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

Displaying articles for: June 2006

The New Role For Business Intelligence

I've mentioned in the past the role of pattern recognition changing in the future. Currently, most organizations confine their business intelligence (BI) use to highly skilled analysts. These analysts are expected to have deep industry and process expertise that helps them make sense of what the tool is saying.


In the future, this information will need to be incorporated into a wider range of the organization and packaged so it can be consumed by the target audience. The EDS Fellows have written about the issue of Attention Management and the need to ensure the audience does not become overwhelmed with the information flowing at them. It needs to be provided in context.


There are those who say that wide use of BI will be expensive because training everyone to use the tools and perform analysis will be hard. I believe if it takes that much training it is because the interface was written poorly. Most people do understand the context in which they work. The information needs to be presented in that context (e.g., there is something wrong with milling machine #3) and integrated with workflow. Therefore, little or no training should be required.


Sure, it will be harder in the software analysis and development activities, but at least that is performed by a small group and the activity (if done right) is only done once. BI today is underutilized but by using these kinds of techniques, it will move to be a powerful, continuous use business tool.

Manufacturing Innovation

I saw this article entitled "Creating a Culture of Constant Innovation." It reminded me of buzzword bingo, an entertainment familiar to anyone who has completed an MBA in recent history.

To be innovative maybe you can just randomly choose three technologies, have an open mind and think about the implications of their interaction. Could it be that simple?

Nanotubes To The Core

It may have been my recent blog about batteries that rekindled my interest in these amazing carbon tubes, but the more I read about the wonders of nanotechnology, the more aware I become of the nanotube’s importance, both historically and technologically.

Somehow nanotubes seem to be the central axis around which modern commercial nanotechnology revolves (at least the popular version). Over the last 5 years, nanotube-based products have unceremoniously made their way into the market place. Like XML adoption in the late 1990s, early nanotube-based products were probably more about manufacturers saying they used the technology and less about them actually having the ability to exploit any real technological benefits. After all, who wouldn’t buy an ostensibly nanotube-reinforced sports toy after reading about nanotube elevators to space!

As nanotube technology has matured so has its importance. Just like XML, nanotubes are building blocks. But it’s not just what we make with nanotubes that make them important; it is what we learn in working with them that will become the foundation for greater pursuits in nanotechnology. XML did the same for computer science, helping to create the mindset and foundation for SOA.

With a wide range of research and applications in medicine, sports, electronics, physics, computer science, chemistry, etc., nanotubes help us appreciate the wider field of nanotechnology for what it is: a brand new discipline poised to help us solve some of today’s and tomorrow’s most complex problems. The simple nanotube also reminds us that when it comes to nanotechnology, we have not even scratched the surface.

Technology and Skilled Workers -Which Is The Chicken and Which Is The Egg?

In a recent Philadelphia Reserve Business Review there was an article about a supply-side vs. demand-side issue that interested me. The question posed was: “Is technology raising demand for skills or are skills raising demand for technology?” In other words, is business change requiring more highly skilled workers or is the more highly skilled workforce creating the demand?

The article describes why the force behind technology adoption may really be the workforce’s need for more skilled counterparts. In the conclusion it states, “The spread of new technologies responds to the rising skills of the workforce, rather than being an independent force affecting the demand for skills.”

The implications on organizations with an aging workforce are important. If this argument is true, the innovation and demands of the replacement workers will likely spur complacent organizations forward in unintended ways. As personnel turnover takes place, the entire organization will be affected so organizations should be able to plan for this.

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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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