Smartphone-monitoring bins in London track places of work, past behavior, and more.
Luigi Cappel's insight:
Smartphone-monitoring bins in London track places of work, past behavior, and more.
Luigi Cappel's insight:
How do you keep up with the changing environment you live and work in? Technology is a moving target as are many other elements that shape our environment. There are so many facets to our industries that constantly change while you are trying to keep your business going the best way you know how.
There are a number of options. You can join business groups, buy industry magazines, search the Internet, follow social media and talk to others in your industry. So now you are working a 16 hour day and not necessarily making much more progress. Why? Because you are so focussed on doing Business As Usual and your view is based on your insider knowledge, bias and training.
What else can you do? One option is bring someone like me in as a consultant. As a Futurist I scan data using tools I have learned, my own experience in business and a wide focus on STEEP, whilst also having no skin in your business and therefore an objectivity that is hard to find when you have been making decisions that you are financially and emotionally attached to.
What is STEEP? It is about looking at the world and elements within it from the perspective of a wide range of elements and wild cards which make up the world. These key 5 elements are Society, Technology, Environment, Economics and Politics.
Take those 5 elements and apply them to your Business Plan. What is going on in your world right now in relation to STEEP? How might each element impact on your new product launch or sales plan? I would welcome your comments.
One of the elements of foresight is being able to find connections between seemingly irrelevant factoids or situations and understand what they mean. Then on top of that sometimes there are wild cards to be considered. What would happen if……..
When you look at information in isolation there are many risks. People form opinions based on snippets of information without seeing the full picture. They assume other people’s opinions, perhaps also based on bias or limited information. People often form opinions or carry them forward based on old data, often not even knowing that it is old data. For example, you may see a RT on Twitter and think it is current information, when in fact it has been retweeted by people for a week. Think about the disinformation that went around in Boston recently. Once it flies around it is very hard to know which information is current and correct.
Currency of information is hard to find these days. When a book comes out, by the time it has been printed it is already out of date. When I published Unleashing The Road Warrior, which took me about 6 months to write, it had a currency of about 2 years. After that, all the technology I wrote about was out of date.
We are frequently bombarded with little pieces of information, parts of stories, brief nuggets of 10 ways to be better at something, or 5 ways to become a social media superstar and double your sales. If only it was that easy.
Is there a simple answer? No, there isn’t. However in today’s world, we are connected to many people who are experts in certain areas. There are also people who maintain they are, when they are not. Start by connecting to people who really do know what they are doing. Ask people you know and trust. Check out their credentials. LinkedIn is a good place to start from a business perspective. Are they well connected? Have they been endorsed or recommended? Do you know people that they are connected with that you can talk to?
There are 3 types of people in the world. Those that make things happen, those who watch things happen and those who wonder what happened. Don’t be in the last group if you want to go forward, but also be careful where you get your counsel from.
As a footnote, if you are in New Zealand, or somewhere else where similar things are happening. Fairfax is said to be closing down in both print and online Computerworld NZ, PC World and Reseller News. So where will you be looking for information on your next technology investment or foray? I welcome your comments.
I was reading a current article by Ray Kurzweil in this month’s edition of The Futurist and it got me to thinking a little. Here are a few random synapse connections from me.
He talked about how the digital neocortex will be be much faster than my wet-ware and that the roughly 300 million pattern recognisers in our biological neocortex will allow us to think in the cloud, using billions or trillions of pattern recognisers. The IQ part of my brain thinks this could be amazing, although I would worry about dendrite overload or glutamic acid over stimulation, which is associated with conditions such as Alzheimer’s. It’s one thing to connect my brain or nervous system to additional memory, but to extend the processing in and out, is something that I think may require a lot of very careful study.
Earlier this week I wrote a blog about a potential future condition, Google Glasses Separation Syndrome. I recently introduced my daughter to the brilliant book, Flowers for Algernon which follows a similar thread. What happens when you expand a person’s capability to the point that it changes their existence and then potentially remove it again.
I noted that Ray perhaps doesn’t like driving very much because he talked about self driving cars alleviating the requirement of humans to perform the ‘chore of driving’. Sorry Ray, I love driving and so do a large percentage of the people I know. I appreciate that you now work for Google and they are pioneering driver-less cars, but I don’t want to live in a city where eventually the law requires hat the ‘network’ takes over my car. Yes there are benefits in road safety etc. but with systems such as Fleet Management, MobilEye, and the incentives of PAYD Insurance the roads will become safer without requiring us to take our hands off the wheel.
So IBM‘s Watson won Jeopardy, cool. It is an amazing AI and I love that it is now being used to look for cure’s for cancer amongst other things. But if you start thinking about Watson, a digital neocortex and singularity, what about EQ? It’s one thing to be able to identify things, to be able to locate information, to be able to combine apparently disparate bits of data, but how about feelings, intuition, id and ego? These are the things that make us human.
I like where this is going, but I also want to keep that which is me. Watson might be able to write a hit song by understanding the formulas and this has been tried before. But the song I wrote about a boy whose father lost his job at the plant and asks Santa to find his dad a job, while his mother sits and cries in the bedroom, or the one I wrote about a guy who returns from a tour of duty in Iraq to find his best friend is now sleeping with his girlfriend, that brought tears to Desert Storm vets isn’t going to come from an AI. An AI may understand the chemical reactions of the brain and intellectually that these experiences can cause people to be sad.
The ultimate AI could use impeccable logic to say that humans are bad for the planet, they are frequently illogical, their emotions cause them to make bad decisions and basically shouldn’t be here. Perhaps when Watson really ‘thinks’ about cancer, it might determine that humans are in factor a cancer on this planet and should be booted down. Then we will be left with the singularity which will contain all information, ask why and then boot itself down because having access to all the information in the world, does not impart any meaning.
Our household did it online and I have to say it was a smooth and easy process. The questions we didn’t have to answer were grayed out and we were all done and dusted in no time. Hopefully this means that finally we can hold referendums and vote online in future.
However, to me it was a major missed opportunity to learn more about who Kiwis are, what they do and where. This seemed to be to be simply a modern version of the feudal system where nobility tried to establish how much tax they could claim from their citizens. I love the Census system, always used to use copies of the books the Statistics Department used to put out and have been a keen user of the tables and tool builders on the website over more recent years. This Big Data has a huge impact on where to do business, where to build shops and factories, schools etc and the potential to not require costly double ups of data collection as will remain necessary for many Government organisations.
Here are a few thoughts from me of things that I would have liked to know and would have been easy to include and a few comments on what was included:
Ethnicity. For a country that is so multi-ethnic there were only 8 ethnicities offered and one of them was New Zealand European. That effectively makes it a political question and one that does not allow qualitative or quantitative research. As anyone who has studied statistics knows, most European Caucasians will select the first option, leaving us with skewed data. How about culture. I know people who will register as Chinese because they look like their ancestors, but were born and raised in New Zealand and in most things they do other than appearance are indistinguishable from any other NZ born person. On the other hand there are people who totally live the culture of their family and do not integrate much with our everyday society.
The question on what languages you can have a conversation in, was easy for people who really don’t speak English, to say they do. This to me is important because we know there are now large numbers of people who will struggle to answer a question like “where is the nearest dairy?” in English.
What is your religion? This to me is very old school. You either belong to a sect or you have no religion. What if you are agnostic, spiritual but don’t belong to a particular church? This would effectively assume that if you have no religion, you do not believe in a higher spirit, God if you will.
I would have liked to know what people’s jobs are. As a futurist, I’m aware that many of today’s roles or job titles didn’t exist 20 years ago and it would be very interesting to be able to identify shifts in trends in employment. Yes, this information is available to IRD, but I want to know these answers and you could argue the same about the table which asks about personal annual income.
The employment questions also didn’t support all options. For example, I am a founder in a couple of start-ups. I am not an employee and I do not draw any money from the companies. I work very long hours in them. But I couldn’t answer the how many hours do you work in your job, because I’m not employed by the companies. These are not family businesses or family farms, although we do have a project creating virtual pets. Because I don’t have a ‘job’ all the options below these questions were grayed out. I was left with the questions of did I apply for a job and if so, how. BTW I also do not get any sort of benefit from the Government.
The only questions on health focused on disabilities that stop you from earning money or require a benefit. Wouldn’t it have been interesting to get more information on conditions such as asthma, diabetes, ADHD, Autism, Cancer etc. where people continue to work or study. Not so much from a single point in time but from a trend perspective. Tie this into geospatial mesh blocks and area units and some very interesting information might have emerged. What about depression and mental health? If we were able to see statistics based on location, what discoveries might that lead to? Perhaps ones that Government doesn’t want to reveal?
They asked how many cars were available to the household, not how old they were, how often they were used, how big the engines were, whether they were NZ new? Yes, again I know this information is collected by other Government agencies, but it is not made available to the public and business in the same way.
Question 32 would have appealed to teachers. In the last 7 days did you work for pay, profit or income for an hour or more. Novopay anyone? How many people worked but haven’t been paid? Many have waited much more than a week, I’ve heard of people who still have pay overdue for months! (No I am not a teacher).
What else would I like to know?
There are many more questions that could have been asked like, how easy was it to complete this online? Would you be happy to vote in the next elections online?
So in summing up, its great to finally have a Census again and I’m looking forward to finding out what has changed in New Zealand, particularly as a result of the Canterbury earthquakes, but also information like how many NZ born people have left the country permanently, what is the make up of this country today compared to the last Census.
Congratulations on what appeared to be a smooth online operation, but what a missed opportunity to get some more learning. I think there has been so much focus on finally getting the job done, that there was insufficient focus on getting some highly important and valuable new data. The world has changed so much in 5 years. It appears like Novopay, that not much else has when it comes to taking advantage of 21st Century technology.
What do you think?
Its soapbox time again, but it won’t take long. This is for myself and for the many business people who talk too much.
I’ve been in a lot of business meetings lately, some of them excellent, many of them way too long. This morning I was listening to one of my favorite podcasts Rock the World With LinkedIn on Webmaster Radio which was an interview with the founder of MBAWriters and Director at BT Consulting, Todd Rhoad. Among other things they were talking about the value and importance of eBooks. This is of course something of a hobby horse for me.
I wrote a treatise called Are eBooks Ready to Come of Age and published it 10 years ago. You can get a free PDF copy here.
Anyway, I’ve seen a few eyes glaze over recently in meetings and presentations. It wasn’t that they were unable to comprehend the topics. It was because they had understood long before. There were a few classic sayings towards the end of the podcast, the things smart parents tell their kids. and the things that sales people are taught, well were taught back in the day when sales was considered a profession. Like:
I’m going to finish with an old Chicago song I used to love and share with you one great tool that I hear women using all the time, which I call active listening. Do you ever have a conversation with someone, usually a woman and she repeats back to you some of the words you have just said?
“The floods and damage from Cyclone Evan were pretty scary….:
“I had some friends who were over there on vacation”
“on vacation, I bet they were wishing they had gone somewhere else”
This is an active conversation and the people doing this are totally engaged. Most people are not totally engaged and are in fact focusing on the next thing they are going to say rather than listening to what their customer or prospect is trying to tell them. Active listening is a really good tool to use because it can stop your mind from wandering off and perhaps missing that clue that your customer is offering you as to why they might want your product. It will also help you understand what your customer is really thinking about and wants. It will let you be ready for buying signals and it will also endear you to the customer because you are showing that you are really interested. If you aren’t interested, then you probably don’t want their business.
Next time you meet someone and they ask how you are, say “Thanks, I’m very, how are you?” If they stop and ask “Very what?” They were listening. Chances are they will say something like “That’s nice”.
Listening for most of us is a skill we need to work on. Very few men, including myself at times, are not great listeners. I have found that the times when people really enjoyed a conversation with me, I actually said very little and I have probably learned a lot.
What is the problem with consultants?
Consultancy is one of the fastest growing sector in professional business people, the USA alone has over 700,000 of them. IBM Global Business Services and Ernst & Young have almost half a million consultants between them alone!
They charge a lot of money for their expertise and knowledge, if you get one through one of the top firms like McKinsey and Boston Group are unlikely to give you any change out of thousands of dollars an hour. Of course what you are buying in many cases at that level is something you already know, its more a corroboration perhaps when you are making a decision that has significant implications for your business, especially if you are looking at taking it into green fields, although most large businesses don’t take those sorts of risks in the first place even if the potential gains are huge.
Given that IBM possibly has the largest group of assembled business consultants of any company in the world, I guess the adage that no one ever got fired for buying IBM (not strictly true) still carries a cloak of implied job security for decision makers.
Perhaps it is the fees that put people off consultants especially when compared with the salary packages of the people who are hiring them, often to tell them things they already know, or for mining information from employees of their own company. Of course consultants don’t have job security between consults and often can’t even talk about what they did for their clients to earn those dollars because the IP is commercially sensitive. Do you get better value from a consultant who works for a top 1o company, or one who is self employed? Maybe, sometimes. Often not.
As a consultant myself, I think a common problem that people have is that the information they provide is known within the company, but for various reasons it wasn’t available to key decision makers, or they didn’t want to hear it from staff who sit below them on the corporate ladder. It is also frustrating for companies when it appears that the solutions or recommendations that consultants make seem to come so easy for them. It also frustrates many companies that they aren’t able to get those answers from interns and graduates they employ who they expect to have the latest thinking on their industry.
The problem for the graduate and the difference between them and the business consultant, is that the good consultant has business experience. They may have specialist knowledge in an industry, be that biochemical nano technology, banking or retail They have years of experience understanding and finding solutions for problems.
A key thing that I bring as a consultant, is that I don’t have emotional baggage in your business, I am not phased by who is the boss, I am not married to the corporate Business As Usual credo of ‘this is how we roll’. I can see things that might be staring in your face and you don’t see them, because we are wired differently. I’ll tell it to you how it is.
I am also passionate about solving business problems. I get out of bed excited about the opportunity to understand your business and help you to find solutions to your problems, how to grow your business, how to find out what your customers really want and need, how to harness the knowledge your people (your most valuable asset) have and want to share with you. I can save and make you money. Sometimes I can do that very quickly with knowledge I already have after many years of working in a variety of roles including my own companies, sometimes it may take weeks or months. I can take knowledge from a wide range of industries and transpose them into relevant solutions for yours.
The problem with consultants is that people bring them in too late. Why wait for an ambulance at the bottom of the cliff? Why not talk to specialists on your way up who can help accelerate your progress and help prevent costly detours or mistakes?
The problem with consultants is sometimes they will tell you what you don’t want to hear.
When I got my first in a series of Palm’s (I still have most of them including the Handspring Flossmaster) people looked at my as if I was a geek. OK maybe I was, but I was only doing what many or most of you are doing now, mobile computing. OK, the dental floss dispenser was a bit of a gimmick, but a very cool one and it was actually done as a promotion, not as a serious concept.
So back in the 90′s I was reading eBooks from Fictionwise and other sites which are amazingly still there even though Palm and Handspring are long gone. Fictionwise was already there before Amazon was launched and several years before the Kindle existed. I used to use my PDA during dead moments in-between appointments, while exercising etc. I had apps for Africa, work outs, diaries, games, even mobile email at 9.6kbps on my Ericsson mobile with its expensive Bluetooth dongle.
I helped introduce the first Symbol Palms in New Zealand with bar code readers and whilst they are now running a different OS they are fundamentally being used for the things I suggested such as warehouse inventory management, field sales automation, ticket management at events and so on.
Then my devices got audio and became phones, so I could listen to music, podcasts and started publishing my own podcasts and getting my songs on other people’s shows through to the last few years when my Smartphones got GPS. During that time we went from PDA’s that could also function as phones through to now where our mobiles are powerful computers that are as ubiquitous as I said they would become.
So here are a few thoughts on what is coming next, things that you dear reader are likely to take for granted within the next few years.
As a consequence of your use of check in functionality on your mobile using Facebook, Foursquare, Google+ or whatever software you chose, details about your interests, your friends and family and your activities will be profiled along with most of the people you know. You will get notifications based on where you are and your interests, on your mobile offering you relevant deals as well as a load of spam that will have you wondering whether you should disconnect alltogether, but you won’t.
Your mobile will be your multi-modal navigation device, not just while driving or keeping the cabbie honest, but walking, running, hiking, boating, shopping, providing navigation on the road and even inside buildings such as shopping malls, hospitals and university campuses. You will be able to see where your friends and family are and you will be offered deals based on mutual interests and be able to buy them and pay for them on your mobile.
You won’t have to carry loyalty cards any more. They will be maintained on your mobile which will give you the option of looking for deals, comparing prices and getting directions to the nearest retailer with whom you are a loyalty member. You will also have the option of having your mobile notify you of deals based on its prediction of your needs. For example on a Saturday morning when it sees you are buying garden tools at the DIY, it may offer you a promotion at the nearby garden centre which is uniquely created for you.
You will have a personalized newspaper on your mobile which carries both stories and advertising offers of specific interest to you. You will be surprised at first at how relevant they are. You won’t have to search for stories any more and you won’t be pushed information you are not interested in. You will only buy newspapers on rare occassions and within a few years printed newspapers won’t be available any more.
Music is an interesting one and the way you enjoy it will change dramatically in the near future. Within 24 months music CD’s will be out of production and you will either subscribe to a music service with a monthly subscription or possibly it will be offered as part of a mobile offer from your telecommunications provider. The question at the moment is whether the major music provider will be Apple, Nokia, Vodafone or a service such as Spotify.
For those who want to really get into their artists, you will be able to download apps. Several years ago I wrote a piece for NetGuide, which they declined to publish. I said that CD’s would die because the record companies were not providing any added value. I suggested that they add music videos, interviews, digital photos, background stories, lyrics etc to the media. It wouldn’t have cost them anything because it was all material that they already had access to. Anyway, long story short, guess what is already available to an iPhone, Android or other device near you? All of those things. Bands and their management are using off the shelf tools to put all of these things onto mobile devices including gig calendars, social media and the ability to purchase event tickets and merchandise from within the applications. They will also allow you to communicate with other fans from within the applications and future functionality will include the ability to remix tracks and record your own cover versions to share with other fans. Competitions and special offers will also be included.
In future when you go to a concert you will be able to hold your mobile up towards the stage using facial recognition to identify the performers using augmented reality and take tagged photos showing the names of the artists and of course the location the photos or videos were taken. Of course the facial recognition will also identify your friends and associates for posting and sharing on your favorite social media pages.
I could write a book on this stuff, but I thought it was time I shared a few things with you before they start happening and you take them for granted. I like being able to say “I told you so”.
In finishing I note that Apple have just filed a patent on mobile facial recognition. They also mentioned biometrics, funny, I still have a HP iPaq with a finger scanner. Want to know more about facial recognition? Here’s a quick 2 minute primer.
A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of presenting to a group of ICT professionals at the Mercure Hotel hosted by Sead I.T. People. The presentation in the series of Sead Latest in IT Seminar was on Mobile Marketing.
Covering topics including the latest Gartner Hype Cycle predictions, Location and Proximity Based Marketing, Check-In Marketing, Mobile Computing, QR Codes, Business Intelligence using maps and the hot topic of the use of personal devices in a corporate market, there was something in it for everyone. Case studies illustrated not only practical use of technology, but professional processes to ensure that projects were well designed for success.
The presentation outlined the ongoing chasm between people in the ICT profession and their colleagues when it came to understanding and use of new technologies, particularly mobile and location based. I encouraged the audience ranging from consultants to CIO’s to consider how they can educate and encourage their companies to understand the new technologies and how they fit into their business frameworks. There are great opportunities for IT people to be welcomed back into the boardroom by working closely with the management team to show them how to implement and benefit from new technologies, safely and securely.
It was interesting to learn that O2 is now going to get into daily deals. They will be the first British Telco to enter this market and according to the Financial Times, they are going to invest £6 Million into their daily deals service with the expected participation of 3,500 high street brands. Shaun Gregory, O2’s managing director of media, said that their opt in process was going to be less clunky than that on Facebook and Foursquare etc. and would not require check ins. This effectively means it is not a location based service at all, but yet another spin on the Daily Deals I wrote about in my blog yesterday.
Ironically I and many other people in the telecommunications industries over the years have been trying to convince local telco’s to support payment for products via mobile, including vending machines, pointing out the enormous value in clipping the ticket on transactions. Probably about 12-15 years ago I was able to buy Coke from a vending machine at the local Ericsson office, but it was only ever a Beta service.
Amazon is also getting in on the act in the USA with Amazon Local which is yet another spin and hardly local given that it works in exactly the same way as the regional deals every other Daily Deal site offers, noting to do with check ins. It will at least support local businesses in the same way as other sites does with vouchers etc to be redeemed in local eateries and stores with the same debatable results. Amazon certainly knows the value of clipping the ticket as I mentioned in an older blog with a link to a Harvard Business Review Clip of John Donahoe explaining what his business model is, and I can tell you it is now selling books.
Eventually if you keep following this blog, I will get to the point of the value of using Location Based Marketing instead of Daily Deals. This is starting to seem a whole lot like the boring unimaginative reality TV shows that all the networks are rolling out. It’s much cheaper to imitate than to innovate and of course you are encouraging them by watching, because if you didn’t watch, then they wouldn’t be able to get advertisers to promote their daily deals businesses!