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

Automating programming in a self-aware enterprise

 

AI.pngThere was an interesting article in NewScientist about a new approach to providing computing capabilities, computers with human-like learning that will program themselves. They talk about new approaches for computers to program themselves.

 

Earlier this year when ‘the machine’ was announced at HP Discover, this scenario was one of the first things that came to mind, since memristors can be used to provide neuron-like behavior. When you have universal memory whole new possibilities open up. When I saw the NewScientist article, it did make me think about a number of applications in the enterprise, since these techniques will be as far beyond today’s cognitive computing as today’s approach is from the mainframe.

 

Always bet on the machine is in a post from 2008, that was contemplating the future of development. What I probably meant was: those who learn to work with the machine will still have a career.

 

I’ve mentioned before that much of today’s management function is ripe for automation. With approaches like this, an enterprise autopilot is conceivable that can optimize a businesses’ response to normal business situations. Questions probably has more to do with ‘when’ than ‘if’.

 

HP announces a blending of the physical and the virtual

 

sprout.pngHopefully, anyone who is interested in 3D printing saw the two announcements by HP yesterday. They focused on having a Blended Reality that will change how we interact with technology and the world around us.

 

The first announcement should clear up the long rumored entry by HP into 3D printing. This multi-jet fusion approach of ‘page-wide’ printing is significantly faster than traditional 3D extrusion based printing. It is also much more finely grained and accurate. I handled some of these prototype parts a while back and I found it very exciting, when compared to any of the 3D printing efforts I’ve done myself. The potential ability to manipulate color, finish and flexibility within the same part was something I found unique. HP has a very strong materials science foundation ever since HPs commercial definition of ink jet printing in the early 80s and this approach really takes advantage of that experience.

 

The other shoe that dropped was Sprout. This link has numerous movies about how others have used this technology in their work. I’ve seen somewhat similar techniques applied in research projects for a number of years now, but not a commercial solution that you can ‘just buy’ that integrates touch, 2 and 3D scanning and multiple displays in such a seamless and functional way. Although I have talked with people about this effort about a year ago, it is great to see it become a reality – and I’m anxious to get my hands into its platform. There are some interesting perspectives that if you do work that involves your hands it may be the computer for you and the view that it is a solution looking for a problem – I can see easily see its use.

 

One of the things I find most exciting about these products that they enable a different kind of creative environment that functions as a springboard for greater creativity. These sort of environmental enabling view will be an ever increasing part of new business value generation in the future.

 

Experience optimization and a new wave of value

 

Waiting-for-the-Great-Leap-Forward.jpgI’ve mentioned before the waves of computing that have taken place over the last 50 years. When I think of it from an impact/value perspective (rather than one based on technology) the waves look a bit different. The first wave was the automation within the enterprise, addressing billing, inventory and even design automation. The second wave was automation and facilitation of personal activities. These included things like personal budgeting, on-line shopping…

 

The next wave is likely to be as different from the previous ones as the second one (focused on personal value) was from the first enterprise wave. This new wave is about automation and optimization of environments.

 

Technologies like IoT will shift both what and how we value. I was talking with another technologists the other day about the impact of automation at the macro level. A simple example is: What if a smart city were self-optimizing? Talking with the autonomous cars (which optimize at the micro level) while optimizing the environment of the city itself. Would that shift what people value and therefore what should be optimized? We can all recognize that all those individuals that make up the city are driven by different motivations --Will this new age of value be able to take these variations into account? I think that is part of what will make this new approach so compelling. We’ll have the abundance of computing capability to tackle it.

 

From a service futures perspective, the shift will likely be profound, since a new ability to derive behavior and goals will shift how value is assessed. Those organizations that can provide a better experience will outshine those that optimize based on someone/something else’s needs. It may not be so much what I own but what I can optimize – it will not be about mine, but about me (and what I’d like to accomplish). Start thinking about your organizations services from this perspective and it will likely change what you expect from your organizations IT.

 

Strategy and abundance?

 

business questions.pngMcKinsey had an interesting article titled: What strategists need: A meeting of the minds. In the article, various strategic thinkers expressed their concerns and views on what will affects corporate strategy efforts.

 

Tthe views on strategic frameworks and goals were enlightening, but it felt to me they were too scarcity focused and not embracing the shift in what is abundant around them. It may be that they view those shifts as tactical in nature, or too simple a foundation for strategy – but I see them as low hanging fruit for organizations to consume. It creates options that can be used to advantage quickly.

 

A point made in the article I’ve seen played out over and over:

“while analysis is very important, developing strategies is ultimately a people-centric process fueled by conversation. Each player brings his or her experiences and biases to the table, and the job of crafting a strategy is to navigate those in a way that is productive. The key is the good questions, and any advice on how to improve questions would be really helpful.”

 

It is often better questions, not better answers that makes the difference in strategic efforts, often those questions can be scarce.

 

Hype fatigue

Recently there has been quite a bit of press about over-hyped technologies. Gartner came out with a list of their top 10 back in August. They also included a discussion of frameworks for these technologies:

  • IoT and operational technologies
  • Mobile Infrastructure
  • Enterprise Mobility Management
  • Analytics
  • Big Data
  • Social
  • Cloud

I actually think a few of those overlap but it’s their article. I was also surprised that security didn’t make the list but maybe they view that security needs to permeate the whole environment. Dr. Dobbs also came out with their own post of Overhyped things. Not a new topic, since I did a post on over-hype back in 2007.

 

Now that we’re into the last quarter of the year, we’re going to start seeing more game-changing technology trend articles. Even the IEEE has their own Top Tech Trends for 2014 article.

 

One thing that concerns me is that so many of these trends are just reworked analysis of those same article from the past. Are there no new trends? Or are we just tired of change and it is easier to just repackage stuff. I’ll have to give this some thought before I do my annual trends to look out for in December for 2015 post.

 

I also wonder if we shouldn’t look at the entire life cycle, not just the hype cycle -- even though there never seems to be extinction in this business.

 

entire lifecycle.png

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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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