The Next Big Thing
Posts about next generation technologies and their effect on business.

Fluid.IT – turning BYOD inside out, to focus on me

fluid.jpgOne of the issues with efforts like BYOD and IoT is that it can easily add more complexity for the individual. Attention is one of the scarcest resources we have and these new approaches need to demand less from users not more and more. They need to recognize the context of what’s happening and filter or even act upon it – rather than cry out for attention.


There is quite a bit of press related to various approaches recently to shift how email is used, but most of these efforts still remain focused on email. Frankly, email is a conduit and most of us have many of these conduits feeding into our lives. Also, it is just one of many conduits, depending on your role. What I want is a digital butler on steroids that works on any device and makes sense of your e-life, e-work and e-history. It hides the complexities of the systems and provides a unified experience around me.


This is exactly the kind of research some of the individuals in HP Labs and PPS showed me the other day. A tool called Fluid.IT that shifts your focus from the various sources (e-mail, CRM systems…) to focusing your attention on what you’re really like to get done – no matter where it needs to happen. With Fluid.IT you don’t need to know where your services are (after the initial setup), you just know it’s doing what you need done. This is sort of like when you put your money in the bank. You know something is happening there with it, but you don’t really care. You just want to be sure you can take it out when you need it. Fluid.IT derives the context and aggregates what is important to me, providing more about what I need and less about the plumbing of addressing that need.


It includes concepts like liquid-talk that facilitates collaboration in the ideal method of the receiver not just the sender and allow for both enterprise-level and individual customization. The whole approach is delivered using platform independent techniques that allow you to consume wherever and whenever you need to. It is an examples of providing a customized approach in a standard way leveraging the tools that already exist in your personal and enterprise life.


Are there systems where you can see this approach applied? I can see it for sales (as I mentioned with CRM) or in the healthcare provider space where you’re pulling together information from a variety of systems and would like to have situational awareness with minimal distractions. They have implemented gamification techniques to facilitate the behavioral understanding and improvement from across a range of systems.


I see these kinds of systems as a stake in the ground for what we’ll all be expecting in the near future for our interactions.

The fallacy of the ideal entry level job out of college


Sisyphus.pngI was talking with an individual this week that was looking at accepting their first ‘real’ job. They were torn between the job that was offered and the job they really wanted to have. They were also debating about the constraints this job would put on their personal life.


Since they have a background in the sciences I advised them to break it down. Will this job:

  1. Give them greater flexibility to do the kind of things they really want to do – than you have right now?
  2. Provide experience that would look good to future employers in the areas where they’d like to work - in the future?
  3. Allow them to develop skills they know will be valuable both now and in the future?
  4. Have a culture that you can survive and even thrive?
  5. Put food on the table – right now?

I think they were having a bit of an issue with a big decision that definitely thrust them into the real word. I told them that everyone changes jobs many times in their lives. This is only the start, not the end. My own philosophy is that after 2 years, I am part of the problem not part of the solution – so I tend to move around organizations quite a bit.


I also described to the person that this whole idea of a work-life balance is a ‘first world problem’. Sure it is great to talk about when you have fluid cash and time on your hands, but it gets down to the fact that there is only life. Work, leisure, personal goals - they all drain from the same pool. You can’t spend your entire life looking for greener grass, when you don’t yet even have a yard.


After working as long as I have, it can be enlightening to help someone with these kinds of decisions. They are the ones that will need to pick up ‘the next big thing’ and do something with it – and hopefully pay taxes along the way to support people like me once I’m gone.


Of course if they really get desperate they can flip a coin that usually makes the decision your subconscious has made for you a bit clearer.


Tags: future| Trends| Vision
Labels: Future| Trends| Vision

What should be the goal of cognitive computing?

automated decisions.pngSome organizations think that cognitive computing is about getting better answers more quickly, typically using English to form the questions. There is no doubt that there is tremendous appeal to getting the answer to question in natural language, but is that really enough. In a world of data abundance, it can be difficult to know the right question to ask.


Unfortunately, many times it is the questions we never knew to ask, that turn into potential big gains or losses. One of my co-workers from HP labs mentioned that:

“It is interesting to note that change detection is a core competency (and survival property) of the visual cortex; it responds quickly because it constantly compares visual input with memories of what the world should look like. Thus, as we build next-generation systems based on large amounts of rapidly changing data, you want the data to self-organize, recognize similarities, detect changes, and help you assess anomalies so that these may be investigated.”


In addition to systems, we need services that enable the decision maker (human or machine) to react, respond and investigate based on the context of the information available, so that the entire ecosystem learns and adapts. It could be that having the future approach focus on better questions than better answers and how to display those questions and their answers more effectively should be the goal.


When I talk to leaders about where the future of services is headed, this is where my thoughts tend to go and it is going to take different techniques than organizations have deployed today.

Powerful automation tool for Android

android.pngThere are a number of tools to automate mundane tasks in android like:

  • turning on WiFi when I get home
  • turning off WiFi when I am in the car
  • putting the phone in silent mode when I am in a meeting

I recently came across On{x} from Microsoft that helps you ‘automate your life’. It looks like it’s been in beta since June, but I didn’t come across it until October.


The tool allows you to program various actions based on triggers in JavaScript. There is also a repository for sample recipes that you can look at and extend. Just what a technologist needs on those cold winter nights.

Labels: automation| Mobile

Services and outcomes – what does the business really need?


choices.jpgAlmost every IT and service organization is looking at where to focus their operational energies in order to remain relevant in the new style of business that is expected today.  Each of us are constrained by our own preconceptions of service management and how it has traditionally and should be measured.


Recently, HP produced a paper titled: Link Services to Outcomes that tackles this issue. I am not sure that it went far enough, to drive home the value and shift in behavior and perspective that’s required.


I see situations all the time where an organization tries to straddle the line between traditional IT SLAs and more agile IT approaches without ever shifting the measures of success to what business really need – business-based service level.


These new kind of partnering efforts need to look for KPIs that the business cares about – the position paper does provide a few of those examples. These need to be key measures of the performance of the business. Another thing the paper brings forward are a few questions you need to ask yourself about your business and what approach it will accept. Is your organization:

  • Mature enough to deploy and fully use an outcomes-oriented service environment?
  • Willing to invest the time and resources needed to align IT and the business model?
  • Able to create and continually use the necessary metrics, thresholds, and reporting systems?

And that is not even covering the issues in the legal and purchasing spaces.


One thing that is interesting is how this business measures approach is almost the exact opposite of the public cloud-based service approach where there are few guarantees and the services providers actually don’t want to know anything about your business – at least how it is implemented today. Legal and purchasing may not be involved.


I sometimes wonder if those who are committed to one camp or another can see the world from the other perspective or is it totally outside their context.



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About the Author(s)
  • Steve Simske is an HP Fellow and Director in the Printing and Content Delivery Lab in Hewlett-Packard Labs, and is the Director and Chief Technologist for the HP Labs Security Printing and Imaging program.
The opinions expressed above are the personal opinions of the authors, not of HP. By using this site, you accept the Terms of Use and Rules of Participation.