Moving to YouTube TV…?

I have been a ‘cable cutter’ for almost a decade now. A long time ago, my wife and I decided that our entertainment needs could be met at a much lower price point than what our TV provider could meet. Now that I’ve moved to a more remote market though, my over-the-air alternatives are much more limited. When the local station reconfigured their antenna pattern or lowered their output, I lost FOX a week or so before the Super Bowl. Desperate, I looked for ways to get a decent live show of the game.

This event caused me to give YouTube TV a serious look. It allows for up to 6 family members, on a range of devices, to share a subscription, at a fairly low rate. It supported most of the channels I was interested in (sorry no History Channel). YouTube TV had a 14-day free trial that I had up and running in minutes.

The good

So far, I’ve programmed in the shows of interest and it seems to be working well. Now that I have the Big Ten Network, I can even watch Purdue Basketball again – its not like you’re going to find it shown on any regular basis around South Carolina.

It keeps a repository of shows, so if you missed recording some it may be already out there. There are also quite a selection of movies… that are there for the watching.

The unlimited recording options is great, and necessary since it can record many things that I am not interested in any longer – more on that in a moment.

The bad and ugly

The biggest issue I’ve run into is the user interface. It does have a list of recently recorded shows, but for shows that are in syndication, new shows and old shows are mixed. There is no ‘only first broadcast’ option. YouTube TV also has ‘mandatory’, non-local commercials for shows that are more than a few weeks old – you cannot fast forward through those.

It lets you record the shows broadcast locally, but those recordings will eventually be replaced with a generic version. There is a good side though, if the broadcast is broken into for a local event (e.g., storms) you can wait a while and see the generic version without the local content.

I swear the user interface for the show listing was designed and written by someone who didn’t actually watch much TV, since the filter options… are weak at best. I have yet to find options that will show me upcoming items further out than 24 hours – for example: show me all the science fiction movies on any of the channels I am signed up for, for the coming week. There is also no way to hide episodes that I am no longer interested in — at least that I have found.

YouTube TV doesn’t interface with show databases (e.g., TrakTV) that could have helped sort the wheat from the chaff being recorded, which is surprising for an information run company like Google. My hope is they will realize the revenue possibilities and address this lack of information/convenience.

In summary

We’re going to continue to use it. Hopefully, it will meet our needs going forward and doesn’t change direction like so many other subscription services, in hopes of dragging us and taking our money along the way.

Measuring simple in a conference like #SapphireNow

As I was walking around the SapphireNow event and interacting with attendees, I began to really look at where they were from. A significant percentage didn’t really have money to spend on their own, they were service and support organizations needed to help others.

Yesterday, I mentioned the surprise I encountered with the philosophy shift embedded in the approach of SAP’s new online store. One of the likely outcomes of this approach is less hand-holding and more empowered employees actually generating value for their business using the new capabilities.

One measurement to watch over-time is the mix and background of the attendees. If the utilization is truly becoming simple there will be less ‘facilitators’ and more people with money to spend and value to generate directly in the business.

I remember back in 1989-1991, I worked as the technical architect of an emergency response system and corporation to react to oil spills, after the Exxon Valdez. One thing we had to do was make the entire interface simple to use and operate. There was definitely complexity behind the scenes – it was just that in an emergency any unnecessary distraction is costly. We knew that most of the people who would use the system would not have the option of training. We had to target the needs of the consumer of the system.

If SAP’s systems are really becoming simple, the attendee mix should reflect their ability to consume solutions directly. But that might be just my perspective.

I survived my first day at SAP #SapphireNow

The one area that both surprised and interested me most on the first day had little to do with the analytics or IoT space (although I did have some interesting discussions in those areas too). It was the SAP approach to their on-line store.

They have had many on-line stores in the past but now they are taking a different more ‘digital’ approach that is focused on selling direct to the consumer. This will change the relationship with the user and the enterprise based on consumption. This could disrupt their traditional buyer, the SAP sales force as well as their partners that perform system integration and consulting. It will be interesting to see if this level of change can take place without too much disruption.

By selling tools like Lumira with a free version, then a low friction purchase option with a credit card a business could easily see this tool enter into its portfolio of resources without their knowledge. They have implemented the purchase process so that if a feature of a premium version is needed you are dropped into the store. Anyone who has done on-line gaming recently has likely run into this behavior. This kind of stealth selling is inevitable and will accelerate the kind of shadow IT has been discussed for years.

I asked the people at the booth about what happens when someone buys it on their own version and the company purchases a master agreement. The answers varied a bit but the individual has a choice to roll into the agreement or continue to pay on their own. Look to the terms and conditions (that no one reads typically) for the details.

There is also the concern about who will support anything that gets created once the business becomes addicted. Everyone likely remembers the years of Excel Hell. Hopefully that will not happen but I am still checking into how change management elements can be put in place for end user developed elements.

My greatest concerns is that the traditional command and control IT organization will be very frustrated by this, while the digital purists will be confused by the resistance – it may be just outside their contextual understanding. SAP stated they will be opening these capabilities up for 3rd parties to sell their capabilities and that will have its own problems. Service providers usually sell apps as a mechanism to facilitate up-sell into consulting and integration. SAP is trying to ensure what gets into the store is valuable on its own. Some of the service providers will likely have a hard time understanding these implications as well.

It was stated (many times) in the first day that business models are changing and SAP seems to be doing its part to be disruptive, even if most of its customers haven’t internalized the implications.

And not Or

and not or (logic)I was in an exchange the other day with some folks talking about their perspective that all companies need to be using cloud computing. I agree, but my view is slightly different. My perspective is that depending on the company’s size, needs and applications they will likely continue to have in house systems. It’s not a choice between things, but a choice among things and an acceptance of the way things are and one answer doesn’t meet everyone’s needs. You can’t look at it as: clouds the answer, now what’s the question?

Mobile computing is similar. It is the future interface of the enterprise, not really something special anymore. Embracing mobile devices and cloud computing will have a game changing effect, but it is not about the infrastructure but what we do with them and people want to do those things everywhere.

There are a number of other trends taking place like the IoT that are also shifting how organizations think about computing. It is interesting how this term is changing and how various organizations are trying to name it. It used to be ubiquitous computing, some call it ambient computing, but most still use the Internet of Things.

In any case the aggregation of sensors, devices, intelligence, and agents will shift how organizations generate value and shift IT to focus on systems of action.

Internet of Things Units Installed Base by Category (in Millions)

 Category 2013 2014 2015 2020
Automotive 96.0 189.6 372.3 3,511.1
Consumer 1,842.1 2,244.5 2.874.9 13,172.5
Generic Business 395.2 479.4 623.9 5,158.6
Vertical Business 698.7 836.5 1,009.4 3,164.4
Grand Total 3,032.0 3,750.0 4,880.6 25,006.6

Source: Gartner (November 2014)

Many still look at these opportunities primarily from an infrastructure perspective, but I definitely do not. It is about the business and the hardware side is a small (but necessary) part. Organizations that will compete effectively in the coming years are going to shift their thinking to “and” and not “or” foundation. It is not all about IT, but IT has a role in enabling this flexibility.

By the way the output of the And not Or logic circuit illustration is always a one –> true.

When will 5G arrive?

Recently came across this interesting post on what 5G will mean for Consumers. In summary:5g wireless

  • Significantly faster data speeds: 10 Gbps, compared to one gigabit per second (max) with 4G.
  • Low latency (time to send a packet): one millisecond vs. 50 ms with 4G — great for those chatty applications being developed
  • The foundation for a more “connected world”: The Internet of Things (smart appliances, connected cars, wearables) will need a network that can accommodate billions of connected devices.

The most optimistic targets would see the first commercial network up and running by 2020, but even that may be too optimistic. As with LTE, it will take years for the network to become widespread.

What it will mean for businesses is the possibility for finer granularity across a wider geographic area. Hopefully, everyone is getting ready for IoT.

It does make me wonder about the future of relatively low speeds that many regions have as their entry level broad band for the consumer.