Blowing past ITaaS to arrive at ITaaV!

IT as a service. It’s the next big thing. Or is it? Is in fact IT already a service just not one that is recognized at times? As a long time service to IT in many businesses I have come to realize that IT is already a service. It already builds and delivers solutions that are consumed by the business.

Is it however an actual service based offering? Consultants are rental experts. Skills that are expensive to maintain on your team that can be a shared resource. Its why consulting exploded in the mid-70’s and beyond.

The dictionary definition of a service is something done for something else. Or something provided (the 2nd definition to others such as electricity or regular buses.) IT has been doing that for years. Email, CRM and a myriad of other business processes have been automated and improved. Services the business consumes every day.

Within the concept of ITaaS is the problem. The business would like to pay for IT that it consumes and well who can blame them. It is just really hard for two companies to share an IT department. So we push workloads and solutions to the cloud where we gain a bit of IT as a Service. We get infrastructure provided for us. We still have to manage the rest of the overall solution in house but in theory we pay less. Well at least that is a theory.

Let’s stop for a moment. Let’s get off the ITaaS merry-go-round. Its time to evaluate the reality of IT rather than the perception of IT. In 1820 if you wished to get an urgent message from San Diego to New York City you paid someone from the Pony Express or a courier to basically ride a horse across the country (do the math – average 12 to 20 mph and travel 2200 miles or so). That wasn’t effective and in the end the Pony Express was replaced by the telegraph. It was expensive to hang wire so you still had to get from the telegraph office to your place of business and back but the message could be sent in hours not weeks. From there the telephone, facsimile and then email.

That was IT cutting months out of a communication process. The speed of business increased radically. In fact you can take many examples of IT speeding up the business. Cloud presents some really interesting opportunities to speed up your business.

First off for a new company you don’t have to buy IT gear anymore. Other than someone to manage your actual local area network you don’t even need IT anymore. You simply rent a consultant to manage your LAN and you purchase everything else as SaaS offerings. The cost in the end of growing a business quickly goes down with cloud. So does the time it takes to get an infrastructure that supports your business up and running.

That isn’t ITaaS that is a cloud offering. The ITaaS is the person managing the LAN. You bring them in when you have an issue, otherwise you never see them or pay for them. That works great for small startups and new companies. Larger companies end up running into issues that slowly require bringing some manner of IT staff on-site. Going back to one of my personal favorite books the Blue Ocean Theory companies embroiled in a cost cutting red ocean would love ITaaS. Until they create a Blue Ocean advantage.

You see once you have created the advantage that is your companies Blue Ocean, you have to work really hard to keep that advantage. Innovation can end up being “a what have you done for me lately” game, if you don’t watch out. So then we introduce the new concept. ITaaV. That’s right IT as a Value add for the business. IT as a partner in the Blue Ocean and a driver in that process. ITaaS is a great start but in the end ITaaV is a better end.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Wandering around technical support on a Sunday…

How many devices are connected to your router? It’s the first question they ask you when you are seeking support for a connectivity issue. It seems to me that network providers haven’t quite grasped the impending reality of IoT.

Devices? What do you mean by devices is my response.

Computers the person answers.

OK – then I have 5 connected. Each person in the house has their own computer. Each of them has an Internet connection. Interesting. Why in the end would you start there?

Gartner projects that there will be more than 200 IoT devices in virtually every home by the end of 2025. So perhaps the better question would be what isn’t working? Or rather than how many devices (a lot) are connected, what isn’t working right now?

It would save a lot of time.

Of course the reality of trouble shooting is you can’t test the person you are helping first. What does that person know? What steps have they followed? Unless of course you were able to metric the router or connected device. An IoT of support as it were.

What would a remote support end point look like? First off you would need to have extremely exceptional security since the end point would sit connected to the router in my home. That device would have to be a reporting device which means it would be a sensor in the home. Like the controversy that cable companies created by not informing customers they were creating a mesh network by sharing a piece of the cable modem’s Wi-Fi the same is true of that sensor. I would need to know what it was capturing and when it was sending information.

The good news is by putting that device on my network they could quickly tell what I had already done. It would open up the home network to a little risk and we would probably want to review that going forward to make sure it wasn’t a risk for me.

I guess in the end it all focuses on the value, and goal of technical support professionals going forward. What it is in the end you are trying to do? Solve the most problems possible in a day? Or make sure people are able to use the service provided effectively?

Perhaps its time to stop assuming the problem is after the router and start with the router as the problem. It might resolve some of the frustrations your customers have.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Wandering the desert of voice command seeking an Oasis…

I’ve been playing with the Amazon Echo lately. First off it is a nice speaker system and while this isn’t a review of the technology itself it is well, cool. This is more a conversation about speech as an engine going forward.

Voice command has been around for a long time. I have owned the Dragon products for years. I use them frequently but not to the level I was expecting to by this time. I thought based on the improvements they made in the early 2000 period that by now I wouldn’t use a keyboard. Optical Character Recognition or OCR also made leaps and bounds and frankly like voice also hit a wall in the late 2000’s.

Alexa as the Echo likes to be called is pretty good. Around Siri quality in the end. That is a little less than what Dragon is able to do. But in the end nowhere near where I thought things would be ten years ago. The reality of audio is that audio is all around us. The soundtrack of our lives isn’t just the music we pull from our mental mix tapes. It is the sound of a fan above us. It is the sound of the furnace heating or cooling the place we are. It is the hustle and bustle of other human beings.

Sound is all around us. It is in the end the limiter to what we can ultimately do with voice recognition. Even with a full heard there is ambient noise around you. So the system has to get smarter about what is your and what is ambient. With the improvements in the Intel and AMD chips I thought that was going to be simple. It isn’t and I shouldn’t have thought that. But for a time I did.

I find also that one of the decreases for OCR is that I don’t use it as much now as I did years ago. So while the engines I’ve been using (in particular AABY) are much better I don’t need them as much as I once did. When I do I simply launch the application and away I go.

For voice however I find that I am using it more and more. As our world moves into more of a digital world motion, touch and ultimately voice are critical factors. Siri gets better but is limited by Internet bandwidth and recognition. Dragon is better now that it was, with a lot of room for improvement. Alexa however seems to do what it does very well. Unlike Siri, Alexa won’t take on every command and try to reconcile that with what is possible.

The same is true for the Xbox One. Voice command is better. You are still limited by the reality of distance. The further you are away from the Xbox the greater the risk of failure for voice commands. But again it is getting better.

One of the reasons I had hoped that voice command and voice input would improve is the reality of supporting and augmenting the abilities of those who struggle with standard computer input methods. I had hoped by now that voice command would be cheap, and integrated into the chipset rather than software based and still not 100%. Certainly better but way to much room to improve.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

It’s time for a simple tax code for everyone. Plus a livable minimum wage…

This blog will probably get me into hot water but here goes. I have been reading a number of interesting articles around raising the minimum wage  I fully support that the minimum wage is far too low.

But.

The concept that has been floating around is the redistribution of wealth. I agree with that concept. I do however think that in fact it’s time that we talk about fully and equally distributing the wealth of organizations throughout the world.

Recently the pope called for the equal distribution of wealth. I agree with him. I will not advocate taxing churches as in the end that would violate the intent of the US constitution. I do think however all churches should pay a fee to the municipality they are in for the following:

  • Road maintenance
  • Parking management and control
  • Municipal services used (sewer, water, police, fire)

It’s not a tax at that point. It’s simply a services fee.

The same is true for corporations. How does a major corporation pay no taxes?

Let’s implement a minimum tax. Say the old flat tax system. That flat tax applies to companies. They can take deductions and get tax relief deals – no problem. But once they hit the floor they have to pay. Make that flat tax against revenue. That way the hide the profit game also goes away.

Let’s do the same thing for the wealthy. If you are in the 1% you should pay a flat minimum tax as well. To those in that class that pay more than the minimum today – let’s elect them to office. To the rest, race to the bottom – no problem. But you have to pay that minimum. Period.

If you make less than 10,000 a year – no taxes. Full refund of all taxes paid. Seriously – 10 grand is not a livable wage even for a teenager living at home. The reality is for people to get started you need to get them help.

While most of Steve Forbes policies made me shiver and run away to hide. His flat tax still makes a lot of sense. I think implementing a minimum tax across the board and service fees for churches would be a fair way to solve some of the problems we are experiencing now.

Encourage companies to hire young people by letting them take a tax break (but NOT BELOW THEIR CORPORATE MINIMUM) for paying starting wages that are livable. Don’t tax churches but have them pay for the services they consume. Leave organizations that provide services to those who need them alone – no fees for them.

To borrow from Greg Cote of ESPN “back in my day” segment the minimum wage had more loopholes than Swiss cheese. Migrant workers, farm workers and food service professionals were exempt. Companies that were not large enough were exempt as well. It is time to make it universal and give smaller companies a break on taxes for the additional wages paid. I suspect you would find that the majority of small businesses pay more taxes that large companies do.

It’s time to simply the tax code. Seriously.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow.

Wandering around mesh networks, IoT and defining a new category for IoT…

I have been thinking a lot about my categories of IoT and in particular the stayable format of IoT devices. Within that category I believe there are actually two sub categories. Stayable fixed and stayable flexible are the two categories.

Personal presence devices fit into both. Some (Jibo) are fixed. They don’t move. So in the end the connection is with a point in space. Others (Keecker) move and provide you with a connection to place. You can then move around within that space and interact. Keecker doesn’t have remote control out of the box but that is only a matter of time.

When you start considering sensors that can move within an assigned space and allow remote connections the world becomes interesting. Drones in effect are remotely operated sensors. Be it that the drone can be underwater, in the air or on the ground, it is a sensor. Intelligent sensors are even more interesting in this space.

I suspect if you think about the concept of mesh sensors that I talked about before. Interestingly there are a number of blogs and professional articles that talk about mesh networks are the winning play in the IoT space. My favorite is here. The concept of mesh allows us to have sensors that act intelligently without requiring other interaction. The mesh allows us to create a resilient sensor array. What is the first thing dramatized in a bank robbery, the spray paint the cameras. They are visible. Now with a mesh there wouldn’t just be visible cameras.

What is the value of both stayable flexible devices and mesh IoT? How do I derive something from this? Well the first one is easy. Creating a mesh sensor system for say river monitoring would be a valuable thing. A mesh sensor system for volcano’s and for fault lines as well. Much of that mesh already exists today. It isn’t anything new. The advantage of testing mesh solutions in those scenarios is that they can also save lives. Run the mesh side by side with the existing sensors until we are sure everything works.

In the end it comes back to my VR Mesh. Where sensors are used to create a VR mesh of any location. Of course the big brother version of that would be linking to every cellular phone in a space to create that mesh without anyone knowing it was happening. But that isn’t as easy as you would think. Mostly from the reality that most cellular phones are not carried with their cameras accessible/usable. They are in pockets, bags and ultimately cases. The value of VR Mesh when the sensors are deployed is incredible. Imagine seeing the entire network of an organization as a VR Mesh. The human eye is one of the best tracking system available. Creating a VR heat map of your companies network showing normal traffic as blue and abnormal traffic as red allows security professionals to quickly react to abnormality.

It is a very interesting discussion in the end. The scary thing is that for all the good this could do, it would only take one bad use to make it in the end bad.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

What to my wondering eyes should appear, SPAM in my SPAM folder…

I have decided to check and to empty my junk mail folder every day for a week. Just to see what is actually coming into my various email boxes. In my work mailbox I get 1-2 spam messages a month. So that one has been easy.

My GMail account has the least spam but I don’t often use that account for anything other than personal communication. My Hotmail account is much older and it gets 40 or so spam messages a day. That number increase because that email address is on some lists that generate SPAM.

  1. I can improve my hair via a number of options. That is exciting because frankly its thinning on top and I would love to have the hair I had when I was 20.
  2. Lots of SPAM software offers. They will filter my inbox so I don’t get SPAM in my inbox. Interestingly they all end up in my SPAM folder.
  3. Same for a number of Anti-Virus packages – all ending up in my SPAM folder.
  4. A number of emails a day – roughly 5 offering me some sort of Testosterone boost.
  5. Beyond Testosterone – the other kind of pills as well.

Interesting argument now can be had. Why do I buy from Amazon? Well first off I buy from Amazon because it is easy. Secondly I buy from Amazon because when I checkout they remind me of the various other things that people also bought. For example if I am buying AA batteries it is always wise to see if I need any other type of batteries and Amazon says here, choose the other batteries you need.

I don’t however respond to SPAM mail. It is targeted all wrong. The five listed above are probably 90% of my SPAM every day. In the end not targeted to what I need or want. Not by the way that I am advocating targeted SPAM, just that its one of the reasons why I don’t ever do anything other than empty the SPAM folder.

So why then does it continue to be sent? Why is all that SPAM still out there? It is an eternal question that probably in the end doesn’t have a good answer. It certainly has a question but no answer is apparent.

I guess in the end it is as much an indictment of how I use the Internet and my email accounts as it is that of the Spammers. It’s why I don’t share my Gmail address very often. That way it stays for the most part relevant to work and things I need. I use rules to separate emails in my Hotmail inbox. Rules that put emails from my mother, sisters, wife or children into a separate folder. That way I always see and can act on those emails. The rest are broken into various folders that I check when I have time.

In the end it is a game. So I keep one public and one pretty much private email address. Someday maybe I can get down to one.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow

A systems view of innovation…

I was reading something yesterday about innovation that I found interesting. First off a variable definition of innovation exists today. Some people see and consider innovation finding a new way to do something. Other’s find the definition to be a better way to do things.

Qualitative solutions are of course harder because you have to define clearly what better is. That means you have to study what didn’t work carefully to determine what in the end makes it better. You have to take a systems view of what you are considering. Speeding up one part of a solution isn’t always the answer. Say for example you are going to improve the soft serve ice cream business.

Developing a nozzle that can triple the output of soft serve does solve the problem of people waiting in line. If you don’t however increase the ability of the freezer to turn the liquid into the soft serve by the same amount you speed up the delivery system in the end you get… Well frankly you get something that isn’t soft serve

So innovating the speed of soft serve delivery when taken in a systems view would include speeding up how fast you freeze the original liquid mix. Then you can speed up how fast you deliver the soft server and take care of the problem “long line.” Now the other consideration of course is the reality of the time taken for people to order and pay for the soft serve but that would involve improving another system by adding the Apple Pay ability. Perhaps to speed up the entire process you create a kiosk and place it 100 feet away from your serving window. People order and pay at the kiosk. They then walk to window and get their much improved frozen treat.

To continue the original theme innovation is also a new way of doing things. Perhaps one of the greatest innovations in medical history was a systems view of a problem and a new way to do things. Years ago women would die at a very high rate in hospitals when having babies. A much higher rate in the end than when the baby was delivered by a midwife. One of the administrators of the hospital in Vienna Austria looked at the end to end process doctors were doing and realized what was wrong. Doctors would go straight from the morgue cutting up dead bodies to learn to the delivery room. By getting the doctors to stop and wash their hands as they left the morgue the mortality rate of woman dropped through the floor. A great example of innovation by doing things in a new way.

So in the end both definitions are right. You can also mix and match the two modalities. New ways of doing things differently. As long as you take a systems view of the process to be innovated. That in the end becomes the best possible alignment of what can be done with what should be done.

Then you just have to make it happen.

.doc

Scott Andersen

IASA Fellow?