The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies like ChatGPT that can generate text, images and computer code has everyone asking questions about AI efficacy and ethics. At the same time, augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) have endless applications beyond design and gaming, including construction, healthcare, logistics and education.
Simon Fraser University (SFU) business professor Terri Griffith says it is best to thoughtfully embrace rather than shy away from tech that can enhance our academic and professional lives. Regarding technology, she recognises that we are all—including the AIs—learning as we go.
Griffith is the Keith Beedie Chair in Innovation & Entrepreneurship at the SFU Beedie School of Business. She teaches in the Management of Technology MBA and the Invention to Innovation (i2I) and Digital Innovation and Leadership executive programs. She also researches how companies adjust their use of talent, technology and technique to hit work targets and stay aligned with the times—she calls this “Thinking in 5T.”
In her article, Creating Concrete Visions with Augmented Reality, Griffith and coauthor Dave Alpert examine the use of AR in the built environment: architecture, construction and planning. They argue that AR provides an accessible way for experts, novices and community members—all stakeholders—to envision and interact with construction, design and facilities planning. She encourages organizations to “See in 3D—Think in 5T” as a memorable framework for managing digital transformations in the built environment and for digital transformations more generally.
Griffith recently published an article in The Conversation Canada about the importance of helping students apply the latest technologies to their academic and professional work. This semester, with the sudden availability of generative AI like ChatGPT, DALL-E and Writesonic, she is ensuring her students learn to use these tools as part of her innovation coursework. She also expects that her students will use Grammarly or other proofreading tools to support their professional writing—and even enlisted the help of AI for this week’s Q&A.
We spoke with professor Griffith about her research.
You encourage organizations to “Think in 5T.” What are the 5Ts, and why are they important?
The 5 T’s are Talent, Technology and Technique, all aligned to hit your Targets and appropriate for the Times:
- Target: Goal;
- Talent: The knowledge, skills, abilities, and psychology (things that would be covered in a management or organizational psychology course) of your current and available people;
- Technology: The features and capabilities of all your available tools—everything from a shovel, to how a room is furnished, to artificial intelligence;
- Technique: Your workflows; and
- Times: The context—times of our lives—that set the stage for how these dimensions come together.
There is no single way to use your Ts—no one T is most important in all settings. What is critical is that you do not look for a silver bullet. A change in one will very likely require a change in others. You also should not be afraid to experiment to find your best mix.
AR and VR have so much untapped potential in applications outside of gaming and entertainment. Tell us about the advantages of using AR that you found in the study.
My biggest surprise was how AR brought people together. The expertise (talent) required to understand 2D plans is a barrier, and AR technology is a bridge across that barrier. AR allowed a more engaging technique as individuals did not have to, literally, go back to the drawing board to make changes. They could all see the changes at the same time. My co-author Dave Alpert also noticed that decision-making speed increased with the clarity brought by easier-to-understand plans. We were both impressed by the reduction in construction rework and the resulting financial and environmental gains.
Why do you think we have slowly adopted AR and VR into other areas?
Until recently, the headsets were too expensive and the software too complex. Now the creative team can easily put their technical documents into AR, which is great on a smartphone and spectacular with AR glasses. We will see this same dynamic across many other technologies—as costs come down, we will have more and more options.
You wrote a well-received piece on how you must integrate AI into your innovation course. What is your biggest concern as you take this step?
Anytime you rebuild a course, you risk upsetting the flow you’ve developed over the years. I am in the same position as any other knowledge worker: My work must acknowledge and strive to benefit from these new technologies. I will start with the 5Ts, and my students and I must be flexible as the technologies and our understanding change throughout the term. As always, practicing is the best way to learn. Not everything we try will succeed, but I am sure we will benefit in the long run.
For more: Read Why using AI tools like ChatGPT in my MBA innovation course is expected and not cheating in The Conversation Canada and visit professor Griffith’s blog at terrigriffith.com/blog. You can follow her on Twitter at @TerriGriffith.
The Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, and the Negotiation and Team Resources Institute have supported this research.