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How to avoid smart devices from becoming dumb after two years?

If you buy a fridge, heater, microwave, dishwasher, etc. then you expect your appliance to last for 10 perhaps even 15 or more years. You don’t plan on doing away with it after two years.

What if your appliance would be old after two years? To be more exact, what if the processor, memory, storage, wireless communication technology would be old after two years? Smart fridges, heaters, microwaves, dishwashers, etc. are likely going to be “smart” for two years. Afterwards they will be “legacy smart” and later “vintage smart” and then “unusable smart”. Technology progresses much faster than appliances age.

Now we have seen lots of examples of how not to handle aging technology. Car manufacturers are a very good example. They try to make you pay $3000 for a built-in GPS that costs $300 on the open market and already is old school by the time you buy the car.

TV makers have seen the light and now have the processing unit as a separate box that can be exchanged later on. Still very proprietary and you need to buy a lot of things you don’t need like a new metal box, however it is better than the previous alternative.

However the best solution would be using an open standard that allows hardware manufacturers to compete independently from the appliance. This way if you buy a smart device, you are able to choose between it being smart or really smart as well as the time you want to facelift the smartness.

There are several options: adopt existing standards like PCIe, adopt new proposed standards like project Ara from Google, or develop new standards and live with potentially competing standards for a couple of years but have a best-in-class solution.

Revolutionary News ;-) PWC to chipmakers – IoT will be your next growth market…

You go to http://www.pwc.com/IoT and download their IoT report and you will learn that PC’s will no longer be the next growth market, IoT will be. So as a semiconductor manufacturer you need to come up with a strategy and optimise operational costs for IoT. 

The most useless IoT report!!!!

I have read some useless IoT reports but this one really crowns it. I hope PWC did not call Intel, ARM, Broacom, Samsung, Qualcomm, Mediatek, Allwinner, etc. to tell them they should look into IoT as their next growth market because they would be laughed out of the boardroom. If you are a semiconductor manufacturer that hasn’t been investing in IoT by now then you are not going to be around in the next years. Hardware R&D has long delivery cycles. You can’t just invest in an IoT chipset by tomorrow because PWC says so today. On Computex in Taiwan, a week from now, Raman Chitkara (PWC global technology leader) should go and see what will be presented there. He will be surprised to see that chip makers have been heavily investing in IoT already and will be presenting their first or often next generation of IoT products. Unlike what the reports suggests, IoT is not only about low margins on high volumes but also about smart devices that can connect to lots of sensors and single purpose devices and create synergies via apps. These smart devices will need powerful semiconductors. My suggestion to PWC is to revamp their website with new ideas after they get back from Computex. Happy to sell them some strategy consulting to put them in the right track :-)

Star wars like robots are near…

Berkeley pushed the robotics innovation boundaries by using machine learning to teach a robot what to do via trial and error and without actually telling it what to do. This is an example of how pretty soon in many industries: big data, machine learning, cloud, robotics, apps on smart devices, etc. will come together in new ways. Robots and machine learning used to be separate sciences. Now computer vision, deep learning, etc. will all become apps on robots. Robots will share sensor data with clouds where big data storage and online machine learning will continue to improve algorithms and then push updated models back to the robots. Once a model is stable and predictable, you will be able to upload it as an app to a robot store and other robot lovers will be able to use it for new purposes. Combine this with SaaS services to learn from these new uses and there will be a continues circle of new uses generating new insights, leading to new uses, leading to new insights, etc.

Translation for the science fiction lovers: Star Wars like robots will come sooner than later…

Categories: Disrup. Technology

The future of IoT in the home will make the Nest irrelevant

Many people don’t realize that IoT in the home means apps and app stores everywhere. Single purpose equipment will solve single problems but appliances with apps will bring synergies. GE showed the first smart fridge with apps on the Ubuntu stand in IoT World but this is just scratching the surface. Home appliances will eliminate lots of small single purpose devices. You don’t need an alarm key pad if your dish washer has an LCD screen that displays keys while the alarm is on. Neither do you need a thermostat like the Nest if your fridge already measures your room temperature and your alarm can tell if you are home or not. You also don’t need a fixed phone. Your Bluetooth speaker has a microphone. So does your TV. A Bluetooth headset is for private calls. Your modem can run the VoIP and cloud telecommunication app. You don’t need a sprinkler controller, a swimming pool controller, a garage door controller, an air-conditioning remote control, an alarm clock, a radio, etc. Apps on always on appliances will eliminate them. Expect your home to listen to voice, gesture or even heartbeat commands.

Categories: Internet of Things Tags:

The story of …

Once upon a time there was a black box. It felt bad about itself because all its brothers and sisters had a purpose in life. They were all excellent at doing something special. The black box on the contrary was just good at connecting to others. Though it was smarter than most and had a bigger housing that its siblings, there was nothing special about this black box. One day the whole family made a trip to a field. Everybody expected the field to be green. However when they arrived they found an ugly brown field full of garbage that was accumulated through the years. All the good looking siblings very quickly crashed because they expected a clean surface or got overwhelmed by the many garbage boxes that came to great them in very ancient languages that did not fit their handshake. The black box however was able to connect to all the garbage and reinvent itself over and over again. Its flexibility was limitless because it just needed to go online to get some new extension.

This was the story about the industrial gateway that choose not be sexy but instead be smarter and have more storage and above all rely on an external app store. The story will not win a price but going for a fixed function, fixed API, fix standard, etc. will result in a lot more scary story. Unfortunately the wolf will come before the ugly duckling becomes a beautiful swan…

Categories: Disrup. Technology

Don’t ask what IoT can do for you. Ask the smart elite…

Every time there is a new technological trend, you get market researchers asking questions to CxOs about what they think about the trend and afterwards selling the results for lots of money to whomever wants to buy the report. However if you collect reports like this and start comparing them you will see a clear trend. To the question, do you fully understand the capabilities of the new trend, lots of people will say no. To the question, what part of your business will be impacted, you will see revenue, cost, efficiency and innovation being mentioned. To the question, where are you with projects regarding the new trend, the answer is planning or evaluating, prototyping at most.

If you see this pattern, then DON’T buy the report. CxOs are not magical people that automagically understand new trends and will tell the industry what to do. They actually have no clue.

In 2010, would you rather have had the Oracle CTO set your cloud strategy or the Amazon CTO? Would you rather have the Oracle CTO define your CRM strategy or Salesforce? Oracle vs Cloudera or Spark for Big Data? Oracle vs Docker? Oracle vs Golang? Your answer should be Oracle denied the existence of cloud, SaaS, Big Data, containers, more productive programming languages, etc. until the market obliged them to embrace them. So if Oracle, which is supposed to be a leader in enterprise software, does not understand the latest IT trends, why do you think that a CTO from a telecom, retailer, airline company, etc. would better understand these IT innovations and their impact on business? The truth is that none of them does. Not even Gartner does. Gartner and others make a summary of what is happening in the industry after the first battles have been fought. They depend on collective group thinking to make a “magic quadrant” or a summary of where the herd is moving. However the real innovators already know since one to three years ahead if something major is about to happen and they have prepared solutions for this new reality. By the time the majority has realized there is a problem or opportunity, the visionary innovators already have a solution in the market. If you want to know the future you need to follow the smart elite and read what they are very excited about.

Examples:

Devops have been singing the songs of Docker since early to mid 2014. Smart engineers looked at what the problems the innovators were having and focused on solving them. The end result is that Docker orchestration started fast replacing PaaS before anybody in a corporate office heard about Docker in the first place.

Current trends are Hadoop being replaced by Spark being replaced by Flink. Java is uncool, Golang and Rust are the future. Bitcoin’s blockchain will replace lots of centrally managed markets.

So if a Gartner, Accenture or Siemens tell you what IoT will look like then be careful because you don’t know what you don’t know. You should look for visions from people that don’t focus on what “the industry thinks” but instead ask the smart elite how they would solve your industry’s main problems. Chances are they create a blue ocean strategy if you listen to them. Your competitors will instead all be focusing on what their regular supplier offers which is often the same solution as five years back after it has been cloud-washed, big-data-washed, IoT-washed, etc. Do you agree mister Oracle?

Dreamscoms: get paid by your network operator

With software defined radio becoming cheap, the economics of running a network will change. Fon in Spain has been for years allowing WiFi users to share their bandwidth and customers are getting a revenue share if others pay for bandwidth. Why can’t the same be done for non-WiFi communication? Why not have a crowd-sourced mobile network? If you run a mobile base station that takes up your fixed broadband then you get 50% of the revenue generated by the network. This model could be interesting for regular mobile operators as well as disruptive operators. You can easily see how using LTE license spectrum that is currently not being used by the primary owner could be repurposed, taking the white spaces concept to the next level. Cloud-based control systems can manage hundreds of thousands or even millions of micro cells. By federating all the different micro cells you get reasonable coverage. Add an MVNO agreement for black spots and some Twilio or other VoIP magic and you have a complete working network. Stitch into this network personizable value added services, like dynamic call routing [partner and kids get priority, call centers get a busy signal, etc.], customisable voice mail, etc. Even better, an App Store for VAS. Dreamscoms would offer a better experience than others because you would get paid if you participate and services would add real value, not only costs…

Categories: telecom revenue 2.0 Tags:
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