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

Data and decision latency expectations shifting

Analytics time.pngOne of the issues I’ve talked about many times over the year is the need to shift our understanding and expectation of latency and action. I came across this post: Analytics Time Lags Result in Lost Opportunities. It also discusses the fact that the data gathering and analytics that were great a short while ago are now viewed as insufficient, stating that “72% of analytics and business leaders surveyed were dissatisfied with the time it takes to get data-driven results”.

 

Unfortunately, it didn’t really do more than imply that solutions exist. Fact is most solutions deployed today are based on hindsight. There is little doubt that the vast amounts of data available are going to require an exceptional command of information, far beyond just hindsight. It will require a refocusing of skills and perspective that are based on generating value from the abundance of computing and data available. This will require new techniques for computing as well as data gathering and integration. The work going on in HP labs related to The Machine will help address these needs, when this platform is released.

 

We have data coming in from sensors and mobile devices creating an ever increasing amount of Dark Data where value can be generated. We can also build context from the other data about what happened when, who or what was involved or happened at the same time. This derived data or metadata can sometimes be more valuable than the raw data itself, since people don’t really make decisions off the data but the context the data describes. Organizations are recognizing that all this data will provide a depth of understanding about what happened in the past, present and future that we’ve not really taken advantage of before.

 

We can develop a greater depth of understanding about what is happening right now that can enable us to automate decisions or concentrate that rare resource – employee attention - on those areas that really need it. There are relatively new technologies that most teams have not even looked at like software defined networks… that can operate on data on the fly instead of just data at rest. This will eventually enable a more active, organizational approach to tackling opportunities.

 

Finally, over the years we’ve learned that getting to zero response time is very difficult. It may actually be easier to move to a negative response time, where you predict what is likely to happen and adjust to be ready to address it or even shift the outcome. Tools to address all these various perspectives of data and enabling right-time decisions are available to improve your ability to optimize time-to-action are available today.

Marketing in 2020

marketing.pngThere have been a number of industry specific version of HP’s 20/20 effort but I just saw the most recent one focused on marketing. The subtitle for the release is Welcome to a new reality of split-second decisions and marketing by the numbers.

 

When they were pulling together this release, they took a number of subject matter experts and allowed them to discuss the key issues they see in the marketing space. It has a number of articles and perspectives such as:

  • An overview of marketing macro trends
  • Real-time marketing
  • Buyers in control
  • Insights from information
  • Too much information
  • Challenges of marketing in 2020
  • The CMO of 2020

In any case one thing that is clear – as marketing becomes more information and context rich, it will become measured by actual and modeled performance more than ever before.

Automation and business restraints…

any ideas illustration.pngThe concept of ‘golden handcuffs’ has been around for a long time. This is a job that has such good benefits or salary that it can be very difficult to leave, no matter how much it frustrates you.

 

As we move into a work environment that has ever greater use of automation in knowledge management roles, there is the likelihood of a ‘steel handcuff’ scenario, where a business benefits greatly from automation but eventually loses the ability to effectively maintain their rules and models. They maximize the financial benefits and reduce the workforce to the point where they no longer have the critical mass of industry knowledge to adjust to future business demands. They essentially get locked into the current model.

 

This issue can be overcome by understanding the skills and value of the industry expertise they have as well as the dynamics and value of the automation components. If they feel they can’t afford to have that expertise available full time, they need to devise a consulting supported approach to keep the expertise available, since it will be needed sometime. Tweaks and experiments should be part of the automation strategic model, since it should never be considered done.

 

Some organizations have experienced this scenario with their existing COBOL environments, for example. Their systems work today, but most of the people who understood it have either retired or been let go. To make a change may require a total redesign/rewrite, to develop a new crop of people who understand the business needs.

 

My view is that the foundations and rules should be viewed as a starting point for continuous adjustment and understanding and not a final product that can be declared complete.  On-going interaction with the business will be needed.

Why is the IoT viewed with such potential and confusion?

Internet of things.pngThere is a fundamental shift underway from dumb devices where organizations guess about how their being used, when and by whom. Now a physical product (from almost any industry) has the potential to be a first-class participant in its own value chain. It can talk back to its creators in engineering and manufacturing as well as those who service it, cutting downtime and improving its use. It has the potential to talk with (where everyone seems to be focused) those that actually use it, making their life better and more productive. There is also the potential to collaborate with sales and marketing to share what users are thinking based on where, when and how it’s used. Devices/products are becoming members of an environmental view of the context that surrounds them. Although it involves information technology, it is about a shift in business value.

 

This challenges the foundations of many of our existing products and services. Devices can have an active role in CRM and marketing. We can shift the analytics view from the past to the future. We can use the information to gamify processes and shift behaviors. As this understanding increases, what is measured and the decisions made will shift.

 

As I mentioned last month, the impact on our definition of services will shift as we understand and embrace the potential. This change will shift much of what exists (people, products and services) in our environment/industry.

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.

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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.