IoT – Opportunity or Disruption? How Can You Benefit?

Layers of Disruption, and Opportunity
Opportunity or Disruption? Up to You

An interesting study I’d like to commission is the correlation of earnings with Internet connections. I.e. Do those with more connected devices earn more. Anecdotally at least it seems there is a very high correlation. Most of those I know earning 6 figures or more seem to be constantly connected with at least 3 devices.

Also consider how the vast majority of people connect to the Internet. Currently this is via the smartphone.

In a recent project where the City of Melbourne gave every tree an email address they learned that over 60% of the homeless have a smartphone. And it is well documented that the poor in developing nations have a far higher penetration of smarphones than Internet connected computers. Of the almost 3B connections to the Internet, almost 2B are via mobile devices.

This makes some sense, as computers automate more and more processes, scale the amount of information for decision inputs, and connect to lower cost or higher value labour, we amplify the return.

IoT Scales Connections

If this is the case, what does this mean for the Internet of Things? Of rather what does IoT mean for you? Personally?

Personal assets – wearable and mobile technologyThere are a number of areas of opportunity anyone can pursue right now:

  • Household assets – automated home & the connected car
  • Smart Buildings – office, campus, and residential
  • Industrial Internet – machinery, environmental and asset optimisation
  • Travel and transport – fleet management and logistics
  • Smart city – Traffic flow, lighting, safety and policing, waste disposal, event management
  • Utilities and Energy – Energy metering and usage, utility arbitrage
  • National – Environmental analysis, population management, migration challenges

There are opportunities throughout every sector from personal to national. Opportunities for connecting devices to the IoT that benefit you directly and for business.

This isn’t just true for technologists.

We need funding models that benefit from these connections, we need to establish legal frameworks. We need educators to teach users and practitioners how to use this technology. Marketers, sales people, recruiters.

The Internet of Things changes the very fabric of society. And that affects every job.

Whatever field you’re in there is a direct correlation to understanding and becoming a practitioner in IoT and financial success.

The 21 (to 25) Pivotal Movies That Shaped My Career

The 21 (to 25) Pivotal Movies That Shaped My Career

Time for a somewhat light-hearted post after Easter 🙂

I find myself firmly ensconced in an IT career, although it wasn't always planned this way. Recently I shared the top 39 books that have shaped my career, but everything is connected, and movies are as important in filling the maelstrom that is our intuition, emotion, and even cognition.

As with the booklist, I have sorted these in alphabetical order so as not to imply any sort of stack-rank. I've also avoided movies where I rated the book, unless the movie was uniquely determinant. As you'd expect there's a lot (majority) of SciFi here, but not all. Here goes:

1. Back To The Future I, II, and III

There's so much richness in these comedies. If you learn nothing else, learn these two simple truths:

  1. Life constantly changes, so we must evolve. I.e. Life (& we) will be as different from now in the next 10 years, as from the last decade. This is an astounding truth that few people learn.
  2. Moore's Law means the next 10 will be exponentially greater than the last 10. Although we don't have flying cars, we do have 3D printing, IoT, AR, Drones, etc. etc. The movie got more right than wrong.

2. Blade Runner

Another movie that created an impression very early on. When does artificial intelligence become sentience? How can you determine AI from human? Especially when the 'intellect' of the AI may be greater than that of the human. Throw in a dystopian future, flying vehicles, and cinematography that bleeds into your dreams. Another imperative piece.

3. The Creator

This tackles science vs religion, nature vs nurture, and predestination vs free will. From a career perspective even considering the possibility to clone someone was science fiction but could we make it happen?

4. Cry Freedom

Another non-SciFi. For someone who had just spent a couple of years in the military during the troubles in the townships, this was an important film. It is often chronologically incorrect, focusses too much on the Woods family escape, and has inconsistencies in the production. For all that, this was the continuation of a very important journey for me. I saw it much later than the theatrical release.

5. Enemy of the State

Turns out the surveillance nation pictured in this movie was pretty accurate after all. Watch for a great performance by a young Jack Black.

6. Existenz

A Jude Law movie. We descend into virtual reality game world, yet is reality real, or just the next level?

7. Gattacca

Another Jude Law movie. This should be required watching. CRISPR-CAS9 is the real, current world technology that will allow us to modify the genome of our children. Yet the true world changing genii would never have been allowed to be born in a world with that much control. Perhaps I resonate so closely to the protagonist because I too was a 'love child,' (and want to go to Space). Consider ethics when you consider complex systems – led me to do IT & Ethics in my Masters Degree.

8. The Island

This is a modern take that riff's off of “A Brave New World” and “The Running Man.” I just love the technology (& Scarlett Johansen) from the Microsoft Surface inspired (yet Apple aesthetic) table computer, to the Augmented Reality XBox Game (Kinect, and Hololens anyone?), to the Video phones, biometric security, automated home and I want that flying motorbike.

9. The Matrix

Hoo boy, this is the brilliant recreation of the question posed by Socrates as described in Plato's “The Republic” as “The Allegory of the Cave.” Are we real, and if not, would we experience real as real, or rather be back in the delusionary virtual world. You're welcome to ignore the sequels.

10. Minority Report

This movie is no longer SciFi. We have most of the technologies described, if not mainstream, about to be: Driverless cars, long range iris scanning and facial recognition, robots, augmented reality, gesture based computing, and not pre-cogs, but Big Data allowing police to pre-empt crime.

11. The Net

This movie imagined the power of the mobile Internet. They had no idea.

12. No Way Out

Is this the best Kevin Costner movie I've seen? Or maybe the only good one? Great plot, great twist, and the constraints of technology of the day – like 24 hours to render the negative on a polaroid – like a polariod – all contribute to this movie. It would be a tough one to remake.

13. I, Robot

Are robots appliances? What happens when they become more? When they dream of electric sheep? Plenty of real world technologies here from robots & androids, AI, and osteo-integration (spoilers). In-ear phones. Driverless, and hovering, cars. We need to design these systems.

14. Runaway

Another take on tech aided police. Individual targetting bullets? Absolutely.

15. Runaway Jury

Ok. This one isn't SciFi. This one is about influence. It is a study on influence. Anyone who is in influence, like a consultant, manager, sales person, teacher, or instructor needs to watch this movie. I've been all of those roles.

16. Serenity (& the Firefly TV Series)

The control of the Alliance vs the freedom of anarchy. Learning Mandarin is probably a good idea, considering the privacy of the individual when designing the big data and IoT systems. There's plenty to like about this movie, especially the “neither utopian, nor dystopian” aesthetic that brings a deeper sense of realism.

17. Sneakers

Hacking into banks, governments, and controlling the world. This opened my eyes to social engineering, different modalities for orientation (e.g. the blind guy figuring out where he was by sound – genius), and the genius of teams trumping the individual.

18. Star Trek

The series, all the movies, DS9, they all contributed to thinking about the way technology can really enable and empower.

19. Star Wars – IV – VI

Another, less utopian take on a world where robots do the menial labour like controlling the farm equipment (IoT anyone?). Where we have AR, holograms, 3D chess, and light sabres. Watch for the upcoming Disney VR game.

20. Top Gun

So this one had an indirect effect. Once upon a life I wanted to fly. Jets. In the military. This of course was the 80's recruitment movie for the US Navy, to the Air Force's Iron Eagle. I'd already been selected for the South African Air Force, then taken off the course for an unspecified medical reason. At the time I'd been devastated, but strangely this movie liberated me what had been a lifelong dream. This combined with Cry Freedom.

21. Wargames

Where do I begin? Hacking, surveillance, IoT like control, and of course, Artificial Intelligence. This movie was pivotal at an impressionable age in considering IT as a profession. It is definitely worth a rerun. In fact this movie was one of the reasons I went into IT. No question.

There they are.

Definitely not a complete list. Not by a long shot. And not all great movies either. But each of them had some part to play in me ending up where I've ended up.

What movies have I missed?

Are you Automating, or Empowering

Project 2012: Day 244

I had a discussion with a friend at church last Saturday. We’re considering replacing a 15+ year old analogue sound desk with a newer digital desk.

We agreed not to progress the discussion.

All a digital desk would do, at this stage, is automate part of the sound engineering process. Rather than empowering the creativity of the worship team.

And don’t get me wrong, as a technologist, guitarist, drummer, and sound engineer, I personally would love a digital desk.

But first we need to understand the long term strategy, then the worship strategy, then our goals. Then we should decide the technology to enable those goals.

Easy Trap

Judging from the RFP’s I read weekly at work, this “automation” trap is an easy one for us to fall into. But a dangerous one.

Yes, technology allows us to automate business processes. But the automation isn’t the end goal. Rather it’s the empowerment of the business. Actually that statement is erroneous too. It’s the empowerment of the people in the business. Your colleagues, friends, peers, team. You.

Wrong Metrics

Have you heard of a “pineapple metric?” This is where a goal is reported as green, but is actually orange on the inside. In other words you’re measuring the wrong thing. Either it’s something you can count (easily) rather than something you should count; or it’s something that is easy to report on, that doesn’t reflect an actual result.

I’ll give you an easy example here…

…Your annual review conversation. How many of those are “ticked” in the system, so the metric for HR comes up green – all performance conversations are complete – yet staff feel unempowered, and disengaged.

This is what happens when you focus technology on automation, rather than empowerment.

Be the Change

Do you have systems that automate processes, whilst disempowering staff? They could be expenses, travel systems, CRM, time-sheeting, Point of Sale…

…any IT mediated system.

You have the unique position in your organisation to force a change. To tweak the system, or the reporting from the system from one of automation, to one that empowers people.

You have the authority to free staff up to be their creative, collaborative, productive geniuses that you hired them for. To give them systems they want to use.

…and you have the position to automate more.

The choice is yours.

Resistance is Futile

Project 2012: Day 223

How many times have you heard this conversation:

“I don’t understand the business model of [name technology here], it’s so expensive/I can’t see the benefit?”

I have.

Plenty of times.

The first was probably about the PC itself, but very quickly it was colour monitors, then speakers and sound cards, then networks, laptop computers, modems, laser printers, mobile phones, the Internet, broadband, Wi-Fi…

…today I hear the same dismissal of social networking, smartphones & tablets, and cloud computing.

My response to nay-sayers is adaptive. If the conversation is at a BBQ, and the speaker is not in IT, I’ll engage in the topic light heartedly. After all, my opinion about tax laws, or banking protocols is hardly going to change the industry or even the company I work for. Not worth getting upset with my mother-in-law telling me she’ll never use Facebook. Apart from pointing out the benefits of engaging with her grandchildren, there’s no upside to the argument.

But if the conversation is in a business context, with a CTO or CIO, then we need to discuss this in a lot more detail.

Frankly, I believe it is career suicide for any ICT professional to ignore, or resist, these technologies.

5 years ago you could slow down the advance of Wi-Fi in your organisation, at least long enough to secure the deployment.

You can’t do that anymore.

Governments have been won, and lost, at least in part through the mass adoption of social networking. Over 62% of Australian residents have smartphones, over 100% have mobile phones. Tablets are taking off. Broadband has similar adoption rates. Social media accounts for up to 25% of Australian Internet traffic.

The employees at your company go home to a 21st century IT system, do you want them to work at a 20th century desk?

For the first time in history your CEO can procure just about any IT service with her AMEX without coming to you.

This is the time then to embrace change. To lead the adoption of new technologies within the enterprise. To lead your peers through adoption, usage, and education.