Summary: Help companies with dinosaur IT systems survive the ice age of innovation. Become a Dinovator…
If you thought that I was waiting by the phone to get calls from telecom CEOs for the telco innovator’s den then you don’t know me. From the start, I did not think they were going to call. However I was surprised that one of the top 10 telecom CEOs actually got my blog post, read it and considered calling. This is a clear signal that my base message: “The telecom sector needs to innovate or things will get messy” was spot on. There are three things that sell in this world: sex, gossip and controversy. If you want to deliver a message to a large audience that does not want to listen, pick at least one as your theme.
If you think that I am now organising the Bitpipe Accelerator Den, then you are also wrong. Yes I would be able to supplant inefficient telecoms with efficient Google Mobile and Fiber. However would that serve a lot of people? Do you really want lawyers to start calling you with offers to help you with your divorce because Google detected that your partner is looking into it but hasn’t told you yet? Do we really want to see large 300.000 employees companies reduced to 3000 because they are now bit pipes? I have been a victim of telecom downsizing in the past and it is not pleasant. So please if you are working in the telecom industry, or in any industry that is the victim of disruptive innovations, then please keep on reading and become a Dinovator…
Dinovators are people that wake up one morning and find that the company in which they have been working for many years has been converted into an IT dinosaur. Not because the employees have been doing something wrong but because the outside world just went too fast and out innovated them. You now have two options: 1) Jump ship 2) Show dinosaurs how to innovate. If you are a Dinovator you prefer option two.
So how can you innovate in a traditionally minded company? You can go and show slides. You can go and tell everybody that the wolf is coming. However I tried those approaches years ago and you will fail. Majorities and laggards don’t want the status quo to change because they have a vested interest in it and they don’t know if they will have so in the new reality.
What works however is seeing magic with your own eyes. Anybody that has seen and touched the future can’t deny it any more. Now how can you show the future to people? First of all you need to understand their problems. If in the telecom industry the problem is revenue generation, then don’t go and show them a new proposal for a better protocol or faster network. Show them how new revenue can be generated, churn reduced, cost reduced, OTT revenue generated, etc.
So if you are technical then you can use the cheapest X86 server with 6 ports or any other device you can get your hands on and put an open source operating system like Snappy Ubuntu Core and you can create some Snappy Apps to show that there is a better future and can convert it into the smartest switch that solves the 4 biggest telecom industry problems. You can use the open source Juju charms and some cloud to show how complex telecom software can be abstracted and how for instance an open source SMSC can have a rest API with three parameters [to, from & message] and still deliver the same SMS service as that very expensive box that has all types of SMPP and other useless APIs and takes months to integrate with. If you are in financial services, retail, logistics, industrial, energy, etc. then you can probably find some other cheap box that can be Snappyfied or open source software that can be charmed so you can show your magic.
If you are not technical but have access to suppliers then you just ask them to surprise you with what they can come up with if they would apply disruptive innovations like Snappy and Juju. If you promise them that you will arrange a meeting with the boss of your boss if they surprise you, then they will be happy and surprise you for sure.
However to accelerate “dinovation” and to be inspired with what a community of dinovators can do, my proposal is to use Twitter. Just tweet a 1 minute video or a short blog post about your “dinovation” and include #dinovator and @telruptive. If you see tweets with great “dinovations” then you retweet them and share them with colleagues, customers, partners and bosses. This way you can become part of the the Dinovator Movement. The Dinovator Movement is not accepting that companies that have been around for many years are useless and need to be substituted. The Dinovator Movement is about showing that even in the most traditional companies there are Dinovators at work that show how that company needs to adapt to the new reality. The Dinovators explain to management that what is needed is Innovator’s Dens in which partners, customers, suppliers, etc. are invited to participate and innovation can be accelerated without RFPs and wasting everybody’s time. A Dinovator wants their company to embrace the new reality and thrive on it. Open Source has made becoming a Dinovator super easy. Nobody will put a critical system in production without paid support so even business people will be happy with open source Dinovations. However open source has a magical power, it does not get stopped by RFPs. So use its power. Have a Dinovator Day…
Dear Daniel Mead (Verizon), Li Yue (China Mobile), Randall Stephenson (AT&T), Vittorio Colao (Vodafone), Masayoshi Son (Softbank), Cesar Alierta (Telefonica), Timotheus Höttges (DT), Carlos Slim (America Movil), Hiroo Unoura (NTT), David Thodey (Telstra), etc.
Only 5 of you will be able to see the most disruptive telecom innovations in the world. Innovations that will solve your 4 biggest problems ($B new revenue, zero churn, costs/10, OTT revenue) and can be in production in 2016 if you want them to. If you are not interested in seeing them, no problem:
Dear Xaviel Niel (Free.fr), Mister/Miss Google MVNO (whoever you are),
In October we will organise an event. If the previously mentioned individuals are interested in solving their 4 biggest industry problems, then you are invited for free to join and see their industry’s biggest innovations. In case they roll them out too slow then you can show them how it is done. If for some strange reason they are not interested, then you are still welcome because we just change the topic of the meeting from telecom innovators den to bitpipe accelerator den and you will be in company of some of the most famous venture capitalists. We will keep you posted on the interest of the telecom CEOs…
Dear telecom investors,
You seem to be the only one telecom CEOs listen to nowadays. After all these years, the telecom industry has not been able to get right even their dumbest service, i.e. voicemail [please let me know if you love using it and I will apologies to you]. Personally I invented in 2010 already solutions to create personalised value added services on the cloud. The same week the solution won one of the industry’s most important innovation awards, one of their biggest suppliers (the company I worked for) pulled investment because telecom operators were not interested in revenue generating solutions for consumers. Telecom only wanted faster 4G back than.
Fast forward to 2015. Telecom operators are enjoying putting up more data pipes and buying more spectrum so Youtube and Netflix can fill them up immediately without given operators any revenue. Call and SMS revenues are disappearing fast. They haven’t got any new revenue generator lined up. They have a data tsunami in the form of Internet of Things waiting to destruct their networks, and it is coming in the next 2-3 years. They are investing their marketing budget in launching “innovative” tariff plans. Their IT departments are spending billions on obsolete Oracle, VMWare and Redhat technologies. Their internal processes are crippling any progress. Their procurement processes mean in practice that you have to wine and dine middle management during 18 months, educate them on your innovations, help them write an RFP so all your competitors can now start undercutting you on price and add useless features to score more points. We have never seen an RFP that asked the right questions like: [score from 0 to 10], will this solution bring new revenue, will it reduce churn, is the solution easy to use, integrate and scale, etc. Any Silicon Valley startup that mentions to a VC that they want to work together with telecom operators looses any chance of funding immediately.
We are an open source company so anybody can download and use our solutions. We recently brought a phone to market. Five years behind anybody else but it still became front page news on their biggest event of the year. Our cloud team was able to demonstrate how in minutes anybody can deploy, integrate and auto-scale a working mobile network with open source mobile phones, open source base stations and all open source back-office solutions. We are not an unknown company. Our operating system powers around 70% of the workloads on the biggest public cloud and 63% of the OpenStack private clouds most of them are now slowly migrating to. We can set up in hours private clouds with the software defined networking solutions of any of their suppliers and have network function virtualization orchestration working unlike their regular suppliers that only do slideware. We don’t like to go and waste our time on their standardization groups because lately none of their non-networking standards had any traction. We rather prefer to give them working solutions for their real problems. We power the biggest super computer in the world. We are the default desktop for Google programmers. We are the only company that has a solution to deploy, integrate and scale telecom solutions in two clicks and we made it available as open source. Please try it yourself. The most amazing thing is that we were able in two weeks with a very small team to convert the cheapest Intel server with 6 ports we bought on Amazon into the smartest switch of MWC that can solve their four biggest industry problems.
We have access to the best technologies and most innovative partners in the world. We are willing to train their brightest employees and show them how to solve their 4 biggest industry problems in a unique telecom innovator’s den in October where they will be able to decide if they want the technology to be in production in 2016. However what we don’t have is a big sales force that can wine and dine them. Patience to wait for their RFPs. So if you think they should take our offer, please instruct them to bid for one of the 5 telecom groups we have seats for. We can’t help all 900 of them because we are only 700 employees. We are not doing this for money because if they start putting crazy high bids then we will use the extra money to seed several of the innovative open source telecom startups that can help their industry.
If you think this situation is completely ridiculous and you don’t want to loose your hard earned money, I suggest you give them about a week to read this blog post. You probably want to forward it to them, in case they mist it. If by then you don’t see another blog post about how happy we are that the telecom industry is ready to embrace open source, my suggestion is that you sell your telecom stock while you still can. Our bitpipe accelerator den will not care about their stock market performance and probably so should you in that case…
1. Block chain
The block chain is the heart of digital currencies like Bitcoin. What most don’t realise yet is that the block chain will be used for managing everything from domain names, artist royalties, escrow contracts, auctions, lotteries, etc. You can do away with middlemen whose only reason of being is making sure they keep on getting a large cut in the value chain. Unless a middlemen or governmental institution adds real value, they are in danger of being block chained into the past.
2. Biometric security
A good example is the Nymi, a wearable that listens to your unique heart beat patterns and creates a unique identity. Even if people steal your Nymi, it is of no use since they need your heart to go with it.
3. Deep belief networks
Deep belief networks are the reason why Google’s voice recognition is surprisingly accurate, Facebook can tag photos automagically, self-driven cars, etc.
4. Smart labels
They are 1 to 3 millimetres small. They harvest electricity from their environment. They can detect people approaching within half a metre, sometimes even identify them and each product you will buy. Your microwave will not longer have to be told how to warm up a frozen meal.
A $35 Raspberry Pi 2 or Odroid is many multiples more powerful than the first Google server but the size of a credit card. Parallella is $99, same size, and almost ten times more coresP then the first Google server.
6. Apps and App Stores for Smart Devices
Snappy Ubuntu Core allows developers to create apps like mobile apps but to put them on any smart device from robots & drones to wifi, hubs, industrial gateways, switches, dishwashers, sprinkler controls, etc. Software developers will be able to innovate faster and hardware can be totally repurposed in seconds. A switch can become a robot controller.
7. Edge/proximity/fog clouds
Public clouds often have too much latency for certain use cases. Often connectivity loss is not tolerable. Think about security cameras. In a world where 4K quality IP cameras will become extremely cheap, you want machine learning imagine recognition to be done locally and not on the other side of the world.
8. Containers and micro-services orchestration
Docker is not new but orchestrating millions of containers and handling super small micro services is still on the bleeding edge.
9. Cheap personalised robots and drones
£35 buys you a robot arm in Maplin in the UK. Not really useful for major things except for educating the next generation robot makers. Robots and drones will have apps (point 6) for which personalised robots and drones are happening this year.
10. Smart watches and hubs
Smart hubs know who is in the house, where they are (if you wear a phone, health wearable or smart watch), what their physical state is (heartbeat via smart watch), what your face looks like and your voice. Your smart watch will know more about you then you want relatives to know. Today Google knows a husband is getting a divorce before they do [wife searches and uses google maps]. Tomorrow your smart watch will know you are going to have a divorce before you do [heart jumped when you looked at that girl, her heartbeat went wild when you came closer].
A couple of weeks ago we launched the open source solution to put apps and app stores on any smart device. So this is a perfect moment to talk about what the future of the Internet of Things will look like.
Hardware and Software Acceleration
Up till now you had to be a hardware and software expert to innovate in IoT. Sony is an example of a big company that is a hardware innovator but struggled to make the transition to software-driven TVs. Amazon is the example of the opposite. By separating hardware from software, the IoT revolution will accelerate and walled garden solutions that are not cutting edge in both software and hardware will suffer.
Micro-servers are the size of a credit card but at a price of a good restaurant meal and 5 to 20 times better than the first Google server. Imagine their prices dropping to $5 or even $1 at scale. Now imagine having thousands of apps for each device that is powered by a micro-server. Finally imagine this smart device talking to thousands of other devices and proximity clouds as well a public clouds. These smart devices can have gesture control, voice control, virtual reality screens, 3D vision, 4k cameras, thermal sensing, GPS, body sensors, and lots of other sensors. Backed by a virtually unlimited cloud store that can do real-time big data predictive analytics and machine learning in a distributed fashion. Thanks to Bitcoin’s block chain, distributed solutions that are not centrally controlled are possible. Docker and containers allow cloud-based IoT solutions to be continuously deployed. 3D printing will accelerate customized solutions and over time lower production costs. So enough innovations to keep everybody busy.
IoT and business innovations
Lots of companies I speak to belief that platforms and hardware will make money. The bad news is that only Foxconn type of companies will be able to make money by producing extremely large quantities at ridiculously small margins each. Platforms will be open source so only a small number will get enough adoption to make money. So how can you make money with IoT?
For now consultancy but this will fade when the market matures. An obvious alternative model is apps and app stores. The cloud offers SaaS and pay for use software models that are likely going to be successful in IoT. However the big market opportunity is about substituting obsolete reactive maintenance businesses by proactive predictive maintenance, long tail B2B and B2C service marketplaces, broker models, pay per use service models, p2p/crowd models, etc.
Lots of traditional industrial companies have business models in which machinery is sold with a medium to low margin but maintenance and optional services have extremely high margins. These margins are protected through proprietary technology. In an industrial IoT market existing infrastructure will unlikely be substituted, a.k.a brown field market. Nimble competitors will offer ways around traditional models by creating translations between proprietary systems and general purpose IoT micro-servers that can be controlled remotely.
Future use cases
Home automation will be the most visible and trendy but industrial IoT will be the money maker. Telecom operators will present lots of sim-based use cases but unless they change their way of rolling out new services, success is doubtful for most. The connected car will likely use your mobile unless data contracts become extremely cheap. Health will see lots of solutions. A new market of over-the-top health solutions will emerge in which people will get health services from medical staff that can be on the other side of the world or even provided by a computer. Security and surveillance will be one of the most widespread IoT solutions given that the price of IP cameras has come down dramatically and security solutions have become easier to use.
Drawbacks of IoT
Standards are not important. Adoption will decide what is the standard. Not a group of pseudo-experts. However unless use cases don’t have enough widespread adoption across industries, you are likely to find islands of competing standards. Making global role-outs harder.
Security is key. Nobody wants to be the company that killed through IoT. Unfortunately it will happen in the next 24-36 months because security is extremely complex and somebody will cut corners.
Privacy is becoming critical. Google knows you are getting a divorce before you. But with IoT, your smart watch and big data analytics will know about your chances of starting an affair before you even talked to the other person.
Legally there are many areas of IoT that will be extreme challenges. Bad people are good innovators because they need to stay a step before others not to get caught. Also IoT conflicts will become extremely challenging to solve when services and solutions are used from the other side of the world.
Substitution of people by machines is a worry. Lots of people are in obsolete jobs but inertia is no longer a salvation because technology commoditises very successfully. However the Internet and mobiles created millions of new jobs. It is easier to see obsolete jobs than to predict new job roles. Who would have thought that data scientists would be the sexiest job!!!
A new revolution is in the making: the micro – server revolution. When Google started, its first server was four to five times less powerful then an Odroid-C1. The Odroid is just one of many small boards that retail for $35 and host a gigabyte of RAM and a 1Ghz processor and are no larger than a credit card. The $99 Parallella even has 18 cores on a credit card sized board. This combined with the new Snappy Ubuntu Core allows makers to create super smart devices that fit in the palm of your hand and developers to make millions of apps for them. Kickstarter and Indiegogo are likely going to see an avalanche of new smart devices and apps for them. Imagine your vacuum cleaner with apps. Your WiFi with apps. Your alarm, HVAC, coffee maker, sprinkler, set top box, etc. will all be app enabled. Now let’s look further to what new type of devices and apps are likely to come? In the health industry there are lots of doctor visits that could be diagnosed remotely. If people could buy some kind of $99 appliance that could measure all type of regular things like heart beat, oxygen level, temperature, sugar level, look in ears and mouth, etc. Connect this device to a tablet and any health care professional could see lots more patients each day and involve doctors and patients that live in remote areas. An app example could be investment banking. Flood sensors, wind sensors, rain sensors, seismic sensors, etc. can all predict disasters minutes or seconds before they happen. Micro – seconds high frequency trading could go global and make use of billions of sensor data to make trades just before problems occur and warn the rest of the world seconds or minutes earlier than before. There are many more devices and apps possible, just make sure you check out crowdfunding websites regularly…
Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, just announced the biggest IoT innovation in history: SnApp Stores for any THINGS. Any THING can run apps from an associated Snapp Store. It is just like having apps on a mobile phone but instead apps run on any THING.
What does this mean?
Developers will be able to create apps with Snappy Ubuntu Core – Snappy Apps or Snapps – and run them on any THING. The list of THINGS is only limited by people’s imagination. It can be vacuum cleaners, fridges, dishwashers, coffee machines, alarm systems, robots, drones, set top boxes, HVAC, WiFi, switches, routers, telecom mobile base stations, agricultural irrigation controllers, swimming pool controllers, industrial appliances, medical equipment, digital signage, POS, ATMs, smart energy meters, cars, radios, TVs, IP cameras, clouds, 3D printers, virtual reality wearables, smart hubs and any next-generation device that can run Ubuntu Core and still needs to be invented. If it has an ARMv7 or X86 chip and 256MB or better then you can put a Snapp Store on it.
Apps made mobile phones go from stupid calling devices to personalised smart super computers many of us would not be able to live without. New industries were born. Complete industries revolutionized. The app revolution is about to be repeated but this time any THING is a target.
Imagine what will happen if all devices in your home, at work, in your city, on holidays, etc. go from stupid to smart and personalised. Your house will know if you are stressed before you enter the door. It will play the music it knows relaxes you, the coffee smell you prefer, the ideal temperature & light intensity, block calls you don’t want, have the house cleaned, your favourite food just minutes away from being delivered, grocery shopping done, that interesting TV series just waiting to entertain you, etc. Your energy bill will be lower, your car will adapt to you, your hover will collaborate with the alarm system, your pet will be fed the right diet, your children will have personalised parental control, your mail packages delivered where you are, etc.
Snapps will only be limited by your imagination so start dreaming now about what the Snapp Store should bring you an make your dreams come true at ubuntu.com/things.