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Vicious Circle into the Past

We are on the edge of an – as businessinsider.com recently called it – exploding era: The IoT Era. An interesting info graphic tells us stunning figures of a bright future (at least when it comes to investment and sales; see the full picture further below or in the article).

The info graphic in fact stresses the usual numbers (billions of devices, $ trillion of ROI) and draws the following simple explanation of the ecosystem:

IoT and BigData Analysis (info graphic clip)

A simple explanation of IoT and BigData Analysis

Devices are receiving requests to send data, in return they do send data and data gets analyzed. Period.

Of course, this falls short of any system integration or business strategy aspect of the IoT evolution. But there’s more of a problem with this (and other similar) views onto IoT. In order to understand that, let us have a bullet point look at the mentioned domains and their relation with IoT (second part of the graph; I am intentionally omitting all numbers):

  • Manufactoring: smart sensors use increases
  • Transportation: connected cars on advance
  • Defense: more drones used
  • Agriculture: more soil sensors for measurements
  • Infrastructure, City: spending on IoT systems increases
  • Retail: more beacons used
  • Logistics: tracking chips usage increases
  • Banking: more teller-assist ATMs
  • Mining: IoT systems increase on extraction sites
  • Insurance (the worst assessment): IoT system will disrupt insurances (surprise me!)
  • Home: more homes will be connected to the internet
  • Food Services: majority of IoT systems will be digital signs
  • Utilities: more smart meter installations
  • Hospitality: room control, connected TVs, beacons
  • Healthcare: this paragraph even contents itself with saying what devices can do (collect data, automate processes, be hacked ?)
  • Smart Buildings: IoT devices will affect how buildings are run (no! really?)

All of these assessments fall short of any qualification of either which data is being produced, collected and processed and for which purpose.

And then – at the very beginning – the info graphic lists 4 barriers to IoT market adoption:

  • Security concerns
  • Privacy concerns
  • Implementation problems
  • Technological fragmentation

BusinessInsider, with this you have become part of the problem (as so many others already have): Just like in the old days of cloud commencement, the most discussed topics are security and privacy – because it is easy to grasp, yet difficult to explain, what the real threat would possibly be.

Let us do ourselves a favour and stop stressing the mere fact that devices will provide data for processing and analysis (as well as more sophisticated integration into backend ERP, by the way). That is a no-brainer.

Let us start talking about “which”, “what for” and “how to show”! Thereby security and privacy will become and advantage for IoT and the digital transformation. Transparency remains the only way of dealing with that challenge, because – just as with cloud – those concerns will ultimately not hinder adoption anyway!

 

The IoT Era will explode (BusinessInsider Info Graphic)

The IoT Era will explode (BusinessInsider Info Graphic)

{feature image from www.thedigitallife.com}

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Automation and Orchestration – a Conclusion

This post is part of the "Automation-Orchestration" architecture series. Posts of this series together comprise a whitepaper on Automation and Orchestration for Innovative IT-aaS Architectures.

 

Automation and Orchestration are core capabilities in any IT landscape.

Traditionally, there’d be classical on-premise IT, comprised of multiple enterprise applications, (partly) based on old-style architecture patterns like file exchange, asynchronous time-boxed export/import scenarios and historic file formats.

At the same time, the era of the Cloud hype has come to an end in a way that Cloud is ubiquitous; it is as present as the Internet as such has been for years, and the descendants of Cloud – mobile, social, IoT – are forming the nexus for the new era of Digital Business.

For enterprises, this means an ever-increasing pace of innovation and a constant advance of business models and business processes. As this paper has outlined, automation and orchestration solutions form the core for IT landscapes to efficiently support businesses in their striving for constant innovation.

Let’s once again repeat the key findings of this paper:

  • Traditional “old style” integration capabilities – such as: file transfer, object orientation or audit readiness – remain key criteria even for a cloud-ready automation platform.
  • In an era where cloud has become a commodity, just like the internet as such, service centered IT landscapes demand for a maximum of scalability and adaptability as well as multi-tenancy in order to be able to create a service-oriented ecosystem for the advancement of the businesses using it.
  • Security, maximum availability, and centralized management and control are fundamental necessities for transforming an IT environment into an integrated service center supporting business expansion, transformation, and growth.
  • Service orchestration might be the ultimate goal to achieve for an IT landscape, but system orchestration is a first step towards creating an abstraction layer between basic IT systems and business-oriented IT-services.

Therefore, for IT leaders, choosing the right automation and orchestration solution to support the business efficiently might be the majorly crucial decision to either become a differentiator and true innovation leader or (just) remain the head of a solid – yet: commodity – enterprise IT.

The CIO of the future is a Chief Innovation (rather than “Information”) Officer – and Automation and Orchestration both build the core basis for innovation. What to look at in getting to the right make-or-buy decision was the main requirement for this paper.

 

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An #IoT #terms jungle

I would love to have a few words of opinion from everyone …

When I listen to talks or follow research literature, I do observe a fuzzy usage of terms around the IoT field. Here comes my definition – and I’d love to hear/read yours (beware: this may be provocative)

Internet of Things

A fuzzy description of the fact that devices are directly connected with the Internet (here, the term “device” describes anything from an implanted sensor up to a mobile phone and can be built into whatever from humans to power plants). Newly developing now: “Internet of Everything” – seems that understanding fluctuates, hence definitions need to become even more fuzzy …

Industrie 4.0

A German term describing the 4th industrial revolution (the 1st being “steam”, 2nd “mass production”, 3rd “digital and IT in the industry”, 4th “IoT”, mainly). Despite otherwise claimed in a German wikipedia site, “Industrie 4.0” is not the invention of a German governmental initiative. Industrie 4.0 – put simply – describes the totally interconnected and Internet-connected production process.

Industry 4.0

Same as above – just English. Despite varied claims of speakers that the term “Industry 4.0” does not exist and the term “Industrial Internet” had to be used, Industry 4.0 is widely accepted and used as a term in the definition given above.

Industrial Internet

In spite of many claims, that this was a term mainly introduced to describe and drive GE’s IoT strategy, truth is that this term’s popularity can mainly be retraced to the founding of the Industrial Internet Consortium. Otherwise the term would still lurk around low and not fuzz-up definitions so much.

Digital Business

The broadest of terms describing the disruptive change that a thought-through IoT will bring to all businesses and consumers when connected thoughtfully and efficiently with data, analysis and other business process oriented backend systems. Also, this term refers to a changed user experience, brokerage of information, better info tailoring, etc. – so essentially the term is describing all of the change that the more technology-oriented definitions bring along for anyone and any business.

Digitalization

describes the enrichment of business processes through more accurate information – generated mostly digital and through IoT technologies

Cyber Physical System

This term describes an ecosystem capable of bringing together physics (humans, things – which are connected to the net) with cyber (IT) systems. In essence, the term can be used to describe what lies behind all the IoT/Industry4.0 stuff – what brings them to life in a business process oriented interconnected IT (possible across enterprises and industries). Main aspect in CPSs: Integration (of devices as well as systems (of systems)).

So,
what’s your take on all this?

 

{feature image found on this blog – hope, the author doesn’t mind reuse}

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#Digitalize 2015 – Standortbestimmung, ein wenig schmerzhaft

Im Feature-Bild oben finden sich nur einige Zitate aus der heute im Chaya Fuera über die Bühne gegangenen Konferenz “#Digitalize 2015“. Und ich wage hier ein Review der Veranstaltung, die für mich – dies gleich eingangs – erstaunlich dünn besucht war. Angenommen hatte ich ein übervolles Plenum mit Platzproblemen im eher kleinen Foyer – zu Beginn war der Saal halb voll. Gut – das änderte sich; dennoch blieb das Event kaum mehr als eine Standortbestimmung für die Digitale Branche in Österreich. Nichts exorbitant Richtungsweisendes, nichts epochal Neues – und dennoch: eine ausnehmend wichtige Standortbestimmung. Und damit neben den monatlichen Selbstbeweihräucherungs-Events der APA DBT Community und einigen unbeholfenen Versuchen kleinerer Netzwerke wohl das wichtigste Event zum allgemeinen Digitalisierungstrend in diesem Land.

Die Menge an Speakern, die Confare für diese Konferenz zusammengetrommelt hatte, konnte sich ebenso sehen lassen wie die Durchmischung der Themen. Zwar führte das leider auch zu Skurrilitäten – wie z.B. dem QS-Vortrag von ZT Dr.tech. Wolfgang Prentner, der SW-Qualität aus einer etwa 20 Jahre alten Sicht beleuchtete. Gleichzeitig bekamen wir auch wahrlich Erhellendes zu hören und sehen – derartig “forward thinking”, dass sich Österreich – klassischer “late follower” bei derartigen Themen – eigentlich richtig festhalten muss.

Besonders – und gleich vorweg hervorzuheben – der Vortrag von Eric-Jan Kaak (@claptonline), der mit dem Statement: “‘Industrie 4.0’ und ‘Internet der Dinge’ lösen nichts,  wenn sie in ‘Organisation 1.0’, verbunden mit ‘Arbeitsplatz 1.4’  im ‘Businessmodell 0.1 Beta’ stattfinden” vorgestellt wurde. Man konnte meinen, dieser Mann wäre einem meiner früheren Arbeitgeber entsprungen, so plastisch real hat er die Inkompatibilitäten herkömmlicher Organisationsmodelle mit dem Digitalisierungszeitalter beschrieben (ich frage mich, wie viele anwesende  Entscheider sich bei seinen Worten bei der Nase genommen haben). Ein paar seiner Kernaussagen sinngemäß widergegeben: “Das Management hat sich beim Thema Innovation seit Jahren eine großzügige Auszeit gegönnt.” – “Hierarchie – das kommt von hieros – gottgleich, göttlich – und arche – Herrschaft – also: Gottgleiche Herrschaft. Das Problem dabei: Damit landet der Kunde immer bei einem Menschen unterster Stufe, der in der Regel systemfrustriert ist.” – “Eine moderne Organisation – bereit für die Herausforderung des digitalen Zeitalters – muss sich von ‘reporting structure’ zu ‘supporting structure’ wandeln.” Ich kenne selbst genügend Unternehmen, die davon etwa so weit entfernt sind wie das 1. industrielle vom jetzigen Zeitalter. Und die werden in 5 – 10 Jahren gestorben sein – das meinte auch Eric-Jan Kaak.

Kaak firmierte als Keynote am Programm; zeitlich viel zu spät für meine Begriffe. Die anderen beiden  Keynotes waren ähnlich interessant, wenngleich nicht ganz so spannend. Michael Krammer, Ventocom Managing Partner und Telco Veteran, bemühte Vergleiche – durchaus interessante Vergleiche: Vor 10 Jahren war das meistverkaufte Auto ein VW Golf mit dem ersten serienmäßigen Tempomat; heute ebenso – mit ein paar neuen serienmäßigen Assistenten. Das Handy der Wahl war damals das Nokia 6230i – sensationelle 1.3MP Kamera, 64k Datenrate, 8MB Speicher – heute ist es ein iPhone. Viel erschütternder allerdings die von Krammer vorgebrachten Beispiele, wie 3-4 Kunden im richtigen Moment mit den richtigen social  postings ein Produkt oder eine Strategie beeinflussen können. Daher wäre – so seine Ausführungen – Fairness und Transparenz, gleichermaßen innerbetrieblich und nach außen, oberstes Gebot in einer innovativen zeitgemäßen Unternehmensstrategie.

Dr. Mervyn G. Maistry von Ernst&Young setzte in diesem Stil fort und legte endlich mal angreifbar dar, was das oft bemühte exponentielle Wachstum der fortschreitenden Digitalisierung tatsächlich bedeutet: Wären 30 Schritte linear betrachtet 30 Meter, so sind 30 exponentielle Schritte eine Entfernung von 26 Erdumrundungen. Seine Warnung an Unternehmen: “Do not do old things with new technology or old technology newly. Key to Digitalization is to do new things.”

Neben den Keynotes der wohl interessanteste Teil der Veranstaltung war eine doch recht ansehnliche Menge an Fallbeispielen – wenngleich nicht alle das Prädikat “disruptiv” verdienen würden. Beispielsweise fällt der Vortrag von Dr. Manfred Wöhrl und Walter Pürk zu “Digital Signage” – der Slot war mit “konkretem Umsetzungsbeispiel” angekündigt – für mich maximal unter “interessant”; wirklich innovativ wirkten die gebrachten Beispiele noch nicht – wiewohl Wöhrl wie immer spannend und lebendig vortrug.

Ganz anders Andreas Zilch von PAC, der mit dem Korneuburger Logistiker HAVI ein Unternehmen präsentierte, das sich durch Smart Analytics und Einführung von IT in herkömmliche “supply chain” Prozesse zu einem unverzichtbaren Dienstleister der McDonalds-Kette gemacht hat (übrigens gibt’s die Fallbeispiel-Sammlung von PAC derzeit noch zum freien Download unter dem Stichwort “Innovation Register“).

Und sonst: Jürgen Weiss, DigitizedRebels Consulting, bot eine wahrlich amüsante Schau zum Thema “Emotion im Verkauf” – hauptsächlich gestützt auf das Genre interaktiver Videos – spannend vor allem für den Retail-Bereich. Mark Winkler, braintribe, erzählte seine – zugegeben schon etwas angestaubte aber – immer noch beeindruckende Geschichte, wie das braintribe-Flaggschiff “Tribefire” Digitalisierung durch Daten-Konsolidierung und -Präsentation unterstützt. Der SAP Innovation Officer Dr. Carsten Linz berichtete von den disruptiven Prozessmodellen, die mit SAP HANA möglich werden (ich konnte seine disruptive Meinung nicht ganz teilen, wenngleich HANA mit Sicherheit eine solide zukunftsweisende Technologie ist). Und der Group CIO der OMV, Dipl.-Kfm. Marcus Frantz, erklärte, wie Digitalisierung mit einer doch eher traditionellen “large scale IT” verknüpfbar werden kann – vielleicht der für den Wandel, den in Österreich Industrie, Handel, … und damit natürlich auch die IKT-Branche durchmachen werden müssen, wichtigste Vortrag überhaupt an diesem Tag.

Dass der Ideengeber eines wirklich tollen StartUps – www.way2stage.com – hingegen lediglich Eric Riess runterbetete, war dann doch wieder ein wenig enttäuschend. Ich drück ihm trotzdem für die morgen anstehende Funding-Runde die Daumen!

Zu guter Letzt zwei Slots, die in einem vollständigen Review der #Digitalize nicht fehlen dürfen: Mag. Martin-Hannes Giesswein war so schnell wieder von der Bühne herunten, wie er nach der Pause plötzlich auf ihr stand: In den scharfen 10 Minuten seiner Präsentation hat er aber dem Plenum mehr mitgegeben als viele andere Speaker-Kollegen heute: In der Essenz die Botschaft: “Die Generation Y wird die Digitale Transformation vorantreiben; sie wird Umsetzer und Kunde zugleich sein. Wenn Führungskräfte in diesem Land ihr Unternehmen erfolgreich durch die Revolution führen wollen, dann müssen sie lernen, wie man eine Generation Y führt.”

Und dann noch Mag. Ulrike Huemer, CIO der Stadt Wien: Ich bleibe selten bei einer derartigen Konferenz wirklich bis zum Schluss. War es Kalkül der Veranstalter oder reiner Zufall? Was auch immer – Mag. Huemer verstand es nicht nur, die Zeit bis zum ersehnten Beginn der “Vienna Digital Night” (gleich im Anschluss an die #Digitalize on location programmiert) drastisch zu verkürzen – auch was sie berichtete – hauptsächlich mit welchen Projekten die Stadt Wien innovative und zukunftsweisende Veränderungen hin zu einer echten Smart City vorantreiben möchte – hat mir doch einiges an Bewunderung abgerungen. Nachzulesen in der www.digitaleagenda.wien – es lohnt sich.

Digitale Standortbestimmung, also – alles in allem war es das. Nicht mehr und nicht weniger. Dass der Standort Österreich – wie leider so oft – dem Standort “Welt” auch bei der Umsetzung wirklich sinnbringender, zielführender, innovativer Digital Business Ideen hinterherhinkt, hat den Anwensenden hoffentlich ein wenig zu denken gegeben. Denn obwohl es den Vorträgen ein wenig am roten Faden einerseits und den konkret angreifbaren, den “coolen”, den wirklich “digitalen”, Bespielen mangelte, so muss man Confare doch das Kompliment machen, dass die #Digitalize 2015 das erste Sinn bringende Event zum Thema war.

 

P.S.: Und als i-Tüpfelchen auf alles war es eine Freude, Josef Broukal endlich wieder einmal als Moderator eines derartigen Events erleben zu dürfen!

 

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Digitalization, IoT, networks and money

I am sitting at the Celtic-Plus spring event here in Vienna. Ridicolously high suit-rate compared to the fact that they intend to target future dynamics of how technology is going to be delivered to people and businesses. I’m in jeans and probably a bit of an outlaw – which fits pretty well in fact, because none of the pitched projects does really offer a mature collaboration opportunity for me.

However, it is still interesting to learn what’s the innovative potential in the field of wireless networking and media. Interested in more detail? You may wanna check out their hashtag: #celticevent

What’s pretty obvious here is that also mobile network providers and researchers in that area want to leverage and support innovation wrt Digital Business and the Internet of Things. Every other project is taking you onto a trip on how they will improve the world by providing people, businesses and things with an enhanced connectivity experience. 5G and the 5G Infrastructure Private Public Partnership is one of the most re-known and most heavily discussed topics here (heavily criticized, either, for their lack of reasearch into flexible broadband spectrum usage).

When listening to the project pitches, which mainly aim at finding partners within the community in order to execute on their research objectives, I was presented with a couple of really cool ideas; and also the project exhibition area offered a good insight into what is being done to improve worldwide connectivity (take e.g. the initiative to improve the reach of traditional wireless transmitter stations in order to bring wireless connectivity into remote areas; Serengeti area as a concrete example).

However, there was one particular problem with nearly all of the presented award winning or pitching projects: A severe lack of productizable and monetizeable results.

Here’s a few examples:

1. Tilas

TILAS explores possibilities to provide wireless to a huge amount of interconnected devices (like e.g. in heavily populated rural areas) and thereby making large deployments of huge amount of wearables and devices possible in the future.

On their folder, their achievements are described as “solutions to overcome the already detected technical problems in current large cities.” And it continues: “The demonstrator will highlight the main achievements in the different fields including figures that asset the benefits of the proposal in terms of capabilities and economic savings […]”. No tangible monetizable (product) results or implementation plans highlighted.

2. Seed4C

This is an acronym for “Security Embedded Element and Data privacy for Cloud”, and their objective is to propose an approach to attach hardware-based secure elements (SE) to “cloud nodes” in order to offer strong security enforcement and to support and end-2-end process ranging from security modelling to security assurance.

Good thought. Here’s their achieved results according to their flyer: “Seed4C has defined an end-2-end security process which consists of the following stages […]”, and then the stages are explained which include a modelling approach, an OpenStack platform for application deployment according to the model and security policy configuration. The project has ended in February 2015 after 3 years work. So, that’s it more or less. No claim of any company actually implementing this.

3. H2B2VS

The complete name of this is “HEVC Hybrid Broadcast Broadband Video Services”. And this is pretty interesting, as it proposes to use broadband networks in addition to broadcasting networks to allow for hybrid distribution of TV programs and services leveraging both in a synchronized way in order to overcome the limitations in capacity that traditional broadcasting methods have.

Achievements so far (as the project is going to end in October 2015):

  • 20 use cases on hybrid distribution described
  • 3 HEVC encoders and 2 decoders available
  • CDNs adapted to hybrid delivery
  • a proposal to MPEG how to efficiently synchronize broadcast and broadband (acceptance state not reported)

Tangible in a sense of productization? None, as far as I could see.

Future projects

The pitch session with about 20 differnt projects mostly asking for cooperation partners offered some interesting ideas as well, e.g. a framework to combine information from wearables (like e.g. about an accident of an elderly person) with location and mobile and skill data of close by healthcare personal, or a platform for predictable management of public transport, or a worldwide database for usable broadband spectrums in order to allow services to leverage any spectrum in a flexible dynamic, an agile, way (closing the gap of what’s claimed to be leaking in the 5G research projects’ scope)

None of them – however – offered any glimpse on competition analysis or tangible results and deliverables from which monetization opportunities could have been deducted.

So, in the end

… I was asking myself: With all those cool and highly innovative approaches being presented and with hundreds of millions of governmental money pumped into these initiatives – where is the results that companies take into their portfolios and products to be offered on the market or included in solutions? Where is the real practical change of ecosystems and services for consumers or businesses that show that the funds provided through collaboration under the Celtic-Plus cluster are rightfully used and spent? How can the European Union and EU governments spend huge sums of money to projects which (mostly) in the end do not come up with anything more than academic research results?

Don’t get me wrong: I thoroughly and fully trust, that funds are important, research on an innovative (maybe sometimes a bit academic) level is utterly necessary to drive digital innovation, that not every project can end with a tangible new solution being productive: But the spending for these kind of projects is tremendous, and the duration of most of the projects is pretty long, and the results, as I could see, are mostly so very limited that I would really love to demand funding organizations to bind their spendings to actual revenue achieved with the respective project results.

If any angel investor or private equity acted that way and not measured their engagement against real practically usable results, they’d be dead before having even started.

I think, in order to really be successful in terms of innovation, there needs to be innovative projects alongside monetizable and productizable business needs! And funds for the same — meaning that there’ll be less for purely academic research as long as it can’t be brought back into the market and – ultimately – benefits the end user and an improved (digital) world.

 

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Bedürfnispyramide / Hierarchy of Needs

… und auch wenn die allgemeine Digitalisierung und das dauernde Verbundensein grundsätzlich spannende und bereichernde Entwicklungen sind, dürfen wir – gerade dieser Tage – WLan und Akkuleistung auf der Maslow’schen Bedürfnispyramide ruhig ein wenig weiter oben einreihen. Tim Minchin hat da ein paar ganz gute Ideen dazu …


 

… and even though Digitalization and ubiquitous connection of everyThing are interesting and enriching advancements of mankind, we’re surely allowed – especially during these days – to put “WiFi” and “Akku” onto some higher places within Maslow’s “hierarchy of needs”. Tim Minchin has some nice ideas to this, indeed …

 

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