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Possibilities Podcast Episode: 12

What does 25 years of IT experience in industries as varied as education and aerospace give you?

Hunt Winston.

Hunt joined us on the Possibilities podcast to discuss how AI is transforming education and other sectors of the business landscape.

Hunt has almost 25 years experience in the technology space, including executive IT roles at Honeywell Aerospace and others. Currently, he is the COO of NWEA, a non-profit edtech company. Hunt also has an MBA from Webster University.

Trend 1: AI is putting the student back at the center of education


First, Hunt mentioned a few ways that NWEA is using edtech to keep students as the central mission of education.

Even if you haven't heard of the NWEA before, you may know of their flagship product, the MAP Growth test. If that sounds familiar, it’s probably because you are a parent of one of the 12 million students who take the MAP Growth test 3 times a year.

The test leverages cutting-edge AI to create “constraint-based adaptation” testing for students across the country. The test adapts to the individual student as he or she selects answers, and it goes well beyond a simple right/wrong approach: You can input up to 40 varying “constraints” (such as right/wrong, age, gender, grade level, etc.), and the test will evolve as the student progresses throughout the test.

The entire premise behind the testing is to allow teachers, parents, and students, visibility into whether or not a child is growing, and where gaps in their education may exist.

Without modern technology, this advanced testing wouldn’t be feasible, said Hunt. He estimates that the needed computing power for MAP Growth is 50x what is needed for a simple right/wrong adaptation test.

Trend 2: Innovation is putting CIOs back in the control space


For a long time, the CIO (or CTO) role became one of costs-containment.

The position was primarily in place to ensure that IT costs were controlled and didn’t go over a set percentage of the business’s revenue. Businesses that still run in this mentality, are at a huge disadvantage. They aren’t utilizing the expertise of their IT officer to harness technological advances that could radically impact the value of the business.

To Hunt, the businesses that will continue to lead with innovation and technological advancement will be those that encourage the IT executive’s role to be one of innovation, not cost-containment.

Trend 3: Partners are combining competencies within the solution development process

Another interesting paradigm shift that is becoming increasingly commonplace, is the integration of IT partners within the normal development process of a business.

Old-school thinking traditionally separated in-house and third-party development.

SAP is a great example — their traditional model was to sell their software to buyers as a set package. When the buyer identified a gap in the platform, they would request a customization from SAP.

If SAP recognized scalable value within the customization, they would then add the functionality to their next iteration of the product.

This mentality kept the 2 development processes of the buyer and seller fairly separate.

But now, the terms “buyers” and “sellers” don’t even accurately describe the relationship, which has evolved into partnerships.

In a modern, valuable technology relationship, all partners will work together to create the best solution, adding value from their own competencies.

This more partner-based approach directly impacts the CIO/CTO role:

CIOs (and CTOs) are now tasked with the role of ensuring they have access to the right human capital — whether that’s in-house developers, third-party partners, or even unicorn consultants.

Until next time

You can find out more about the NWEA, or connect with Hunt on LinkedIn.

You can find this interview, and many more, by subscribing to Possibilities podcast on Apple Podcasts, on Spotify, or here.

To listen to this episode, click here


About the Author

Brendan Kavaney
Global Head of Field Marketing and Demand Generation

Brendan Kavaney- Possibilities Podcast Host and Global Head of Field Marketing and Demand Generation at Mindtree, a 20 year Marketer with a big passion for Marketing Technology and all things Digital. He leads a highly innovative team across a vast array of industries including Banking, Financial Services & Insurance, Retail, Manufacturing & Consumer Goods, Travel, Transportation & Hospitality, Technology & Media.

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