Where to Find Innovation

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

Chris Curran, chief technologist with PWC, offers six sources for technology innovations that aren’t vendors, VCs or universities. Companies should be “bringing the outside in” by investigating what’s happening in open source or maker communities, crowdfunding platforms and other places where technologists, designers and developers connect. Where do you go for inspiration?

Innovation Comes from Listening

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

Successful innovation requires that you listen. That’s what I take from a (light, quick-to-read) story in the August issue of Mental Floss magazine that revisits how Nike’s Tinker Hatfield, as a new-ish shoe designer, won over Michael Jordan with his design of the Air Jordan III.

Hatfield had trained as an architect. “A basic principle of architecture states that you can’t design a great house without knowing the people who will live in it,” the story notes. So Hatfield set out to learn about Jordan on and off the court, homing in on Jordan’s penchant for fashionable clothing and his suggestions for a lighter-weight basketball shoe to wear on the court. Hatfield designed a mid-top (as opposed to high-top) made of a leather never used in athletic shoes previously. Jordan, whose contract with Nike was expiring, was thinking about moving to another brand, but he decided to stay. One reason: “Jordan could feel that someone had managed to tap into him as a three-dimensional human being and translate that personality into a pair of shoes.”

Like Jordan’s sneakers, our devices and our apps are our tools. How do you make sure you and your team are really listening to what end users or customer want from IT and acting on what you learn? (And if Mental Floss is listening, an easy way to share print stories would be great. There’s no online link to the story that I can find. Sorry about that.)

Transforming Your Business with the Internet of Things

Bill Schmarzo

Bill Schmarzo

Bill Schmarzo is EMC’s Dean of Big Data. He sets the strategy for Enterprise Information Management and Analytics within EMC Consulting Services. Prior to this, he was the Vice President of Advertiser Analytics for Yahoo at the dawn of the Big Data revolution. Bill is also the author of “Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business,” published by Wiley. You can follow him on twitter @schmarzo and see his frequent posting on the EMC In Focus blog.

There is no doubt that organizations everywhere are both bewildered and intrigued by the data spewing from connected devices and the internet of things (IoT). We are bewildered because the volume and velocity of the data is unlike anything that we have experienced before (unless you are Yahoo, Google or Facebook). We are intrigued by the many new monetization and business transformation opportunities that the IoT data wave represents. Since data volume and velocity issues have been covered many times over, by me and others, let’s focus on the business opportunities IoT data represents. As IT and business leaders, it’s essential to start thinking about the IoT data at our organization’s disposal, and how we might start developing new service offerings around it. The opportunities for this are just about endless. For starters, the IoT-powered “intelligent” home is going to provide energy suppliers, appliance and equipment manufacturers, telecom providers and others with abundant opportunities to use these new data sources to create intelligence-based products and services. Here are just a few possibilities:

  • Home Energy Optimization.  Manufacturers and service providers can monitor the energy usage of each connected device and couple that data with information about local energy prices to help home and business owners reduce energy costs.  They could also provide services that start up the homeowner’s dishwasher, washing machine and dryers (pre-loaded, of course) at times when costs are lowest (then we just need smart robots to put away the clean stuff, and my life will be complete!).
  • Predictive Maintenance. Smart appliance manufacturers and service providers can leverage data coming from connected devices to flag unusual performance that may be indicative of maintenance or servicing issues.  The service provider could then provide details, such as the troubleshooting suggestions and even a timeframe when the appliance or equipment is expected to fail.  The service provider could even go as far as to recommend local appliance repair services based upon local reviews from Yelp or Angie’s List.
  • Home Safety.  In 2010, the National Fire Protection Association released a study entitled “Home Fires Involving Clothes Dryers and Washing Machines” that estimated that there were 16,800 reported U.S. home fires caused by these appliances.  The incidents resulted in 51 deaths, 380 injuries, and $236 million in direct property damage.

Companies that provide home security and monitoring services could expand to integrate smoke alarms and CO2 sensors with data coming from washers and dryers that flag dangerous home situations. The insurance industry would surely be interested in this opportunity as well.

  • Meal Planning Recommendations.  Sites like Foodily, Pinterest, and BigOven support a community for sharing recipes and other cooking tips and techniques Manufacturers and service providers could capture data about a family’s shopping, cooking and dietary preferences, and offer a service that delivers food and recipe recommendations, either through a tablet or maybe even an integrated display on the appliance.

Discuss:

While these examples focus primarily on business-to-consumer products and services, the IoT data wave is also providing opportunities to business-to-business organizations of all kinds and across all sectors. Are you ready to take action? Questions that your organization needs to consider include:

  • How do you see IoT data affecting your organization’s ability to enhance existing products and provide new services?
  • How do you see IoT data impacting your overall industry’s value chain and value creation processes?
  • Which organizations within your industry sit at the crucible of exploiting data to create strategic barriers to entry?
  • What kinds of challenges do you foresee in managing the volume, diversity and velocity of the IoT data?

 

Balancing Privacy and Productivity

Vic Bhagat

Vic Bhagat

Chief Information Officer at EMC Corporation

As if we didn’t have enough examples this year, the “Corporate Boards Race to Shore Up Cybersecurity” article in The Wall Street Journal reinforced one of our greatest challenges as CIOs and CISOs.  How can we enable our business to be more agile and successful, while minimizing risks and protecting our company, intellectual property and customers?

Previously, everyone used the same kind of computers; on the same corporate network; in the same offices.  Alas, those days are gone.  Today, we aren’t just defending against denial of service attacks – we are vigilantly protecting our companies from more organized, persistent threats to infiltrate our environment and exfiltrate our intellectual property.   On the flipside, we must mitigate risks with a more mobile, global and social workforce that expects their IT capabilities at work to mirror the IT experience they have in their personal lives.

Consequently, as CIOs and CISOs, we need to delicately balance both our potential security risks and our employees’ productivity and privacy.  Here are two instances to consider:

  1. I discussed the hybrid cloud in a prior blog.  However, we must ask ourselves, have we made it easy for our business users to quickly, conveniently and cost-effectively leverage our private or hybrid cloud services to achieve their goals instead of using a less secure public cloud service?  If not, we need to.
  1. The second instance revolves around our always-connected, mobile workforce.  We recently surveyed 15,000 individuals globally and published the EMC Privacy Index, which captured the following stats:
  • While 91% of respondents value “easier access to information and knowledge,” only 45% are willing to trade some of their privacy for easier access.
  • While half of the respondents’ phones, email and social media accounts have been breached, 62% don’t regularly change their passwords; 33% don’t customize privacy settings on social media; and 39% don’t password protect their mobile devices.

Our users need access to information whenever, wherever and from whatever device they use.  To accomplish this at EMC, we have deployed mobile device management; sync and share services; and are starting to roll out unified communications.  While each of these services include security elements, their objective is to enable our employees to be more productive and access the information they need without impacting our risk profile or their privacy.

That said, cybersecurity risks aren’t going away.  In addition to applying Big Data analytics to monitor our environment for external threats, we must also continue educating our employees about navigating the cybersecurity threats they encounter daily.  After all, they are our first line of defense.

How are you balancing risk and productivity in your organizations?

Should IT Employment Be a Revolving Door?

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

Adm. Michael Rogers, commander of the U.S. Cyber Command and director of the NSA, says that cybersecurity professionals need a career path that encourages them to gain experience in different types of organizations. Otherwise, “we are not going to stay current with cutting-edge technology,” according to an interview published by Federal Times. Rogers is talking about the military and government, but I suspect his observation is applicable to many private companies as well, and not just to security. When a promising employee in early- or mid-career leaves for a new opportunity, how easy is it for them to keep apprised of openings at your company, and for you to hire them back?

Do You Know How Much Your Data Is Worth?

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

Even if you think you do, you probably don’t evaluate it thoroughly or consistently, suggests CIO magazine editor Kim Nash. Nash (we used to work together closely) talked to CIOs and data management experts about their approaches. Valuing a virtual asset isn’t easy, but it’s time to buckle down, she writes: “Knowing its value means you’ll have better answers when fellow members of the C-suite want to quantify the risks and rewards of creating new products and services from internal data.”

What are your key considerations when defining what your data is worth?

Police Need Warrants to Search Cell Phones. Does That Change How You Think About Privacy?

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

By now you’ve probably heard and read about the unanimous U.S. Supreme Court decision in Riley v. California requiring police to get a warrant if they want to search someone’s mobile phone (if you haven’t, there’s a plain-English summary here —http://www.scotusblog.com/2014/06/get-a-warrant-todays-cellphone-privacy-decision-in-plain-english/ — and lots of commentary everywhere). Legal experts say it’s an important decision, in no small part because it acknowledges that our lives are on our phones, and in fact, police can learn more about us from the data on our phones (and data stored in the cloud that we access on our phones) than they could by searching our homes.

The case doesn’t contemplate any rules for how private businesses use people’s data, and the conditions under which companies collect it are obviously different. But it seems as if the ruling ought to influence the discussion. If the data on our devices is, legally, an extension of ourselves, does is follow that companies a) are more limited in how they can use it and b) have greater obligation to protect it?

From Chief Justice John Roberts’ ruling—part of his reasoning about why cell phone data falls under Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure:

“First, a cell phone collects in one place many distinct types of information that reveal much more in combination than any isolated record. Second, the phone’s capacity allows even just one type of information to convey far more than previously possible. Third, data on the phone can date back for years. In addition, an element of pervasiveness characterizes cell phones but not physical records. A decade ago officers might have occasionally stumbled across a highly personal item such as a diary, but today many of the more than 90% of American adults who own cell phones keep on their person a digital record of nearly every aspect of their lives.”

Food for thought here about your own data policies? Does it change how you think about privacy?

Challenging Ideas About Disruption

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

New Yorker writer and Harvard historian Jill Lepore takes on Clayton Christensen’s ideas about disruptive innovation–arguing that it rests on a shaky foundation. It’s hard to resist her opening salvo: “A pack of attacking startups sounds something like a pack of ravenous hyenas, but, generally, the rhetoric of disruption—a language of panic, fear, asymmetry, and disorder—calls on the rhetoric of another kind of conflict, in which an upstart refuses to play by the established rules of engagement, and blows things up…Disruptive innovation is competitive strategy for an age seized by terror.” And she has a point when she observes that “many of the failures that are often seen to have resulted from failing to embrace disruptive innovation look like bad management.” But she seems to miss what I think is an essential point—that complacency in the face of change *is* bad management. Witness the trials of the news industry, where I spent most of my career.

Take the time to read the article (I confess, I’m a fan of Lepore’s writing, in the New Yorker and elsewhere), and see what you think. Meanwhile, let’s consider this question: Is panic about disruption disrupting clear thinking about how and when to deploy new technologies? How do you keep the discussion strategic?

Google, Nest, and What’s So Big about the Internet of Things: CIOs Take Note

Bill Schmarzo

Bill Schmarzo

Bill Schmarzo is EMC’s Dean of Big Data. He sets the strategy for Enterprise Information Management and Analytics within EMC Consulting Services. Prior to this, he was the Vice President of Advertiser Analytics for Yahoo at the dawn of the Big Data revolution. Bill is also the author of “Big Data: Understanding How Data Powers Big Business,” published by Wiley. You can follow him on twitter @schmarzo and see his frequent posting on the EMC In Focus blog.

Google’s recent $3.2B acquisition of Nest Labs raised many eyebrows, especially since Google was willing to pay more than four times Nest’s financial valuation.

Why would Google pay so much to a company with two relatively low-brow products:  a thermostat and a smoke detector?

At $3.2B, it’s safe to speculate that Google didn’t buy Nest for these two products alone or to get into the home and small business controls business.

What seems more likely is that the Nest acquisition is a precursor to Google’s move into the “Internet of Things” market, one that includes smart grids, smart networks, and smart products.

Each of these smart systems and devices produces massive amounts of real-time usage data– data that is rich with mining and monetization potential.

Here are some examples of how the mining and analysis of smart-thing data can lead to new business and service opportunities for Google and other organizations:

  • Energy usage:  Asses this data to help consumers and businesses optimize energy consumption at the lowest possible prices and even enable them to sell home-generated power back to utilities at best possible rates.
  • Utility usage:  Help consumers minimize utility costs (water, garbage collection, recycling) by observing usage patterns and recommending ideal times to use the utility.
  • Home security: Offer services that not only manage home access, but leverage third-party population data and crime trends to recommend optimal protection products, behaviors, and precautions.
  • Appliance maintenance:  Leverage smart appliance data to monitor product performance patterns, and provide alerts as to when maintenance is due. Recommend local service and repair providers to address soon-to-fail equipment.

We are still at the early stages of this era and the future is still wide open in terms products, partnerships, collaborations, and cross-analyses of data from emerging and more established sources.

The insights we derive from the Internet of Things stand to truly transform industries and the way we conduct our daily lives. For the CIO, the field is ripe for proposing new services and enhanced offerings based on the acquisition of smart-things data, and lending infinite value to the business.

Should Companies Commit to a Higher Level of Trust With Data?

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

Should some companies volunteer to become “information fiduciaries,” who—like doctors, lawyers and financial advisors—have an obligation not to use customer information for outside purposes? Jonathan Zittrain, professor of law and computer science at Harvard, thinks this may be the best way to to ensure that search engines, social networks or other sites that curate content won’t someday use their algorithms surreptitiously to push information or promote political action in favor of candidates they support.

“…Information fiduciaries would forswear any formulas of personalization derived from their own ideological goals,” Zittrain writes in The New Republic. “My search results and newsfeed might still end up different from yours based on our political leanings, but only because the algorithm is trying to give me what I want—the way that an investment adviser may recommend stocks to the reckless and bonds to the sedate—and never because the search engine or social network is trying to covertly pick election winners.”

What do you think of this idea? Are there other industries where a fiduciary relationship between companies and their customers regarding data could help establish trust?