We Collaborate #5 – Friend that Machine
Operational automation and IT are fusing into a new cyber-physical reality, powered by ever smaller processors and better sensor and network technologies. As IT ‘gets physical’, we are more and more connected to omnipresent devices and intelligent ‘things’. The disruptive opportunities are in connected products, with the promise of a direct and proactive route into the hearts and minds of the consumer. It brings a whole new dimension to social networks, as future lists of ‘friends’ may soon need to contain some very unexpected guests.
Machines are becoming more intelligent and connected. They can now learn for themselves, adapt to their environment and then ‘share’ their experiences. Cars, road sensors, engines, fridges and even vending machines are becoming equal members in a supply-network of value-based interactions.
Soon there will be over 50 billion connected devices, which is roughly about 10 for every inhabitant of our planet. This is no exaggeration; in my family, we’ve already passed 50 connected devices in our house, and very soon this will be widespread.
Whether we describe it as the ‘Internet of Things’ or the ‘Internet of Customers’, organizations are currently struggling to adjust to the so called ‘all-channel experience’. The route to consumer interaction is now academic; the real value lies in the endpoint outcome and the enrichment of value for the socially connected participants (whether human or otherwise).
A near future should be anticipated where devices generate most of the global content, meaning that content creation will no longer be key requirement for white collar workers by 2020. Looking at recent statistics, this year over 115 petabytes per month will be generated by connected devices. This already exceeds the capacity of our global human population output many times over.
Our vending machine also can be made aware of its surroundings.
Advertisements on the Stockholm Metro interact with train arrivals and departures using commodity technology that is readily available at your local electronics store. Temperature and humidity can easily be read along with anticipation of the general sentiments of the local-based crowd. Increasingly cognitive machines are becoming environmentally-aware and can adapt their manner of interaction with a customer accordingly.
Humans and programmers may not need to apply. We have entered the 2nd industrial revolution; that of socially enabled sensors, with robots that are aware, flexible and self-learning. This emerging technology can operate at the fraction of a cost of white-collar annual salary.
From just-in-time to options-before-time: industrial machine intelligence will improve our lives. Our widely connected world will have machines and sensors as equal partners in social networking circles. Data will be generated in enormous quantities meaning current techniques for complex event processing, analytical intelligence and simple context-specific visualization will need to develop rapidly. We need lightning-fast technology, sensors and people to deliver perfectly timed social context.
So how to make friends quickly in this new world? To prepare for cyber-friendship, consider the following:
(1) Think of any device as a potential sensor
Think about what you want it to ‘learn’ and what Egosystems it can augment.
Could your phone predict or measure an earthquake? Individually maybe not, but connected arrays of phones and sensors can already bring insights via science not thought possible in the last decade.
What happens when my network breaks down and needs repair? Existing technology automatically can send messages to maintenance engineers of a jet engine/connected car before it breaks.
How can a machine help me stay healthy or keep safe? Machines can already interact with your wearable technology to see how you’re progressing towards your fitness goals. In future this ecosystem will monitor and manage your health and safety with enhanced ‘situational awareness’.
(2) Think about how to make the dialogue with the consumer more intelligent
Even if you don’t want to be identified by name, a device can recognize your age, gender, fingerprint or mood with a remarkable level of accuracy. Machines can therefore start a sensible dialogue with you from the outset. This interaction can be based on your immediate, physical proximity to the machine or can be digitally-driven, based on related events.
For example, on your car journey home, Toyota Friend can remind you to commence the next overnight battery charge at exactly the right time.
Devices will be made more intelligent, connected, context aware, talkative and social in their own, highly unique way. It’s now the responsibility of humans to up their creativity to match them.
(3) Think of the benefits of an intelligent, just-in-time ecosystem across your business
Current planned maintenance work orders the majority of replacement parts too early. If you could wait until just before it breaks, you would save money and protect the environment.
Imagine you are now able to friend daily objects of personal importance to make life easier. The trip to work could be so much easier if you could friend your local smart road, so it socially guides your journey avoiding traffic, weather and pollution hazards, simply because it benefits you both.
Future product and service differentiation will require more than just human partnerships to compete. Brand success will be founded on our ability to harness the social power of man, machine and sensors in new and innovative ways.
Friend these machines. They may not love you like humans do, but they are sure better in giving than in taking.