Strava and the Law of Unintended Consequences

By now, most would be aware of the release of a “heat map” from sports performance app Strava that identified the up to 1 billion activity paths (Running, Cycling, etc) of every one of its users. At first view this seems like innocuous and unsurprising information, a lot of people run around Central Park, New York, cycle in Belgium and Swim at Bondi Beach. At the same time not a lot of users in Afghanistan and Syria. And that is where it gets interesting. Thanks to an enterprising Australian student, Nathan Ruser, the world knows a lot more. http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-42853072

We know where US bases are, we know French activity in Africa. The depth of information is disturbing, but not at all surprising in the digital world. Any digital device has a location element. If you did not realise this then you are naive as an individual. If you don’t realise this as the worlds largest defence force then you are negligent in the extreme. Unintended consequences can be avoided. How did the chain of command not understand that the level of vulnerability had widened since the use of Fitbits, Garmin watches and other wearable devices let alone smartphones?

Enterprises, agencies and consumers all have to make a simple assumption. Any information that is collected about them at an individual and collective level can and likely will be used against them. Not all use is nefarious, tracking and comparing physical activity is a great idea, unless you are on a hidden US base in the Middle East or a French base in Africa.

capioIT has simple guidelines to avoid these issues for consumers and enterprises alike

1 – Assume the data gathered is going to be used against you. If the negative outcome is less than the positive benefits from Amazon to apple watches at least you need to way up the options

2 – Read the fine print. Opt out when you can. It is not an altruistic world. They are not getting your data for your benefit, it is gathered for their commercial benefit.

3 – Technology is accelerating incredibly rapidly, legislative and regulatory environments are not. Cultural norms do not keep up with technology

4 – Ask yourself if you like what you are doing today to be splashed across the world’s media tomorrow?

5 – This is only the beginning. It will only get more pervasive with the growth of AI

Capture Point

Technology is accelerating. Humans are not accelerating as quickly. As a result, the benefits of technology investment will often be overwhelmed by negative issues. We need as a society to understand this,. Our governments, enterprises and watchdogs need to also understand this. As the security failings of 2017, and the strive data release this year have highlighted, society is not ready for technology. We need to accelerate the ability to understand, regulate and protect at the same time accelerate the positive outcomes of technology.

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AWS Reinvents AWS. Again

In the last week of November 2017, AWS held it’s customer event, Reinvent in Las Vegas. Not surprisingly, it is big. Total attendees were 43,000. Last year it was less than 30,000.

Everyone knows AWS is big. In the last four quarters, it had revenue of $18B at a growth rate of 42%. At this current growth rate, new revenue growth in 2018 will represent US$8B. According to Fortune, the following firms have revenue of approximately $8B.

  • HCL
  • Dick’s Sporting Goods
  • Campbell’s Soup.
  • News Corp

AWS will grow a company their size in 2018. It is an extraordinary metric for a company that had revenue of under US$4B in 2014. It will most likely hit $20B in the next quarter. At current growth rates, within 5 quarters it will be 30B, then $40B. It is a revenue growth and scale machine the likes of which the technology has not seen.

Consider the scale that provides, the supply chain that is required, the on-boarding of staff, the onboarding of partners and clients, and importantly, the requirements for direct customer feedback to drive product innovation. Nothing about AWS is small.

Revenue is just one measure of growth. At Reinvent this year, there was an increased visibility, focus and overall investment with the partner ecosystem. Again, massive numbers. Last year, AWS added 10,000 new partners. Not 10,000 new certified people, but 10,000 new partner organisations. The level of infrastructure and process excellence required to do that is immense. Fortunately, AWS has a parent company with some history when it comes to process and supply chain.

Aside from the growth in numbers of partners, AWS made considerable investments in the overall partner experience, remuneration, certification and frankly it was about time that this was recognized more fully from AWS. It has invested heavily on the AWS resource side, focusing on ensuring that the correct partner meets the correct customer opportunity. This is incredibly critical when you are at scale and growing at over 40% per annum.

In terms of offerings from AWS announced at the event there is a lot to focus on. As is their approach, there were hundreds. Overall, the most significant update was to the Machine Learning platforms. A lot of focus on Video based Machine Learning. Neptune is a new Graph based Database. Other announcements spanned the ecosystem.

Whilst it has a dominant position, capioIT believes that diversity remains a key challenge for AWS. According to analysis of the AWS organizational structure, only 2 of 29 named executives are female. capioIT has written that white middle aged males are not the future of IT. AWS is a leader and benchmark that must change. Quickly. I appreciate it is an engineering firm, and sadly a lack of diversity goes with the territory, but across gender, race and other forms of diversity metrics, there is clearly more that it must do.

To give credit, AWS is aware, there were diversity sessions at the event as a start point, but it can learn from Salesforce. Salesforce is incredibly diverse and whilst it makes a lot of noise about the diversity, it can back it up better than anyone else with both spend and functionality.

Capture Point

AWS is constantly growing in all measures. The growth is deep and fast. It is increasing its reach into the enterprise. The increased focus on partners highlights this. The achievement of onboarding 10,000 new partners in 2017 is phenomenal. It is not invulnerable. The minute it thinks it is, the end will accelerate. That is part of what makes it unique. Oh, and Amazon as a parent company.

If you require further information, please contact Phil Hassey, CEO of capioIT. capioIT is an advisory firm focused on helping organisations to understand emerging technology as the world becomes Digital. Phil may be contacted easily in the digital and real world.

phil@capioit.com

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ASEAN leads the opportunity for redefining Cloud Infrastructure Locations

capioIT regularly writes about the importance of the ASEAN market. The size of the market, larger than Latin America, is underestimated. The diversity of the market is also underestimated. As much as any other sub-region of the world, the diversity is in the detail, countries are not the same on virtually any measure in comparison with each other let alone within their borders.

Unfortunately, it is also a market that has not been able to make the most of the cloud opportunity despite recent aggressive uptake of solutions across the spectrum. Of course, there are multiple reasons for this. Regulatory issues are complex in most of the countries, data centre ownership legalities are not easy. Not surprisingly there are increasingly strict rules about the location of data, and what data must be stored within the country, as well as privacy etc. Networks may not be up to speed.

Skills are also lacking in the region. Whilst this has improved in recent years, it remains a valid concern and one that requires more investment from industry and the individual governments. Markets such as Indonesia and Thailand still struggle with skills. More needs to be done to develop this. Cloud investment can be the trigger.

We believe that the opportunity in ASEAN is to develop tier 2 type locations to overcome the data location issue is very significant and immediate. Whilst Singapore is represented by every major cloud provider, this does not equate to having coverage in the region.

Whoever builds a model that economically works in these markets will gain first-mover advantage and in the medium term potentially block competition. Obviously work is already underway by the major cloud providers to develop such a solution, they have to accelerate it. Capability will need to balance the more limited scale opportunity in the short term with genuine cloud offerings that meet the market from a pricing and function perspective.

In most markets, whilst there are local cloud providers, they do not have the function, form or capability to integrate into a global cloud network. Therefore much of the heavy lifting will have to be done by the major cloud operators. It is a long game investment strategy, but as highlighted, the first mover advantage is massive.

ASEAN has the three largest opportunities, there are many countries around the world that will benefit from this cloud function in the more modest footprint.

capioIT has ranked the following markets from a short and long term opportunity perspective globally. As expected three are in ASEAN

 

Core Short Term Market Opportunities

  • Indonesia
  • Thailand
  • Philippines
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Russia
  • Turkey

Longer Term Market Opportunities

  • Argentina
  • Chile
  • Vietnam
  • Bangladesh
  • Sri Lanka
  • Nigeria
  • Kenya
  • Morocco
  • Egypt
  • Peru
  • Colombia

Capture Point  

Opportunities for cloud computing are being left at the table in emerging and tier 2 or 3 countries. First mover advantage is immense if executed correctly,

Clearly, some of these countries represent real challenges in terms of network and telecommunication capabilities as well as regulatory, business stability and ease as well as overall business demand. Partnerships will help with this as will successful and clear-headed investment plans.

If you require further information, please contact Phil Hassey, CEO of capioIT. capioIT is an advisory firm focused on helping organisations to understand emerging technology as the world becomes Digital. Phil may be contacted easily in the digital and real world.

phil@capioit.com

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Dreamforce Winners for 2017

Another Dreamforce is over for 2017. Overall this year was a more successful event than 2016 from my perspective. Salesforce was less about big product announcements and more about improving existing capabilities and increasing the ease of customer deployment, training and engagement through the democratisation of Salesforce.

Winners within Salesforce

Overall Salesforce came out of the event with definite and measurable progress across a range of metrics. The entire event reflects the culture of Salesforce and the genuine focus on diversity and inclusion. There were more Female, African American presenters on stage than I have ever seen. In all likelihood, there were more on stage presenting and facilitating this year than I have seen in such a forum across my entire career. It reflects positively on Salesforce and that inclusion is real and merit focused.

Product wise, there were several winners within Salesforce. The overall theme of the event was personalisation and democratisation of Salesforce. That was made clear. It is more than just putting “My” in front of every offering. Trailhead has accelerated in both functionality and importance.

Overall the most prominent growth has been with Einstein the AI tool for Salesforce. I had a degree of cynicism on the reality of Einstein prior to the event. When it was launched at Dreamforce in 2016, I took the view that it would, like Analytics and IOT announcements in events prior, be all talk and a long way from maturity. Both those offerings had struggled to find their footing and functionality.

The opposite has happened. It has progressed quickly, and from a use case perspective, is clearly dragging IOT and Analytics along with it. The customer service and support functionality for clients comes to the fore with the combination of Einstein and IOT and an alignment with Service Cloud. Thi highlights what Salesforce has to do to become a $20B company. Instead of selling products, it needs to sell integrated solutions that are implemented easily by partners. Einstein can drive this.

From an external vendor point of view, IBM was the winner. The connection of Einstein to Watson has been smart for both parties. The acquisition of Bluewolf has provided strong momentum for Salesforce within IBM. Prior to the acquisition, IBM was out in the cold in terms of Salesforce with no relationship at all. Now the relationship is positive from a functional and revenue perspective from the respective CEO’s mutual warmth, down through the depths of each organisation. It is the most rapid and successful new partnership offering that I have experienced from IBM in the 17 years that I have been an analyst. It proves IBM can change and evolve.

Wipro Is another partner and integrator with a significantly improved salesforce functionality and positioning over the past 12 months, again driven by acquisition. The acquisition of Appirio is a year old. In this time Wipro has leapt from no depth of capability in the Salesforce ecosystem to being a clear and differentiated top 5 Salesforce integrator.

Wipro has been sensible and learnt from IBM and Accenture with their acquisitions. Like IBM it has kept the brand, albeit, capioIT believes that it will be folded in to Wipro in the next 12-24 months.

It has realised what it can achieve with acquisitions. It also provides a gap between it and the rest of the Indian providers. TCS in particular was notable for the lack of presence at Dreamforce. If TCS, as the self-appointed leader of the Indian Services firms, is serious about the next generation of services it has to be front and centre with the like of Salesforce, ServiceNow and of course AWS and Google. Right now it isn’t.

With the App Exchange and Salesforce Ventures, Salesforce has created several ISV partners that have grown progressively over the past several years. The likes of Apptus, Financial Force and Mapanything have gone from strength to strength. Now vendors such as Conga and Vlocity (Backed by Accenture and Salesforce) have also increased their presence and functionality in the Salesforce ecosystem.

Finally the tie up between Google Cloud and Salesforce is of note. I am generally lukewarm about such partnerships. Microsoft and Salesforce were all happy families two years ago, only for Microsoft to turn straight on at Salesforce revitalising Dynanics in the meantime. It gives access to Google Cloud locations. It will help both firms in their goal to be genuinely global. Equally importantly, it gives Salesforce access to Google Docs customers. The impact on Google CRM favourite Prosperworks will be challenging for it to work through. Overall it is smart for both players, but as mentioned, with any partnership the proof is in the execution.

Capture Point

Another Dreamforce is behind us. Salesforce showed greater maturity this year than in the past from a product maturity perspective. It is walking its own talk. This augers well for the future. The ISV and Integrator ecosystem is prospering and investment is increasing in particularly outside of the US. This all needs to accelerate for Salesforce to double revenue and become a fully integrated customer experience, knowledge and outcome focused vendor.

 

If you require further information, please contact Phil Hassey, CEO of capioIT. capioIT is an advisory firm focused on helping organisations to understand emerging technology as the world becomes Digital. Phil may be contacted easily in the digital and real world.

phil@capioit.com

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Michelle Obama Inspires at Dreamforce

Every year Salesforce and Mark Benioff have a Dreamforce guest list that is inspiring. in 2017 the highlight without a doubt was Michelle Obama.

When the guest gets a standing ovation before they have even entered the room, you know there is something special to come. Her passion for children was genuine and in full view from the start. This passion was joined by her passion for women as individuals and part of the community. What was clear was that she achieved on her own merit, as much as part of a formidable husband and wife team

Overall it was an excellent opportunity to hear from someone who is as universally admired as any political spouse could dream to be. It certainly fits into the theme of Dreamforce, and it will take a significant to outdo her as a guest speaker in 2018. 23316310_10155918511602990_1255890607874327240_n

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A Post Workhop Selfie Snapshots a Happy Client

Great to have delivered a positive workshop for a leading HCM and ERP cloud provider in Hong Kong helping them understand the ins and outs of the Asia Pacific market for Cloud, SaaS HCM and ERP and what they need to do to realise their potential in the market

Nothing better than ending a session with a group selfie.
Thanks for a great session

HK Workshop

 

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Amazon Go – Taking Retailing to the next level

Seattle is an incredibly fortunate city to be home to both Amazon and Microsoft critical yardsticks for technology. Before the rise of technology, it had a very strong retail history. Starbucks, Costco and Nordstrom are all Seattle based there as is outdoors and recreation favourite R.E.I. Seattle also acts as a “test lab” for all of these companies.

To highlight the impact of Amazon on Seattle, particularly the downtown core, at last count it has 35 buildings in the CBD of alone. This clearly justifies the search for a second HQ, which is now in the site evaluation stage.

One of the latest Amazon innovations in Seattle is Amazon GO located in the CBD. I was fortunate to visit the store in October of this year. If you do not know Amazon Go, it simply is a checkout and cash free convenience store. Time to consider the implications of a 100% technology-enabled experience.

Since opening late last year it has been in a restricted Beta mode before opening to the world. Work for Amazon, download the app, wander the store, choose your lunch or weekly groceries and walk out. The bill and payment comes to your app.

There is no checkout. This takes a bit of getting used to. It is a strange sensation in the first instance. Until you get the bill, it does feel like you are shoplifting. Amazon knows you aren’t. Cameras and Sensors take care of this.

There were a number of issues that this experience raised with me.

How does it work? – In simple terms is a combination of technology, sensors and cameras. People try to trick it, but Go appears to have an incredible level of accuracy. In fact, it is a scarily accurate experience. The issue it does have is with scale. More than 20 people shopping at once does appear to be an issue. This has been part of the reason why it is still in beta and not open to all.

Economics and Pricing – This is a challenging aspect. One may expect that it will be expensive due to the high cost of the technology. This will be offset by the changing labor dynamics. Which is cheaper is, of course, part of the Beta process.

Amazon has priced it to the local market. Amazon looks to reduce prices as part of the culture. Amazon, of course, owns Whole Foods and immediately on closing lowered pricing. Never pay $15 for activated mountain cucumber water again. It is not a premium price retailer. Expect the same approach. Ask the US mid-market retail ecosystem what that means.

What about the people? – The labor dynamic does change significantly. There are of course no checkout operators. There are still, in the beta at least stocking requirements that require human labor. There is food preparation, (it is focused on fresh food/meals and lunch given the location in the centre of the Amazon ecosystem and CBD centre). On floor resources have the chance to play a more proactive role. They can upsell; they can advise on food selection, what is new, what is fresh. This is a changing role for retail.

I liken it to the barista. 15 years ago, a person made you coffee. Overnight, again, thanks in part to a Seattle firm, that changed and the Barista was (re)born. Skills didn’t change, but the perception did, and it became a premium retail role. I see the same thing potentially happening in Amazon Go. It highlights the importance of training and reskilling for any role, let alone retail

AI and automation will take jobs, but it will transform all, and create more. I am increasingly frustrated by headline-grabbing, end of the world predictions for employment in the AI age. The lack of training and skilling is a greater problem if the machines take over. If they do, it will reflect a lack of employee skilling and vision, alongside public policy more than anything else.

Traditional retailers are doing similar things on a scale or two down from Amazon Go. I have written before about Waitrose in the UK. There are still human elements, but they are automating the retail experience, albeit in a way that uses less technology and requires more honesty at this stage than Amazon Go.

The point has to be made that the ambition is strong but, as with most radical innovations, real-time deployment has been more difficult. It struggles with large numbers in the store, but that is why you have a beta. Traditional retail struggles with queues in many situations, so that is not new. Once the improvements are made, expect a roll out to key inner-city markets in the US. Whether it goes global or not is a worthwhile discussion, but do not be surprised if Alibaba has a similar plan for China.

Capture Point

As it likes to prove constantly, Amazon is again on the cutting edge of the consumer world. When Amazon Go comes to a local city near you, it will transform at speed the retail environment will not change. Skills and training will be important, but as with all of these innovations, it is the customer that will make the decision as to how they want to shop.

If you require further information, please contact Phil Hassey, CEO of capioIT. capioIT is an advisory firm focused on helping organisations to understand emerging technology as the world becomes Digital. Phil may be contacted easily in the digital and real world.

phil@capioit.com

+61422231793

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