VUCA in the Digital world!!

VUCA in the Digital world!!

By Sairam Bollapragada & Rajesh Mohandas

Across the globe, all are now connected in unprecedented ways. This is both a boon and a bane, where we live in an era that is transforming and setting stage for the next revolution. Times when we were disconnected and every country operated in silo the challenges were limited to the internal affairs and the near border conflicts only.

With technological advances where today we look at a bright and secured future on one hand, on the other hand the unrest continues and is growing bigger day by day, conflicts, civil unrest, terrorism, ransom ware, cyber crimes, etc… are now integrated into our daily life.

The digital reality is shaking up some of the beliefs and compelling us to move to a more knowledgeable IT economy what with automation and AI which were limited to books, have finally come to the open challenging how that can transform every space of the life. Soon all white-space is expected to be filled with cognitive behavior and techniques. Automation is forcing re-wiring of skills for many of the IT workforce (read : https://itservicesdelivery.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/the-digital-era-learner-re-wiring-your-skills/ ) spelling end of the careers if not done.

Hence one can relate to the 4 key parameters of VUCA : Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity. Each of these factors are challenging the order of the day stuff and hence the need to cope with the same in the turbulent times.

The compounded problem statement with external influencing factors from market pressures, competition, shareholder expectations, stakeholders, are strong indicators, to the fact that the leaders will need to be hard wired to resilience.

The role of the leaders managing workforce, will be crucial and critical in shaping the digital future of any organization.  Most of the requirements to support a digital environment are not about the technology per se, but it is also about creating the environment to re-skill, create flexibility to be agile, adopt to changing demands, and groom the right talent for a safe digital future.

Let’s take each of the parameter at a time to see what it means in Digital world:

(V) Volatility: The nature and Dynamics of change that is blowing across the landscape mandates catalysts to adopt to these changes. The legacy of efficiency and productivity will no longer continued business anymore. Disruptive innovations are indeed unsettling dominant industries in today’s world. Hence the times call for compulsive innovation and a drift away from SOPs.

U (Uncertainity): This is a factor which reflects the lack of predictability and many surprises. Another indicator of this is the refusal of the current technology wave to move easily beyond the labs. The ever-experimenting mind-set is also reflecting that the solutions themselves are prone to obsolescence, from the very moment they are conceived with high degree of unpredictability.

( C)Complexity:  Multiple parameters built into the character of the issue spells complexity – be it chaos or confusion-led issues.

Complexity can also reflect multiple influencing factors which can unsettle easily. Complexity is good or bad depending on your strategy. Having a bullet proof strategy is impossible – nevertheless one should have a solid strategy to counter complexities and challenge the same.  Even if it comes with short expiry date (2 years) you should have one.

Digital space is getting more and more complex with each passing day rolling out a new platform, new innovations coming to light, new solutions offered, disruptive models coming to life, etc. Hence to deal with all these changes, a strategy for managing this change is mandatory and thus the

(A)Ambiguity : The fact that we only know 40% of how technology will fold into the lives and markets as an influencer, is a true reflection of haze in the Digital space. This then raises the question of business risk, which is quite a reality today.

At various levels of an organization, there are ambiguities relating to progression and growth, whether at organization level or career levels of professionals.  Except for the lexical meaning of the Strategic and Tactical approaches, the lines are thinning out.

Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity will continue to exist but what leaders today can do is to play a vital role and attempt to control the levers by moving in to a Hyperawareness zone of informed decision-making, and fast execution. Winning in the Digital Vortex is not just about algorithms, architectures or innovative business models; it requires organizational change and workforce transformation. And successful transformation is enabled by a company’s digital business agility, building on the fact that people are an organization’s most important asset. Hence, everybody is but compelled to think on the forward thinking strategies to adopt to the Digital VUCA scenarios….

The Need for Intelligent Command Control Center for Robots (IC3R)

By Sairam Bollapragada & Rajesh Mohandas

It is predicted that the industry economy whether IT or non-IT, will go full throttle in the upcoming FY 2017-18 to create a financial realization called autonomics – unlocking the potentials  of robots that are being conceived. Over 2.5 billion people have at least one messaging app installed, within a couple of years that will reach 3.6 billion, about half of humanity. (Source: The Economist) However, the outcomes as suggested by many big market research houses have not been up to the desired expectations. With the things heating up around automation and artificial intelligence/RPA, we can foresee that we will be very soon seeing an increasing need to have some solid controls in place.

The Industry economy in the coming days will create a financial realisation called autonomics – unlocking the potentials of robots that are being conceived and driven towards this direction. However, the outcomes as suggested by many big market research houses have not been up to the desired expectations. With the things heating up around automation and artificial intelligence/RPA we can foresee that we will be very soon seeing an increasing need to have some solid controls in place. Today, the market is focused on Industrial Networks, Industrial Robots, Machine Vision, Control Valves/Devices, Field Instruments, Enclosures and Cables.  Each of these components have an IT and a Non-IT element with technology landscape consisting of SCADA, PLC (Programmable Logic Controllers), PAC (Programmable Automation Controllers), RTU(Remote Terminal Units), DCS (Distributed Control Systems), MES (Manufacturing Execution System), PLM (Product Lifecycle Management), HMI(Human Machine Interface), and above all Safety.

While creating new technical solutions every day and getting excited with it, we are probably too casual on the flip side of the consequences. Lets focus on the negatives for a moment – what if an unmanned vehicle had a bad bug? or what if the programming in the automated manufacturing plants were intercepted/hacked altering the desired behavior or leading to disturbing outcomes?, it can become a nightmare!! For example a recent crash involving Uber Technologies Inc. driverless car suggests autonomous software sometimes takes the same risks as the humans it may one day replace. While we are creating bots at an unprecedented speed and passion, we may also need to secure these advancements through a control mechanism, which will help us to have the desired outcomes, intact. The technological singularity will compel us to start thinking on automatic recovery with deep machine learning capacity.

Hence, are we talking about having a Command Control Mechanism to protect the desired outcomes of all the automated bots whether Soft or hard? The answer is yes. We need to soon develop and establish command control centres for a set of digital work force you want to monitor on a continuous basis to ensure they are aligned to the expected behavior patterns. In fact, there should be a proper set of guidelines issued by the state agencies before allowing any robot to go commercial in the market. The audit and strictures will help control the release of un-certified or Rogue robots. This would be especially true with the craze of smart cities catching up like around the globe. The creation of the digital twin space is also something that must be looked into seriously for potential disruption.

A command control center will help in creating a centralized monitoring service which will track monitor and report the behavior of these bots while positively looking at it, it could also lend performance improvements towards the desired outcomes. What with the introduction of aggressive mind-control technology and Drones we should have a proper access control on this technology based robots. A C3 with an end-to-end visibility across robots with real-time rolling view to help us have a central control of work schedules, job cards, execution, and support for various robotic activities

While the support for high availability/disaster recovery and network load balancing is the intent, the central control mechanism, will be mandated to have a cyber-cop kind of functionality. For example, while monitoring the bunch of UV Cars, suppose an unmanned vehicle on road was malfunctioning, one should have the ability(or create one) to monitor it in real time and stop the functioning of the engine remotely to avoid any major disaster.

A secure central monitoring system laced with analytics, could be enabled through the log base where robots pass on every information pertaining to each activity they are instructed to perform. With this much of an information being logged, one can get a deep insight into the business and the activity patterns being conducted by or through robots. With so much of information at our disposal one can really create a very good analytics use case to understand and comprehend the behavior of these robots as they are unleashed into the market.

The global industrial automation market is extremely fragmented due to the presence of several players in the global market. Some of the leading players operating in the global market are ABB Ltd., FANUC Corporation, Honeywell International Inc., Toshiba Machine Corporation Ltd., Yokogawa Electric Corporation, Emerson Electric Company, General Electric Company, Yaskawa Electric Corporation, Rockwell Automation, Inc., Mitsubishi Electric Corporation, and Voith GmbH.

However, while doing a cherry pick of the best of the lot or robots to make their organizations more productive and efficient, we hope that the focus will begin from creating a solid Intelligent Command Control Center upfront to monitor, maintain, track and continuously do course correction for these disparate bots – soft and hard alike. The industrial control and factory automation is projected to reach USD 153.30 Billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 4.88% during the forecast period and hence the emphasis. The state agencies must work towards evolving policy guidelines within and beyond for all entities looking to employ the automation-Digital bots effectively.

The Railway Fleet Planning – Digital way!

By Sairam Bollapragada & Rajesh Mohandas

In our last blog on the topic (https://itservicesdelivery.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/digital-in-rail-fleet-management-a-viewpoint/), we had a perspective about the railways fleet management.  In this sequel, we wish to bring on the aspects of Fleet Planning through levers from digital perspective and highlight a few important KPIs today as eyed by the railway planning commission. Fleet planning for any logistics entity is a continuous activity.

Fleet planning basically need to answer two most important questions, which locomotive is needed where and when – and when to acquire (buy / hire) one.

The most critical KPI the fleet planners need to be equipped with is a 360-degree view of the enterprise connecting the decision makers with information regarding its Vendors, Customers, Fleet Assets, the market intelligence to meet expectations. The very reason for such an infrastructure lack exists today due to disparate and disintegrated systems where in most of the countries data collection is still manual in many ways.

The rail network is increasingly busy – the number of passenger journeys made has risen by 70% across the globe over the last decade while US alone operated 1,471,736 freight cars and 31,875 locomotives and originated 39.53 million carloads (averaging 63 tons each) generating $81.7 billion in freight revenue for FY ‘16. So it’s important to make best use of the capacity through effective timetabling, and the right decisions about where to invest in developing the network, Planning and operating the network as seamlessly as possible in line with the existing and future demand. A few of the global KPIs measured and monitored by all railway operators are

  1. Asset Utilization (Train Km per Track Km)
  2. Efficiency (Planned track possession KM hour per track possession km hour)
  3. Service Quality and Reliability (Trains delayed due to Infrastructure)
  4. Innovation and Growth (Average relative age of fleet assets)
  5. Accessibility (Service coverage) and
  6. Safety (Accidental equivalent facilities per train km).

 

  • Asset Utilization

Logistics have a single goal even in asset planning, targeted at effective error-free stock management. Knowing item location, quantities on-hand, stock-outs, re-order triggers, space and scheduling, and how to minimize movement and manage assets in a harsh, high pressure environment, demanding growth patterns are only some of the challenges faced. Planning commission of Railways is constantly worried about the aging vehicles and tracks that need constant attention beyond the environmental and safety threats. Another critical area is to ensure consistency in operations while maximizing utilization. The statistics International Rail Journal show freight traffic is at a seven-year high with revenues reaching over $70 billion and customers are continuously demanding faster cycle times.

Focus on investments in real-time data analytics for smart DSS and IoT based sensor analytics solutions is mandated to provide critical continuous inputs to the fleet and asset planning exercise with constituent factors addressing the mobile workforce, data mobility and data quality for the fleet planning and management.

  • Efficiency

Railways use real-time telematics data and all the data that can be collated from the sensors and actuators to monitor, improve, optimize, the fleet plans with a singular goal of peaking at the efficiency of the operational process excellence. Apart from efficiency, the continuous need to reduce energy costs and minimize human intervention, reduce maintenance costs through real-time diagnostics and predictive analytics, eliminate waste in fleet scheduling through fleet instrumentation. Efficiency and productivity can be increased multifold leveraging intelligent technology, like digital tagging that can be automatically read without the need for a direct line of sight; towards a more real-time inventory intelligence, replacing all other manual efforts required otherwise.

  • Service Quality and Reliability

Railway infrastructure is under consistent heavy stress to do more with limitations at physical expansion. In countries like India and China where the fast-demands-up is a way, the need for better reliability, safety and QoS without much physical elbow space for infrastructure capacity increase is a continuous challenge.

Clubbed with this is to operate with the optimized OpEx with increasing pressure on the price point which needs to keep low as alternative completion threatens. Even passenger services are facing such a price competition from roadways and low cost Airlines. Customer satisfaction is what guarantees the future of railways. Predictive pricing through predictive analytics is increasingly finding space in the planning exercise to ensure all such pressures are catered to. The same holds for fleet procurement and phasing out plans for the obsolete fleet elements, etc.

Also it is an era of two-way communication between the passengers’/business houses and authorities leveraging mobility solutions as a constant feedback on improving the above continuously.

Some areas technology is being leveraged today is addition of intelligence with sensors for cold storage, capacity utilization and mobile-based condition monitoring, improving quality of the systems that trigger warnings, alarms and alerts generated after an event, incident or action by advanced measuring and modeling methods to eliminate the need for maintenance intervention.

  • Innovation and Growth

With Digital levers opening up doors to innovation and many impossibilities like real-time planning, open traffic data, social customer service, should ring in few disruptive trends around. User experience will increase manifold if the Digital fleet planning includes disruptive innovative features for better customer satisfaction and experience.  The solutions would need changes in the approach to planning based on user priorities, data flows, and dynamic response to disruption.

Another factor to fleet planning is the increasing need for an integrated and intelligent network leading to sense demand, measure performance, and monitor physical asset health.  Intelligent systems to respond in real-time to manage capacity and predict /avoid disruption.

Automation and safety will be another area of prime focus where exponential potential of the cognitive techniques will be relied on to save millions of lives, assets, pressing insurance industry as well to innovate.

Collaborative platforms for public and private will be created to meet the mobility challenges while fleet planning exercise would need to take innovative strides to take advantage of creating “low costs to scale” with high levels of participation globally.

The disruptive need to get the Innovation into the DNA of the Fleet Planning is seen as with the advent of autonomous vehicles and improved freight management. Legacy infrastructure is gradually being replaced by train management systems in which trains become interconnected communication hubs, transmitting data among themselves and to network control centers, and receiving instructions from control centers. M2M communication, with a dash from cloud, enabling operators to utilize equipment, tracks and stations more efficiently, while dramatically reducing safety risks. The IoT can further improve the system’s level of automation and its integration with the signaling system.

But all this needs meticulous planning. The yearly railway budget, coupled with a plan laced with the deadly combination of mobile-cloud-analytics as technological levers can bring in drastic improvements in fleet planning.

  • Safety

Though mentioned last, the railway safety is not merely an area of utmost criticality, but also poses challenges to the R&D to continuously create safety access mechanisms deterring crimes in railways infrastructure. As we incline more towards better digital equipped railways, an equal emphasis becomes mandatory for tighter data security and more on physical safety of the railway assets. While planning for the fleet through the year, a Q-o-Q Security is recommended to ensure all aspects of safety are addressed.

Today globally, we have 48,000 locomotives, more than 1.4 million rail cars and enough rail to circle the earth more than 13 times, railroads are relied on heavily by civilizations that be. To keep the vast 140,000 freight rail network and the equipment moving across it SAFE is definitely not an easy task for all the railway boards. The rail safety standards across the globe is getting addressed through the ISO/TS standards.

Managing high density areas challenges traffic regulation. T2T (Train to train communication) communication will allow drivers to understand the speed best adopted to ensure smooth flow of traffic. A real-time dashboard with surveillance video providing access information, where on board and ground staff are all on the same page for the traffic information, all powered by intelligent data gathering-dissemination systems, all alluding to predictive actions in the ecosystem providing safety as well as better functioning.

Digital features like sensors for diagnosing the condition of a motor, infrared sensors for counting the number of passengers, high quality on board internet connection, a suitable information system, onboard information kiosks, create rolling stock in order leveraging technologies, etc. Sometimes cost of such facilities on larger scale can be prohibitive and hence should be factored cautiously into fleet asset planning in a systematic phased manner.

However, the data points across rail locomotive logistics across the globe show that there is a drop of 14% on insurance costs, a drop of 15% on fuel costs, 21% drop in labor costs, 30% drop in operating costs and 21% Upward trend on safety and a similar 19% increase in profitability – all indicators to the fact that the railways across the globe are drastically improving. However, when all this can be factored into the fleet planning across railway authorities  it would be a perfect recipe for an outcome based fleet.

Digital in Rail Fleet Management: A viewpoint

By Sairam Bollapragada & Rajesh Mohandas

Rail is a vital service to global society and the transport backbone of a sustainable economy. Many of the Rail entities around the globe are sprinting towards Digitization.  In the Global Vision for Railway Development (GVRD) document by the International Railway Research Board (IRRB) the core themes include delivering smart solutions as regards to safety, security, punctuality, availability, accessibility, seamless operation, capacity, connectivity and sustainability. These are the critical success factors of a rail network across any country.

The overall rail supply market has witnessed a substantial growth at 3%, driven for the main part by the Asian Pacific region. At over EUR 159 bn, the world rail supply market has reached a record high level. From a product segment perspective, the largest contribution to the market’s growth in the 2013 – 2015 stemmed mainly from the rolling stock and services segments. Added, these two segments clock at 72 % of the total rail market in the 2013 – 2015 period; and still growing. In line with overall market growth, the infrastructure in operation grew by 26,000 km, primarily in the urban and very high speed track segments, with track infrastructure in sum reaching more than 1.6m kms of urban and interurban tracks.

Some of the salient points to understand and take forward in this segment are:

  • The bulk of the additional track kilometres are attributed to the Asian Pacific region due to the construction of new routes in China and India.
  • As reported by UNIFI: European Research Firm, the total market for rail supply is set to continue its growth of recent years at 2.6 %. The rail supply market is foreseen to reach approximately EUR 185 bn per annum in the 2019 – 2021 period.
  • The highest growth rates are expected in Western Europe and Africa/Middle East, 3.1 % and 3.0 % respectively.
  • Frost and Sullivan claims in its research report that Europe alone is set to replace 10,298 locomotives and 1,860 rail cars between 2015 and 2022.
  • With the above, Africa and Middle East market size is expected to double by 2022, while India and Malaysia in the coming 5 years will see 2x infrastructure expansion.
  • India and China, due to the population challenges, are considering increasing the network length to lower the load while in Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Russia and the US private fright operators own most of the rail network.
  • Spain, France and Turkey are expected to have the largest networks by 2022.

Growth Brings Challenges and opportunities too…, one of the areas where the challenges are widely seen is the FLEET MANAGEMENT, the exponential growth followed with high expectations and customer experience certainly needs to be addressed and people are now looking at DIGITAL solutions to ease Strategic and Tactical Operational issues. Key issues with respect to Fleet Maintenance today can be broadly categorized as below:

  1. MAINTENANCE PROGRAMME REDESIGN by comparing experiences of key maintenance approaches and methodologies to assess how each impacts cost and availability, energy flooring and driverless pods become the innovative elements of redesign driven by cost of Energy which is the biggest expenditure incurred by the railways.

  Not to forget the railway telematics through plug and play applications on mobile devices allowing you to report the availability and utilization of locomotives. If we bring in more rigor into planning, safety, operations and execution, with the existing railway infrastructure, we can take an additional capability of 40% through digital means and so on. The overall operational aspects can be improved through digitization as is being proven over the past few years.

  1. INFO MANAGEMENT by examining approaches and new systems for transforming raw data into information to optimize maintenance planning and cost-effectively trigger automatic maintenance operations leveraging the power of BIG DATA and ANALYTICS. Analytics can help us in bettering the routing algorithms, better connectivity, and hence multiple better options, optimize operational costs, a more reliable railway, a better dashboard in the driver’s cabin plugging in critical information for increasing safety (helps avert any mishaps when trains need to cross busy junctions), reliability, punctuality, arrival accuracy, planned travel duration, SoS,etc.
  1. REMOTE CONDITION MONITORING: with so many locomotives on the move, one should continuously know about their health so that you know when it needs attention. One can create the ecosystem whereby all the drive-data is stored (on cloud?) and enabling immediate notification for any anomalies. It will also allow you to anticipate a potential problem and help plan a predictive maintenance. Drones will play a vital role in predictive maintenance and improved security. Electronic tagging or cargo for reliable tracking and reduced delays will improve remote monitoring efficiency.

While solutions like Smart windows are a given for an enhanced customer experience, the bigger offerings are around features like wireless locomotive monitoring and checks for better asset utilization, optimized asset planning with reduced shed times, near real-time locomotive inventory, with component level monitoring bringing in huge efficiency in the entire maintenance processes.

  1. RELIABILITY-CENTRED MAINTENANCE by Identifying a best practice model for applying RCM and examining the extent to which the methodology has increased reliability and eliminated unnecessary maintenance costs leveraging the power of Artificial Intelligence. Swarm robotics is another area for future transport and infrastructure projects, the intelligent robots will be used more and more for repair and maintenance activities. Automatic Gauge change for cross border travel powered by IoT will be the new norm.
  1. MANAGING SUPPLIER CONTRACTS by Identifying opportunities to increase control of the supply chain with optimized material costs through efficient supplier contract management and using Cloud based solutions coupled with Social CRM applications as the global consumption of resources will nearly triple to 140 billion tons per year by 2050. The Fleet of tomorrow will be digital enabled with virtual shopping mall experience for the user to benefit adding convenience and ease.
  1. EXTENDING FLEET LIFESPAN: Optimizing component life-cycle, fleet connectivity, fleet integration plans and obsolescence management to extend lifespan of the fleet with the best in class asset management solutions that can be plugged into the existing architecture. Advances in nanotechnology may lead to new materials that are lighter, stronger, smarter and greener. Availability of information of a hub-spoke inventory management through mobility services from the cloud stored data for access will enable Just-In-Time services optimizing the shelf dwell times and hence the level of re-orders needed to be maintained.

While the above 6 key factors can be essential to improve the operations and maintenance, there are multiple other areas (both Strategic and Tactical) like Fleet Planning, Fleet Acquisition, Fleet Distribution and Fleet Disposal which are being addressed leveraging Digital Technologies. We will discuss in a sequel about how the Digital world would bring about strides of changes in these areas. Collaboration between business and IT will drive efficiency and strengthen engagement benefiting both the industry and the economy.

The best way to predict the future is to invent it.” …our focus and goal in line with Digital 2020 should be to tap into these opportunities and assist the players overcome the challenges in the  Collaborative Digital Transformation that will enable a Win-Win situation, thus embarking into a new journey, partnering and contributing to the overall GROWTH…!

Quantum Computing – expectations in Digital Era !!

By – SAIRAM BOLLAPRAGADA & SHRADDHA BLS

The advent of digital in all facets of life is increasing the demand for better, faster, stronger, reliable and safer infrastructure needs of a common man, who is using the social media, the networks, the mobility and shared cloud services implicitly like never before.

If any, these demands will only go northwards, some of the areas which were theoretically in picture thus far have started assuming practical shape, like quantum computing and artificial intelligence.

The IT Headaches are increased multi-fold due to delays. 55% of IT Professionals experience downtime, causing unproductive hours; 24 petabytes of data processed by google daily; 2 hours of video uploaded every minute at YouTube; 2.9 million mails sent every second; 375 MB of data consumed by households each day; 72.9 items ordered on Amazon per second…. and still the demand for more speed and more capacity never ceases!!!

Human brain has 100 billion neurons, each neuron connected to 10,000 other neurons, this is the most complex and complicated computer known to the universe connected to the super conscious. Today going beyond the binary world of Zeros and Ones we learnt in our early days of computer education a new dimension of multiple zeros and multiple ones co-existing together and intelligently making decisions assisting the GenZ live in a gadget friendly world.

Computers are doubling in power every 18 months, states Michio Kaku (an American theoretical physicist, futurist, and popularizer of science, Kaku is a professor of theoretical physics at the City College of New York and CUNY Graduate Center), but this will not go on forever. He predicts the silicon revolution to be over within the next 15 years. That is why quantum computing is the future of technological advancements.

Quantum Computing that was conceptualized as early as 1980’s is still in its infancy in 2016. However, while practical and theoretical research continues, the fact that it has been made into a reality in some of the labs and commercially affordable limitedly at a high cost is breathing hope for the expectations. In the realm of Quantum Physics particles can act as waves or particle or particle and wave (Super position).

In Superposition a Qubit can be 0 or 1 or 0&1 which means it can perform 2 equations simultaneously, hence 2 can perform 4 equations ,3 can perform 8 equations, hence 2n exponential expansion of simultaneous equations continues…leading to unimaginable large numbers of working concepts.

These concepts are converting to reality fast with companies like D-Wave building the world’s first real quantum computers (with closed environments with limiting dimensions of light, temperature and cost). The Digital space reflecting the need for near-real time scenarios, can leverage and become an excellent life changer. While we are bringing in game changers with the advances in Digital areas, Quantum computing can lend a huge impetus to the entire phenomenon if it were included in the strategic planning of the digital solutions.

The expectations from Quantum Computing can be set to bring in huge transformations in areas as below (though the areas mentioned are just a few of so many):

  1. Artificial Intelligence: A Chinese team of physicists in 2014 trained a quantum computer to recognize handwritten characters, the first demonstration of “quantum artificial intelligence”. The software that Google has developed on ordinary computers to drive cars or answer questions could become vastly more intelligent with usage of QC. It is proven that quantum effects have the potential to provide quadratic improvements in learning efficiency, as well as exponential improvements in performance for short periods of time when compared to classical techniques for a wide class of learning problems. All solutions based on cognitive techniques would also get hugely benefited from the QC. The primary aim of the cognitive sciences is to provide explanations of important mental functions, including perception, memory, language, inference, and learning.
  2. Cryptography: This field is gaining increasing significance by the day in the background of Digital solutions. Since a quantum state changes when it is observed, it is possible to design ways of ascertaining whether a person has eavesdropped on a message which can lead to real time detection of breaches. Using that method people can send each other encryption keys— strings of symbols that are used to encrypt and de-crypt messages — and be sure they’ll be alerted straight away if someone has intercepted the key.

The technological potential for quantum computing was first realized in the formulation by Shor (1994) of a polynomial-time quantum algorithm for the problem of factoring a number into its constituent primes, for which the best classical algorithms require exponential time.

The apparent intractability of prime factorization under classical computation is central to the security of the cryptographic schemes prevalent today. If implemented on a suitable quantum machine, Shor’s algorithm could potentially break the encryptions depended on by governments, banks, and millions of individuals.

  1. Cyber security: wireless networks, shopping or paying bills online, logging into password-protected Web accounts, and toting always-connected mobile devices presents a constant security threat. The overwhelming computational abilities accessible upon the arrival quantum computers would quickly unravel the most advanced public key encryption available today, leading to the current cryptographic standards getting obsolete. If quantum computers appeared as a viable technology tomorrow, there would be precious little alternative and acceptable means for securing our online and wireless transactions as protecting information and computation processes is the backbone of the security which converts your message into a secure format that can reach its destination without being read by an eavesdropping party.
  1. Economics: Supercomputers were very talked about in the real time economics scenarios in the 1970s and it did get its due outcomes. However, with Quantum computing the game theory will become more intriguing and interesting. Computational thinking is transforming economics, spawning a new field of computational microeconomics
  1. Medicines: Qubit is expected to transform the Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) that can be looked upon for study of smaller body cells with high precision. Another area where there is large expectation in bio-medical is the vast DNA sequencing improvements where quantum computing can help large scale processing of data to bring it to clinical use.
  1. BI and Data Analytics: high performance computing has always been an expectation in this field and the better the machines, the better the data processing capabilities improving our decision making abilities. Quantum computing has put the imagination of speeds of faster data processing to new heights using HDFS and MapReduce. Complex and complicated Data – structured or unstructured, can be expected to be treated with ease as Qubits superposition characteristics are leveraged.
  1. Agriculture: owing to the genomics-based data explosion and concurrent computational advances in technologies, the ICAR in India claims a paradigm shift in Agricultural sciences. The better and bigger data processing capabilities that can bring in faster research advances in bioinformatics, be it modelling of cellular functions, metabolic pathways, validation of drug trials and targets to better genetic engineering of crops for better yields of better crops, genetic networks, etc., throws in a hope to stop the calamities due to crop failures in rural areas of developing nations. Here again the QC can play a very critical part as well as in the precision agriculture – a concept leveraging digital solutions fast expected to reach a market of 4.55$ Billion in 2020.
  2. Logistics: A new optimization algorithm was devised for logistics companies by Manchester Metropolitan University to calculate the best routes and times to send vehicles on the road in the most efficient way. The code, a Quantum Annealing Optimization algorithm, is one of the first in a new generation of optimization techniques, which could revolutionize logistics for businesses and a range of other applications.

While Quantum computing is more about converging to solve optimization problems, the application domains can vary in spectrum – be it finding the most optimized solution to power consumption, In artificial intelligence, economics, genomics or medicine, etc. The application of Quantum Computing can also be looked at solving some of the complex machine learning where building models to make accurate predictions.

(At an estimated 15 million $ price tag a handful of organizations like Google, NASA, Amazon, Lockheed Martin have emerged as forward thinking organizations, who are ready to bet on future technologies.)

Towards a better hope, bigger future!!

Smart Living… the Energy Factor!

Smart Living… the Energy Factor!

By Sairam Bollapragada & Rajesh Mohandas

The highest consumption rate in today’s world is of fossil fuel. The twentieth century saw a rapid 20x increase in the use of fossil. The consumption of these fossil fuels continues at a high rate which means once we have used up all of them, we need to rely on alternative sources of energy such as solar, wind and hydro power to meet our daily needs. This sounds quite scary, but yes, this is the truth. As per a research report compiled by IEA (International Energy Agency) average energy use in the last three decades grew at 10% per person per year globally.

Statistics show developing nations consume more energy compared to the developed ones while the world overall grew by 39%.

ECR

 (Data from International Energy Agency)

Industrial users (agriculture, mining, manufacturing, and construction) consume about 37%, Personal and commercial transportation consumes 20%, Residential consumption at 11%, commercial consumption stands at 5%, The other 27% of the world’s energy is lost in energy transmission and generation…

The concept of getting more awareness in developing nation is though a bigger challenge but will catapult them to become a nation better planned when developed and refrain from being in an irreversible position where you cannot change things.

There has been a veritable explosion in the number of electronics, appliances, and other miscellaneous devices plugged into, or permanently connected to the outlets in our homes that are consuming electricity every moment. The NRDC (Natural Resource Defense Council) conducted a study and found that 23% of power consumption in the average household (roughly about a quarter of your electricity bill), is paid for no good reason but for the idle load electricity which is consumed by various appliances like Computers, Digital equipment’s, electrical outlets and others… in sleep mode. The rush towards the new age innovation and connected devices to an extent where a home refrigerator can now play music and pop up a twitter feed on its display is consuming energy more than what it is actually meant for, Alas… the engineering, some devices actually can be designed such that the energy consumption is minimum and that’s is what we believe Smart equipment are all about…!

India, a country with a population of 1.27 billion and GDP of nearly 6 Trillion has 60% of its power generated by Coal, the electricity demand growth stands at 10% to 12% per annum. Power deficits range between 4.3% to 5.4% and a percentage electrification of 67.2% across the country.   India has an installed capacity of ~350000 MW out of which 12.75% is renewable energy generation capacity. India operated with two power exchanges IEX and PXIL. India has also grand plans on going smart in the power sector in all three areas Generation, Transmission and Distribution.

A study indicates that some power vendors are still working in the old inefficient ways and these power plants typically only turn about 30% of the energy input into usable electricity. We are losing up to 70% of the energy in the fuel at the start of the process and the end user like us in our homes and offices are leaving open the energy sucking vampires in standby mode and charges connected one end to the power plugs dangling unconnected to any device at the other, we should take conscious attempt to drain energy vampires by unplugging electronics and appliances we seldom use.

How can we leverage Technology?

Home automation technology is becoming as synonymous with sustainability as it is with convenience. Incorporating smart home technology into a new or existing structure makes it easier to reduce energy consumption. Easy monitoring of their power, heat and hot water usage helps households and workplaces get to grips with their energy consumption habits. Experience shows that it is possible to save around 20% of energy consumption simply by changing user behavior.  With the advent of Internet of Things and convergence towards Smart City initiative user comfort along with energy efficiency focuses on correct operation of building automation devices and systems. The communicating and connected devices can help us integrate energy-saving smart lighting controls, power controllers that turn appliances off automatically and programmable climate control systems.

  •  The energy vampires can be eliminated by use of Smart Strip – a device that automatically detects when you have turned an item off and completely cuts power to a device so it stops drawing electricity and provides surge protection saving 23% of our power bills.
  •  19% of global electricity generation is taken for lighting. Sensors which are capable to detect motion can be great help. LEDs today are using 85% less energy than incandescent bulbs. Research shows LED efficiency is expected to double from the current 125-135 lumens per watt to 230 lumens per watt in the next few years.
  •  Thermal conditions at homes or offices helped with programmable thermostats allow us to set the temperature automatically. Motion sensors in the rooms to start and stop the heating and cooling systems and decrease the amount energy consumption to an extent of 7%
  •  The emergence in solar power technology and India focusing on use of 20,000 MW of solar power by 2020 is a golden opportunity to leverage this technology at homes, we already are using solar water heaters and can extend this technology at homes for our lighting and other needs too.
  •  There is an emergence of Ultra Efficient heat pump systems, for example a fuel-fired, multi-function residential heat pump that can reduce primary energy consumption by 30% while a low-cost gas heat pump is designed to reduce heating costs by 30% to 45% compared to conventional gas furnaces and boilers.  Oak Ridge National Laboratory and General Electric are developing a new type of clothes dryer that uses a heat pump cycle to generate hot air needed for drying.
  •  The real smart technology focusing on energy consumption is the invention of Smart refrigerator, a revolutionary new type of refrigerator that uses magnets to create cold, instead of vapor compression technology with water-based cooling fluid which is 70% more energy efficient.
  •  While we are very much using our common sense today to open the windows and use the sunlight instead of drawing heavy curtains to them and light up the home, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Pella Windows are working on new highly insulated windows that use sensors and microprocessors to automatically adjust shading based on the amount of available sunlight and the time of day to ensure proper lighting and comfort, saving consumers energy and money.
  • Another mechanism that is driven thru the emerging technology is a system could use the GPS function of a smartphone to automatically put a home in away mode when a person leaves a property. Some companies collect and analyse energy usage data, whether it’s two-way power meters or smart thermostats, to tailor heating and cooling settings to specific buildings, on the other hand Cloud-based services can lower energy bills further. Utilities, for example, can reduce power usage during peak times through smart thermostats.

Technology indeed provides us means and ways to become smart in leveraging the same and the key is sustenance at least cost and being smart at saving our reserves for the future generations adding to it a saving on our power bills to not less than 50%, we’ll also push towards a more sustainable, convenient living situation.

It’s all about making smart energy choices in a smart city opting to live in a smart home filled with smart equipment’s and be a smart human making smart choices

 

The KM role in “Staying Relevant” in the Digital Age

By Sairam Bollapragada & Bhuvaneswari Valluri

KMChart

A recent Google Trends chart shows a spurt of interest in digital transformation from May 2015 to taking precedence over mission critical activity that has been the trend in the last couple of years. India tops the charts with a 100% interest followed by Australia at 75% and United Kingdom with 51% interest rate. Given this focus, and considering that technology once “belonged” and has/is become(ing) “open”, organizations worldwide are finding it difficult to deal with the abundance of information and knowledge assets being churned out.

While much of the above is freely available on the internet, knowledge workers and subject matter experts within the organization are largely unable to capture their expertise and experiences quickly enough to proliferate across – a natural transmission loss hence.

Businesses and customers alike are constantly demanding change and challenging the status quo.

The desire is to leverage emerging and disruptive technologies providing a competitive edge and building uniqueness into products & services, and ensure faster growth. The technology space is evolving faster and quicker than our imagination (refer: https://itservicesdelivery.wordpress.com/242)

Organizational speed and agility remains, key! Improved productivity, streamlined delivery, and higher levels of customer satisfaction are a few demands. In the process, organizations are generating that much more knowledge to present the world with alternate solutions to a multitude of problems and needs. But, organizations cannot afford to be data rich with poor insight. Availability of right information and knowledge at the right time continues to be the need of the hour. Organizational memory refresh needs to be that much quicker.

Knowledge acquisition and its conversion to explicit knowledge still remains a challenge. We need to be get more structured around how we want to manage information. The new smart knowledge management system (SKMS) is supposedly a hybrid knowledge-based decision support system that takes information and sends it through four macro-processes: diagnosis(base or integration layer), prognosis(analysis layer), solution(solutioning layer), and knowledge(finds solutions to issues and presents alternatives based on past experiences), in order to build the Decisional DNA of an organization. The SKMS implements a model for transforming information into knowledge by using sets of experience knowledge structures by leveraging Communities of Practice.

Heavy focus on Centralized KM repositories is essential and must be kept current with an inflow of latest information while ensuring redundant and outdated information is weaned out regularly and with shorter lifecycles. KM processes for the capture, storage, sharing and archival of knowledge assets have to be that much more efficient, quick and effective. Organizations that have invested in KM practices are making headway by focusing on smarter knowledge management frameworks and adopting tools and mechanisms, SEO, improved usability, tagging content to ensure relevant and faster search results, mobile interfaces to ensure availability of knowledge while on the move, etc. are trending this year.

Employee  learning and unlearning curve becomes that much shorter and challenges managers to keep pace, stay relevant, make decisions based on critical factors that can also include — availability of training by experts (external and internal), and individual employee attention and memory span.

Microsoft’s Satya Nadella says, “We are moving from a world where computing power was scarce to a place where it now is almost limitless, and where the true scarce commodity is increasingly human attention”. Interestingly, Microsoft recently conducted a study on “what impact technology and today’s digital lives are having on attention spans.” Not very heartening to see that while the average human attention span was around 12 seconds in 2000 it has dwindled to 8 seconds in 2013 and this apparently is less than that of a goldfish’s attention span! Alarming in a way, considering that customer expectations are volatile and employees need to ensure they efficiently deliver services and products well ahead of time, keeping in mind competitive pricing and high quality.

Businesses worldwide are figuring out ways of ensuing a higher frequency of knowledge asset updation. Current research from HBR suggests that machine learning and computational linguistics are making a difference to organizations worldwide. Interesting examples of how an organization has used natural language processing to perform and learn time intensive data entry and documentation tasks; use computer vision to scan and analyse images; perform predictive maintenance etc. have been shared. This is good for organizations that have made conscious investment choices to stay current. But, is the writing on the wall clear enough for those who are still dealing with such issues?

Simpler ways to address this need have to be adopted. Exchange of tacit knowledge through communities, discussion boards, wikis and micro blogging must increase. Digital transformation Project and Delivery stories need to be shared by making this the KRA of each project manager.  Cross pollination of expertise knowledge via webinar, podcast and other modes needs to be mandated. Usability is the essence here and information architecture is prime. Organizations must invest on periodically revamping their taxonomies and metadata structures to ensure employees are equipped with right information at the right time to make them that much more capable.  Incentivization in non-monetary forms must be encouraged as this may address the WIFM (what’s in it for me!) for the employees. Periodic promotion of existing knowledge to increase KA usage should also be considered.

However, all this is not possible without proper governance. Following can help:

  • Knowledge assets’ (KA) review mechanism must be established through  domain knowledge experts teams
  • Customer confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements must be made more stringent…
  • Knowledge assets’ usage reports have to be automated.
  • Managers and decision makers must be able to access these reports and dashboards as required.
  • KA retention period and archival mechanisms must be established through a structured KM Strategy Plan.
  • Measures to ensure knowledge is constantly being made shareable should be mandated.
  • Demarcation on what is mandatory and bolt-on for teams should be established (how about a team knowledge strategy?)

In essence, what is required is a coherent and concerted effort by organizations to ensure they have the wherewithal in terms of the right set of knowledge assets enabled by effective KM processes that allows their employees to maintain high knowledge levels while challenging them consistently with improving and sharpening  learning curves and hopefully better than the goldfish’s attention span!

Digital Workforce: Next Gen Engineers as Assets

Digital Workforce: Next Gen Engineers as Assets

By Sairam Bollapragada

The IT industry service providers are right now struggling with means and mechanisms to transform the existing workforce to adopt and adapt the Digital skills. As they keep stepping deeper and deeper, the journey seems to be getting more difficult and complex. The lateral folks resting on their laurels for long are finding it difficult to put their arms around the new technology and software engineering changes demanded as the industry as a whole seems to be suffering from inertia, built over more than a decade.

The technological advances in the past 2-3 years have been going at a phenomenal pace. The platforms, packages, penetration of Social Media, Mobile apps, transformation to Cloud, Analytics being used as a primary R&D tool for almost all domains, and latest being the IoT – all have brought in compulsive factors in each of the industrial domain. It now looks like no industry will survive without embracing technology.

Many of the technologies/platforms that we hear today in the IT industry never existed 8-10 years ago like Raspberry Pi, Xively, Thingworx, Mahout, Apache KafKa, IBM Bluemix, Osmosis, etc – and to add further to the pace, what we see today maybe just the 40% of what we will see in the next 5 years!!  The bright minds would be needed in every organization to drive the adoption and delivery of solutions using these technologies.

The Next wave of engineers who will come out by 2017-18  hold the key. When I speak to them on the transformations and new developments today, they seem to understand most of the emerging areas, thinking like professionals who are ready to learn, execute and conquer the new technological frontiers beckoning them. Many with right support of the campuses are ideating like never before. Many are taking on the mantle of becoming entrepreneurs and donning a techno-commercial hat. They are able to talk, like the typical maverick innovative thinkers. Though many would think that’s not what we want, I would contest that this is what is needed now. If we cannot think out of the box, the conventional approach will spell a disaster.

The IT Organizations (especially those in service industry) are running aggressive internal transformation programs, some in a focused and some on discretionary ways, but the attention and absorption being quite low, the grip on the handle is a suspect. Hence the infusion of the new blood to mix and rejuvenate the read-to-learn experienced folks will create the new organizations which will sustain the next five years, if not the decade.

The young engineering students pursuing technology to graduate in 2017-18 will have bigger challenge to close the gaps between what was taught in earlier part of the curriculum and what is being rolled out in the current curriculum. The following will come true in the next few years:

  1. There will be unprecedented collaboration between industries and academia to create unique products on mass scale. Both will come together to create a more vibrant workforce for facing the upcoming market competition and demands.
  2. Project works or internships may start assuming more significance as IoT areas would require more hands on than being limited to a theoretical exercise. Industries would demand longer duration of projects/internships. It would extend from 6-12 months than the current 3-4 months. The top students would get paid heavily by the Indian outfits.
  3. More internal labs and incubation centers would find places alongside customer CoEs, co-created between service providers, academia, product vendors and customers. All would focus to create innovative market disruptors and hence may unleash a fierce but healthy competition between the internal lines of business. Perhaps a mini Technology office within each delivery unit will be a need for the next 4-5 years.
  1. With the above, more patents are expected to be created and the IP creation will become a buzzword to swear by, more aggressively.
  1. Cloud, Mobility and Analytics will no longer be niche areas and every IT professional has to understand about few of these areas to decent levels of depth. Hence each delivery unit will need to have architects in these areas embedded into their organization.

With this being the futuristic scenario, the existing workforce will have quite a bit to bite and chew. The organizations struggling to wriggle out of the historical structures (especially ones where personality based organization structures have been a trend) would need to be dismantled. Every organization would need to re-incarnate themselves with a heavy focus on the next generation engineers playing a heavy role in the transformation. The quality of engineers will be focus and the pay packs are slated to surge up. Hence the intake may be limited to those who can walk the talk.

New roles or positions pertaining to IoT like IoT Node Experts, IoT Middleware Experts, Things Mobile Experts, Things Ux experts, Things Domain experts, IoT Security experts, IoT Account managers, etc will be soon found marking themselves high amongst the recruiters. Many may move to crowd-sourcing than outsourcing.

The screening of academia and staff will also play a vital role in the job offers as everybody would strive to get the best to stay ahead of the curve. Mediocrity will no longer be an option.

The same would apply to the existing workforce. Every experienced professional would find himself under the heat to learn the new technologies, new terminologies, and new methods of planning, estimation and governance. Those who don’t welcome the change with open arms and mind would find themselves fading away too soon. The timeframes for the reaction and change would be too short.

The loading of entry level technically strong guys will create a healthy competition to learn and excel. This will lead to refresh in the organizations both technically and the amalgamation will constitute new organization, just not the structures.

Hence the organizations would need to create leaders who are solid technically, have demonstrated technology management skills, and can lead the organization into the next wave. The organizations would depend on these visionaries to create this amalgamated organization between the old and new breed, to deliver the best of the hybrid race to ride the digital tiger.

Digital Manufacturing through Industrie 4.0

by Sairam Bollapragada

From the 1784 first mechanical loom to the current definition of Smart Manufacturing in the era of IoT, the manufacturing industry has come a long way and we have left the first programmable logic controller of 1969 far behind.

What started early in 2012 as the research alliance,  the German Mechanical Engineering sector has worked hard to freeze on the launch of the joint platform in mid-2013 and ensure it had a vision ready for field test in late 2014.

Though initially meant for the German industry, the concept and standards are propelling to fuel the market, hand-in-hand with the IoT fever acting as catalyst.

Taking a leaf from my earlier note on the manufacturing (https://itservicesdelivery.wordpress.com/2016/03/28/smaciot-and-manufacturing-a-perspective/),  there is an ever increasing pressure on

  • Optimized Opex, upwards demands on flexibility and productivity,
  • Compulsions of competitive differentiation creation,
  • Progress in communication and sensor technologies,
  • Production and operational processes getting more robotic in nature,

the Industrie 4.0 is here to challenge all the manufacturing industry players and push them to the brink further on

  • optimized resource usage,
  • shortened lead times,
  • personalized fit-to-purpose manufacturing,
  • increased (squeezed?) productivity,

– with technology opening up new and sustained methods of innovation, production, consumers demand-supply through faster and better information flowing through the processes.

Will too much of IoT/automation eat away into our jobs then?

Yes and No. Yes because the repeatable jobs will be taken up by bots. No because the need for a knowledge worker will still persist. For all supported processes, while data required will be faster acquitted, the data quality would still need to be the essence. This will need appropriate invention since ¾ th of the data so acquired may not be having self-correcting capabilities.

Also a NO because the supported products could expect the onboard service revenue increase in its industry revenue share down the line due to connected products. Supply chain experts will look beyond silos to get more from the eco system (a value-network interconnecting objects, devices, human) creating a potential real-time optimized system.

The new manufacturing industry would rally around traditional parameters with the following changes:

  • Design and conceptualization – the demand of an Industrie 4.0 construct will keep the manufacturers to be in an “all time ready” mode. Understanding of new technologies, devices  to be factored towards design of the smart products clubbed with their feasibility, environment specifications, data to be captured, communication channels to be used, etc. will become part of any design engineers mainstream thought process.
  • Demand Planning – when customization is leaning more towards a mass B2B, the demand planning should be done meticulously. The demand-variants will be many. The challenges staring would be stocking inventories with different materials and smart component leading to Smart Inventory Management. These in turn become the capability to churn out customized orders in bulk.

However, networked machines are expected to optimize the production. Sensors fitted to transmit data into the data lake for getting analyzed for increasing efficiency while cutting on downtimes.

  • Shop floor activities will need to re-cast themselves as the design teams would start catering to the ways and means of interfacing smart component into their traditional device production.
  • Product Operations: Instead of being a discrete process which ends when the product is packaged and shipped, the operations cycle would extend till the product grave. The objective is continuous product improvement
  • Supplier Network Design- In order to have such a dynamic planning done for the clients, the material supplier network would need to keep itself most active. What I mean is all vendor partners would need to keep themselves committed to deliver timelines (anytime) to the variant needs.

The design of such a network would be driven by the single goal of optimized T2M (time-to-market). Even after so many years, conventionally this is still an area of concern for most product companies. With Industrie 4.0, the demands will stretch the ask even more.

  • Supplier Management – Smart Logistics, Smart Mobility, Smart products, and smart machines – all will make the supplier management more drawn to bringing virtual and physical parameters of the connected B2B world together.

The suppliers will expect to be managed more efficiently with reduced warehouse dwell times and increased material utilization levels. The connected devices would call for the distribution and logistics companies to configure and re-configure the networks with most finely tunes service level management.  Hence the supplier management is targeted to become more effective than ever before.

  • The framework consideration for the Industrie 4.0 would push a huge focus on data security, communication infrastructure, innovation funding, and reference architectures.
  • Supply Chain Visibility – the capability to respond quickly to the events in the upstream and downstream supply chain through the Industrie 4.0 defined standards will, making the zero-latency supplies more realistic. The connected devices will be able help transmit the data pertaining to their locations, (mal)functioning, associated bugs, etc. and hence the supply chain visibility.

What about post-services?

  • Remote Services will become a critical part of the services league which will kick in once the connected devices hit the markets. Sysmex is a classic example. It is a simple blood/urine sample collection equipment used by pathology clinics. Loaded with connectivity feature, the same is used for remote monitoring and servicing. When the offshore and onsite difference is defeated, the objectives of service costs, equipment utilization, and CSAT makes these connected devices a winning enabler.
  • Using the predictive analytics in the connected devices, the early warning signs of a “to-be faulty” machines can be helpful. It helps to slot out the preventive and proactive maintenance of devices and keeps the uptime high for the better performance.
  • Value Added Services is another thing which will catch up as each connected device is identified with a signature address. The performance parameters data gathered for equipments, especially ones which are complicated in size and function, is analyzed by the product engineering/development companies for advising how best to use, optimize, accomplish efficiencies, and eliminate potential showstoppers.

Every connected device is a potential entry point into the network for cyber-attacks. The devices exposed must be provisioned with smart ways to get a security blanket covering it against any potential vulnerability.  Similarly, means to detect early intrusion and a mechanism to study, analyze and improve the device security against a break-in should be a continuous effort from product engineers.

The risks arising out of penetrating connected components in aircrafts, automobiles, medical equipment, generators, and others could be far greater than the risks from a breach of a business e-mail server. That seems much simpler now.

Will the new Industrie 4.0 lead to new culture?

The Organizational behavior will be compelled to see a big change. The silos across the organization need to be erased. The organization would need much more orchestration to manufacture smart devices. Every unit within the organization, be it design, prototyping, shop floors, CNC teams, inventory, supply chain, invoicing-billing-finance, logistics, HR, training – all need to be in a perfect sync to be able to target (in-tandem) the shortest time-to-market – to beat the competition and be a leader! In the next blog, I will focus on how the IT industry will need to align to its manufacturing clientele as the latter change their organization norms, working policies, and more importantly the structure.

Will Smart Cities set off reverse migration?

By Sairam Bollapragada

The lure of emerging technologies, IoT, SMAC resulting in ‘smartening’ everything in a Smart City concept is catching a lot of attention. A typical scenario in India and perhaps in some other countries is that the smart city is planned or promised to provide all one can think of from the perspective of greater convenience, bettered facilities, and a better quality-of-life.

Earlier, when the poorer cousins of cities were devoid of earning opportunities, people rushed to cities in a bid to earn livelihood. Hordes of people would take a train to bigger developed/developing cities and the skilled population in towns started thinning to leave the towns under-developed, if not pushing them backward. The migration created a lot of divide between haves and have-nots. Thus, there emerged the social parameters of ‘earn-abilities’ and ‘learn-abilities’.

The smart city concept has compelled the state agencies, policy makers and country planners to think on which kind of smaller cities or towns can be quickly transformed into a place for getting the best of the benefits to its citizens. The cities, with the expanse of irreversible growth in infrastructure, transportation, tall buildings, depleted oxygen levels, tiring network of roadways, increasing number of vehicles, and many things supposedly defining the so called ‘Developed City”.

What people would slowly start seeing in the next decade or so, will be a reverse trend due to the same reasons for which they migrated. Roads are great but traffic snarls came in, too many people and social circle but the stigma has pricked, better buying power but the divide has increased, better education but stiffer competition and hence the upward cost of education, more buildings and losing touch with the greens, and many such things which once lured many. People in cities (big ones especially) feel the pinch of polluted air, environment, crowd, lesser interfaces with nature, increased carbon emissions, unclean and non-potable water (remember in the school we used to drink from the tap directly!), increased usage of plastics, and many such things.

The smart cities today, if well planned laced with the same facilities which once brought so many to bigger cousins, would attract population to come back to the roots. This time the wait is worth; the transformation to a smart city from a town will open up many opportunities.

The same facility with all advantages of nature, time for hobbies, wonderful work-life balance, healthier way to live, shorter traffic times, better standards of living, better education and better skilling to prepare smarter workforce, better housing facilities, innovative utilities for a smart living, better plans for optimum movement of people and goods to create a smart mobility, better plans for higher employment with more investments towards a smart economy, sustainable development, natural resource utilization like water and energy – all creating smart environment for a citizen to become part of such a balanced and content life. Not to forget – the evils of such growth will still be around – be it price rise of real estate, people flocking, opportunistic deals, etc.

However, the policy makers can quickly create policies around prevention of the same. The legislations should create a vision for the smart city with a potential future blueprint like, say, a 20-year vision keeping in view livability and environment management with tagged sources of funding for such innovative transformations. The options for delivering to the purpose, especially on the infrastructure side, will depend and include a lot of PPP models and unsolicited proposals from citizen forums/associations/societies etc., including smaller infra packages bundled into private sector development of residential and commercial hubs. Connected communities will empower and encourage more local economy. The Corporate Social Responsibility will need to play a larger role in the development of these smart cities and corporate biggies should be provided with business opportunities to establish their work places from these cities, opening employment opportunities to citizens and hence giving an economic boost to the area.

The independent entrepreneur class should be encouraged to heavily participate in the PPP models as well. The encouragement can be mostly in terms of tax holidays, infra provisioning, etc. All these initiatives will provide to better average buying power of the citizens and hence the economy uptrend. The ease of doing business will be a critical success factor offering by the policy makers to ensure smooth commissioning of new business.

Major IT companies should already plan for positioning their work packages in these tier II cities for better profitability creating local jobs. It would be a win-win for both the company and the state. The movement of jobs (and not folks) from major cities to these smart destinations would need to be very meticulously planned towards strategic business benefits. On an average, such cities promise to provide better profit-after-tax (PAT) of at least 40%, lower attrition rates (<5%), better customer satisfaction levels (CSATs>4.6) and promise to growth. The psychology of IT fraternity will move from that of clinging to complex major cities to ‘let’s embrace smart’.

Technology will be an enticing factor in smart cities, especially for the technocrats, who can find such place more interesting to reside if the planners create strong knowledge hubs around various areas, create smart communities to brainstorm and solve the most recurring issues collaboratively. Such smart and healthy communities will also increase the awareness amongst the citizens on how inclusive participation with the government agencies will create synergies.

The smart cities are expected to become environmental CoEs. Resource efficiencies (especially the natural ones) identified, tracked and reported through connected devices and sensors are expected to drive behavioral patterns through analytics and communication channels.

It is expected that the carbon footprint would reduce as more people would accept pooling or sharing and be encouraged to use public transportation reducing the owned cars numbers. The older cars ( >15+ years) can be faded from usage through policy regulations to help further. The encouragement of work from home in a connected city will lead to lesser carbon emissions, less pollution and something every employee will appreciate with the employer.

Smart information via transparency on social channels will bring in peer pressure for everybody to be aligned and citizens would be compelled to be aware.

Senior citizens would prefer smart cities while living alone would need leveraged confidence levels from connected devices like wearables and connected healthcare communications. In order to include them in this game, awareness programs for the not-so-technology-delighted senior population, must be held creatively. A well-connected neighborhood and societies will provide a level of comfort between all citizens and build a stronger society like a larger joint-family!

Energy transmission through Smart Grids will create optimized power consumption. Smart utilities will help retain unused power so that the power purchase driven by demand through the agencies can be only as per consumption and this will help in paying for what is optimally used only.

Smart building and office offering the right level of facilities usage to increase work productivity, less downtime with increased resource efficiencies will also help sustain the resources.

Each citizen will be expected to become smarter by being connected – they can report incidents, fires, traffic jams, any suspicious activities, water leakages, electricity theft, emergency response required events, and many more – in all each citizen will be a smart city manager in a way since all these exchange of information will lead to maintaining the balance between cost and standards of life.

The policy makers in Vienna, for example, have committed to publish all spend reports, while local police publish the real-time crime data. Getting citizen involvement is also one of the USPs where feedback on urban planning and city services are taken for improving facilities. Apps like EveryBlock in Chicago and CitySourced in several UK cities enable residents to report problems from potholes to broken street lights to crime anytime anywhere.

We may be setting new standards of responsive city services where citizens feel they have better sense of belonging and stake in them.

The tremendous pressure put currently on the cities due to ever increasing demand on the infrastructure and facilities, is already taking a toll.  With increased density of traffic, as an example, a person spends 25%-30% of his productive day on roads. In the next one decade, it could be seen that the reverse migration will become a reality, especially in countries like India.

Smart is not about big, smart is about intelligent technology for better lifestyles from cost and standards point-of-view. Who would not want to live in Smart & Green Cities at reduced cost of living!!