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

Careers in engineering…

engineering.pngA while back I wrote a post that mentioned the TryEngineering.org site.

 

That post led to an exchange with LearnHowToBecome.org about a series of in-depth guides they developed dealing with engineering careers and degree programs:

These might be of interest to those entering into STEM fields, since they break down the industry roles and steps required to enter these careers into easily understood summaries. They also break down the employment picture by state (for example they predict the number of Computer Engineers will grow in Texas by over 14% by 2020).

 

These roles are what will be required to actually build the next big thing in technology.

Labels: Engineering| Future| STEM

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

Transformation, roles and digital technology

leadership.pngA coworker forwarded me an article titled: We Need Better Managers, Not More Technocrats from Harvard Business Review. It seemed a poignant perspective to add to my post yesterday on automation.

 

The article makes the statement: “digital technology is not the true story. Digital transformation is.” To me this means that organizations are going to need more proactive business and technical leaders who are willing to question the very foundation of “we’ve always done it this way” and make transformation happen.

 

The article goes on to state that those companies that get the greatest benefit are those that:

  • Make smart investments in digital technology to innovate theircustomer engagements, and the business processes and business models that support them
  • Build strong leadership capabilities to envision and drive transformationwithin their companies and their cultures

I personally think this is going to take more than just what have been traditionally called managers, since it involves a broader range of stakeholders and interactions than organizations of the past, to take advantage of the range of their employee’s capabilities. Automation should actually enable that focus.

 

Whether the people who lead the effort are ‘managers’, ‘technocrats’ or something else altogether is irrelevant. What is definitely true is change is coming and those that prepare will have an advantage.

What is automation?

IT automation.pngLately I’ve been talking with teams about ‘automation’. I am beginning to think that automation activities are a lot like innovation for two reasons:

  1. The definition is very dependent on the role of the individual
  2. It can be identified by: I’ll know it when I see it

My definition is:

Anytime a computer/system can do something where a person adds little to no value

 

It’s not just robotics or cognitive computing, it can be as simple as automatically updating information between systems (e.g., master data management) -- so people don’t need to swivel between systems to perform updates.

 

IT related automation can range across a variety of areas:

  • Plan
  • Define
  • Build
  • Run

The role of people and their expertise is critical and one of the things we need to determine is where their attention would be better served and how automation can enable us to maximize the value from it. Each of these areas has a range of tools that are related to incremental or disruptive improvement.

 

The computational capabilities are there to facilitate significantly greater automation, we just need to understand our options. Strategically the options and impact are going to be immense. Cloud computing is essentially enabled by the automation of infrastructure deployment and management. We now need to take it deeper into the Application Portfolio and the business processes themselves.

 

Service centric innovation – does it require a change in thinking?

 

SaaS.pngI was just in a stimulating discussion with a co-worker preparing to be part of a panel (that ISSIP is hosting) and looking at the question:

“Most product companies are making a shift from product-centric business models to more service-centric business models?  How does this impact your innovation ecosystem and how can entrepreneurs leverage this trend?”

 

This question seems to be based on the foundation that companies that may be product centric don’t understand services. I don’t actually see this as true. Almost all companies get a significant amount of value from service activities and innovation, even if it is just servicing and maintaining their products. The day of throwing the product out the door and checking the transaction complete are over.

 

In fact the whole IoT phenomenon is based on adding services to devices, whether it is your TV now being able to download content or your thermostat managing temperature based on how the environment around it is being used – these are all services – and IoT will have significant implications.

 

Now I do think there is a fundamental question about how much the context and culture of the companies has changed and if a company’s (or IT’s) approach to innovation has shifting. Since almost everyone lives in a consumer-oriented lifestyle, service innovation has been creeping into our thoughts and expectations for a very long time.

 

We have all this talk about digital natives and digital companies maybe that is all misplaced and we should be looking at it from a services impact and futures perspective. It is not that companies are becoming digital – it is that they are being more services oriented and in the process, hunger for greater information and action.

 

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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.