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

The desktop expansion explosion

 

monitor explosion.pngWhen I first started working with WYSIWIG GUI displays, I had a Macintosh SE with a 512x342 display.

 

While doing programming with the Macintosh back in 1990, I had a black and white monitor and a color monitor both with 640x480. One was for debugging and one for the display. I thought I was living life large.

 

Yesterday I hooked up a 28” display running 3840x2160 that is sitting over my laptop display of 1366x768 -- that's quite a trend.

 

By just looking at the commercially available display size over the last 3 decade, it appears to be an exponential growth curve. This makes me wonder where display size will eventually end up? How many desktop pixels are enough??

 

There is no doubt in my mind (depending on what you do), the more desktop space available, the higher your productivity, since it reduces the tasks switching costs.

 

Automation prioritization

 

Since I have been putting out some posts on automation, I’ve been getting some feedback from coworkers. One was a post titled: 8 Questions to Ask before You Automate. It holds some useful perspectives to evalutate if automation is even applicable to a situation.

 

Back in the early 90s, I led a project called Knowledge-based Tool Design focused on improving the productivity of tooling designers for automotive manufacturing. We used the capabilities of CAD tools to try and automate as much as we could, related to the creation of the machines that facilitate car assembly. This was a high value effort, since late stage engineering changes in the car parts themselves have implications on the tooling and can delay the startup of manufacturing. Anything we could do to address the reengineering of tooling had a direct effect on time-to-market.

 

We would load the car component models that need to be clamped and welded into the CAD system and try to create automated techniques to define and design the tooling needed. After firing rays all over the place to determine entry routes for robotic arms holding the clamping and welding tools, it became clear that people can look at parts and tooling and determine routes for entry very easily compared to doing this programmatically. Creating these designs well definitely involved creativity and intuition.

 

What people could not do reliably was define the underlying Bill-of-Materials need to create that robotic assembly, physically. So yes, I learned back then that it is very useful to understand what people and/or computers are good at, when defining the right approach to address repeatable, higher-value, computationally capable tasks with automation first.

 

Whether it is designing tools, answering calls or writing software – even though the automation capabilities are radically improving, this assessment is still required. I usually think of it as a 3 dimensional matrix and the further away from the origin, the more likely the automation effort will be effective.

 

 automation axis.png

Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should do something, especially when there is a constraint on the effort available to tackle a set of tasks. We need to prioritize.

 

 

New retail e-zine

 

retail e-zine.jpgHP Enterprise Services continues to create e-zines on a number of industries like banking, automotive, … We just released a new e-zine focused on consumer/retail. The topics being covered are:

  • The future of consumer industries: agility in a fast-paced world
  • Grow globally and profitably in a consumer-centric world
  • Coca-Cola® gets personal with HP Indigo digital technology
  • Increase speed, productivity and agility through transformation
  • Mary Kay successfully builds a mobility platform in China
  • Create, manage, and expand thriving brand categories
  • Avon Cycles Ltd. improves supplier management with SAP HANA
  • Regulatory compliance and overcoming risks
  • Brady Corporation helps stop the spread of counterfeit products

Also included is a 'meet the experts' (Lawrence Guevel, Tony Galli, Michael Donovan) to provide a little context for some of those focused on this space.

 

Can the law keep up with technology advances?

digital law.pngWay back in 2005, I wrote a blog post: Law and the Next Big Thing, where I asked the question: “Will Stare Decisis survive the next big thing?” Since the article I linked to in that post is now gone, it made me wonder about articles on the subject today.

 

Now almost 10 years later, there was a post by the World Future Society that is asking similar questions: What Does Moore’s Law Mean For the Rest of Society? The article looks at a number of areas like patents, and policing as well as robotic vehicles. He also looks at technologies effect on jobs and job creation where the author states:

“The new technologies that once created new industries and new jobs are now only creating new productivity without the jobs. Computers, robots, artificial general intelligence, and other technological advances have changed the economic game. From a business point of view, improved productivity is good; but from the point of view of public officials desperate to create jobs for their constituents, not so much. This may be the biggest disruption we face.”

 

I don’t take quite that negative a view, but as we can see from the recent employment numbers, we need to look for new services in order to have new employment.

Half-way through the current wave of technology

I was preparing for HP Discover and it got me thinking about a presentation we pulled together almost 10 years ago (see illustration below - notice it didn't predict the downturn starting in 2008). The presentation did discussed the numerous technological ages in the history of corporate IT, starting with the mainframe, moving to client server, the internet and introduced the concept of a Next Big Thing wave related to computing everywhere. We are now halfway into the latest stage– and it is the second half of a stage where the real value comes to light and the wide-spread deployment takes place.

 

waves of computing.jpg

 

What’s interesting is that this is also the point where the organizations that are not dabbling in the leading edge pop their heads up, look around and wonder how they got there.

 

Everyone is realizing that IT needs to change. Many organizations have a portfolio of solutions that have built up, layer-by-layer from their previous successes, to the point where they're calcified and unable to take on much new. This is usually described as having 80% of the budget locked into keeping the lights on, rather than focused on generating new value for the organization – even though the business may have changed.

 

By now, most organizations have experimented with cloud, big data and automation. We’ve seen the value of automation on IT processes, since that is what enables the kind of productivity improvement we’re experiencing in the cloud computing space. Now it’s time to use those same pattern recognition and analytic techniques on the rest of the business. This is where the abundance of IT capabilities can shine.

 

Unfortunately, it is too easy to think about all this change being relatively new, when it has actually built up over time. We can’t take advantage of it effectively, unless we look at the possibilities in new ways. For example, shifting to view that ‘time to value’ and flexibility as the new measures of performance for IT projects, instead of non-business, commodity measures like system uptime or utilization. That change in perspective is what I'm hoping to discuss in my presentation.

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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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