Simplicity, the next big thing?

Complex processRecently, Dynatrace conducted a survey of CIOs on their top challenges. Of the top six, almost all deal with concerns about complexity. There is no doubt there are numerous technologies being injected in almost every industry from a range of vendors. Integration of this multivendor cacophony is ripe with security risks and misunderstanding – whether it is your network or IoT vendor environment.

Humans have a limited capacity to handle complexity before they throw up their hands and just let whatever happens wash over them. That fact is one of the reasons AI is being viewed as the savior for the future. Back in 2008, I wrote a blog post for HP that mentioned:

“the advent of AI could allow us to push aside a lot of the tasks that we sometimes don’t have the patience for, tasks that are too rigorous or too arduous.”

IT organizations needs to shift their focus back to making the business environment understandable, not just injecting more automation or data collection. Businesses need to take latency out of decision making and increase the level of understanding and confidence. A whole new kind of macro-level (enterprise) human interface design is required. Unfortunately, this market is likely a bit too nebulous to be targeted effectively today other than through vague terms like analytics…  But based on the survey results, large scale understanding (and then demand) appears to be dawning on leadership.

The ROI for efforts to simplify and encourage action, should be higher than just adding a new tool to the portfolio ablaze in most organizations. We’ll see where the monies go though, since that ROI is likely to be difficult to prove when compared to the other shiny balls available.


Six thoughts on mobility trends for 2018

mobility walkLet’s face it, some aspects of mobility are getting long in the tooth. The demand for more capabilities is insatiable. Here are a few areas where I think 2018 will see some exciting capabilities develop. Many of these are not new, but their interactions and intersection should provide some interesting results and thoughts to include during your planning.

1. Further blurring and integration of IoT and mobile

We’re likely to see more situations where mobile recognizes the IoT devices around them to enhance contextual understanding for the user. We’ve seen some use of NFC and Bluetooth to share information, but approaches to embrace the environment and act upon the information available is still in its infancy. This year should provide some significant use cases and maturity.

2. Cloud Integration

By now most businesses have done much more than just stick their toe in the cloud Everything as a Service (XaaS) pool. As the number of potential devices in the mobility and IoT space expand, the flexibility and time to action that cloud solutions facilitate needs to be understood and put into practice. It is also time to take all the data coming in from these and transform that flow into true contextual understanding and action, also requiring a dynamic computing environment.

3. Augmented reality

With augmented reality predicted to expend to a market somewhere between $120 and $221 billion in revenues by 2021, we’re likely to see quite a bit of innovation in this space. The wide range of potential demonstrates the lack of a real understanding. 2018 should be a year where AR gets real.

4. Security

All discussions of mobility need to include security. Heck, the first month of 2018 has should have nailed the importance of security into the minds of anyone in the IT space. There were more patches (and patches of patches) on a greater range of systems than many would have believed possible just a short time ago. Recently, every mobile store (Apple, Android…) was found to have nefarious software that had to be exercised. Mobile developers need to be ever more vigilant, not just about the code they write but the libraries they use.

5. Predictive Analytics

Context is king and the use of analytics to increase the understanding of the situation and possible responses is going to continue to expand. As capabilities advance, only our imagination will hold this area back from increasing where and when mobile devices become useful. Unfortunately, the same can be said about the security issues that are based on using predictive analytics.

6. Changing business models

Peer to peer solutions continue to be the rage but with the capabilities listed above, whole new approaches to value generation are possible. There will always be early adopters who are willing to play with these and with the deeper understanding possibilities today new approaches to crossing the chasm will be demonstrated.

It should be an interesting year…

Groundhog Day, IoT and Security Risks

groundhogs dayLately I’ve been hearing a great deal of discussion about IoT and its application in business. I get a Groundhog day feeling, since in some sectors this is nothing new.

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, I spent all my time on data collection off factory equipment and developing analytics programs on the data collected. The semiconductor manufacturing space had most of its tooling and inventory information collected and tracked. Since this manufacturing segment is all about yield management — analytic analysis was a business imperative. Back then though you had to write your own, analytics and graphics programs.

The biggest difference today though is the security concerns. The ease of data movement and connectivity has allowed the industries lust for convenience to open our devices and networks to a much wider aperture of possible intruders. Though there are many risks in IoT, here are a few to keep in mind.

1) Complexity vs. Simplicity and application portfolio expansion

Businesses have had industrial control system for decades. Now that smart thermostats and water meters and door bells are becoming commonplace, approaches to managing this range of devices in the home has required user interfaces to be developed for the public and not experts. Those same techniques are being applied back into businesses and can start a battle of complexity vs. simplicity.

The investment in the IoT space by the public dwarfs the investment by most industries. These new more automated and ergonomic tools still need to tackle an environment that is just as complex for the business as its always been – in fact if anything there will be more devices brought into the business environment every day.

Understanding the complexity of vulnerabilities is a huge and ever-growing challenge. Projects relying on IoT devices must be defined with security in mind and yet interface effectively into the business. These devices will pull in new software into the business and increase the application portfolio. Understand the capabilities and vulnerabilities of these additions.

2) Vulnerability management

Keeping these IoT devices up-to-date is a never-ending problem. One of the issues of a rapidly changing market segment like this is devices will have a short lifespan. Business need to understand that they will still need to have their computing capabilities maintained. Will then vendor stand behind their product? How critical to the business is the device? As an example of the difficulties, look at the patch level of the printers in most businesses.

3) Business continuity

Cyber-attacks were unknown when I started working in IoT. Today, denial of services and infections make the news continuously. It is not about ‘if’ but ‘when’ and ‘what you’re going to do about it. These devices are not as redundant as IT organizations are used to. When they can share the data they collect or control the machines as they should, what will the business do? IoT can add a whole other dimension to business continuity planning that will need to be thought through.

4) Information leakage

Many of the IoT devices call home (back to the businesses that made them). Are these transferred encrypted? What data do they carry? One possible unintended conscience is that information can be derived (or leaked) from these devices.  Just like your electric meter’s information can be used to derive if you’re home, a business’s IoT devices can share information about production volume and types of work being performed. The business will need to develop a deeper comprehension of the analysis and data sharing risks that has happened elsewhere, regardless of the business or industry and adjust accordingly.

The Internet of Things has the potential to bring together a deeper understanding of the business. Accordingly, security at both the device and network levels needs to develop as strongly. The same analytics enabling devices to perform their tasks can also be used nefariously or to make the environment stronger.


When it is time to leave…


Sometimes you’ll initiate leaving a company, other times it may just happen out of the blue. In any case, there are a few things to think through before leaving a company… while you have access to corporate email and phone systems.

    1. Have a personal plan, if you don’t have one get one (make a budget…) but that will likely need to wait until you have time to think about it. What do you want to accomplish in the next 30, 60 or 90 days. Don’t get lost.
    2. Create a list of efforts you are working on and who your backup is – give this to your manager.
    3. Leave an out of office message for those who need to access your efforts/customers.
    4. Make sure your leader and those who will need to know (HR) have a valid address and phone number.
    5. Archive (non-company owned) materials for yourself, so you can reference them later.
    6. Make sure your manager knows about any materials that are in shared resources (e.g., OneDrive for business) that may be accessed by others but could go away when your accounts are removed.
    7. Does your company have any gamification efforts in health or other areas where there are monetary rewards? Make sure you cash them in.
    8. Save all the information on benefits for ex-employees that you can find (e.g., COBRA). They will give you a number of documents in a larger company, when you leave, but there can be alumni groups… on-line as well. They can be a tremendous resource.
    9. >Send a note to those you have been important to your work with the company to let them know you’ll be gone.
    10. Try to get a copy of anything you sign.

Help make the transition go well for everyone. Meet with your supervisor and offer to do anything possible to help fill the void created by your departure. It can be a rough time for them too.

Don’t burn any bridges, you never know which ones you may need to cross again in the future.

After you’ve left:

  1. Check on unemployment benefits. Depending on the state, even forced early retirement can have unemployment benefits associated with it. Health insurance will likely be important area of focus as well.
  2. Be positive — This is just another stop along a journey. Spend your extra time getting fit, educated or something that will improve your person outlook. Prepare yourself of the emotional roller coaster to follow.
  3. Update LinkedIn and your résumé. Some people scoff at LinkedIn, but this is what it is for.

I am sure I’ve missed something but those were what came to mind this morning. Drop a comment with ideas to help things go well.

#unemployment #work #COBRA


Back in Seattle

Last week, I was able to go back on the Microsoft campus in Redmond for a meeting. That’s the first time I’ve been back there since I spent 3 months there as part of the EDS Top Gun program back in 2005.

Flying into Seattle, we got a good view of the Space Needle and the Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame.seattle

There were a number of déjà vu moments walking around the Microsoft campus.


I always find these opportunities to see what companies are most proud of very telling. It was clear that cloud, analytics and human interface transformations were in the forefront of their thinking — much like the rest of us.


DARPA breakthrough technologies report for 2015

Future signBack in March, DARPA released their latest vision for the future. I hadn’t really seen much coverage of it after that so I thought I’d share it.

There were four technologies areas highlighted:

  • Rethink Complex Military Systems: DARPA is looking to make weapons systems more modular and easily upgraded and improved. Likely similar to the architectural and design decisions being made in most businesses today.
  • Master the Information Explosion: DARPA is developing technologies to ensure that the data and systems with which critical decisions are made are trustworthy so they are looking at methods to create fundamentally more secure systems. They are also investigating the growing need to ensure privacy at various levels of need without losing the national security value that comes from appropriate access to networked data. Once again not all that different from the discussions taking place in most businesses today.
  • Harness Biology as Technology: Leveraging breakthroughs in neuroscience, immunology, genetics and related fields, DARPA in 2014 created its Biological Technologies Office. There has been success withneural implants and prosthetic limbs, and they plan on building from there.  DARPA’s work in this area includes programs to accelerate progress in synthetic biology, outpace the spread of infectious diseases and master new neurotechnologies. Not exactly at the core of every business but those in bio-tech are definitely looking here too.
  • Expand the Technological Frontier: DARPA is working on basic research to achieve new capabilities by applying deep mathematics; inventing new chemistries, processes and materials; and harnessing quantum physics. This is one area where government level funding makes a long-lasting impact where eventually the entire economy may benefit.

Although some information is not applicable to everyone, those interested in thinking about the future of their businesses should give this document a look.