Friday, October 6, 2017

Notes to Self : Intelligent Digital Mesh - Gartner Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2018

Note: I have given below my notes from reading Gartner’s strategic Technology Trends for 2018. I see that some of the ideas, like AI foundation, analytics and event driven apps can be explored for any transaction based application.  While the names may sound different, the underlying concepts are familiar 

According to Gartner, this mesh is  “Enabled by Digital Models, Business Platforms and a Rich, Intelligent set of Services to Support Digital Business.”
Following is how the article defines Intelligent, Digital and Mesh

Intelligent: How AI is seeping into virtually every technology and with a defined, well-scoped focus can allow more dynamic, flexible and potentially autonomous systems.
Digital: Blending the virtual and real worlds to create an immersive digitally enhanced and connected environment.
Mesh: The connections between an expanding set of people, business, devices, content and services to deliver digital outcomes.

The 10 trends are categorized under one of the above category as given below

  1. AI Foundation
  2. Intelligent apps and analytics
  3. Intelligent Things
  1. Digital Twins
  2. Cloud to the Edge
  3. Conversational Platform
  4. Immersive Experience
  1. Blockchain
  2. Event-Driven
  3. Continuous Adaptive Risk and Trust

I have given below the key points of each trend .

Trend No 1:  AI Foundation
The scope of general AI ( where the system could magically perform any task an human being could do and learn ) is speculative at the best. Organizations are better off to focus on narrow AI ( highly scoped machine learning solutions with suitable algorithms for optimization ) since that is where the action is right now.

Trend No 2: Intelligent Apps and Analytics
According the Gartner, AI has become the next major battleground in a wide range of software and service markets, including aspects of ERP. “Challenge your packaged software and service providers to outline how they’ll be using AI to add business value in new versions in the form of advanced analytics, intelligent processes and advanced user experiences”. Where the focus should be to take care of the human angle is made clear by the statement “Explore intelligent apps as a way of augmenting human activity, and not simply as a way of replacing people” 

Trend No 3:  Intelligent Things
“Intelligent things use AI and machine learning to interact in a more intelligent way with people and surroundings.” is the definition.  While  some intelligent things wouldn’t exist without AI, other existing things (i.e., a camera) are made intelligent with AI (i.e., a smart camera.) . 

As more and more intelligent things proliferate , the focus will shift from stand-alone things to collective things or swarms. A car being able to communicate to other cars, get input about traffic and weather conditions and make decisions is a classic example of this proliferation. 

Safe Swarm is a recent concept introduced by Honda (co-operative mobility eco-system) is a good example.

Trend No. 4: Digital Twins

“A digital twin is a digital representation of a real-world entity or system. In the context of IoT, digital twins are linked to real-world objects and offer information on the state of the counterparts, respond to changes, improve operations and add value.” While this can help with feedback about how products are managed , in the short term, in the longer term, the feedback can encompass improvement suggestions and usage changes.
While not immediately feasible, the long term prospects of this idea is very enticing. To quote from the article,  “Over time, digital representations of virtually every aspect of our world will be connected dynamically with their real-world counterparts and with one another and infused with AI-based capabilities to enable advanced simulation, operation and analysis,”. 

I am not sure if I can have a digitial twin of Ramanan that will help me practice yoga better in the absence of my teacher ;-)

Trend 5 : Cloud to the Edge 
“Edge computing describes a computing topology in which information processing and content collection and delivery are placed closer to the sources of this information.”   To decrease latency, the apps will be deployed in the cloud server which is closer to its user group. This will happen automatically with no human intervention. And depends on the network traffic and scaling requirement.  There are already companies that provide such services and is one example.

Trend No. 6: Conversational Platforms

To quote from the article “Conversational platforms will drive a paradigm shift in which the burden of translating intent shifts from user to computer. These systems are capable of simple answers (How’s the weather?) or more complicated interactions (book a reservation at the Italian restaurant on Parker Ave.)“.  Amazon Alexa, Google Now Microsoft Cortana and Apple Siri are only the start and the potentials are enormous for conversational platforms when they are applied along with AI and AR.

Trend No. 7: Immersive Experience
Augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality are changing the way that people perceive and interact with the digital world.” When this is  combined with conversational platforms, a fundamental shift in the user experience to an invisible and immersive experience will emerge. Application vendors, system software vendors and development platform vendors will all compete to deliver this model. Apple’s release of ARkit and iPhone X, Google’s Tango and ARCore, make AR and MR an interesting area

Trend No. 8: Blockchain
As per the article, while the focus is now on financial services, the potential applications in other areas like government services, healthcare , supply chain has to be explored.  
And for those who want to implement Blockchain, here is a word of caution ”A practical approach to blockchain demands a clear understanding of the business opportunity, the capabilities and limitations of blockchain, a trust architecture and the necessary implementation skills. Before embarking on a distributed-ledger project, ensure your team has the cryptographic skills to understand what is and isn’t possible. Identify the integration points with existing infrastructures, and monitor the platform evolution and maturation. Use extreme caution when interacting with vendors, and ensure you are clearly identifying how the term “blockchain” is being used.”

Trend No. 9: Event-Driven
An event is defined as a state change that is of interest and a moment is a combination of such events and such a moment calls for a specific action or response. When this events happen across applications or business lines, technologies like AI, iOT make it easier to detect and respond. A quote from the article is given below.
“Business events reflect the discovery of notable states or state changes, such as completion of a purchase order. Some business events or combinations of events constitute business moments — a detected situation that calls for some specific business action. The most consequential business moments are those that have implications for multiple parties, such as separate applications, lines of business or partners.“

Trend No. 10: Continuous Adaptive Risk and Trust
When the levels of digitalization keeps increasing, so does the threat potential. The traditional ways of risk management and security doesn’t help. The risk management should be real time, continuous and adaptable. Gartner introduces the idea of CARTA. Quoting from the article, Continuous adaptive risk and trust assessment (CARTA) allows for real-time, risk and trust-based decision making with adaptive responses to security-enable digital business.“
The article also suggests couple of ways to make CARTA a reality. It suggests that “Integrating security into your DevOps efforts to deliver a continuous “DevSecOps” process and exploring deception technologies (e.g., adaptive honeypots) to catch bad guys that have penetrated your network are two of the new techniques that should be explored to make CARTA a reality.”

Friday, September 22, 2017

Specialists needed for any Change

How many type of people do you need to bring about a change ? KurtVonnegut(1922-2007), an American writer has an interesting answer through his book BluebeardIn the book, one of the characters by name Paul Slazinger is working on a non-fiction titled The Only Way to Have a Successful Revolution in Any Field of Human Activity and claims to have an answer to the question.
For what it is worth: Slazinger claims to have learned from history that most people cannot open their minds to new ideas unless a mind-opening team with a peculiar membership goes to work on them.
According to Vonnegut, any revolution or change needs a team consisting of three types of specialists.
The team must consist of three sorts of specialists, he says. Otherwise, the revolution, whether in politics or the arts or the sciences or whatever, is sure to fail.
 The first specialist is the person who comes up with a rare and special idea
The rarest of these specialists, he says, is an authentic genius -- a person capable of having seemingly good ideas not in general circulation.
Vonnegut says that the person on his will be considered a madman or Lunatic. Though a genius, this person is someone with very poor people skills. you can think of Howard Roark's mentor Henry Cameron. Cameron is a classic example of a person who had a revolutionary idea, but was repudiated by the society and is shown as a failure in the book. Tesla can be another example.
"A genius working alone," he says, "is invariably ignored as a lunatic."
The second specialist is the one who is already trusted by the society and one who also understands the idea , the need for it and certifies the idea. This allows the idea to get an entry in the minds of people. This is important because the person is already trusted and we, human beings are wired to believe in people whom we already trust
The second sort of specialist is a lot easier to find: a highly intelligent citizen in good standing in his or her community, who understands and admires the fresh ideas of the genius, and who testifies that the genius is far from mad.
 On his own, this person who is trusted by the society may hope for a change, but can't do anything more because he/she doesnt have the know-how to bring about the change. This person can be looked at as the coach who finds the sparkle in a person
"A person like that working alone," says Slazinger, "can only yearn out loud for changes, but fail to say what their shapes should be."

Now that the idea has gained the trust of important persons, it is necessary to take it to a wider set of people. For that we need people who can communicate the idea to people in the simplest possible terms and enter the communicator
The third sort of specialist is a person who can explain anything, no matter how complicated, to the satisfaction of most people, no matter how stupid or pigheaded they may be.
 On his own, the communicator doesn't amount to much because he doesnt have a great idea to communicate. In the absence of the genius and the great idea, this person will be doing a good job, communicating a bad idea. Vonnegut equates such a person to a turkey full of stuffing :-)
"He will say almost anything in order to be interesting and exciting," says Slazinger. "Working alone, depending solely on his own shallow ideas, he would be regarded as being as full of shit as a Christmas turkey."
To sum-up, to bring in a change, the following three types are needed and without each of them, the change will not happen. If you want to talk about Change Management in mathematical terms, the relation is an Logical And operator :-)

  • The first one is a genius who comes up with an original idea.
  • The second one is a person who already is trusted by the society and also yearns for a change, but can't bring about the change on his own since he lacks the idea. This person helps the idea to gain acceptance in the minds of important people,
  • The Third person is the communicator . The idea has to be communicated to a larger audience and the communicator who has the ability to simplify even complex ideas and make it understandable to people, plays a key role.