Archive for the ‘VIP’ Category

Data is the New Black

November 9, 2019

data

FountainBlue’s November 1 VIP roundtable, on the topic of ‘Data is the New Black’. Thank you also to our gracious host at Automation Anywhere. Below are notes from the conversation.  

Here’s the thing about data:

  • There’s a wealth of it, and it’s just getting overwhelming bigger.
  • It drives everything – every industry, every person, every company. 
  • It’s good news for the semiconductor industry and other sectors which make sure that we have the storage, the energy, the network needed so that people can keep getting access to that data.
  • Data within legacy systems might be valuable, but it is likely also difficult to access.
  • Data across multiple sources might be useful, but it is likely to connect data across multiple source into a common dataset, useful enough to understand problems and make decisions.

With that said, here’s the challenge and opportunity around data.

  • There’s so much of it that we need to filter it first to identify which data is relevant and then also for what we need immediately, what we need in the short term, and what we might need in the long term.
  • It takes a lot of energy and resources to keep the data, so we must be strategic about what data to keep and how we can efficiently get it into the hands of those who need it most.
  • Compliance to security and privacy issues make data management high-stakes for all. 
  • Having an interoperable standard for data sharing might help better integrate data across sources, teams, companies, industries.
  • Customers today are empowered and fickle. Companies must be able to innovate and customize more quickly to serve their needs.
  • Even adopted solutions have much shorter life cycles today, as customers want solutions which are better and faster and more battery efficient. 
  • People are at the heart of the problem around data privacy. They want their privacy and their access. It’s hard to give people both at the same time every time.  

Below are some shared best practices:

  • Make a plan on how data is gathered, managed and distributed. 
  • Plan for a future with much more data. Be selective about what data is important.
  • Collaborate with other people, companies and industries and share best practices.
  • Focus your data plans on the needs of your customers and your partners.
  • Consider the intentions and ethics around the people and companies providing the data.
  • Policy may not be the answer to managing data mishandling. Indeed, it may cause more complications, less fairness.
  • People should be responsible enough to know how their data is used and astute enough to take the data they receive with a grain of salt – even to the point of questioning the validity of the data and the intentions of the party providing the data.
  • Create solutions with tiny form factors to better address the needs of demanding customers.
  • Ask for less information from customers when you ask them to sign up for something – the less friction you’re providing to the customer experience, the better results you could get.
  • There will be a growing convergence of tech and ethics and values. Speak to the elephant in the room – facilitate that conversation between stakeholders within and across organizations.  
  • Use fewer resources to manage ‘garbage data’. Yes, all data might one day be useful, but focus on the data that’s more likely to be useful, now and soon, rather than data which might one day be useful. 

Below are thoughts on the future opportunities.

  • The future may have more self-learning – e.g. more AI, less raw data.
  • Use ML to identify patterns early enough to address and even prevent diseases. 
  • Making sense of unstructured data provides huge opportunities. 

The bottom line is that data is everywhere – the use of access and usage are complicated, the stakes are high – you want to give the right people immediate and full access without compromising the integrity and accuracy of the data, and while respecting the privacy of those who ‘own’ the data. 

Future of Mobility

October 14, 2019

Mobility

FountainBlue’s October 11 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘The Future of Mobility’. Thank you also to our gracious host at Samsung. Below are notes from the conversation. 

The executives in attendance remarked on the range of perspectives on the future of mobility – from semiconductors to pharma, from auto to software. We agreed on the following:

  • Moore’s Law will also apply to mobility – solutions will be better, faster and with lower latency with advancements happening in ever-shortening periods of time.
  • There will be a constant push-pull between privacy and access. Data ownership and access will be an issue which needs to be proactively managed.
  • Be careful who collects your own data.
  • Ensure that the data you’re collecting is valid and truthful and vetted.
  • The proliferation of devices and data will create increasingly more complex requirements on technologies, people and companies. And the pressure to get it right real-time will be increasingly overwhelming.
  • Build awareness and education so that individuals, leaders, companies will use data and information wisely and well, with integrity.

Below are the strategies for navigating the future of mobility.

  • Build and join ecosystems of partners to manage different facets of very integrated mobility options. Nobody can be an expert at all things.
  • Proactively manage the expectations around mobility solutions and sensors, so that you’re in line with common goals within and across individuals, teams and companies.
  • Accept that there will continue to be a proliferation of mobility solutions, and that there will be a lot of crossover between work and life. Plan your security and IT strategies accordingly.
  • Collaborating between entrepreneurs and corporates will continue to foster innovations in mobility.  

The identified opportunities include:

  • Power storage, distribution and management for mobile devices
  • Infotainment and telematics solutions which support connecting cars and supporting drivers and their passengers
  • 5G solutions which address latency challenges 
  • 3G solutions which provide access to the billions of people who currently don’t have access
  • Edge Computing solutions which facilitate quicker processing at the device level, for faster response times
  • Leveraging lidar and sensors to more accurately and more rapidly process the physical world
  • Providing immersive mobility experiences 

We also had a lively discussion about the role of humans as mobility solutions become more pervasive. We concluded that humans will always be necessary.

  • Mobility solutions might provide you with vetted information and dashboards, but humans will make the decisions.
  • Humans will make creative decisions which might better solve the problem. 
  • Humans will be the ones improving existing solutions and understanding the problems so that new solutions will be created.
  • Humans will be managing all the humans, the devices and solutions – and aligning all toward a common vision and result.

Internet of Everything

September 25, 2019

group hand fist bump

FountainBlue’s September 13 VIP roundtable, on the topic of ‘Internet of Everything’. Thank you also to our gracious host at Micron and to each of you for your input and advice. Below are notes from the conversation. 

On the one hand, the ‘Internet of Everything’ is inevitable and logical, but on the other hand, it’s overblown and ineffective. If first all collectively focus on creating a viable and flexible infrastructure to sustain it, if we could all collaborate to mitigate the downsides around privacy, security, and access, we could positively impact societies and people around the world.

Core to the success for Internet of Everything solutions is the need to optimize data, process, and people. 

  • Data: With the mind-boggling volumes of data available through the ever-growing mass of devices, we must quickly discover, filter, organize, communicate, report on and process real-data efficiency. 
  • Process: We must strategically create processes which would help us receive, manage, communicate, and report on data to the right stakeholders as quickly as possible. These processes must also optimize energy, dollars and people.
  • People: We must ensure that the right people get access to relevant and accurate information quickly so that they can respond accordingly.

As an enterprise leader and as an informed consumer, the Internet of Things is providing some daunting challenges.

  • The blurring line between work and home means that ‘home’ devices show up at work, which may endanger the enterprise network.
  • ‘Intelligent’ appliances might help you optimize what you buy when for example, but might also make you uncomfortable with who might know what about you.
  • Everyone wants everything seamlessly, wirelessly, and simply, but sometimes that’s not easy. We can assume that people will get ever more hungry for bandwidth, meaning a huge and growing demand. But creating that infrastructure is a challenging business, unless we can work together to collaboratively fund it.

Where there are challenges, there are also opportunities. 

  • Allow on-premise processing of data for the most important information.
  • Leverage mixed reality, holograms and simulations to connect with experts in support of people addressing specific on-site challenges. 
  • The volumes of generated data will help customers better understand a wide range of problems, and make better decisions, leveraging AI and ML.
  • The idea of ubiquitous communications means so much information from so many sources. Filtering out which communications are essential and important will be a huge ongoing need.

Our executives had some words of caution.

  • Segment out individual devices which may have access to your home or work network. Hackers generally get in on the weakest link.
  • Proactively manage your layers of risk. Ensure that greatest protection for your greatest assets. 
  • Know what’s likely to happen and plan accordingly.

In the end, our executives are practical, emphasizing the need to focus on ROI rather than IoT. 

Innovating on the Edge

August 13, 2019

EdgeComputing

FountainBlue’s August 9 VIP roundtable, on the topic of ‘Innovating on the Edge’. Please join me in  our gracious host at Intel and to each of you for your input and advice. Below are notes from the conversation. 

There are many factors which lead to the emergence and growth of Edge computing, including: 

  • the volumes of raw data generated by the exploding number of devices, processes, and programs;
  • the complexity of data available makes it more difficult to process, filter, understand; 
  • the users are demanding powerful, personalized, complex solutions which are secure and private; 
  • the imminent arrival of 5G solutions will push executables down faster to the ‘edge’, the device itself; 
  • the tremendous need for energy and power (and the associated expense) if everything is processed on the cloud itself;
  • the urgent need for quick responses, especially when safety and lives are on the line; and
  • the immediate and ongoing need to protect the privacy of users, the security of systems and devices and networks.

But it’s no easy task to innovate on the Edge.

  • Each solution must be able to efficiently filter out data, focusing on the ‘real’ data, the ‘relevant’ data for the problem at hand.
  • There’s a challenge to make strategic decisions around technology and business, while also not getting stuck with the decision made, in case things don’t go as planned.
  • The current investment environment is pro-software and less bullish on hardware in general. 
  • Each solution must navigate the technical, business and regulatory objectives and constraints, while also solving the problem.
  • The speed of change is mind-boggling, and innovating in that environment is difficult at best. But things also keep evolving and changing, which makes things even more difficult.
  • Memory and storage bottle necks may arise with the rise in volume and complexity of data and processing.
  • It’s a sobering thought, but devices and solutions on the edge which might be turned into weapons (including cars) have additional security and operational requirements.
  • Companies must also protect itself from financial, legal and brand exposure should a solution on the Edge cause unintended damage to users.

Below are some thoughts on how to keep that innovative edge.

  • Be strategic. 
    • Know what your customers need in the short term and for the long term and plan accordingly.
    • Work with an ecosystem of partners to deliver tailored solutions efficiently.
  • Adopt a set of Open Source tools which would help rapidly develop, deploy and manage solutions on the edge.
  • Develop hardware-agnostic solutions which are more versatile and adaptable. 
  • Adopt self-maintenance systems to ensure validity of solution and ongoing maintenance. With that said, do not delegate on management to automation. Know when the scenarios when you need proactive leadership and management and respond accordingly.  
  • AI will take you far – understanding the relevant data. ML can take you farther – it could help you understand the trend and make predictions beyond the historical data. Both are necessary and essential. Progressively more of the AI will take place closer to the edge. 
  • The speed and accuracy for data processing is essential for Edge Computing, as it is for just about everything else involving data. The ability to process unstructured data and video and the ability to focus on the deltas rather than the raw data will help solutions better manage and filter data.
  • Collaboration is key as there are so many players involved.
    • Carriers need to invest in 5G.
    • Cities need to adopt the infrastructure for 5G.
    • Each solution is a combination of hardware, software, processes, etc., Partnering with others in non-core offerings is essential.
    • Privacy and security must be maintained. Having ecosystem partners focusing on these areas will help companies focus on delivering on their core value.

In conclusion, our leaders agreed that innovators in the Edge Computing space must create an ecosystem of players and connect with players across the ecosystem at many levels.

Industry 4.0 Opportunities and Challenges

July 23, 2019

Industrial Revolution IT Integration Smart Manufacturing Innovat

FountainBlue’s July 19 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Industry 4.0 Opportunities and Challenges’. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at ASML and our executives in attendance for their input and advice. Below are notes from the conversation. 

The drive for better, faster, more customized, and higher quality results is fueling advancements in manufacturing. The problems around the next innovations in manufacturing are complex, and the stakes are high.

  • It’s a challenge to integrate a host of software and hardware solutions efficiently and cost-effectively.
  • It’s difficult to provide customized solutions to individual customers and to do so dynamically in volume, within budgets.
  • There are many regulations and policies within companies, across companies, within countries, within industries. What’s more, everything keeps changing, so it’s hard to stay on top of these requirements.
  • It’s of paramount importance to protect the security of the solution, the privacy of the customers. 

There are severe financial, relationship and brand consequences if any of the above is compromised or sub-par. Yet each company must adopt new principles, new ways of doing things to remain relevant.

  • Have a customer-centric mind set. Understand that the best solutions may not be the best science or even the best engineering solutions. It’s what the markets, the customers will adopt and embrace and ultimately pay for.
  • Understand what the problems of the customer and how best to solve their problems at scale, and how to measure results. For example, consider correlating individual sensor readings to downstream measured results.
  • Respect the need for security, the need for privacy for all stakeholders while also consistently delivering quality personalized solutions for customers.
  • Create an ecosystem of stakeholders and collaborate with them to deliver solutions at scale.
  • Take a system design approach and integrate the use of software, hardware, processes and tools in designing advanced manufacturing solutions.
  • Consider adopting simulations (and augmented reality) and modeling when designing advanced manufacturing solutions.
  • Be modular with your design so that you can correct and redirect as needed. 
  • Optimize your supply chain so it’s just in time, leveraging AI to predict what ‘just-in-time’ means.
  • Leverage ML and AI to understand and predict faults, to better anticipate and address problems in general.  

It’s clear from our thought-provoking, interactive conversation that Advanced Manufacturing is the future. And this future will be seized by leaders and companies who are proactive, strategic, collaborative, as represented by the executives in attendance at the roundtable.

The Future of Autonomous Driving

June 18, 2019

AutonomousDriving

FountainBlue’s June 14 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘The Future of Autonomous Driving’. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Vonzos Partners and our executives in attendance for their input and advice. Below are notes from the conversation. 

There was resounding agreement that autonomous driving is a certainty, and agreement also that there are many barriers toward mass adoption.

  • It’s tricky to navigate a world where some cars are autonomous and some aren’t, but if adoption is to take place, policy-makers, drivers, vendors, auto-makers, and all other stakeholders must collaborate on a transition plan. 
  • The stakes are high in dollars and in lives, so all edge cases, corner cases and other scenarios must be planned for. It takes money and time to do this piece well.
  • The sheer volume of data generated by vehicles is mind-boggling. It’s a challenge to figure out how to best leverage the data – the real-time analytics – to optimize for both efficiency and safety.

Below are some highlighted best practices to facilitate this adoption:

  • Plan for small successes which would serve foundational needs for autonomous driving. For example, simulations, artificial intelligence, data analytics will all be foundation solutions necessary for full adoption of autonomous driving. Invest in solutions which can provide these technologies today.
  • Collaboration between stakeholders across geographies, industries, functions, jurisdictions etc., must be formed for adoption to take place. Partnering with insurance companies might be an interesting option as well.
  • Having a neutral party to facilitate collaborations between stakeholders might help forge partnerships and might make it more inclusive.
  • Computer simulations leveraging data might help in the research and design of autonomous vehicles.

Plan for these opportunities also, as we approach adoption of autonomous vehicles:

  • The passengers will have more time on their hands. And they would be willing to pay for mobile internet access, streamed entertainment and work options.
  • Interactivity between riders may provide interesting opportunities.
  • Plan for additional security implications for fully autonomous vehicles.

Below are some predictions by our executives in attendance:

  • Autonomous drivers may leverage highways first as there are fewer challenges around pedestrians, parked cars, road hazards, etc.,
  • The trucking industry might be adopting autonomous driving first as it’s more easily automated and is more profitable than passenger vehicles.

We are at least a decade away from full autonomous driving, but there will be early adopters in several areas. Collaboration and coordination between leaders and innovators is key to exactly how many decades off we are from a future with autonomous driving.

Blockchain Use Cases

May 7, 2019

BlockChain

FountainBlue’s May 3 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Blockchain Use Cases’. Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at Carta and our participating executives in attendance. Below are notes from the conversation. 

A blockchain is a growing list (or ledger) of records consider them ‘blocks’, which are linked together securely using cryptography, and include a timestamp, and transaction data. There’s been a LOT of BUZZ about how blockchain solutions will change the world, and HYPE around bitcoins in particular, hype which has not materialized into huge, sustainable fortunes for most people.

This month’s participating executives shared their thoughts on current and future use cases of the blockchain, and talked about the blockchain challenges and opportunities ahead. Below is a summary of their comments.

Why do you need to use blockchain?

  • Blockchain solutions are most useful when you’re working with two entities who don’t trust each other, but need to engage with each other on a transaction, and also need to trust that the transaction will be executed as agreed by both parties.
  • Blockchain solutions are useful when the buyer or the seller knows more than the other party, AND both parties want to ensure that data and information is fully shared about the negotiated commodity. An example of this is selling used cars. 

Elements of a successful blockchain solution:

  • Core to any successful blockchain solution is the flexible and efficiency management,  ledgering and tracking of assets and their ownership. Defining the smallest units of ‘assets’, the smallest incremental units of these ‘assets’, the number of available ‘units’, the interim and ultimate value of these assets, the definition and conditions for changing ownership, the process for recording ownership shifts, etc., are all of essential importance.
  • Blockchain solutions must include sophisticated cryptographic technology and integration processes so that they are ‘un-hackable’. Both parties must trust that neither can cheat, and that no outside party can interfere. 
  • Blockchain solutions must shore up the weakest elements of a solution as hackers are most likely to focus on breaking in there.
  • Even if a blockchain solution is un-hackable and completely secure, others might be able to triangulate available data and extrapolate implications of that data. 
  • Blockchain solutions must respect the privacy of users.

Thoughts on how to get blockchain solutions adopted:

  • Policy standards must be flexible enough to accept quality blockchain solutions, yet firm enough to discourage corruption and malfeasance. 
  • Technology platforms must be integrated/standardized enough to support vetted blockchain solutions.
  • Banks, corporations, government, church, and other entities must be open enough to consider blockchain use cases. When there are clear and beneficial use cases across sectors, mass adoption will follow.

The Challenges and Opportunities for blockchain use cases:

  • Connect blockchain assets into physical assets (like energy, physical coins, etc.,) to get more stable value columns.
  • Hire people who are technically astute, but also flexible, collaborative, open-minded, creative and willing to learn. They are the ones who will design the blockchain use cases of the future.
  • Change needs to happen at all levels within an organization for fully embrace the benefits of blockchain. 
  • Sometimes it makes sense to build a consortium of parties to ensure the quality of goods exchanged. An example of this is to have tech companies collaborate to ensure that the supply chain for manufacturing is of the highest quality.

The bottom line is that blockchain use cases will be created, and will be adopted and useful, but only: 1) when we need to Trust in the integrity of the data/information; 2) when we want to respect the privacy of the parties; 3) when we want to ensure security of the transaction; 4) when two parties need to exchange assets fairly; and 5) when we need real-time, validated information about the assets we possess.

Resources and Links:

The Future of Work

April 5, 2019

FutureOfWork

FountainBlue’s April 5 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘The Future of Work’. Thank you also to our gracious hosts at Citrix and to our executives in attendance for their input and advice. Below are notes from the conversation. 

The Future of Work will address the emotional, physical, spiritual and intellectual needs of the whole, integrated human. It will focus on creating connections between people, and also on providing platforms, processes and opportunities so that people can get things done in the way that’s convenient for them.

All these opportunities arise because, for the most part, we have the foundational technologies and infrastructure necessary to create more scalable, more sustainable, more versatile, and more powerful solutions which make us more productive at work and more fulfilled and satisfied outside work.

Predictions for the the future of work include:

  • The work scenarios will be impacted by whether the workforce is from Gen X and Gen Y and Gen Z. Each generation thrives under different parameters. 
  • The future of work will include many people working from home. 
    • Provide them with the hardware, software, network and tools so that they can efficiently, securely and productivity do so.
  • There is and will continue to be an abundance of software and device options brought into enterprises. 
    • IT professionals and executives must be proactive about communicating and restricting what is allowed on-site and how it is integrated with other solutions. 
    • Develop and manage standards for interoperability, security, scalability. These standards and protocols will help advance opportunities for all.
    • There will always be a balance between a need for security and a need for privacy, and a need to conform to relevant policies and standards.
  • There will continue to be a trend toward working with shared physical space and shared equipment at work. 
    • Manage that scenario so it’s clear how everything can be equitably and securely shared efficiently.

Below are some thoughts on how to further facilitate advancements in technologies and solutions to fit into our new work requirements.

  • Collaborate across roles, across companies, across industries to meet the complex and complicated needs of a very demanding customer base.
  • Focus on and deliver on what the target customer is looking for.
  • Get data on how customers are using current solutions, for this will provide insights on what other services and products you could provide.
  • Accept that professionals in industries such as healthcare and financial services may be more reluctant to embrace new hardware and software offerings. Find a way to make the transition easier for them, for it’s necessary for that adoption to take place.
  • No matter how advanced we are in video and audio communications, there will never be a substitute for face-to-face communications. Factoring in this truth will help plan for a more realistic future.
  • Measure how productive the workforce is under differing circumstances. Use the metrics to optimize performance.

Below are some thoughts on some growth opportunities.

  • Although we have made great strides in providing efficient internet access, particularly in metropolitan areas, there is still room for more reliable, more efficient access.
  • Voice and video innovations will help support the future of work.
  • The data around customer usage will help us proactively understand and serve customers. 

To conclude, no matter where you’re sitting, embrace the inevitable technology, process and business shifts around the future of work. Think from the outside in and from the inside out about what the future of work will entail and plan accordingly.

Open Source in the Enterprise and Open Source Business Models

March 8, 2019

OpenSource

FountainBlue’s March 8 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Open Source in the Enterprise and Open Source Business Models’. Thank you also to our gracious hosts at Comcast and each of you for your input and advice. Below are notes from the conversation. 

The Open Source story is unfolding in front of us. The 80s brought us companies like HP, SUN and Silicon Graphics innovating on the Linux Operating System kernel as the first wave of commercialization. 

The 90s brought us companies such as Google and Netscape and Amazon who built sophisticated solutions on top of open source foundations to generate revenues and deliver services. 

Building on that wave of innovation, today, companies continue to leverage open source, but not just to design offerings, but also to fuel innovation. Examples include how media companies such as Comcast and Netflix are designing customized infotainment options and financial services companies such as Capital One are designed customized financial management services.

Our executives in attendance were clear that Open Source is here to stay, so the larger community needs to accept and embrace this fact, and understand how to adopt short-term and long-term strategies to integrate Open Source into business models and product and service offerings. Some of the challenges for making this happen include:

  • Definitions and terminologies around ‘Open Source’ cause confusion, especially for business leaders who misinterpret the meaning of ‘free’ and avoid open source altogether.
  • Legal and policy challenges around the use of open source code make it challenging for some companies to adopt it.
  • The requirement to ‘contribute and give back’ sometimes causes conflicts between developers who want to contribute work and code back to the network and the management who don’t want to developers to dedicate time and resource to do so because of their concerns for timelines and for IP/business reasons.

But again, accept these challenges we must, for Open Source is here to stay, and more people need to contribute to it to make it easier for more people and companies to benefit from it.

The passionate open source developers and community truly understand this dynamic. The trick is to get business people to understand it and embrace open source software while also achieving business objectives. Below is advice from the executives in attendance on how this can be accomplished.

  • Align the ‘why’ for adopting the open source strategy with the what and the how. 
  • Embrace the ‘consume, collaborate and create’ mind-set around open source. Don’t be tagged as someone who just consumes what’s there. Collaborate and connect with others, and create for the Greater Good.
  • Deliver the value-added software and services beyond the open source foundation of code. 
  • Connect with people within and outside your company and create a community of collaborators around open source. 
  • Proactively control the message your company has around open source. Make it a proactively positive and consistent message that would positively impact your brand. This means active ongoing participation with that community of Open Source activists.

Below is advice for how to grow a company beyond the non-revenue open source model to a revenue-generating company based on open source technology:

  • Package a value-add of software and services around the core technology.
  • Offer a free and a paid version with a clear value-add for the paid version.
  • Offer and monetize add-ons.
  • Ensure that everything is repeatable and scalable.
  • Go for the tall head rather than the long tail!
  • Leverage partnerships and channels where appropriate.

Consider some opportunities which leverage open source:

  • Infotainment 
  • Open Data
  • Telematics
  • Sensors
  • Open Cities
  • Advanced Manufacturing
  • Block Chain and Open Source

One last time – Open Source is Here to Stay! Find others who get that and know how to work with that. 

Evolution of Hardware

February 18, 2019

hardware

FountainBlue’s February 8 VIP roundtable was on the topic of ‘Evolution of Hardware’. Please join me in thanking our executives in attendance and our gracious hosts at Maxim. Below are notes from the conversation. 

The executives in this month’s roundtable represented decades of experience across many industry sectors – from semiconductor to healthcare, from telecommunications to networking, from automotive to manufacturing. They also represented the technical, product, management, research and marketing side of the business.

There was general agreement that hardware innovations have taken place across decades and across industries, creating an infrastructure and a foundation upon which software and integrated solutions can be built. But hardware innovations are continuing to happen, ensuring that we have the Power to make things work, that we can Communicate with others, that we have Sensors to detect what’s happening in our environment, and that we build Connections between people and things.

The Digital Age rests on the premise that this hardware foundation is solid, pervasive, reliable, expandable, and inclusive.  

Our executives in attendance were all clearly bullish on the hardware innovation opportunities ahead and agreed on the following:

  • We went from a world dependent on the right materials, and more materials. Then the emphasis became focused on control of the hardware. Then the integration of hardware and software. And now the integration of software and hardware with the cloud.
  • Hardware and software are generally integrated, and will become more so.
  • Technologies and solutions have applications across teams, across companies, across industries. Therefore, leveraging past successes might help address current challenges.
  • Complex systems will become even more so, and these systems will be integrated into other complex systems.
  • Customers are tending to stay within specific niches, yet they need partners to tackle specific elements of project challenges. When they secure that partner, they expect end-to-end, reliable, integrated hardware/software solutions.
  • Forward-thinking companies are still investing in hardware innovations. The current mindset which touts the digital and dismisses the foundational hardware and integration will soon evolve a more balanced, more considered viewpoint… once small, unexpected hardware failures cause unexpected impact.
  • In order to foster larger adoption of hardware, we need to collaborate on building our local infrastructure. Cities and counties don’t generally have the budget or talent to create that foundational infrastructure which would lead to better telecommunications, better digital access – enabling everyone living within cities to be more connected, more informed, more empowered.

Below is their advice on how to develop innovative hardware:

  • Find ways to deliver the personalized solutions customers want in a way that’s extensible and scalable and cost-productive to deliver.
  • Define technologies and processes which would make it easier to integrate hardware and software as part of the customer deliverables.
  • Balance having a versatile and elegant design addressing practical questions (can it be done, is there a demand for it) and efficient delivery and customized service.

Below are thoughts on the hardware opportunities ahead.

  • There will always be a need for more power – smaller, more reliable, less heat-emitting, more cost-effective, etc. But the power must also not give off too much heat or noise. Perhaps materials beyond copper would make the power source more sustainable.
  • It’s harder to innovate hardware for the healthcare and automotive industries because lives are at stake and policies need to be obeyed. But when these hardware innovations work, the need is great, the market is large.
  • Hearables, wearables, IoT devices will be prominent both at work and at work.  
  • Software will be integrated with hardware for customized solutions deliver real-time results, leveraging AI, ML and IoT. 
  • There are huge material science opportunities – around power generation, storage and distribution, around temperature and voltage management.
  • Packaging hardware elements will see many advances and many opportunities.
  • Customers will continue to demand personalized solutions which require customized hardware solutions, with embedded software. Forward-thinking companies will elegantly design solutions which are both versatile and practical, both personalized and scalable.

The bottom line is that hardware goes well beyond a ‘necessary evil’. It is an essential technology which is the foundation of the explosive technology advancements we’re all witnessing and benefitting from.

Working together, we can collaboratively improve the infrastructure so that we can get more done faster and more effectively.