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

Displaying articles for: March 2014

Can an agile approach make a client interact more?

cooperate.pngI was recently talking with a team of people who are supporting a client that seems to be reluctant to dedicate the time necessary to ensure that the requirements are defined properly and that the test cases actually test how the system will be used. When interactions did occur it didn’t see like the focus was on the value the system can deliver, instead it was on minutia related to the design...

 

This work has been going on for a while, and although work is being done and progress made there is a gnawing concern that the solution may never be accepted.

 

Rather than allowing this to continue, the team is now proposing a more agile approach. This is going to require significantly more involvement from the client and move testing and requirements validation from something that is done at the end of release development to something that is done every day.

 

I think anyone who has worked in the development space will likely feel that this arrangement is better for reducing rework… but is it really going to change the behavior of those involved? If the agile shift just raises a flag about a lack of customer involvement earlier in the interaction, that will be helpful – but the behavior of the development team (and its leadership) will need to change. If they didn’t address the interaction before, having the same concern raised more often may not make a difference… What do you think?

Contemplating trend intersections – HP’s global technical conference

Recently, a friend from ISSIP sent me an article from Forbes asking Can LED Advances Help Vertical Farms Take Root? I found it interesting because I grew up on a farm, but also because it is an example of the intersection of technical and business trends.

 

The abundance of capabilities in one space (LEDs) can address a scarcity in another space (arable land). An important part of strategic thinking going forward is looking for these relationships as they are today and for trends that will cause them to shift, as well as the organizational change management implications.

 

This week, I am participating in HP’s internal Global Technical Conference. I’ll be looking at the innovations from this scarcity and abundance perspective as well as  meta-drivers that impact innovation value generation.

Will the Internet of Things lead to passive oversharing?

 

security compromize.pngLast week there was a twitterChat by CIO magazine and the Enterprise CIO forum on ‘the Internet of Things and the effect on the CIO’. During this discussion someone asked “Are there security issues (particularly for the consumer)?” Everyone can probably agree that there are significant concerns that everyone needs to be aware as they strap on more and more devices.

 

One of these concerns relates to a story from a few years back. Then, there was quite a bit of discussion about Super Cookies. This techniques uniquely identified computers by their software versions, installed software… the kind of thing that can be gathered via JavaScript. Nothing had to be stored on the computer itself, like a normal cookie.

 

A similar technique can be applied to uniquely identify a consumer. What devices are they carrying…? Essentially, tracking people by what emissions they are emanating or consuming. Like the Super Cookie, this technique can track and record user behavior across multiple sites. Devices like cell phones are always transmitting "here I am" infromation. BlueTooth and WiFi can also be set to respond to external emissions.

 

Once you can track individual’s movement and interests, you can use that to predict future behavior and act upon it – much like what was demonstrated in the site pleaserobme.com. This site used individual’s social site usage to understand when they were away from home -- except in this case it is passive oversharing by our IoT devices that is the concern. Right now people view this as just a retail experience enabler so they are not freaking out.

 

But this passive surveillance is one area that will likely be scrutinized very closely in the coming years. Those who create devices need to be very aware of what is shared and utilize as much of the security capabilities that are available to keep passive sharing to a minimum.

 

It is not just about recognizing people who come into a retail area. For those who own devices, we need to be aware of what they emit, when and what controls are available to limit them. If it is possible to drive down a street and know which houses are occupied and which are not just by their IoT emissions, there are definitely people who will take advantage.

 

XPrize for the automated creation of TED Talks

analytics.pngThe TED Conference announced an Artificial Intelligence XPRIZE today. The goal of TED curator Chris Andersen and Peter Diamandis, founder of the X PRIZE foundation, is to have an AI capable of giving a TED talk “so compelling  that it commands a standing ovation from... the audience.”

 

If this interests you, they are asking for your help in setting up the rules – see the on-line A.I. Xprize Ideas form.

 

I’ve mentioned before the automation of knowledge worker activities, the likely decline of middle management as we know it and how even artistic endeavors can at least be supplemented with automation. Maybe the results of this XPrize will make the boring corporate presentation obsolete

Business Continuity Week - the last day

bcaw.jpgNow that we have officially entered spring, a time for tornados and thunderstorms here in Texas, it is a good time to think about business continuity.

 

This week is business continuity awareness week. The theme this year is Counting the Costs – looking at the possible cost of not addressing business continuity.

 

Having an effective, robust approach to business continuity is part of management, security and many other roles within an organization.  It is important to remember that there is a cost for being unable to respond to an incident. There are a number of business continuity webinars that bring this issue home.

eVDI – A more flexible approach to engineering computing

I’ve interacted with visualized desktop solutions since the mid-90s but only recently saw an update to what’s happening with engineering Virtualized Desktop Infrastructure (eVDI). The following video shows a bit about how it can be more flexible and faster than the traditional approach.

 

 

There is an upcoming webinar titled: Engineering in the Cloud: Faster, Better, More Secure

that will show how recent advances in supporting and engineering class virtualized environment can now include:

Capabilities that just a short time ago everyone knew had to be delivered locally and would never be accessed from mobile devices like laptops. 

The next few weeks are going to be pretty busy

working.pngThere is a tweet chat tomorrow that I’ll try to sit in on at Noon Central titled: Should CIOs care about the Internet of Things? Use #CIOchat, to see the interaction.

 

I have the Future of Service Innovation Conference next week where I’ll be giving the closing remarks on a Service Futures Call to Action.

 

We have HPs global technical conference in early April and an NSF sponsored services research session in Washington DC coming up the 2nd week of April.

 

It is clear that there is a great deal of focus on the changing world of Services and IT. Hopefully that will give me some more things to think and post about here.

 

And of course, I still have my real job to do too – when you’re a mobile worker you just get it done wherever you can.

Dallas FIRST regionals

This weekend is the Dallas FRC regional. There are a number of videos of the event on a Lockheed sponsored site. Yesterday, I saw one of the highest scoring games of the year across all the events.

Dallas 2014.png

I’ve been coordinating judging for the FIRST Robotics competition in Dallas. So naturally, there are a significant number of HP (current and retired) folks involved.

 

FRC allows students to start from a standard kit of parts and some state of the art tools, received at the kickoff, and build a robot attempting to meet specified objectives. This video is an overview of this year’s challenge – Arial Assist.

 

The goal of FIRST is to encourage the understanding and passion around STEM. It has a proven track record of results that is hard to argue with. Video of last year’s event is also available.

Tags: FIRST
Labels: FIRST

Context recognition as a service

gossip.pngI was in a discussion the other day as part of the ISSIP Service Futures meeting where we were discussing context-based computing and its impact on services. One of the concepts that fell out of that discussion was the need for ‘context flow’. This might be a new type (or at least a new use) of middleware to share a common understanding of the context of the user or the application portfolio.

 

Why should all the applications have their own context recognition capabilities? Couldn’t they rely on a common engine for at least a basic understanding of what is going on?? Answering questions like:

  • Where is the user? And why?
  • Is this a busy day?
  • Are they traveling?

Applications could subscribe to this contextual advisor function and change their behavior – treating the user in custom ways to fit the situation they are currently in. I can see all kinds of gamification and augmented reality implications.

 

There could be a standard range of contextual states that the entire environment could take advantage of. Maybe this already exists, but I’ve not seen it.

Have the foundations of business changed?

change management.pngI was in a conversation the other day with someone talking about how the foundations of business really are not any different than they have been in the past. I had to push back a bit. Many of the product that hit the market have a digital element to them that just didn’t exist in the past. Look at Webkinz – this is essentially a doll with a digital, virtualized element to differentiate it. For many of us, our cars gather more information about our habits and what we do than almost anything else we use in our lives.

 

We also have the opportunity to have both insight and action based on the digital information flow. Our work with NASCAR has let them know what the fans are concerned about and actually do something about it when it can make a difference.

 

Even our families, our relationships and essentially our lives are digitalize in many aspects. Yesterday, I flew to California and my plane was delayed. I had three different apps on my phone update me about the change in status. Now if it had only suggested something to do with that extra unscheduled time.

 

To say that the foundations of business are not really different, overlooks the fundamental shift in but the supply of capabilities and the demands from the marketplace. Think for a moment about what capabilities your customers need and how the new capabilities available may address them – even if the customer has never asked or needed them before.

 

Does digitization qualify as a MetaTrend? I think so…

Tags: future| Trends
Labels: Future| Trends

Rethinking future services and the application portfolio

applications.pngAreas changing within business and IT include the movement away from dedicated hardware for applications, as well as the concept of dedicated applications themselves. In order for these changes to be truly successful there are a number of factors to be addressed.

 

Today there are a wealth of software providers that supply intellectual property to address business problems (e.g., ERP solutions). Although some support more flexible access methods (e.g., SaaS), they are still rigid in what they make available to the business itself. The problems are viewed as IT and not what the business needs. In order for these service providers to address the specific needs of an organization, greater service integration flexibility is required. This allows for real integration of business processes, meeting the businesses unique needs. IT that supports those business processes may come from many different sources.

 

This flexibility will require greater data transport capabilities and analytics, turning generic processing into business differentiation. This movement of data outside the control of a service provider is the bane of most as-a-service solutions, yet when you think about it – whose data is it??

 

To meet the needs of the system users, greater platform independent support is required. This will allow the integration of generic business processes into a context specific solution that can be used by the various business roles to make better business decisions. Since the mobile interface is the enterprise interface going forward, placing the information in the context of the user is critical, on the device the user is actually using. Or if the response is well understood facilitating the systems of action needed to predict and respond to business events.

 

This also means that custom application configuration capabilities will be critical. Rather than having 3rd generation programmers handcrafting new behaviors into the system, standards and tools for customization will be required. Application configuration capabilities will improve the time to market and reduce the maintenance costs -- relying on business-oriented graphical modeling to aggregate functionality from across the portfolio of capabilities. Social capabilities and gamification support will be built into these customization capabilities. This mass-customized contextual portfolio approach is the antithesis of what leveraged service providers enable today.

 

One of the biggest detriments (at least from my perspective) of the dot com era was the view that everyone can code. These coders can do that in a 3rd generation language like Java (or JavaScript for that matter). And finally, that coders actually understand user interface and business process automation design (and security). I don’t think we can afford to put up with these views any longer. The changes in how computing works and is delivered as well the complex possibilities enabled by the abundance of IT capabilities don’t allow it. There has been work to leverage experts and hide complexity over the years, yet most organizations take advantage of very little of this work. It’s time that we move on.

Computing, art and possibilities

Previously I’ve posted about the possibility of automation for many of today’s tasks performed by knowledge workers.

 

This post from New Scientist shows how a Computer paints with 17 million colors. Although that may sound like a lot, the RGB colors make up a triangular subset inside the CIE color space, which shows all the colors that a human eye should be able to see.

 

 

The video (warning - there is music in this video) is a soothing diversion for a Thursday, but also a reminder of the interesting and normally creative work that computing can facilitate.

Tags: automation
Labels: automation

Information revolution impact assessment in the balance

 

level.pngThere was a recent article in The Futurist discussing The Information Revolution's BROKEN PROMISES that was a bit disturbing – at least to me.

 

It described 8 grand promises that seemed to have fallen short:

  1. The Internet Will Create a "New Economy"

  2. The Internet Will Create a World Community

  3. The Digital Age Will Make Us All Get Smarter

  4. The Digital Generation Will Save Us

  5. Digital Technologies Will Narrow the Wealth Gap

  6. The Internet Will Spread Democracy

  7. The Internet Will Make Us Better Informed

  8. Everyone Gets to Be a Publisher

I found the article an example of how we can perceive things vs. what the masses actually wanted. In many cases, we did reach that these promise defined, it’s just that the article’s author didn’t like the results and viewed them as being off-center. Let’s just take the last two:

  • The Internet will make us better informed – There is no doubt there is more information out there from more perspectives than we could ever access back in the 80s. It is true that we can self-select down into some very narrow views of the world if we want but we can also broaden our view to encompass implications that were unimaginable from the isolated views available in the pre-internet age.

  • Everyone gets to be a publisher – It doesn’t take much investment to get your perspective out to others in a wide variety of formats: e-books, blogs, podcasts… Yes, the quality varies widely, but what did the author expect. Just because most people can go outside and walk/run doesn’t mean we’ll all be able to run a world-class marathon, the first time out (or ever).

We can all bemoan the gap between the ideal and reality for the masses, since there will always be a gap. What we control is our own contribution and effect – are we making the most of the internet revolution. It is better to take responsibility, invest and attempt to take control rather than sit on the sidelines and jeer at the performance of others.

  

Perspective business and technical leaders should take this view, since it is almost the definition of leadership. Don’t let perfection be the barrier to good enough. What changes can be made to improve our products and services using the abundance of capabilities available today? Who needs that little bit of help in getting the ball down the field? We can all help make it happen.

 

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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.
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