Posts Tagged ‘smart cities’

2014: The Year of Digital Renaissance?

Tuesday, December 31st, 2013

Digi Renaissance firework 2013As fireworks fill the skies tonight and 2013 comes to a close, it seems a good time to reflect on the current state of the telecoms and ICT industries, and what has changed in the last five years. Having just participated in the 2013 ITU Telecom World Conference in Bangkok, this gave me the opportunity to assess whether the Digital Renaissance that we at KeySo Global have being predicting has in fact transpired.

In 2009 the world was reeling from 12 months of global financial turbulence and anxiety levels were high. WiMAX was causing angst for U.S. carriers and the iPhone was forcing the rethinking of how Wi-Fi and cellular could effectively inter-operate. Data congestion on overloaded 3G networks designed for voice was reaching critical levels as operators adjusted to the realities of YouTube video upload and downloads. The European markets and technology suppliers were firmly in control of the industry, with Nokia the dominant handset supplier controlling 38% of the 1.1 billion phones sold that year. Apple, on the other hand, was gaining credibility and achieved a respectable 2%. ICT was the main theme of the conference as cellular held center stage with 67% market penetration, having enabled 4.6 billion people globally to have access to personal communication capability. In 2009 the prime discussion, therefore, was around internet connection and the role that mobile could play here.

graphic oneFast forward to the 2013 conference in Asia and the global economy, having experienced five years of unprecedented instability, is still in a volatile state where virtually every treasured economic rulebook has been proven ineffective in controlling a 24/7 interconnected digital world. This has been facilitated in part due to cellular penetration reaching 96% and 6.8 billon people having access to cellular – 3.5 billion of whom are in the Asia Pacific region. More significantly, the number of people now online has increased from 26% to 39%. The single biggest contributor to this has been mobile broadband access which has grown from below 10% in 2009 to 30% penetration this year. This growth is closely tied to smartphone growth as well as the availability of lower cost data packages.  In 2009 smartphonesgraphic 2 accounted for approximately 10% of handset shipments, whereas in the 3rd quarter of 2013 smartphones totaled 250 million units, over 55% of total phone shipments that quarter. The biggest loser in this dramatic shift in emphasis towards smartphones and operating systems has been Nokia, but others such as Sony Ericsson, Kyocera, Sharp, Rim, HTC and Motorola have been damaged along the way, to greater or lesser degrees, by the shift to an Android world.

In conclusion, we are living in a far more connected world than we were five years ago. However, the extent to which the interconnection of this increasingly complex human digital and physical world is understood is limited and the ripple effects of these technologies on industry structures have only just started to appear. Telecoms and ICT are certainly not immune to these, as we have seen, but within the next five years we will see the boundary industries of automotive, medical, retail, utilities and manufacturing become increasingly subject to the transformative effects of the mobile internet.

Of greater interest will be the unanticipated consequences that will undoubtedly emerge from the mobile internet and Internet of Things blending with big data analytics, and the unavoidable impact this will have on digital life and behaviors. As an increasingly urbanized planet adopts these technologies to facilitate ever smarter cities, the opportunities for ICT to make a difference to societies are colossal – but the question is how to bring the people along with these changes, and instill trust in them that technology will be used for good and that ethical government will prevail? Clearly, the recent Snowden revelations on the NSA and other agencies have given everyone pause for thought.

As we enter 2014, it is clear that the Digital Renaissance is technically well underway but the structural and behavioral implications are only just beginning to emerge and, when they do surface, I suspect that the predominant challenges we face will be societal. In shaping the future of this brave new world we need to engage its citizens, understand their needs and manage the “Faustian bargain” that will be a fine balance between a surveillance state and the right to privacy. None of these challenges are unsurmountable but they are ones that will need careful monitoring, open conversations and perseverance on the part of governments, industry and citizens around the globe.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Technology Scouting and the Catch 22 of Innovation

Monday, October 14th, 2013

I came across what I would call the “catch 22 of innovation” the other day while working on a project that’s tipped to disrupt an entire industry.

Every major city now has the desire to become a smart city and to use digital technologies to provide better services and products for its citizens. However, as anyone who reads the news understands, the majority of this innovation in digital technologies is coming from small startups, not from the larger more established companies. One of the services that KeySo Global provides is technology scouting to large companies and for exactly this reason; they are not innovating broadly or rapidly enough, and are beginning to recognize the urgent need to partner with smaller startups that have the technology capability to enhance their more traditional offerings.

So the “catch 22”, as we see it in this context, lies in the request for proposal (RFP) / request for quotation (RFQ) process that cities use when looking for new technologies and solutions to meet existing needs. In most RFP’s and RFQ’s there is a statement that says “we are open to new ideas and technologies that will provide services to enhance the process or reduce the cost of providing those services”. However, buried deep within the RFP, under terms and conditions, is a sentence that also states “any company proposing a solution must have been in existence for at least 3 years, provide a list of existing clients and show financial capability to support the project through its anticipated life.” How many startups do you know that can meet these criteria?

The real drawback of this is that true innovation is unlikely to come to a city near you at any time soon. Of course there are ways around this dilemma but most of these are not straight forward. The technology scouting service we provide at KeySo Global can help by offering new and innovative startups the hybrid solution of partnering with more established companies so that together they can leverage the digital components needed for a thriving smart city infrastructure.

The process of scouting, filtering, evaluating and on-boarding technologies is crucial to an organization’s future success but it can be challenging as well as time and resource consuming at a time of restricted budgets. The option that we offer is to partner with a team that has successfully performed similar roles and created transformational processes at Motorola, Sony Ericsson and TRW. We offer a unique blend of experience, insight and proven processes to achieve this outcome. Our strategic review process and implementation framework enables us to rapidly partner with clients to successfully find, evaluate, acquire and on-board innovative technologies. A significant aspect of our approach is to help the startup and the established company understand one another’s’ mindsets. We use the “two weeks analogy” to help frame the fundamental differences in perspective of the two:  two weeks to a startup can mean life or death whereas to a large company it’s just a meeting!

Contact us  for more information and to find out how we can help accelerate innovation.

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

 

Mobile Industry Trends and Beyond

Saturday, August 4th, 2012

 

 

The mobile industry is a global business that generates $1.5 trillion in revenue every year, approximately 1.5% of the world’s GDP. Throughout its 30 year history the industry has become ever more inextricably intertwined with the global economy. The World Bank estimates that for every 10% increase in mobile penetration the GDP in developed countries increases by 0.6%, in developing countries by 0.8% and for low income countries GDP increases by 1.4 %.

The bottom line is that wireless communications are impacting our personal and business lives because the physical networks are, in the words of President Clinton, “facilitating networks of collaboration and cooperation” that make boundaries transparent between countries, industries, societies and cultures. As the connected world shrinks in a virtual sense, possibility expands in a real sense as boundaries blur and new and previously unforeseen opportunities emerge globally. It is against this background that it becomes critical for industry leaders to make themselves aware of the emerging mobile trends and the implications they have on the global economic landscape, and more specifically on their own businesses.

Emerging Mobile Trends

  1. Mobile technology is disrupting business models and consumer habits, not just within Telecoms but also neighboring industries. The medical, utility, transportation, education and banking industries are all experiencing a shift from simple communication to total connectivity anywhere that mobility facilitates. Some are embracing the opportunities that this brings faster than others, resulting in significant redistribution of wealth along multiple value chains. Industry structures will most likely change as companies look at horizontal and vertical integration to acquire “Super Stacks” of intellectual property in order to exert increased control over their business model.
  2. Over the Top (OTT) Communication Services, easily downloaded from “App Stores”, are encouraging consumers to explore different ways of communicating, wherever they are and with whom they want, across multiple platforms. Voice has become just another bit of data in the new networked world. Consequently there is gradual recognition that mobile operators do not have a monopoly on the provision of voice over their networks; this could ultimately be the end of the existing subsidy model for phones and smartphones.
  3. Network architecture is being rethought to handle the masses of data resulting from the unprecedented growth in uploading and sharing of video from mobile phones. The traditional asymmetric network design has been found wanting and has forced a more symmetric heterogeneous networks (Het-Nets) structure that encompasses multiple technologies, spectrum and access capabilities, including offload to Wi-Fi. This frantic scramble by operators to provide the vision and reality of “anywhere – anytime – anyhow connectivity” has a significant cost implication at a time when the industry economics are in flux.
  4. Clouds of Things” captures the convergence of five rapidly developing vectors of technology: the Internet of Things, Hybrid Clouds, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality. “Clouds of Things” will provide intelligent management, control, utilization and distribution of resources. This convergence of capability will be driven by the needs of smart cities as the increasing flight to urbanization continues. It is forecast that by the year 2016 thirty percent of the global population will be living in cities.
  5. Smart connected homes are becoming a reality as embedded and “black box” connectivity become simple to use and install, or come as part of a home automation package from cable companies, utilities or security firms. This will allow enhanced and remote management of all of the connected consumer electronic devices within a household. Smart home management will be facilitated by personal tablets and smartphones linked to augmented reality and will inevitably result in peoples’ social behaviors adapting and changing.
  6. The Mobile Wallet, utilizing Near Field Communications (NFC) technology, could revolutionize online and offline commerce as it is currently understood. This technology appears to be closer to reality in 2012 than ever before and is being deployed in millions of smartphones by multiple manufacturers.  However, in the developed markets there is need for systems and infrastructure change in order to handle mobile wallet transactions; this requires the agreement of many parties with vested interests, many of which are not yet aligned. Unless the complex industry value chain (retailers, card issuers, banks, mobile operators, internet intermediaries to name but a few) can meet consumers’ expectations for “elegant” mobile solutions (simplicity of use, privacy and security) then adoption by users will be inhibited.
  7. Smart devices, together with consumer adoption of “there’s an app for that”, revealed the enormous power and flexibility of the mobile internet. Beyond web apps, HTML5 is the next evolution of the mobile web. It is a comprehensive app development platform that can be used on multiple browsers and phone operating systems. Businesses providing services and content are attracted to HTML5 to overcome the following issues: the fragmentation of Android across an increasing number of device manufacturers and Apple app store economics that takes 30% of each app transaction while restricting these businesses access to their own subscriber information.
  8. Seamless connections management software, with varying degrees of capability, will soon become common place on devices to meet consumers’ expectations for simple, elegant, lower cost access everywhere across the world. It will also enable operators to load- balance across increasingly complex networks using multiple technologies and spectrum. This software will also help operators address the challenge that IT managers face in aligning Bring Your Own Device (BOYD) requirements with corporate security needs.
  9. Green ownership philosophies and government policy are focusing attention on ecological and energy saving issues. It is forcing a rethink of the total cost of ownership calculation for networks and, by default, the cost of consumer and enterprise services. This calculation becomes more complex now that it has to address an increased number of factors: the traditional economic pressures that are compounded by the exponential rise in data traffic, the increasing expectation of customers for access anywhere, as well as the impact of environmental pollution and concerns about energy efficiency.
  10. Mobile discovery will increasingly become the focus of mobile marketing specialists in the same way that SEO is an integral part of internet marketing today. Addressing the abundance of apps, services and information is a new type of problem. Mobile operators are complicating this situation by starting to mine vast amounts of subscriber data. They are blending this intelligence with offerings from a rich ecosystem of service and content providers, and creating unique personalized propositions for consumers that are targeted by location and context. With this diversity of offering, the challenge for small businesses and app developers is how to stand out in this operator and app store dominated environment? This is the emerging art and science of mobile discovery.

For more information about any of the above contact us at +1847-478-1633 or info@keysoglobal.com

Steve Bell, President, KeySo Global

Smart city architects – would Aristotle and Steve Jobs make a good team?

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Smart City InforgraphAristotle and Steve Jobs would, I believe, have worked well side by side.

While researching for his book the “Politics”, Aristotle studied the Greek city/state of Polis and questioned why people live together? He concluded that “the city… is a partnership for living well”.

Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple, said “Man is the creator of change in this world. As such he should be above systems and structures, not subordinate to them”. The design philosophy of the iPhone, iPad, iPod and iTunes reflects this, enabling simple usage that adapts seamlessly into a person’s lifestyle. Business at Apple has become the “art of life”.

What has this to do with smart cities? About three months ago I wrote a paper about the Internet of Things (IoT) based on an all-day discussion at the Center for Policy on Emerging Technologies (C-PET), a Washington based think tank. This paper addresses the challenges associated with this emerging technology, and examines some of the considerations from a government and regulatory perspective.

The paper covers topics such as the state of global collaboration, innovation, government and industry partnerships, infrastructure development, cost and motivational factors that prompt government and industry to pursue and develop these technologies on a global basis. It also touches upon four main areas of concern for society: privacy, control, security and elitism. At the heart of these issues is the principle of double power; that although this technology has the power to greatly enhance the way we live, it also has the opportunity to do significant harm to things we hold dear.

The Internet of Things, along with other Information Communication Technologies (ICT), are key enablers in the future world of smart grids, smart buildings and smart cities. The concept of smart cities has been emerging around the globe; in China it addresses the anticipated 350m people likely to move to urban living in the next 10 years; in other countries smart cities are being developed to take advantage of emerging technologies and to combine new concepts of urban living with better management of scarce resources.

Convergence of technologies has resulted in the creation of vast and ever more complex networks or systems. Within the systems, most attention tends to be paid to the components (IoT, ICT) making them up but really the true value of a complex system lies in the interaction between all the components. Smart cities are an extension of these complex systems and they will languish or flourish based, not on the technology used, but on the interaction facilitated between machine to machine, machine to humans, and humans to humans.

The principles of business as the “art of life” and the city as a “partnership for living well” should guide the holistic systems architecture and integration of IoT and ICT technologies into smart cities of the future. This should ensure that smart cities do not fall prey to the double power issue. More significantly, smart cities should be designed to foster communities of people, linked together through smart networks, which enable partnerships to grow and flourish. As a global community, we should listen to philosophers of the past and embrace practitioners of the present, to encourage the creation of smart cities in which we can live our smart lives to the fullest.

To obtain a copy of our comprehensive report on the “Internet of Things” or to find out how KeySo Global can assist you in taking advantage of Digital Life opportunities, contact us at +1 847-478-1633 or visit our website at www.keysoglobal.com.