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Displaying articles for: July 2010

The growing importance of the CIO skillset (and other thoughts from David Kirkpatrick)

Next week, HP Chief Strategy and Technology Officer Shane Robison will join veteran technology journalist David Kirkpatrick for an interview at the debut of the Techonomy conference.


In addition to co-founding Techonomy, David is also the author of the newly published The Facebook Effect.  We caught up with him during a recent book tour through Palo Alto to learn about Techonomy's editorial agenda and preview his conversation with Shane:



In short, David says that the objective of the conference is to advance the notion that for humanity to solve the problems it faces, and for any business to remain relevant, leaders of all types must more aggressively embrace technology innovation, and not fear it “as they so often do.”


This notion is sometimes taken for granted in IT-centric Silicon Valley, but David emphatically makes the point that the pace and importance of technological change in business and society remains underappreciated.

Perhaps most interestingly, David suggests that for such changes to come to pass, “the kind of people that need to become CEO’s, should be CIO’s first.”


For more on the conference, tune in to CNBC or our live tweets from the event.

Labels: interview

U.S. Congress considers the America COMPETES Act

Just last week, Senators Warner, Klobuchar and LaMieux amended the America COMPETES Act to include a long-term study on the current levels of innovation and competiveness in the U.S. compared to other countries and develop a national strategy for innovation for the next decade. 


The Obama administration has laid out its priorities to recommit America to its status as a leader in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Keeping America at the forefront of science, technology, medicine and clean energy will require a bipartisan commitment to policies that encourage research and innovation.


HP will continue to discuss the issue as Congress considers the America COMPETES Act, as well as other opportunities to support the recruiting and training math and science teachers, establishing partnerships between federal science facilities and high schools, and increasing federal support for the research the information economy needs.

The collaborative spirit at Aspen Ideas Festival

Earlier this month, participants at the Aspen Ideas Festival discussed issues including sustainable design, the benefits of incorporating digital technology to our daily lives, and the ways innovation can grow the information economy.


HP executives Michael Mendenhall, Prith Banerjee and Larry Irving participated in the event to discuss HP’s point-of-view that information is the most valuable resource in the 21st century. Through conversations, media interviews and formal sessions, the executives described how HP is harnessing the power of information to change the equation for people, businesses and the world.

In this video, Larry discusses the benefits of taking part in the festival and how he was able to meet with many people that are making a difference to get a sense of what HP can do to support their efforts as well as share with them HP’s story:


Information technology as our most valuable resource: HP and CNBC at the Aspen Ideas Festival

Following his speech at the Aspen Ideas Festival, HP CMO Michael Mendenhall sat down with Maria Bartiromo of CNBC to talk about the global trends underlying the biggest challenges for society and business.  In particular, they discussed examples that point towards IT becoming the most valuable resource for addressing these challenges (you can also see the slides from Michael’s presentation at the bottom of this post):




Secular trends driving change on a global scale:

- Population growth: worldwide population grows 20% to  7.8 billion by 2025

- Urbanization: a new Beijing is built every other month as 60 million people move to cities annually

- Information explosion: information doubles every 4 years, digital content doubles every 18 months


Given that context, Michael says that the infrastructure put in place over the last 100 years won’t be able to support the next 100 years of growth, and that IT can create an intelligent, sustainable infrastructure that supports the demands of a globalized population.  To that point, energy, healthcare, and education are areas of focus for HP:


Energy: The 3rd largest water and sewer utility in the US is using new HP tech to monitor consumption every 5 minutes


Health care: Although 65% of medical records are paper-based, HP has demonstrated at St. Olav’s hospital in Norway that combining advances in areas like mobility and software can dramatically increase the quality of care.  There, patients access information on bedside thin clients and doctors and nurses share information securely through personal mobile devices like notebook computers.


Education: HP is partnering with UNESCO to build the first cloud infrastructure for universities in Africa.


You can find more examples, as well as a related video, in Michael’s slides here:


A new system for managing personal data: EnCoRe

If you’ve ever downloaded a new piece of software or signed up for a social network, you’ve probably been asked to read lengthy “Terms of Service” and then click a button that says “agree”.  But more and more, these services are requiring the ability to store and share sensitive personal data, and it’s getting harder to understand exactly what you are allowing them to do when you click “agree”. It’s harder still to change or revoke this afterwards.


So the question becomes: does that form of consent protect both users and businesses as much as possible? If not, what would be a better alternative?


These are the central questions being tackled by EnCoRe project, a research collaboration among social, legal, technical, and economic experts from institutions like the London School of Economics, the universities of Warwick and Oxford and HP Labs.  Last week, the project members demonstrated the prototype implementation of a technical architecture that provides a system for Ensuring Consent and Revocation (EnCoRe) of personal information in an easy, reliable and rigorous manner.


“This is a problem not just for users of the latest social networking service,” says Pete Bramhall from HP Labs in Bristol, UK and EnCoRe Project Co-ordinator. “It’s an issue for many kinds of businesses as well, from a legal and social perspective.  EnCoRe is investigating how technology can help solve it. And HP is particularly interested because managing trust and privacy correctly is going to be critical to ensuring the continued growth in IT-based services”


What does this all mean for the next time that “I Agree” button pops up in your browser?


“Think carefully about what you are signing up to,” Bramhall warns, “and if there is any chance you might want to change your mind on the private information you are allowing someone else to hold about you.  And who they might give it to in the future.”.


As users, there currently doesn’t seem to be any alternative to clicking “OK,” at least if we want the membership or software. But work like EnCoRe may provide another option soon.

Tags: Nice

It starts with sensors: A multi-part look at HP’s Central Nervous System for the Earth


HP’s vision for a Central Nervous System for the Earth (CeNSE) is leading to a new generation of computer networks that are aware of the environment in which they operate. 

Those systems promise to help us better understand how we are affecting the planet, and to suggest specific actions that we can take to live more sustainably. 

But how do you get these networks to actually be aware: to taste, touch, smell, see and hear? 

“You’ve got to turn those notions into quantities you can measure,” answers Peter Hartwell, leader of the digital microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) team in HP’s Information and Quantum Systems Lab.

We already have cheap but high-quality sight and sound sensors, Hartwell points out.  “Just pull out a modern cell phone and it's got a good microphone and most have multi-megapixel cameras on the back.” 

Sensors that can record touch – called accelerometers - have been slower to develop, though.  They are being used in consumer applications like vehicle airbags, game controllers, and smartphones.  But Hartwell and colleagues have created a groundbreaking new accelerometer (which detects both motion and vibration) that is around 1,000 times more sensitive than the typical ones on the market.



This new sensor is being deployed in HP’s first real-world application of CeNSE – a collaboration with Royal Dutch Shell that promises to help the oil company avoid the environmental impact of drilling unnecessary wells thanks to data it can glean from a high-resolution seismic imaging network.

MEMS for that application must be rugged enough to work in remote locations.  They also have to be packaged with a wireless radio, a battery and a solar cell to give it power.  Plus they need to be not much larger than a pushpin in size. “It’s a challenging integration problem," says Hartwell.


But it’s also one HP is highly familiar with – millions of MEMS are already at work in its inkjet printer cartridges, which are similarly complex and sturdily built. “In both cases,” Hartwell notes, “you have a complex chip that must be exposed to the environment—to measure it or to squirt ink onto it—and packaged into an integrated unit.”

HP’s experience with inkjets gives it a huge head start, says Jonathan Eunice, an analyst with Illuminata.  Expertise in miniaturization, he suggests, “has enormous impact on what you can sense, and whether you can afford to sense things.”

The cheaper sensors get, the more you can afford to deploy, which means you can take more measurements, says Eunice, “and basically when you’re talking about science or engineering, more measurements, more data points, leads to better results.”

New sensors that can ‘taste’ and ‘smell’ better are Hartwell’s next targets.  Sensitivity to chemical and biological changes in the environment expands the potential of CeNSE enormously: from bomb-sniffing luggage trackers, to systems that detect pathogens in food, to state-wide early warning networks that can measure the spread of toxins through the air. 

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