Hello 2021, BYE BYE 2020!
About a year ago I shared my predictions around 2020, but never even imagined what we would be going through in terms of disruption, covid-19 impact, and just a whirlwind of uncertainties across business of all sizes felt in 2020. I did mention last year that we would see 2020 as the year of '5G and The Edge' and that definitely was the case as we saw IoT solutions rely on edge computing to further real-time data intelligence and analytics needed for critical business applications and real-time intelligence for business operations.
As we push into 2021, below are a list of my top 5 predictions:
Just as in 2020, we will continue to see the realization of 5G use cases in the support of greenfield projects and in areas where hard-wired infrastructure is either time-consuming or cost prohibitive. 5G use cases become real as we see live deployments in and around IoT deployment and in the support of remote operations i.e. oilfield, hazmat, rural, industrial. Lastly, this year will see technologies and solutions coming together...think IoT, AI, machine learning, edge computing. As partnerships were a strong force in 2020, these partnerships will continue to work together to roll-out more comprehensive solutions that resonate with businesses.
Check out our recent IoT Coffee Talk below, where the IoT Coffee Talk team reflect on 2020 and discuss/share what's to come in 2021. Thanks Leonard Lee for holding us down and Rob Tiffany for having perfect attendance :) Thanks to Marc for bringing the brain and international flare. Thanks to David for keeping it real and sharing the industrial perspective. Thanks to Rick for speaking truth even when it hurts!
A week ago, I sat down virtually with Brandon Branham, Chief Technology Officer and Assistant City Manager of Peachtree Corners (PTC, one of the first cities in the United States powered by real-world smart city infrastructure, which also features ‘Curiosity Lab at Peachtree Corners’) to get an update on all of the progress being made in making the city smarter, more interactive, and inviting to technology innovators around the globe. Peachtree Corners launched an innovative living smart city lab about 1 year back that leverages autonomous technology, IoT, AI, machine learning, edge computing, virtual reality, and other advanced technologies to advance city operations, mobility, and introduce economic development.
Some of the more interesting key facts about PTC include the following:
Below is a video that will showcase some of the advancements being made at PTC and within Curiosity Labs.
Living Lab of today brings to life technology of tomorrow from Tytan Pictures on Vimeo.
The innovation being embraced at PTC comes with the value it is placing in partnerships, leading technology company initiatives, and the live testing environment it provides to tech companies, OEMs, and startups around the globe. They currently have roughly 10 vendors with 15 different device types generating data across their network across around 15 or so different software systems. On the embracing of global companies, it is also working with a Tel Aviv company called IPgallery, that brings together city insights and intelligence using a real-time AI data platform that provides visualization (visual map) across PTC to monitor, analyze and secure all IoT devices across the ecosystem, buses, cameras, applications, etc. In addition, traffic flow and pattern data are being collected to adjust and make real-time rerouting decisions to improve public transportation.
PTC recently announced a partnership with Bosch, where they are implementing a sensor connected intersection and intelligent traffic management system to capture video including vehicle identification, vehicle recognition of objects (car, bus, scooters with drivers or without, pedestrians, etc. using machine vision). This partnership will allow real-time adjustments to traffic signaling, share the flow of traffic activity, and identify the type of vehicle in that flow for improved traffic management. PTC's Curiosity Lab will allow for a living city environment for Bosch to leverage its leading edge solution within a live, real municipality.
A few other projects on the horizon include the following:
All of these activities would not be anywhere without the public-private partnerships (3Ps) in place. PTC has a process to test in their live environment, receive funding from 3rd parties or commercial entities (for some projects), decide on whether the project is scalable, and then the city decides and will invest as needed. This is a prime example of how business and government can and should work together to advance the smart city vision.
On a final note, below is a list of key differentiators that enable PTC be the groundbreaking innovator in smart city solutions:
Some of you are trickling back into work, venturing out into the city or to restaurants, and rethinking ways you go about interfacing, touching, and interacting. As such, Compass Intelligence has been thinking about technology and some of the existing solutions that are already available today to help mitigate risk, reduce virus exposure, limit touching, and improving clean and virus-free air. As we seek out touchless and safe solutions, below is a short list of technologies to help support in removing risk and helping us with safe alternatives:
Last week Stephanie had a briefing with Ken Herron, the CMO at UIB. We discussed many of these solutions above and how UIB is combining the use of WhatsApp (WhatsApp Business Account, WAPA), their own Unified AI® platform, and Chatbots or other technology to support in removing risk and supporting touchless and contactless operations. Ken shares, "UIB created the world's first and leading conversational AI platform with cognitive IoT capabilities — UnificationEngine®. It facilitates frictionless onboarding and seamless communications between humans, IT systems, and machines, such as connected appliances (smart homes), smart cities and smart factories (Industry 4.0)." We discussed the world we live in today where COVID-19 has spurred the number of use cases to embrace touchless and contactless solutions. The power of IoT, AI, and robotics come together to enable many industries to provide safer services to customers from home or even in-person experiences.
Below is a video Ken shared, that walks you through the use of conversational AI and other use cases. One of which is how UIB combined conversational AI, picture sharing, and simple text communications for setting up post-sale warranties for Samsung products.
Another area for mitigating risk is in air quality or creating safe environments for offices, buildings, and facilities. Last month, I spoke with Anthony Veri of Integrated Network Concepts and we discussed the trend of UVC Lighting along with the impact to cities (more specifically city owned buildings and offices). My own father is in the commercial HVAC industry, so this was a topic of interest. As some businesses open up, they will seek out daily cleaning and sanitizing of work surfaces, but what about the use of the HVAC system to sanitize using germacidal UV light or ultraviolet lights. UVC Lighting is known to kill the coronavirus by up to 99% (this has not been validated by Compass Intelligence), but is not safe for humans or animals while working (according to studies). Companies who offer this recommend safety protocols and administering the cleaning when no one is in the office (middle of the night) but companies have to validate no one is in the office (and there are tech solutions for that). Four interesting companies working in this space that Anthony shared and Compass Intelligence identified include:
Before you move forward, always do your homework, as there is more to learn about this virus and the solutions available all come with positives and negatives. Contact Compass Intelligence today to explore other technology topics or to explore our research.
Welcome to IoT Coffee Talk where we have a chat about all things IoT over a cup of coffee or two with some of the industry's leading business minds, thought leaders and technologists in a totally unscripted, organic format. On this week's episode Rob Tiffany (Ericsson), David Vasquez (Verizon), Marc Pous (thethings.io), Stephanie Atkinson (Compass Intelligence), Rick Bullotta (IoT Guru) and Leonard Lee (neXt Curve) talk about IoT business models. This was a really multi-dimensional discussion that showcases how complex this topic really is and the many layers that need to be peeled back.
Be sure to follow us on twitter at https://twitter.com/IoTCoffeeTalk and subscribe on YouTube at iotcoffeetalk.com.
New logo and new topic! Episode 3 of #IoTCoffeeTalk explores the impact the current economic and Covid-19 environment will have on cities, city projects, and smart city advancement. A quick summary is cities will need to lead with a citizen-first approach or citizen centricity, as priorities shift, budgets fall short, and city leaders focus on safety, health, and community. Join the conversation on LinkedIn or click on IoTCoffeeTalk.com to watch all the episodes. #smartcities #smartcity
Take a listen to Episode 2 of #IoTCoffeeTalk where we dive into the challenges, experiences, and latest on #IoTstartups. Please be sure to follow IoTCoffeeTalk.com (our Youtube channel) and join our LinkedIn Group as well. We currently have episodes on digital twins, smart cities, IoT startups, and much more.
Slowly businesses are opening up and that means your company, big and small should be thinking about your plan to safely practice and operate. Today, I attended a webinar by my accounting firm, Weaver.com and want to share bits of wisdom and notes I took away from the 30 minutes I was able to attend.
5 Tips to Prepare and Plan
Making a Plan
Businesses of all sizes that have an office space or outside location of the home should prepare for their comeback. A plan should be in place. The plan should cover things you are doing for your employees to keep them safe, mitigation in case someone does get sick, and plans to keep clients or customers safe and also feel secure. A few things that should be included in your plan:
Publish and Share the Plan
Along with coming up with a plan that also might be specific to your industry and your business, comes the need to publish, put signage out, coordinate with HR and Security and Check-In Desk, and sharing. Informing your employees about work from home and in-building protocols, rules, and compliance orders are an important part of keeping your office or business safe and minimizing exposure or spreading of COVID-19. Sharing may take many forms including email, posting to human resource shared document locations, putting up signage at the front entrance or door or strategic locations in a factory or shipping area for example, and also making clients or customers aware upon physical entrance to your office or building. These may include visitor rules or requirements like wearing masks or using hand sanitizer. In addition, you may want to make it easy for your customers by supplying the masks.
With opening up comes new rules, policies, protocols, operational changes, and compliance requirements. If you require an update to your Employee Handbook or OSHA related safety documents, then an expedited process to get the information updated and download documents from the CDC or other government websites may be in order. If you have changes to sick policies, childcare, new restrictions or reporting requirements, then updating your policy documents will be helpful to employees ensure safety is remaining a priority. In addition, if your industry is health or wellness related, forms and building policies may be shared through text, email, website, etc as they set appointments, schedule visits, etc. Patients and clients/customers will have a higher level of expectations around cleanliness, disinfecting, and supplied like masks and hand sanitizing stations. These are all things to think about as you update your employee and customer policies. You may also want to consider limiting or closing down waiting areas, staging areas, common areas and other places where exposure might be higher.
Put up Signage and Share Reminders
Think about putting up signage and notices to help your employees keep a safe working environment. The same thing goes for customers or patients. Make sure the signs or notices are accessible (for wheelchair, deaf, blind, etc.) or have other means to communicate to support those with disabilities. It also might be beneficial to do periodic reminders or check-ins with your employees, your team, and include information for clients in newsletters or email campaigns. Retail establishments may want to post requirements like wearing masks and other changes very clearly on their front door or other outdoor signage. If you have digital displays or signage, those may be other platforms to share information and update. Sharing any information about changes or requirements may also be helpful to share on your company's or business' social media pages.
We are very much in a 'learn as you go' environment, so be sure to make adjustments as you go and find ways to improve your business safety, including workspaces and work environment. If you plan accordingly and are transparent around the changes and ongoing safety protocols, you should provide your employees and customers with a higher level of trust and comfort as they frequent your establishment or visit your offices. Pay attention to OSHA, CDC, other federal, state and local guidelines and prepare as much as you can along with making improvements as you go.
Written by Stephanie Atkinson
It is now the norm and you as a business owner, manager, worker, manager, etc, must embrace the best of the best work from home tools to keep your business, your company, and the economy going. I want to share a few tips and tools based on my own experience, research, and technology learnings, as I have been working from home (#WFH) for more than 18 years. I understand not all job roles can be transitioned to a remote workforce, but for companies getting started, these tips might be the most helpful for you.
Choose your Security (Mobile, Online, eCommerce)
Whether you are using smartphones, tablets, or company provided/personal computers, you need to adhere to very strict security requirements for work activities. Make sure your Internet, Computer, and Phone security software is live, up to date, and activated. If you can, make sure to use a secure VPN connection when accessing corporate assets, files, and systems. If you fail here and allow employees to just use ANY device they have at home, then you are opening yourself up to massive vulnerabilities that you can bet will have hackers ready to grab and disrupt what they can.
Corporate Access and Corporate Liable Equipment and Devices
If you have to issue corporate liable or corporate provided devices, computing, smartphones, or other devices, please make sure to work with your technology partners to understand what might be included in the packages including troubleshooting, customer services, security, backup, software updating, etc. If you believe your industry or company will require employees to work from home for more than 60 days, then you might need to consider issuing company provided devices and equipment to better control and manage corporate assets, work activities, and of course security. If you do not have a budget to do this, then you might be able to at least invest in VPN services or mobile/IT security services to better protect your employees and company assets. Providers you might want to check into include Norton, McAfee, Samsung Knox, and Lookout.
Digital Communications (Messaging, Doc Sharing, Videoconferencing)
So many great options for communicating with your co-workers, your team, your partners, etc. Here are a list of tools that might be useful for your business:
Sales and Marketing Shift - Moving to Pure Digital for Now
As we see conferences and live events get cancelled or postponed, as well as cancel face-to-face sales calls, we must seek new ways to reach out to clients, partners, and ecosystem players in a purely digital and online manner. If you need to ramp up your website, your e-Commerce engine, your CRM and lead generation capture tools, now is the time to do it if at all possible. For some industries, this is just not possible, but for technology and service companies, it might become more of a permanent solution as the uncertainty and timing of the COVID-19 is unknown. As you think through your sales and marketing activities, please consider evaluating the following areas for digital enablement:
Ongoing Engagement & Staying Relevant
Right now consumers are extremely distracted, and businesses are expected to be very cautious. As such, as you think about your new normal, including pushing more into the digital and online experience model, you must remain engaged with customers and clients. That might mean better communications around safety, health concerns, support,and offering clients a "break" during this uncertain time. In addition, you must provide alternatives, solutions, and ideas to support their concerns, especially as it relates to your company, your products/services, and what is changing. If you remain silent and wait to provide special care and assistance, then your clients may lose faith in you as a company. It is important to continue to remain engaged not just in a transactional manner, but also through showing empathy and supporting client concerns.
Source: Compass Intelligence, 2019
As we look to the future of work, our enterprise environment is dealing with constant disruption through new market entrants, automation bringing new revenue models, and other market impacts that require businesses and leaders to become flexible, adaptable, agile, and build teams that can quickly prepare and respond to remain competitive and viable. This push to build agile work environments and teams gives rise to building brand new experiences to our customers online, through mobile platforms, during shopping or transactions, and as we interact with services and support teams with the vendors and companies we do business with. To a great degree, traditional technologies have been focused on the back-office, operations, and parts of the channel that are not exactly client-facing. Customers are demanding more and the experiences that we give them will become more automated and relevant to their own needs, be it a business or consumer customer. More open and dynamic businesses will in the end, provide richer and contextual digital customer experiences to meet these growing trends.
The adaption to become more agile or to implement agile departments that work across the organization will evolve and require very specific changes depending on the industry or vertical market. These characteristics will be centered around remote workforces/workspaces, mobile reliance, data dependency for automation, adaptive practices, coachable workforces and staffing evolution, dynamic customer experiences, and flexible operations and strategies.
Below is a depiction of some of the areas that will be impacted by industry:
Source: Compass Intelligence, 2019
As we move our focus to a more customer-centric and customer-first approach, the on-demand economy drives some of the following technologies, trends, and customer tools. Businesses will rely on artificial intelligence, real-time data analytics and processing, and next generation virtual assistance to engage, provide superior services, and meet the needs of the on-demand economy.
Source: Compass Intelligence, 2019
In the end, the push to become more agile requires a cultural change and will require finding the right mix of teams including outsourced, internal staffing, etc. The element that brings it all together is for IT to consistently deliver along the way, adapt to changing practices, better learn the business and operations, and strategically align with client and end-user needs.
Every year CES® put on by the Consumer Technology Association showcases the next wave of technologies including new gadgets, electronics, computing devices, and a list of emerging products that mesmerize and make waves with roughly 4.5K exhibiting companies. According to their website, "CES is the world’s gathering place for all who thrive on the business of consumer technologies. A high-level business event that touches all industries, it’s the place where business gets done." CES has also evolved, with roughly 175K attendees in 2020 and having previously focused on consumer-only electronics and devices, and now the door has been opened for a host of areas "including 5G connectivity, artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality, smart cities, sports, robotics and more." About 3 years or so, they even opened up the show floor to showcase "B2B" or business targeted technologies and solutions. As such, this event encompasses a range of industries including consumer electronics, smart home technologies, communications technology, Internet of Things, Drones, AR/VR technologies, Fleet and asset tracking and monitoring, machine learning, smart cars and autonomous vehicles, robotics technologies, and so much more.
This is my 9th trip to CES in Las Vegas, where I have hosted multiple media lunches and even previous award shows along with speaking on panels and participating in sub-events. This year seems quite a bit more organized not just at the event, but also across Las Vegas. Traffic and congestion was improved, ride sharing services were more responsive, locating events and booths were bit easier to navigate, and the overall event seems to be run very well. I was able to roam around and attend booth meetings in North Hall, South Hall, Westgate but primarily centered around Tech East and Tech South. While I thought the overall mass buzz and excitement this year was overwhelming, there were some big things that happened this year, and sometimes we need to get back to the basics and foundation to essentially leverage technology to improve lives, business, and the overall planet.
Here are a few takeaways based on my trip this year:
Among the many companies we met with, we were able to sit and chat with Geotab (a fleet tracking and management company, with a great number of Government clients), Ericsson, Samsung (to understand the various B2B related products and announcements), and quite a few booth tours by our top clients. Lastly, I was also able to attend Showstoppers (many smaller and startup products and companies) and other client events that were a bit more social. All and all, despite the event being less overwhelming than compared to those in the past, it was a much better experience due to the organization of the event itself and the city...in addition, we continue to embrace the growing list of IoT, business technology, and B2B device solutions being announced and shared at CES. Cheers to a great CES2020!
Key learnings include:
Robot Sightings at #CES2020
Assorted photos from the Samsung Booth
More at CES
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