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Archive for March, 2012

“Objects now become kind of chatterbox and the world shifts as an huge connected information system”

Yes we must now consider objects as a real part of social movement, even if social genuinely means « interaction between two human beings », they can enter the game of socialization…How far, when, for which uses/features? Future will tell…

2020: 20 Billions of connected objets; which ones, which services behind and for which uses? What might we face in organizations, skills, value chains and industries?

« We don’t GO on the WWW, we are IN the WWW » (J. de Rosnay, 2008). In this case we can’t ignore the new environment in which we’re living, wired, connected, localized, targeted…? What is our trigger of rejection or how far will we go, in including this obsessing world, that is up to us more and more.

That is to say with many questions to push ourselves in another world, framed with robots, domotics, and domestic suppliance, increasing interrogations about the destiny, goals and playing field. While complete digital revolution leads to many disasters in balanced industries, destroying employment in short term, what could bring more automation of flows, relations and process?

For the opportunistic point of view, it’s far from now, several huge enhancements to come, in a larger scale for domestic, economic and social matters. When coming to mass market, leading the wheel can be an astonishing venture in sectors like:

  • Tracing products, animals, reducing sanity risks and increasing the visibility on nurturing, growing in real time
  • Improvements on supply chains and « just in time », reducing stock wastes and better control
  • Equipment for handicapped people or old people, to enhance daily life with smart objects or function, and for health monitoring with things like flesh sensors (EES2) or with connected wifi body scale from Withings
  • Production improvement with robots like farming robots
  • Monitor, schedule and show the mass of available energies for a town, area or more, increasing the action on it and on the way we consume it: something making possible ups and downs and informing people when and how to use it (see an example with dontflushme)
  • Connected cities with huge projects involving simple objects with new roles and useful faces like intelligent pavements in Toulouse, France that supplies energy when you walk on them or ”Simplicity” project from Keiichi Matsuda (Domesti/City) and LivingPanIT, future tools for bright cities. Check also Songdo City in South Korea, aimed to welcome more than 75.000 citizens in 2014
  • Lifestyle environment: domestics, visual and personal comfort, intelligent paper with paperzoom, or fridges ordering themselves what’s relevant for the household’s needs, relating to stock or food desires. Taking in count the necessary monitoring of your weight, mood or health state
  • Self-domestic with « things » like green plants, furniture, design…), the silent communication (“utility” for house domestics, alone…)

While we see lots of interesting opportunities, we may consider the downsides and potential dangers that come with digital era, and could explode with the complete participation of connected objects, like :

  • Hacking: with the economic exploitation for the silent information war: stocks, financial system, gold and raw materials, everything that could trick valuation but also nuclear and military settlements connected in some ways could be hackable…
  • What about electronic polls and the ability to cheat and trick democracy?
  • Tomorrow, school and exam results may be built by machines, increasing the ability to exploit a fault in the whole chain and leading to discredit of levels and graduations?
  • How far build and trust open data: do we fight to show anything we can (see Pachube), a whole community lead site with usermoderation and the degree of trust that is questioned so far?
  • Automatic terminals that guide, manage and secure aerial traffic, train regulation and so long: who can we trust, relating to security matters?
  • Telco system with parallel ways (social networks) with lots of information publicly available everywhere, because no one can verify the sense, truth capital and relevance?

Very hard times in trying to imagine the different faces and practical aspects of this new behavior, allowing objects to be linked and part of the global conversation. From now, protocols have already shifted to new (with for example ipv6), to welcome and hold the huge growth of connections, increased by the participation of these smart objects…But as any physical people, we can see “reputation” and need of protection of digital identity. Some solutions like myID.is or myid.com will probably grow to guarantee the trustiness and truthfulness of exchanges and conversations. That means the identification must be on the object level and not necessary on the object’s owner level, who can change

We all already know that mobile devices and mobile behavior will be the dominant platform for datas, communication and entertainment tomorrow, then mobile web and connected objects will stand as  beacons of business in this incredible story.

There’s probably something attractive with everything seeming to be linked and connected. Just like losing our innocence, our ability to “think” and hold a sheer relation. When it’s about progress, one can be ready for anything to rock the boat…But how far? We’re still in the growth for “just” only fighting poverty and analphabetism and increasing digital uses may lead to writing mistakes and in the end, complete lack of knowledge about it! What about grammar, syntax, style effects that create a conversation and build a codified exchange between humans?

We so have to consider all these opportunities, integrating them into a whole ecosystem before they take control of us…Give rules, a place for everyone and everything, including interactive roles in our lives and dream about new “social networks for objects.” And then, pray that objects will invite us in their circle, where they will exchange datas, signals…conversations? A binary world from 0 to 1…

But who will be responsible for these shared contents or actions lead by the connected objects? Which legal matters: The owner? The user? The network?

In fact a subject not really new, that takes some time to land off but whose applications will help in many sectors with strong uses like breaking the digital rupture, domestics compliance and lots of local and practical innovations. Then « objects went social » could have been a HG Wells book. Shall we say « social » talking about objects when described as « media which enable interactivity between two or more humans »?

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Companies have goals sometimes we don’t even guess about, because of complex business strategies, fakes or trials, to hide any movement from competition. And sometimes they lose the real direction and how they build their global intent, in lean management, avoiding wastes and loss of times. In any company, at one time of their existence, grows some kind of “culture” that is written in gold by HR or in the basement times. As any individual, we all have cultural roots, more or less deep and recover it and bearing themselves in mind means a lot for history. But even if don’t look back, the simply shaping of “cultural lines” is quite interesting to speak as on voice and have all teams behind a common whole of values. This is called “cultural alignment”.

How to manage in such complex systems? It means managin several parts in the company and use outside inputs, as described in the below drawing:

Navigate through:

  • Talents management: know how to hire relevant talents, nurture them and hope they will grow themselves and grow their business. And hope one day they’ll go elsewhere (!), with everything they learnt to build another masterpiece. Not convinced? Think about Zappos who offers 3.000$ for people who want to leave company while they’re still in training and welcome period…A smart way to learn about limits and “real” motivation…and keep the goal on passion, values and real sense of delivering. The only purpose that counts, in competition…
  • Innovation: “at any step of the growth, keeping in mind to stay innovator”. The only way to have an incredible footprint and grow a tremendous brand. And a windful of passion, leading to compete with hurdles, inside and outside the company. Somekind of super power that overcomes any willingness to succeed and make any employee a super hero. Catch it if you can, and set it up in the ordinary process of all teams. “Ask for the impossible, and make innovation do the rest”. Sometimes, dream is the reality as you believe in it. And the innovation passion is the essence of the next blue chip.
  • Execution and deliverings: “without execution and deliverings, nothing exists”. No promess, no product, no customer, no brand. This is the sad story about all companies which spend their times in R&D, searching, describing and creating thing, products, services they will never handle to shape and deliver. It’s double truly sad, because no one will ever appreciate all efforts and attention…through execution, accuracy for details and delivering to end using. In my opinion, one of the most important part of any process, that shapes the user’s experience and makes it buzz everywhere.
  • Customer insights: if it’s still to prove for you, your customers will leave you, feeling alone with no particular relation but money with you. Figure out they have bright ideas, know probably your market and products more than you, and can give you a smart view of a “strategy”, dealing with a simplicity you dream of.
  • Business strategy: you can call it a game, but believe in something reliable, explainable, sharable and scalable. Doing this, you start in the whole business strategy process, and begin to build and organize departments, flows and process to hold the whole structure of the economic equation. You’ll have to describe, believe and inhold a frame for business, exclusive, bright and envied features. One that can be adored by your shareholders and converge all partners toward your company. And sometimes a smart move can transform a whole ecosystem, with your innovation. “Be the one others will follow and make a business case in the world”.
  • Imagination: “we all miss a lot of imagination, in everything we do”. We don’t miss ideas, motivation of skills, but imagination. The sole part of our brain we rarely train, because of time, laziness or easiness. In fact, look at children or young at work: they’re not perverted yet with failures, fear or politics. They do “essence” and genuine art of business, trying to solve their first puzzle. They answer with truth, heart and logics, just for the game, and not for the money yet.

Getting the best of the whole organization, from align business to innovation with a cultural support for this same innovation. Having all these elements together make a war machine and awesome bottom line result for an enhanced efficiency. Be blue, think out of the box, protect and defend your assets and brand, but also, nurse your culture and make it happen in all the simple key elements of your whole company. Grow it, make it sustainable and keep your startup spirit, push away the limits and have a incredible faith for the impossible. Dare the cutting-edge organization and handle it with team and process. The more cultural and mixed is your approach, the more it will win all your stakeholders: employees, partners, customers and shareholders. But the battle is to do with sensibility, the culture sensibility…

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