Of trolls, technology and innovation!

31 10 2014

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I got a great email yesterday late from a long time friend. She said “love the home automation blogs – but I think you are early.” That is not the first time she has accused me of being early with technology predictions. We have since the first time agreed to disagree on the early or late issue.

Her argument is that I frequently am a early adopter troll. (her word not mine) I asked what an early adopter troll was. She said “Like the trolls on twitter there are some of you that love to play with technology as it is released. You live to try the newest gadget.” I don’t really have an argument for that. So I agreed although I did ask she call me an early technology advocate not a troll. I do have an argument against the troll concept. The trolls on twitter are actually not doing nice things. Early technology adopters are trying new things but don’t impact others so at least we are not trolls!!!!!

She also in her email (once we agreed no troll) pointed out there there are a number of interesting problems in the concepts of early adopters. “you pointed it out in your innovation blogs earlier this year – there is an early adopter bubble that technology hits. What about technologies that never crest that initial bubble?”

I thought about that for a long time. I didn’t really have a good answer frankly. In my law of innovation (#andersenslawofinnovation) I talked about how technologies can get past that early bubble and why the fail before the early bubble. But I hadn’t thought about the failures much other than a passing what could have been.

So projects fail at various stages. In the crowd funding world they can fail to launch – where they do not achieve the funding window and are never done. Or they move to other funding systems and try in different ways. In the world of large companies ideas that could be great game changes often fail in the “we don’t do things that way here” meeting. That’s the meeting where someone has the new way of looking at things and of course they are told “we don’t do it like that.”

Some ideas morph over time into a new concept. Some are cutting edge and once completed they actually generate a number of similar projects. Not stealing but expanding the original idea and in the end driving the cost down.

Other ideas merge with new ideas and create variations of the original idea that suddenly catches on. Everyone has one – and suddenly you move out of the early adopter bubble and into the main stream.

I guess as I sent my email this morning when considering the question about what happens when things don’t even reach the early adopter bubble the answer is in the two buckets (for the most part) above. Creative Technology & Innovation has worked with several campaigns early in the process to help them shape the message and move the solution into the right space. Not ever Kickstarter and Indiegogo project will raise 3 million dollars. But if you get enough to launch then all bets are off.

It in the end is all about getting to the first bubble of technology geeks. After that you have a whisper campaign market (people see the early adopters and in the end if you do a good job people want what they see).!

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow)





A Viking Funeral for the Keyboard–ah Valhalla just over the horizon…

30 10 2014

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Looking forward a couple of years do you remember when the keyboard died? When we stopped using keyboards to input data into our computers? I’ve been waiting for a long time. From AABBY Finereader (for automatically inputting text into my computer OCR) and Dragon Naturally Speaking (my voice into the computer) I’ve waited.

Sure AABBY is an phenomenal product. I use it to convert old things I’ve written and typewritten documents I get into digital again. It is a great solution and really is quite impressive as the OCR engine gets really close to 97% conversion. It also allows you to translate typewritten text into English from other languages which is incredibly useful.

Dragon has improve every year I’ve owned it. Mostly because the PC around it has improved as well. Taking advantage of 64 bit computing to improve voice processing incredibly. The only issue I have with Dragon is its licensing model. I wish they would adopt the Apple model where you buy one copy and you can use that on more than one PC. Personally I have a home laptop, a desktop and my work laptop. I would like to use Dragon on all three but for now that is expensive. I can use it on my iPhone to capture voice notes and transfer that to the computer so at least there is some level of portability.

However for both of these exceptional applications you still need a keyboard. You can use Dragon to edit Finereader output but its not as effective as typing. So the great promise of no mouse and no keyboard remains a promise. Vapor. Cloud mist. Not real.

But close.

I don’t use a keyboard very often with my iPad. Mostly if I need to respond to an email and its going to be more than 5-7 words in the response. With iOS 8 I’ve played around with the iPhone voice input a bit – its decent but reminds me of Dragon some 3-5 years ago. Not 100% captured or understood.

You can use ActiveWords (still a phenomenal product as well) to automate commands that you type or even speak. I have ActiveWords monitor a folder and launch Finereader if I put anything into the folder. It’s a quick way to convert PDF files I’ve created in the past into text I can manipulate in the now present (was future).

Dragon has an ability to monitor as well. But in the end you are limited by the ability of the program to understand you.

close.

The day the mouse and keyboard went away will be tough for some of us. We learned in the dark ages of computing to type and type fast. I learned before the dark ages of computing when we had these huge electric devices called typewriters. They produced paper output not digital if you can imagine that.

It could happen.

I will miss my keyboard. I’ve been using it to input data into a computer for 30 years.

Perhaps I should place it in a small row boat and send it off with in a Viking funeral…

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.





On gathering, using and ultimately synthesizing information…

29 10 2014

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I read a great article yesterday talking about moving cloud transitions into a governance group at an organization. Well thought out and frankly very thought provoking it has made me rethink a lot of my previously held beliefs in terms of migrations overall.

Articles that make me think are the ones that I read over and over. I evaluate both my original position and my new position. I talk to other people about the concepts presented and gauge their opinion (by asking). Then I put my ego aside and ask myself was I wrong in the first place, misguided or in the end simply acting on the information I had at the time.

I may screw up a persons name twice (I am not good with names. To everyone I have ever forgotten your name in a meeting my deepest apologies. I am terrible with names and I shouldn’t be).I do however listen and I don’t make the same technical mistake twice in a meeting. Its all about letting information process.

My father used to say two things about experts. First to become one you have to work at it. There wasn’t a get there and stop there was a keep working until you start working again. He believed in hard work. Of course the other thing he said about experts was “expert, an ex is someone with a past and a spurt is a drip under pressure.”

The question then becomes why is it so hard sometimes for people to synthesize information? That’s what in the end it is all about. You don’t want to quote someone else directly all the time so the process of synthesis takes the information you are taking in and puts it into your personal framework and words.

It is a higher order learning skill.

It is one that interests me in the end. There are contributors to failure when it comes to being able to absorb and then synthesize information. There are changes to the orientation of the observer that impact the absorption of information. All of these impact how and what you ultimately are able to hear, absorb and then synthesize.

  • Rate of information – if you can’t control the rate of information (fire hose) then your absorption rate will be impacted.  Rate can = slower synthesis.
  • Complexity of information – if you don’t have a framework in which to place the information you have to build that first. The more complex the information the harder it is to build a framework to hang the information in. Ergo complexity = slower synthesis.
  • Presenter – sadly yes it does matter who is talking.

There are many more I won’t go into today you get the concept and idea. It is about creating a balance in the process between the rate at which the information comes in, the framework you build to host that information and in the end the presenter. All of this resulting in either information you synthesize or information you ultimately struggle with.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.





Running from change…

28 10 2014

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Why is in the end change so hard? All of us at one time or another come face to face with change. Not IT related change but personal change. The modification of a behavior or way we approach the world.

Why does it have to be so hard?

I’ve read over the years great stories of the impact of change. It is something that people fear. Or it is something people hide behind (you better change or xyz will happen). In the end all of us are set back by change.

First off we as humans have to consider the actual why of the change. Is it to remove an issue we run into or is it simply to create a more cosmetic us? Or worse is it requested to be done to keep our jobs?

Partially I suspect because it is hard to change. Even when threatened with losing our jobs or losing something we find to be important change is hard. People focus sometimes on the overall concepts of change and in the end forget the reality of change.

It is hard but it is not impossible. You can rise from the ashes of where you are and where you were to become a new person improved in every way. It is simply putting the energy into changing

So easy to say.

Really it is easier to say that you just need to apply yourself than it is to actually apply yourself but in the end it is true. You have to want to change.

In the end we chase change. It is the one things all of us wish for. Change.

It is in the end the one thing most people run from.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.





Of dancing bears with colored pens…

27 10 2014

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The path to consensus.

It is in the end an interesting business problem that can either empower or cripple a company or government agency. What is the path to consensus they take. Consensus is a good thing but it can cripple projects. If there is the draconian we won’t proceed without complete consensus in the end you lose.

The other side is the if we don’t have consensus we will get as many people engaged as we can and move forward. There are risks with both models. The first one can gridlock a project in the reality of Washington DC afternoon traffic (go West on US 66 or North on US 495 any day of the week and enjoy gridlock).

Of course the risk of less than 100% consensus is the project whisperer. Someone that works around the edges of the project playing the political how can I destroy this project game. It doesn’t always happen so its only a risk not a law. But if you go forward without full consensus it is imperative that you have both mitigation and contingency plans to deal with the communication type project whisperer.

For 100% consensus projects you have to strongly consider building solutions in the end that include the extra time needed to convince all parties.

Why talk about this now? Well on the path to consensus you can see a lot of what an organization is and how it ticks. There is a clarity in the process of observing consensus building. Personally I think the best meetings are where people argue, hash it out and come to an informal agreement. A lot of people don’t like that. They prefer the quiet consensus building process that occurs through slow one on one communication. Both are correct but now you see why we are talking about this.

You have to in the end understand the group you are working with. Every audience has three or more components to it. There are leaders within the group. There are followers in the group. There are also three other types of people to be aware of:

  • Scribes or note takers – o focus on taking notes (important to have as they note what people actually say). When asked to contribute they may be confused as sometimes they listen to record the words not hear the words.
  • Explainers – they talk about what things mean. You have to have them on the team. You also have to watch out for long explanations and frequent explanations.
  • Interpreters – they take the data available for the team and convert it to usable information.

All three are critical roles. All three have something to contribute to consensus. But the reality of your meetings is who is where. Wrong leadership role in the wrong meeting role will in the end create problems. Leaders in the scribe role don’t work well. They can when they are modeling a behavior (take notes) but need to pass that to someone else on the team more suited for the role.

Ah communication – you are always just beyond our fingertips!

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow!





Driving to effective teams…

26 10 2014

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Buddha grabbed a handful of sand and let some of the sand through his fingers. The students leaned in and said “Do you want me to gather the grains that have fallen?” Buddha smiled and said “No cherish the ones that stayed.”

In considering the concept of teams there are many theories and there are many paths forward towards that goal. In the end it is as much those that stay as it is those that are gone. Recently I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the concepts in John Boyd’s OODA loops where you refine orientation to alter observation resulting in the end in a faster time to decisions.

You can make two or three bad fast decisions in the time you can make one slow perfect decision.

Of course sometimes you can’t quickly recover from a bad decision. Balancing the reality of good and bad decisions can be difficult. In basketball they call it the shooters mentality. Shake off the last bad shot the next time you are open. Otherwise if you miss one shot badly you will never shoot again. Everyone has bad days.

In building a team you have to have shooters and those willing to do the extra things required to get shooters open. The blocking and tackling as a football coach calls it. Simply put the jobs that have to be done in order to create an opening for a shooter or quarterback/running back since I mixed the sports analogies.

The thing that I find most interesting in teams is the reality of perception. Great teams argue amongst themselves. They disagree and they stand up to whiteboards and argue with each other. When it is all done they agree on the path and they go forward. The funny thing for me is that people perceive that as a bad team. You are arguing therefore you aren’t a good team.

Andersen’s team rules (borrowed from many other sources)

  1. Good teams argue
  2. Good teams have quality conversations
  3. Good teams have relationships beyond simply the day to day functioning of their working lives. They are connected to each other.
  4. Good teams approach situations with humor
  5. When situations require a serious attitude good teams approach the situation with a serious attitude.
  6. Good teams say hello.
  7. Good teams listen

Pick any one of these and search via Bing or Google and you will get books, blogs, podcasts and everything you could possibly need to further evaluate the sentence. Good teams listen not only within the team but to external members.

When I was a school teacher the principal used to put children new to our school in my room. Why? My room was a place that quickly absorbed new kids. By simply following those seven rules in the end you can create an effective team.

Moving beyond an effective team though requires a few more things.

We will talk about that at some point in the future…

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.





Smart Devices, Smart homes and the problem with multiple automation systems…

25 10 2014

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I am still enjoying the recent Gartner publication on the future of smart devices in the home. The article says there will be 500 smart devices in the home by 2022. This makes the reality of home automation that much more critical. The number of interesting home automation projects has gone up on the two sites I monitor (Indiegogo and Kickstarter) roughly 10 fold. Where there were normally 1 –2 per quarter now there are 10 – 20 per quarter.

Of course there are issues with that many new entrants.

  • There are established protocols for home automation (wireless and wired)
  • Wired systems go in homes under construction or complete renovations.
  • Wi-fi systems go in existing homes.

Having a home automation controller allows you to have multiple smart sensors controlled by a single system and therefore available remotely from a single system. Everything from home video surveillance to home water or leak detection is easily added. The Gartner article speaks out the value for the silver generation (aging Americans). Children can engage with their aging parents without having to physically be there. Automation systems can connect to a phone and notify of medical conditions and issues, pills that are or are not taken and the current mental state of the person.

Back in the day we did all of this with X-10. It was an interesting mix of technology and luck (in many cases to keep everything working you had to be lucky). Today that isn’t the case systems work for the most part all the time. Interestingly is the reality of the number of types of sensors that are available.

  • Drive away and forget to close your door? Stop the vacation, turn around and shut the door or connect to your home automation system and shut the door remotely.
  • Forget to turn off the iron? Log in and turn off the wall outlets in that room.
  • fear of water hoses bursting in your laundry room? No problem install a leak sensor.

Add to that the ability to connect to your home and interact with people. That makes the world of aging Americans broader. Parents can stay in the home they want to without issues longer because we can log in and interact and help.

The missing piece in the end is the disparate systems and protocols. It will take a shaking out of home automation companies over the next few years to reduce the risk of too many companies and in the end to learn. I suspect over time a set of sensors will move to gaming systems and another set will over time move directly onto smart TV’s. Today you have to connect to the television – or use Google Cast to connect your device to the television. Eventually I think your smart device will simply pop up and say – there is a bigger screen available do you want to use it? Smart devices are capable of two way communication rather than the sometimes limited one way we have for a lot of devices today.

The future is coming. It can see you – right now!

(didn’t mean that in a scary way)

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow)








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