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

Diversity of perspective and the strategic value of doubt

Strategy.gifI was in a discussion the other day with some folks espousing the view that urban lifestyles are the answer to a large number of issues faced today. Always being a bit of curmudgeon, I pushed back saying that supply and demand may have something to say about this, since the closer we push people together the more fragile the ecosystem can be, in the area of food logistics, transportation, health care and many other areas. They stated that an urban environment is more creative, like it was a fact.

 

The concept of cities being an engine for innovation may actually be more of a 20th century phenomenon. We now live with virtual communities that are incorporating devices, individuals and even corporations as collaborating entities. We can collaborate more easily and have ad-hoc interactions – bandwidth is really the measurement of distance in many ways.

 

There are also economic factors - as people migrate away from the mid-west, areas of low cost with high connectivity are created. The exodus will likely stabilize or even shift, as the market reacts to the latent value possibilities that exist.

 

I was reading a recently released book Future Smart by James Canton about how we need to open up our world view to what future possibilities may hold and the need to reinvent ourselves. The book definitely has some good ideas and references, but there is an underlying ‘Silicon Valley centric’ view of “we’ve got it right” that distracts and discredits the range of future possibilities.  

 

There are many alternatives as I think about some of the intersections between industries and the possible implications. For example: Some people view the autonomous car as the death knell of the personal vehicles – why own it if it can just be there when you need it. At the same time, the intersection between home energy generation and the storage capabilities of the electric vehicle may make it an essential component of the green home of the future, stabilizing supply and demand for a families energy needs.

 

When organizations get into strategic planning discussions, it is definitely necessary to have a range of diverse perspectives. Everyone is entitled to their option and for this type of planning it is actually the conflicts that point to opportunities. If everyone is thinking the same way, some of you are redundant.

Why do you think the world will be that way? What if it isn’t? What opportunity may exist? As we look at the exponential expansion of capabilities and the underlying shifts in what’s scarce and abundant, trying to reach a consensus will help everyone plan for the future. That process may be what the author meant by being ‘future smart’.

Economic growth but flat energy consumption

1st law of thermo.pngThis seems to strain the first law of thermodynamics.

 

According to this article in IEEE spectrum, the US economy has grown 8% since 2007 but the annualized electricity demand has been flat.

 

“The third annual Sustainable Energy in America fact book from Bloomberg New Energy Finance found that electricity demand growth, which has slowed since 1990, has come to a grinding halt.”

For more information, visit the Factbook portal on the Business Council for Sustainable Energy website.

 

Although there is quite a bit of data about what made this happen, energy efficiency through computing had a role to play, through:

  • Smarter buildings
  • Smarter metering
  • And increased efficiency through automation

Most of these efforts have been done in relatively isolation, when we move into a more holistic approach to IoT it will likely fuel even greater efficiencies.

Looking at the smart home and wondering about the smart enterprise

business questions.pngI came across this post about a self-actualization-house and it made me wonder about the application of these techniques within an enterprise. The concept of this house definitely takes the concept of an environmental view of the IoT to a whole new level.

 

Although the concept of a house that can create energy and address its needs would be nice for an enterprise as well, there are so many more resources that enterprises consume that needs to be optimized beyond just energy.

 

With the use of analytics and other techniques having a ‘dumb’ enterprise may be just as unacceptable as the ‘dumb’ house in the article. Business process autopilots will be as common as thermostats. I’ve not really thought about the needs from the same level of stage 1-8 that the article has done for the house but I can see it coming. Taking the articles final thoughts and replacing:

Born -> Hired

Home -> Business

Live -> Work

Family -> Co-workers

 

Leads to an interesting perspective of the enterprise of tomorrow.

The search for ubiquitous power and IoT

plugging in economy.pngI was pulling together a presentation for a bunch of technologists on the Internet of Things (IoT) that I am giving later today. There have been numerous discussions about the possibilities of ubiquitous computing, but one of the prerequisites is ubiquitous power – we’re getting closer but we’re not there yet.

 

One of the side effects of Moore’s law is that threshold voltages for transistor switching keeps going down. That means that the power requirements for devices go down as well. This week there were a couple of interesting examples of more flexible energy access in the press:

As we find more uses for computing, there will be just as an ambitious effort for finding ubiquitous energy sources. Advances like this may enable organizations to address their business from more diverse locations going forward.

Data Center Futures - a look back and a look ahead

Computing factory.pngEarlier this month Baseline magazine came out with a set of Predictions on the 2025 Data Center.  It made me reflect on how data centers changed in the last 10 years.

 

It was about 10 years ago that I wrote a Data Center of the Future speech for the rededication for one of EDS’ (now HP’s) data center complexes.

 

One thing I found interesting in the speech is that the computer in my house is still running at 3.4GHz (even though I’ve replaced it twice since then), but data storage on the device has gone up significantly. The speech also talked about the advent of cloud computing and the kinds of automation that are common today, as well as big data applications and a hint about the Internet of Things. In fact I didn’t see anything in the speech that was totally off base with the issues of today.

 

This new analysis from Baseline is dominated by energy production and consumption. This energy infrastructure dominating the computing capabilities is an interesting shift on where data center innovation will be focused in the future – assuming they are right. That’s why HP has been focused on Moonshot as an alternative compute delivery platform. Energy consumption of data centers is a problem that is not going to go away without some significant innovation.

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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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