consistent practices and expectations, diversity in tech can thrive as each individual is given an equal chance to contribute, regardless of their position or background. This mitigates power imbalances and ensures equitable opportunities for all team members. 

Build External Partnerships and Networks

Building external partnerships and a diverse tech talent pipeline expands your connection to communities and resources outside of your company. External partnerships allow you to collaborate with organizations that are committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the tech industry. Access mentorship programs, workshops, and events that focus on increasing diversity in tech.

Networking with diverse individuals and communities can also help you build a more inclusive IT team. By reaching out to underrepresented groups, attending industry conferences and events, and actively engaging with diverse communities, you interact with talented individuals who may bring unique perspectives and skills to your team.

Diversify Your Tech Team with a MAXX Potential Partnership

At MAXX Potential, we believe in the power of diversity in tech. We understand that by partnering with organizations like ours, you can take a significant step towards creating an inclusive and innovative IT team. Our mission is to support businesses in diversifying their tech workforce and reaping the benefits that come with it.

Don’t miss out on the opportunity to partner with MAXX and take your IT team to new heights of diversity and success. Together, we can create a future where inclusivity is the driving force behind innovation in the tech industry.

Ready to partner with MAXX Potential? Reach out today at MAXXpotential.com/contact.

Upskilling: the Key to Tech Employee Retention

Developing and Retaining High Performers in Technology

By MAXX Potential

A white man in a black shirt sits in front of a laptop with a person with short hair and checkered shirt to help the checkered shirt human learn new tech skills for company upskilling

As technology evolves and advances, your team needs to keep up and that’s where upskilling comes in. Just because many companies foresee the increase of AI and automation that doesn’t mean that humans will stop being a vital part. Employers have an important role of reskilling and upskilling their workforce.

“Upskilling is not just an investment in individual skills, it’s an investment in the collective future of a team, a business, and the customers it serves.” Tucker Mahan, MAXX Potential Talent Director, said. He pointed out that upskilling future-proofs the workforce, attracts high caliber professionals, and fosters innovation through continuous learning. Upskilled employees better serve customers.

PluralSight polled a number of tech managers about their perception of upskilling, and they discovered that 83% of tech managers believe team members are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their tech skill development process when given paid time to learn.

Wise employers are finding ways to strategically incorporate upskilling within their ecosystem. An upskilling strategy boosts employee morale, decreases attrition, and avoids the risk and cost of a bad hire. Here’s what we do at MAXX Potential.

The Observational-Based Selection Process

“You don’t know anyone by a resume.” John Spauls, MAXX Potential Director of Operations, said. And he couldn’t be more right. Resumes are the highlight reel of a person’s career, and it doesn’t begin to showcase whether that person is a great collaborator or curious problem solver. That’s why we use an observational-based selection process that looks beyond the resume

An upskilling selection process recognizes the scope of current to future needs within the organization. From there, it’s important to identify employees who are ready to upskill, and consider each employee’s desire to learn. Selecting eager and enthusiastic employees for upskilling means that you have a group who is ready to learn.

The observation doesn’t stop at the selection process but continues throughout the learning segments into the application process.

“Direct behavioral observation in a hands-on training environment reveals what they truly can do.” Tucker Mahan said. “It provides insight into an individual’s aptitude, collaboration, perseverance, curiosity, authenticity, and initiative—attributes that are crucial in the rapidly evolving technology sector. It’s in the act of doing, not telling, that someone’s potential for upskilling in the tech world shines.”

Employees who are offered the opportunity to upskill often remain with the original company for longer than those who have no opportunity to grow. According to BCG and The Network’s survey, almost seven in ten employees are open to reskilling. The nature of work is changing, and employers and employees both know it.

Hands-On Tech Learning

Hands-on tech learning within an upskilling session boosts employee engagement. 

“It hones skills in real-time problem-solving and delivering business value within diverse tech stacks. It’s not just about crafting flawless applications in a vacuum, but about diving in, learning how to navigate ever-changing environments, and turning theory into tangible solutions for the industries we serve.” Tucker Mahan shared.

Developing new work skills are best retained via practice and application, and that’s why MAXX Potential leans heavily on the advantages of on the job training over traditional classroom methodologies. 

Practical hands-on learning helps employees to be curious, discover, and understand theoretical knowledge that is the foundation of the subject area. Doing this learning in the workplace means that employers train employees for the role they need, and the employee earns while they learn.

“It can help create the talent you need when that talent is not available otherwise.” John Spauls “If you can’t afford that person with five years of experience or you can’t find that person, what else are you going to do except train them.”

MAXX Potential has helped companies transform and develop their talent pipeline strategy through upskilling and apprenticeship. For one client, we customized a selection process, tailored a Career Lab upskilling experience, designed an application funnel, and offered ongoing tech mentorship and support. The client was able to upskill and hire from within their company, filling a few key tech roles.

Upskilling Cost Savings and Return on Investment

“Work-based learning creates professionals who can adapt, and be more efficient, effective, and reliable in the services they provide. These professionals will continue growing, and draw upon their previous hands-on experiences to better solve future challenges.” Tucker Mahan shared that when a company prioritizes ongoing learning, employees often align with those values and strive to continue their own development.

The competitive landscape of IT demands that organizations continue to seek that edge, and it can often be found within their team. 

LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report revealed that 94% of employees said they would have stayed with their employers longer if career development was prioritized. That’s no joking matter when companies can spend twice a role’s salary on hiring that one role. If companies can retain their employees longer with career development, they will not only upskill their current employees, but they will avoid the high costs of hiring for longer.

“Upskilling invests in employee potential, nurturing not just their capabilities, but also their loyalty. It fosters a sense of purpose and growth, reducing turnover by creating a workforce that’s engaged and ready for the next challenges.” Tucker Mahan emphasized. “The cost of hiring and onboarding new talent is often far greater than developing the talent already within the organization.”

Some of the heaviest costs for tech companies come from the hiring process as well as the risk of making a bad hire. Upskilling, reskilling, and hiring from within for tech roles develops ongoing employee trust and fills important positions with people who have already demonstrated their values, professional skills, and work ethic.

Retain Your Employees and Power the Future of Your Company

“For any individual who sees their company is investing a certain amount of money and time into helping them learn, that generates a certain level of loyalty.” John Spauls said.

Treat your employees well, and they will stay. This requires a company that is tapping into their employee experience via regular check-ins, anonymous surveys, and opportunities for career development. The hiring process is challenging for everyone so develop a company culture that invites employees to stay.

At MAXX Potential, we partner with companies so they never need to list an entry-level role again, whether they choose our customizable Upskilling program or our Apprenticeship approach. Ready to learn more? Reach out at MAXXpotential.com/contact.

MORE POSTS

Upskilling: the Key to Tech Employee Retention

Developing and Retaining High Performers in Technology

By MAXX Potential

A white man in a black shirt sits in front of a laptop with a person with short hair and checkered shirt to help the checkered shirt human learn new tech skills for company upskilling

As technology evolves and advances, your team needs to keep up and that’s where upskilling comes in. Just because many companies foresee the increase of AI and automation that doesn’t mean that humans will stop being a vital part. Employers have an important role of reskilling and upskilling their workforce.

“Upskilling is not just an investment in individual skills, it’s an investment in the collective future of a team, a business, and the customers it serves.” Tucker Mahan, MAXX Potential Talent Director, said. He pointed out that upskilling future-proofs the workforce, attracts high caliber professionals, and fosters innovation through continuous learning. Upskilled employees better serve customers.

PluralSight polled a number of tech managers about their perception of upskilling, and they discovered that 83% of tech managers believe team members are more likely to be motivated and engaged in their tech skill development process when given paid time to learn.

Wise employers are finding ways to strategically incorporate upskilling within their ecosystem. An upskilling strategy boosts employee morale, decreases attrition, and avoids the risk and cost of a bad hire. Here’s what we do at MAXX Potential.

The Observational-Based Selection Process

“You don’t know anyone by a resume.” John Spauls, MAXX Potential Director of Operations, said. And he couldn’t be more right. Resumes are the highlight reel of a person’s career, and it doesn’t begin to showcase whether that person is a great collaborator or curious problem solver. That’s why we use an observational-based selection process that looks beyond the resume

An upskilling selection process recognizes the scope of current to future needs within the organization. From there, it’s important to identify employees who are ready to upskill, and consider each employee’s desire to learn. Selecting eager and enthusiastic employees for upskilling means that you have a group who is ready to learn.

The observation doesn’t stop at the selection process but continues throughout the learning segments into the application process.

“Direct behavioral observation in a hands-on training environment reveals what they truly can do.” Tucker Mahan said. “It provides insight into an individual’s aptitude, collaboration, perseverance, curiosity, authenticity, and initiative—attributes that are crucial in the rapidly evolving technology sector. It’s in the act of doing, not telling, that someone’s potential for upskilling in the tech world shines.”

Employees who are offered the opportunity to upskill often remain with the original company for longer than those who have no opportunity to grow. According to BCG and The Network’s survey, almost seven in ten employees are open to reskilling. The nature of work is changing, and employers and employees both know it.

Hands-On Tech Learning

Hands-on tech learning within an upskilling session boosts employee engagement. 

“It hones skills in real-time problem-solving and delivering business value within diverse tech stacks. It’s not just about crafting flawless applications in a vacuum, but about diving in, learning how to navigate ever-changing environments, and turning theory into tangible solutions for the industries we serve.” Tucker Mahan shared.

Developing new work skills are best retained via practice and application, and that’s why MAXX Potential leans heavily on the advantages of on the job training over traditional classroom methodologies. 

Practical hands-on learning helps employees to be curious, discover, and understand theoretical knowledge that is the foundation of the subject area. Doing this learning in the workplace means that employers train employees for the role they need, and the employee earns while they learn.

“It can help create the talent you need when that talent is not available otherwise.” John Spauls “If you can’t afford that person with five years of experience or you can’t find that person, what else are you going to do except train them.”

MAXX Potential has helped companies transform and develop their talent pipeline strategy through upskilling and apprenticeship. For one client, we customized a selection process, tailored a Career Lab upskilling experience, designed an application funnel, and offered ongoing tech mentorship and support. The client was able to upskill and hire from within their company, filling a few key tech roles.

Upskilling Cost Savings and Return on Investment

“Work-based learning creates professionals who can adapt, and be more efficient, effective, and reliable in the services they provide. These professionals will continue growing, and draw upon their previous hands-on experiences to better solve future challenges.” Tucker Mahan shared that when a company prioritizes ongoing learning, employees often align with those values and strive to continue their own development.

The competitive landscape of IT demands that organizations continue to seek that edge, and it can often be found within their team. 

LinkedIn’s Workplace Learning Report revealed that 94% of employees said they would have stayed with their employers longer if career development was prioritized. That’s no joking matter when companies can spend twice a role’s salary on hiring that one role. If companies can retain their employees longer with career development, they will not only upskill their current employees, but they will avoid the high costs of hiring for longer.

“Upskilling invests in employee potential, nurturing not just their capabilities, but also their loyalty. It fosters a sense of purpose and growth, reducing turnover by creating a workforce that’s engaged and ready for the next challenges.” Tucker Mahan emphasized. “The cost of hiring and onboarding new talent is often far greater than developing the talent already within the organization.”

Some of the heaviest costs for tech companies come from the hiring process as well as the risk of making a bad hire. Upskilling, reskilling, and hiring from within for tech roles develops ongoing employee trust and fills important positions with people who have already demonstrated their values, professional skills, and work ethic.

Retain Your Employees and Power the Future of Your Company

“For any individual who sees their company is investing a certain amount of money and time into helping them learn, that generates a certain level of loyalty.” John Spauls said.

Treat your employees well, and they will stay. This requires a company that is tapping into their employee experience via regular check-ins, anonymous surveys, and opportunities for career development. The hiring process is challenging for everyone so develop a company culture that invites employees to stay.

At MAXX Potential, we partner with companies so they never need to list an entry-level role again, whether they choose our customizable Upskilling program or our Apprenticeship approach. Ready to learn more? Reach out at MAXXpotential.com/contact.

How to Cultivate Company Culture in a Virtual Workplace

Staying People-Focused and Flexible in an AI World

By MAXX Potential

three cartoon characters paddle a canoe together, representing cultivating company culture in a virtual space

As work from home becomes more common, companies and employees alike wonder how to maintain company culture in a virtual workplace. When everyone was in the office, the glue of workplace culture solidified during watercooler chats, lunchroom overlap, and “do you have a second?” conversation starters.

Employers and employees alike benefit from the virtual workplace, and the list of benefits for the employer who employs virtual workers includes streamlined communication, higher productivity, larger talent pool, lower turnover rates, reduced overhead costs, and improved inclusivity. Yet, some worry about the loss of company culture without in-person interactions.

The future of work is flexible, and personal connection can thrive virtually. Get your work done in a way that’s best for your people and your company whether that’s in person or virtual. 

The Future of Work is People-Focused

While AI streamlines many aspects of our jobs, it’s important to understand the measurements of great work. ChatGPT provides the data in response to targeted prompts, and yet, while it’s faster, it does need a person to check its work. 

People with the skills, experience, and judgment to understand how a process works have the ability to troubleshoot. AI can help work get done, and it needs to be managed by people with strong mental models.

With many people working from home, it’s important that managers define clear success criteria for projects. This ensures that work is completed whether in the office or at home.

Now is the time to be investing in your team of people. The MAXX Apprenticeship program teaches MAXX Apprentices different processes around technology, Artificial Intelligence, learning, mental models, and decision-making. 

Defining and Communicating Company Core Values

Beyond mission and vision statements, many companies have defined core values to guide company and employee behavior as well as overall alignment. These core values are key to ensuring that your team understands what qualities are applauded. 

For MAXX Potential, these values are Initiative, Curiosity, Collaboration, Authenticity, and Perseverance. We hire people who demonstrate these values. We talk about these values in meetings, training, and interviews. They are part of annual reviews, and they are what Apprentices are measured by for Apprentice of the Month social posts. 

Each person who joins MAXX Potential already embodies our company values. As Kim Mahan, MAXX Founder, likes to say, “For lasting change, you want believers. Start by being the change, while focusing on common ground (like “productivity” rather than “social”) and make it safe for people to watch and learn. Attitudes and opinions will then progress and evolve much faster on their own.”

Clear company values with associated behaviors builds company culture and Customer trust. If your employees’ behavior aligns with company values, then Customers know what to expect for their partnerships with your company.

Virtually Connected Company Culture

Company culture is more than watercooler conversations. A couple of key elements for inspiring strong company culture include a strong onboarding process, clear expectations, and tactile elements, such as company swag.

Engaged remote workers demonstrate a high morale and high productivity. It’s even better when virtual employees feel like they have autonomy, flexibility, and agency within their role.

At MAXX Potential, we encourage regular communication and feedback through virtual meetings, specified stand-up meetings, and communication channels. Periodic one-on-one meetings offer a great check-in on projects, morale, and other items.

A great way to boost morale is to highlight outstanding employees, and MAXX Potential does this every month with a nominated Apprentice of the Month who has exhibited the MAXX core values. The announcement is celebrated in our monthly Town Hall gathering, on Slack with emojis, comments, gifs, and a social media post. 

While our offices may be separate, technology connects each of us. 

“When I joined MAXX Potential, I was astounded that my supervisor and the founders of the company encouraged me to set up 30-min chats with my coworkers just to get to know them.” Barbara Brutt, Content Marketer, said. “I’ve been working remotely since 2017, and this was the first company who saw these conversations as an important part of my workday.” 

Many tools exist to support the remote workplace and company culture. Some ideas to build company culture include Slack donut, gaming groups, specific channels for different interests, virtual coffee breaks, and online stretches or workouts. 

When employees connect about life interests or in real life, this creates pathways for future collaboration and great teamwork. 

WFH in Co-working Spaces

Co-working spaces have existed for years as the entrepreneur’s best friend, and in the last few years, these spaces gained momentum and popularity for corporate workers who no longer work at the office.

At Durham’s American Underground, a co-working space, a researcher intended to interview entrepreneurs. Instead, he met corporate employee after corporate employee. While he wasn’t meeting his research goals, he observed something interesting: remote employees were seeking community.

Co-working spaces have become a haven and a hub for corporate workers and entrepreneurs. Workers choose co-working for a variety of reasons, whether it’s to find a quiet space or to be with others.

“We’ve had a few Apprentices make frequent use of ReCity,” John Spauls, MAXX Potential Director of Operations, said. He pointed out that the co-working space provided a quiet, focused working space for Apprentices who’s families had grown, houses were under construction, or needed community.

“I enjoy ReCity because of the connections it provides us in the Durham community.” Spauls shared. “ReCity is a local shared working space, not part of a larger national chain. As such, they have favorable pricing for non-profits and other socially conscious companies, and so we are able to rub shoulders and network with a lot of community good focused companies and individuals around Durham. It helps us connect more locally.”

At MAXX Potential, we offer our local Apprentices the option of working at Gather or ReCity, and we have Apprentices who work in person at Customer offices.

Virtual employees build their own network and community, becoming ambassadors for their company in their coworking spaces.

Are you ready to partner with a company who’s figured out the in-person and virtual workplace? MAXX Potential transforms company talent strategies, allowing you to tap into your company’s full potential when you’re not busy worrying about your next hire. Reach out today at MAXXpotential.com/contact to find out what we can do for you and your team!

MORE POSTS

How to Cultivate Company Culture in a Virtual Workplace

Staying People-Focused and Flexible in an AI World

By MAXX Potential

three cartoon characters paddle a canoe together, representing cultivating company culture in a virtual space

As work from home becomes more common, companies and employees alike wonder how to maintain company culture in a virtual workplace. When everyone was in the office, the glue of workplace culture solidified during watercooler chats, lunchroom overlap, and “do you have a second?” conversation starters.

Employers and employees alike benefit from the virtual workplace, and the list of benefits for the employer who employs virtual workers includes streamlined communication, higher productivity, larger talent pool, lower turnover rates, reduced overhead costs, and improved inclusivity. Yet, some worry about the loss of company culture without in-person interactions.

The future of work is flexible, and personal connection can thrive virtually. Get your work done in a way that’s best for your people and your company whether that’s in person or virtual. 

The Future of Work is People-Focused

While AI streamlines many aspects of our jobs, it’s important to understand the measurements of great work. ChatGPT provides the data in response to targeted prompts, and yet, while it’s faster, it does need a person to check its work. 

People with the skills, experience, and judgment to understand how a process works have the ability to troubleshoot. AI can help work get done, and it needs to be managed by people with strong mental models.

With many people working from home, it’s important that managers define clear success criteria for projects. This ensures that work is completed whether in the office or at home.

Now is the time to be investing in your team of people. The MAXX Apprenticeship program teaches MAXX Apprentices different processes around technology, Artificial Intelligence, learning, mental models, and decision-making. 

Defining and Communicating Company Core Values

Beyond mission and vision statements, many companies have defined core values to guide company and employee behavior as well as overall alignment. These core values are key to ensuring that your team understands what qualities are applauded. 

For MAXX Potential, these values are Initiative, Curiosity, Collaboration, Authenticity, and Perseverance. We hire people who demonstrate these values. We talk about these values in meetings, training, and interviews. They are part of annual reviews, and they are what Apprentices are measured by for Apprentice of the Month social posts. 

Each person who joins MAXX Potential already embodies our company values. As Kim Mahan, MAXX Founder, likes to say, “For lasting change, you want believers. Start by being the change, while focusing on common ground (like “productivity” rather than “social”) and make it safe for people to watch and learn. Attitudes and opinions will then progress and evolve much faster on their own.”

Clear company values with associated behaviors builds company culture and Customer trust. If your employees’ behavior aligns with company values, then Customers know what to expect for their partnerships with your company.

Virtually Connected Company Culture

Company culture is more than watercooler conversations. A couple of key elements for inspiring strong company culture include a strong onboarding process, clear expectations, and tactile elements, such as company swag.

Engaged remote workers demonstrate a high morale and high productivity. It’s even better when virtual employees feel like they have autonomy, flexibility, and agency within their role.

At MAXX Potential, we encourage regular communication and feedback through virtual meetings, specified stand-up meetings, and communication channels. Periodic one-on-one meetings offer a great check-in on projects, morale, and other items.

A great way to boost morale is to highlight outstanding employees, and MAXX Potential does this every month with a nominated Apprentice of the Month who has exhibited the MAXX core values. The announcement is celebrated in our monthly Town Hall gathering, on Slack with emojis, comments, gifs, and a social media post. 

While our offices may be separate, technology connects each of us. 

“When I joined MAXX Potential, I was astounded that my supervisor and the founders of the company encouraged me to set up 30-min chats with my coworkers just to get to know them.” Barbara Brutt, Content Marketer, said. “I’ve been working remotely since 2017, and this was the first company who saw these conversations as an important part of my workday.” 

Many tools exist to support the remote workplace and company culture. Some ideas to build company culture include Slack donut, gaming groups, specific channels for different interests, virtual coffee breaks, and online stretches or workouts. 

When employees connect about life interests or in real life, this creates pathways for future collaboration and great teamwork. 

WFH in Co-working Spaces

Co-working spaces have existed for years as the entrepreneur’s best friend, and in the last few years, these spaces gained momentum and popularity for corporate workers who no longer work at the office.

At Durham’s American Underground, a co-working space, a researcher intended to interview entrepreneurs. Instead, he met corporate employee after corporate employee. While he wasn’t meeting his research goals, he observed something interesting: remote employees were seeking community.

Co-working spaces have become a haven and a hub for corporate workers and entrepreneurs. Workers choose co-working for a variety of reasons, whether it’s to find a quiet space or to be with others.

“We’ve had a few Apprentices make frequent use of ReCity,” John Spauls, MAXX Potential Director of Operations, said. He pointed out that the co-working space provided a quiet, focused working space for Apprentices who’s families had grown, houses were under construction, or needed community.

“I enjoy ReCity because of the connections it provides us in the Durham community.” Spauls shared. “ReCity is a local shared working space, not part of a larger national chain. As such, they have favorable pricing for non-profits and other socially conscious companies, and so we are able to rub shoulders and network with a lot of community good focused companies and individuals around Durham. It helps us connect more locally.”

At MAXX Potential, we offer our local Apprentices the option of working at Gather or ReCity, and we have Apprentices who work in person at Customer offices.

Virtual employees build their own network and community, becoming ambassadors for their company in their coworking spaces.

Are you ready to partner with a company who’s figured out the in-person and virtual workplace? MAXX Potential transforms company talent strategies, allowing you to tap into your company’s full potential when you’re not busy worrying about your next hire. Reach out today at MAXXpotential.com/contact to find out what we can do for you and your team!

Want to Future-Proof Your Business? Diversify Your Tech Talent Strategy

By MAXX Potential

Two men sit in front of laptops, working together to figure out a transformative tech talent strategy

No time like the present to consider steps to building a diverse and sustainable tech talent pipeline in light of the pace of advancement in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. We need flexibility, innovation, and versatility in our talent strategies. 

Disruption punctuates tech conversations, and we believe the answer is anchored in upskilling and apprenticeship.

The shifting tech landscape offers so much potential for positive changes, and in this post, we’ll explore options for responding to how the tech industry is transforming and how MAXX Potential is supporting organizations in embracing the opportunities ahead.

The AI Conundrum: Job Replacement vs. Job Creation

While AI and automation advancements raise job displacement concerns, these technologies also generate new roles with distinct skill sets. 

“Tech didn’t replace its human counterparts – it actually led to more people in work, not less.” HCAmag.com pointed out in a recent article, “The ‘common sense conundrum’ for workplace AI: Which roles will fall to robotics?” They shared an example of Amazon’s largest warehouse in Delaware, US, where robots outnumbered humans, but they still employed more people at this warehouse than their other warehouses. 

According to HCAmag.com, “AI will always stumble over something, leaving humans to pitch in. And humans will always get stuck on data configuration, which is where AI excels.”

Tech leaders face questions from all sides about whether or not to replace humans with robots and new technologies. In some cases, it might make sense, and in others, it might not.

The fact is that AI will transform jobs and their corresponding tasks. That’s why it’s vital to ground your career development in timeless talents for a shifting tech landscape

Building Your Tech Talent Pipeline: Upskilling

Upskilling is the development of the people you already have on your team, and research shows that upskilling improves morale and productivity.

The World Economic Forum forecasts that “half of all employees will require reskilling by 2025.”

Forward-looking companies are moving to prioritize upskilling and reskilling of their workforce. The businesses that will ride the wave of tech advances are the ones that focus on lifelong learning.

Meanwhile, employees are also seeking to work for companies that invest in employee careers through development and upskilling, and according to the US Chamber, 94% of employees said they would stay at a company longer when professional development opportunities are available.

Ready to rise to meet the AI and automation changes? Train, reskill, and upskill your tech workforce.

In 2021-2022, alongside one of our customers, we demonstrated the transformative power of upskilling by offering its first-line representatives an opportunity to transition into IT roles. Out of 1,800 employees, 70 showed interest, and 25 were selected for a comprehensive Career Lab workshop. This resulted in 12 interviews and eight potential transitions into IT roles. 

The process revealed a wealth of untapped talent, highlighting the value of upskilling as part of a strategic talent development plan. The workshop saw high engagement and retention. Our client’s active involvement was pivotal, indicating that management’s commitment to employee career growth is a key success factor in upskilling initiatives. 

Our custom upskilling solutions range from company-wide training to team-specific workshops.

Apprenticeship: A Call for Flexibility and Agility

Rapid change calls for turning to solutions such as the apprenticeship model with its hallmarks of on-the-job training and hands-on continuous learning. 

Many large businesses are tapping into this approach by developing internal apprenticeship programs; however, this isn’t always feasible for small and medium-sized businesses with less capacity to manage their own. 

Apprenticeship USA reports that employment retention for apprentices remains high with 93% of apprentices retaining employment after their apprenticeship. This is good news for companies who desire to develop and retain their tech team.

Partnership with MAXX Potential means an integration of an apprenticeship system into your business ecosystem without bearing the full costs of starting and maintaining the program. Your business benefits from a tech talent pipeline that is tuned to the company, your technology stack, and processes. 

Hiring is easy and turnover is mitigated by a bench of hungry lifelong learners ready to add value. MAXX Apprentices come from a variety of backgrounds, and they learn on the job with the assistance of their mentor.

Apprenticeship requires a high level of adaptability as apprentices jump to learn in-demand skills. At MAXX, apprentices work in Robotic Process Automation, Cybersecurity, Enterprise Application Maintenance, and so much more. 

When something new releases, MAXX Apprentices explore the technology, discover its best use cases, and expand their knowledge base. This is a company-wide value, and our MAXX leadership team and core staff are constantly doing the same, as seen in this interview about the first 48 hours of Open AI’s API.

If your business is ready to invest in a flexible and agile apprenticeship program, partner with MAXX. We’ll help you navigate these exciting times. Get in touch at maxxpotential.com/contact-us.

MORE POSTS

Want to Future-Proof Your Business? Diversify Your Tech Talent Strategy

By MAXX Potential

Two men sit in front of laptops, working together to figure out a transformative tech talent strategy

No time like the present to consider steps to building a diverse and sustainable tech talent pipeline in light of the pace of advancement in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation. We need flexibility, innovation, and versatility in our talent strategies. 

Disruption punctuates tech conversations, and we believe the answer is anchored in upskilling and apprenticeship.

The shifting tech landscape offers so much potential for positive changes, and in this post, we’ll explore options for responding to how the tech industry is transforming and how MAXX Potential is supporting organizations in embracing the opportunities ahead.

The AI Conundrum: Job Replacement vs. Job Creation

While AI and automation advancements raise job displacement concerns, these technologies also generate new roles with distinct skill sets. 

“Tech didn’t replace its human counterparts – it actually led to more people in work, not less.” HCAmag.com pointed out in a recent article, “The ‘common sense conundrum’ for workplace AI: Which roles will fall to robotics?” They shared an example of Amazon’s largest warehouse in Delaware, US, where robots outnumbered humans, but they still employed more people at this warehouse than their other warehouses. 

According to HCAmag.com, “AI will always stumble over something, leaving humans to pitch in. And humans will always get stuck on data configuration, which is where AI excels.”

Tech leaders face questions from all sides about whether or not to replace humans with robots and new technologies. In some cases, it might make sense, and in others, it might not.

The fact is that AI will transform jobs and their corresponding tasks. That’s why it’s vital to ground your career development in timeless talents for a shifting tech landscape

Building Your Tech Talent Pipeline: Upskilling

Upskilling is the development of the people you already have on your team, and research shows that upskilling improves morale and productivity.

The World Economic Forum forecasts that “half of all employees will require reskilling by 2025.”

Forward-looking companies are moving to prioritize upskilling and reskilling of their workforce. The businesses that will ride the wave of tech advances are the ones that focus on lifelong learning.

Meanwhile, employees are also seeking to work for companies that invest in employee careers through development and upskilling, and according to the US Chamber, 94% of employees said they would stay at a company longer when professional development opportunities are available.

Ready to rise to meet the AI and automation changes? Train, reskill, and upskill your tech workforce.

In 2021-2022, alongside one of our customers, we demonstrated the transformative power of upskilling by offering its first-line representatives an opportunity to transition into IT roles. Out of 1,800 employees, 70 showed interest, and 25 were selected for a comprehensive Career Lab workshop. This resulted in 12 interviews and eight potential transitions into IT roles. 

The process revealed a wealth of untapped talent, highlighting the value of upskilling as part of a strategic talent development plan. The workshop saw high engagement and retention. Our client’s active involvement was pivotal, indicating that management’s commitment to employee career growth is a key success factor in upskilling initiatives. 

Our custom upskilling solutions range from company-wide training to team-specific workshops.

Apprenticeship: A Call for Flexibility and Agility

Rapid change calls for turning to solutions such as the apprenticeship model with its hallmarks of on-the-job training and hands-on continuous learning. 

Many large businesses are tapping into this approach by developing internal apprenticeship programs; however, this isn’t always feasible for small and medium-sized businesses with less capacity to manage their own. 

Apprenticeship USA reports that employment retention for apprentices remains high with 93% of apprentices retaining employment after their apprenticeship. This is good news for companies who desire to develop and retain their tech team.

Partnership with MAXX Potential means an integration of an apprenticeship system into your business ecosystem without bearing the full costs of starting and maintaining the program. Your business benefits from a tech talent pipeline that is tuned to the company, your technology stack, and processes. 

Hiring is easy and turnover is mitigated by a bench of hungry lifelong learners ready to add value. MAXX Apprentices come from a variety of backgrounds, and they learn on the job with the assistance of their mentor.

Apprenticeship requires a high level of adaptability as apprentices jump to learn in-demand skills. At MAXX, apprentices work in Robotic Process Automation, Cybersecurity, Enterprise Application Maintenance, and so much more. 

When something new releases, MAXX Apprentices explore the technology, discover its best use cases, and expand their knowledge base. This is a company-wide value, and our MAXX leadership team and core staff are constantly doing the same, as seen in this interview about the first 48 hours of Open AI’s API.

If your business is ready to invest in a flexible and agile apprenticeship program, partner with MAXX. We’ll help you navigate these exciting times. Get in touch at maxxpotential.com/contact-us.