CoachBots, cyber security and developments at EMCC UK: a digital update

CoachBots, cyber security and developments at EMCC UK: a digital update

checking your digital watch

27 November 2023

As 2023 draws to a close, Ivan Beaumont, our Director of Digital, reflects on developments in technology over the past year, and provides an update into what the future may look like for coaching and the digital world.

New membership software and website

Our operations team has been very busy in the background as we move away from our current customer relationship management system and website to new platforms. The data migration and cleansing has been a mammoth and complex task, and this is nearly complete. We will shortly be testing the new association management system (AMS), which will continue into the New Year. Once that is complete, we will be integrating the AMS and the new website, ready for a demonstration to the EMCC UK Board in February. We hope to be running live in March.

Additionally, we have started looking at member engagement platforms, ranging from simple platforms to those with all the bells and whistles. It is essential to fully understand what we need by combining member views with an understanding of the capabilities that our new AMS and website combined will bring us. To aid our thinking, we will be talking to network and special interest group lead volunteers in December, asking for their ideas and seeking to understand their group needs. If you have any views and ideas please don’t hesitate to share.

Cyber security

I really enjoyed hosting the 6th session of our free-to-members Building Your Business series, entitled Cyber Security and Protecting Client Data. This is a very important topic, and it was fantastic to hear from our expert guest speaker, Alexandra Fouracres. The feedback from the 50-plus people who attended was excellent. I continue to recommend her book, Cybersecurity for Coaches and Therapists, which is a great resource.

Digital and technology trends

This is a big topic and has the potential to overwhelm. What we are seeing is an increasing focus on new technologies – some use the term AI to describe them – and how they can be integrated with coaching, mentoring, supervision, research and training. It is important to also look beyond our own profession to see what innovations are being developed elsewhere. What we see is fascinating, but has its challenges.

Some things we are starting to notice within our profession:

Members who are harnessing technology to improve their productivity – for example, by using MS Copilot in Teams meetings to create action items from a transcript. Others, fewer in number, are specialising by using more expensive technology – for example, by using VR headsets to connect with others on the Internet or in the Metaverse.

Specialist and eclectic practitioners who will likely be highly valued and may be impossible to imitate digitally, due to their wisdom, unpredictability, uniqueness and humanness, rather than because of their use of technology. We are already seeing people become coaches, mentors and supervisors rolled into one, responding to the specific needs of their clients.

Members who are part of large digital providers offering services at scale that are relatively easy to access. For example, the provider will use algorithms that match the client to an available and suitable coach. They may add technology-enabled benefits, such as reminders or ‘nudges’ sent direct to clients along with access to tailored online resources. We might call this productization or commodification.

Members who are leaders or managers, who adopt a coach-like approach in their interactions with others. They are increasingly tech savvy, as are our clients.

Very basic digital coaches (such as a CoachBot) that can follow simple processes and models rapidly. These software applications will in a relatively small timeframe become more proficient at what they can do.

The implications of each are fascinating, and it can be fun, scary, or both to think about them. I expect to see us connect with a broad spectrum of people who can collectively make sense of what is an increasingly complex picture, so that we as a professional membership organisation can respond appropriately.

If you are intrigued by a particular technology, such as wearable tech, or if you wish to create your own version of ChatGPT, then I would encourage you to experiment with it by testing and learning. Technology is a tool that when mastered will benefit us and our clients by making us better at what we already do. But always keep in mind data privacy, ethical boundaries, and your ability to use it effectively.

Festival 2024

If you are interested in the possibilities and challenges of tech and digital, then do join us at Festival on 23 April, when AI will be one of our six core subject areas. We will be joined by some thought-provoking speakers, who will guide us through three morning sessions:

AI Conversation Bots: Supportive or Troublesome Colleague?
How can we harness the power of AI in our practice?
The opportunities and challenges of integrating AI

Thank yous

My personal thanks to Michelle Kenyon and Michael Jones for their considerable support and efforts for us in 2023.

Photo by Luke Chesser