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

2015 – a year of service innovation

crystalball.gifI believe that 2015 will be reflected on as a year of real service innovation. All those technological trends of the past decade are going to come to roost in the services of organizations in every industry. Establishments that view services as someone else’s problem will be left in the dust by those that realize the technologies of IoT, automation and analytics are causing change into the expectations of business value by the services that surround them. New services will spring into existence enabled by the flexibility of solutions like 3D printing, SDN, OpenStack and software defined anything (SDx). This post will try to justify that prediction, in a number of ways.

 

The US (NSF, White House) and EU governments recognize that there is a transformation taking place with services and are looking to see how governments can invest in service innovation. They know that the models and techniques used previously are not up to the task and are looking to shift those efforts to take advantage of the abundance of information technology capabilities that now exist and improve the understanding and capability in the services space.

 

The wearable devices we’ve seen to date have remained relatively stand-alone, providing a bit of interaction and information. As the services that consume that information advance, we’ll see a 3rd generation of wearable devices that interact with their environment, to provide a more proactive set of capabilities. This will be part of a shift in the Internet of Things that will stand up from its current crawling position to (at least) toddle along moving close to an Internet of Everything (and Anything), focusing on an enabled environment.

This will shift business resources away from process workers to a more automated environment consuming more and a different kind of analytics, moving to a human-augmented automation approach in many areas (rather than the other way around). Those interested should invest in the book, The Second Machine Age. These approaches will provide greater insight and transparency to customer actions as well as intent, enabling businesses to proactively provide services.

 

For the consumer the move to services that enable a digital life will continue and accelerate. Using the techniques described above, continuous monitoring and assistance will become a possibility. There will be concerns expressed about this monitoring moving from optional to required, in order to receive certain kinds of services. Similarly, the concerns about autonomous cars will shift from an ‘are they safe’ footing to ‘should they be compulsory’ discussion. Although we’ll not see mandatory automation/tracking… in 2015, the discussion and concerns will move from pockets of zealots into the mainstream, impacting everything from healthcare services to insurance…

 

No discussion of the future is complete without some mention of security and privacy. As enterprises move workloads to the cloud, enterprise-level security needs to follow. Most organizations do not have their processes at this level of maturity so security and privacy will bloom into an even larger service industry, since help will be needed. Although cloud computing helps address the issues of limited energy and resources, security and privacy protection services will become a critical concern in the forefront of business in 2015. The same will be true at the micro level as embedded devices leak more behavior information into the environment and the need for their protection becomes clearer.

 

The services for manufacturing and product production will undergo a shift in 2015 as well. Mass production will still be king, but personalized manufacturing will shake up planning in the global economy. According to Gartner, sales of 3D printers will double each year between 2015 and 2018, and exceed sales of more than 2 million. This will trickle down into transportation, logistics and industries other than manufacturing. We’ll see the products become platforms for further customization. Much like you’ve been able to have Coke or M&Ms personalized for a while now, it will be possible for a greater percentage of products (both physical and services). With the additional of sensors, greater connectivity and computing, these personalized platforms will further expand the momentum for intelligent services. These custom platforms will allow greater consumer engagement, with the producer as well as with the other consumers of the product.

 

In the predictive and analytic space the solutions will shift to enable greater flexibility in engineering the attention of service desk personnel as well as the people who call in. Next generation BPO/call centers will rely on greater levels of automation and less on low cost workers. That shift will not take place in 2015, but the products targeted at this shift will become more prevalent this year. These capabilities will move into other business processes as well, enabling them (HR, Finance…) to become systems of action for the enterprise, shifting to address business goals while at the same time providing greater insight and transparency about shifts in usage and consumption.  

 

The final area I wanted to mention was that the interfaces into these services will change too. We will see a reemergence of augmented reality. Virtual reality research received a great deal of attention in the 1980s, but didn't take off due to the expensive hardware, poor sensing, and display capabilities. All of these limits have now been largely addressed and the ubiquitous mobile device (we all carry) makes it a natural for our always on world. Juniper Research states that annual revenues from mobile augmented reality (AR) services and applications will reach $1.2 billion by 2015, moving beyond the demonstration devices by Google and others onto the edge of mainstream.

 

One aspect of this services shift that needs to be considered is the difference between the desired objectives and the unintended consequences that result. This will be a rapidly changing space, so an iterative approach that starts small and works up will be required. Joining organizations like ISSIP and moinitoring the success (and failures) of others will also be a good investment in 2015.

Consumer products I am interested in this year

I mentioned a few weeks back the devices that could be on people’s wish list this year. I know it is a bit HP self-serving, but I did want to comment on two items that are new this year. One of which I now have quite a bit of experience.

 

stream 7.pngLast week, I bought myself the HP Stream 7 (available from the MS store, as well as HP direct) for < $100. Yes, it does have a full 32 bit Win 8.1 – it also says it is 64 bit compatible in my System About dialog. I was a bit concerned about the memory limitation and its ability to run full windows programs.

 

So far, I have yet to find any of the 32 bit apps that it has not easily taken on. One that is very useful is Mouse without Boarders – I have the tablet sitting to the left of my home computer and use it almost like another screen, sharing my regular mouse and keyboard with it.

 

I am not quite sure how they did it but it is very snappy and powerful (for a 1GB machine). It must be the 4 cores. Over the holidays, I am going to try and have it drive my 3D printer and maybe even take on some bigger computing tasks like LotRO. I'll put a comment in this post based on how it goes.

 

HP watch.pngThe other product from HP that really surprised me was the watch that HP engineered. Let’s face it most wearables that take up your valuable wrist real estate look (frankly) a bit odd. Although this device may be a bit thicker than I’d like, it does look like something you would choose to wear.

 

With up to 7 days of battery life and water resistance, it might even be useful – and it even tells time. I’ll have to look at this one in more detail.

 

Grading my predictions for 2014

grading predictions.pngEach year about this time I look back at the prediction post I made the previous year December (200620072008200920102011, 2012, 2013). I didn’t do predictions the first year I blogged but have managed to do one every year since.

 

Now it is time to look at 2014. I said that 2014 was going to be a year of instability. Depending on what industry sector or organization you’re in that was definitely true – but that’s the kind of easy prediction any fortune teller could make. Let’s get into the details:

 

I’ll grade myself with the following scale again this year:

A: Big changes during the year that are having wide effect.

B: Notable progress through the year and isolated areas of significant impact.

C: Progress with some impact

D: Little progress or impact – but work still taking place

F: No progress or the concept abandoned in any commercial sense.

 

Grade

Prediction

Rational

B

Shift from commodity services to a value play

This is definitely happening but slower than I thought it would.

C

Relationships shifting up the stack (from IaaS to Paas or SaaS to business services)

Although business-based outcomes are becoming common, there is still more smoke than fire here.

C

Similarly the view of BYOD will shift to more of a services perspective.

This one I also give myself mixed reviews. Although the BYOD momentum has shifted to more services, we are still not seeing real security brokerage services or other high value services in a standardized form.

A

New style of business

We have definitely seen much more discussion about the business capabilities and new needs provided by new computing capabilities. The concept of a race with the machine has definitely gained in mind share in 2014. Although the self-aware enterprise is still a long way off.

B

Wearables

I have mixed feelings on this rating. Although you can’t throw a rock and not hit someone coming to market with a new wearable device, they are not being effectively embraced in business processes and enterprise user interface design. They are also not yet forming networks of functionality.

B

Software defined anything

The open approaches of   OpenStack for Cloud OS and OpenFlow for software defined networking have definitely come into their own in 2014. There are still distractors who are fighting this rising tide but most see where this is headed and incorporating the shift into their mental model.

B

Software and analytics

2014 has definitely been the year for big data and analytics buzz words. I don’t think it has come to the point of there being widespread embracing of systems of action. Mobile is still viewed as something special and not just one of the many the interface points by most working in the ‘mobile’ space.

D

Software portfolio assessment

Of all the prediction areas, a fundamental reassessment of the software portfolio against the revised needs of the business, is an area where we’ve most missed our potential in 2014. Most organizations have not shifted to a holistic environmental perspective that will empower the organization and enable them to empower others. Organizations still need to assess what is abundant in this new world and maximize value from what will still be scarce for them and others.

A

Engaged and motivated employees will still be scarce

This is definitely true. In this age of automation, the value of good people and a predictable talent creation pipeline may actually be more important than ever. People are not fungible and as we increase our automation, that will be even more true, not less.

 

Based on these scores, my predictions for 2014 were at least not too conservative. My personal goal is to get close to a C+. If I get too high a grade, I am not trying to stretch my thinking (or yours for that matter) enough. Maybe I should strive to stretch enough to get at least one D??

 

My view is the same as when I finished up my post in 2011:

 

“Having said all that, it is a great time to be in IT. Most of our concerns are currently driven by an overabundance of capabilities that most organizations have not tapped into effectively. Those who can have the vision will be in for quite a ride this year as they look to do more with more.”

 

I should have my predictions for 2015 out later in December.

 

 

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.

Cameras, mobile and payments – change is coming

mobile thinking.pngLast week I was in a discussion with a number of folks from various industries where we got into a discussion about mobility. They were talking about meeting the needs of their various constituents, and my response was “in a few years mobile computing will likely just be called computing”. We shouldn’t think mobile is not all that special anymore.

 

I recently saw a slideshow about Meeting the Mobility Demands of Millennial Workers that reinforced that perspective – although the slideshow’s survey also viewed that a camera is an essential user Interface tool. I found all that focus on using cameras surprising. I can see the appeal since data entry has never been all that exciting for me. It did made me wonder if the millennial’s needs are all that different than the rest of the workforce.

 

Another item mentioned was the use of mobile payment/identity systems. This has been discussed for a long time, and I mentioned that NFC was the next frontier for mobile back in 2011. Hopefully now that even Apple is now on board, and we have chip and pin hardware in stores on the near horizon, it will become commonplace. Maybe someday we’ll not say mobile payment either, just payment.

 

In any event, the younger generation are going to be driving innovation and will eventually inherit control. They will have an even newer generation that will be nipping at their heels.

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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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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.