JimPinto.com - Connections for Growth & Success™
No. 319 : 25 October 2013


Keeping an eye on technology futures.
Business commentary - no hidden agendas.
New attitudes, no platitudes.

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Industry 4.0 - Industrial Internet

The Internet of Things (IoT) is spreading everywhere - industrial, business, commercial, consumer.

GE is focusing on the industrial side, calling it "The Industrial Internet". The Germans call it "Industry 4.0" - the 4th manufacturing revolution. The first revolution was the introduction of steam and coal energy in the late 1700's; the second was electrification of manufacturing in the early 1900's; the third was the introduction of programmability and the PLC in the early 70's (Dick Morley is widely considered the PLC inventor).

Industry 4.0 is the "Internet of Things", data and control beyond just information and ideas. IoT is sensors, technology and networking all coming together to allow everything to exchange information - burgeoning "big data".

According to IDC, the spending on IoT was almost $5 trillion in 2012 and expected to be about $9 trillion in 2020, with a compound annual growth rate of almost 8%. The installed base of "connected" things will be over 200 billion by the end of 2020 including 30 billion connected autonomous things. This will become a new construct in the information and communications technology world.

WIRED magazine's June 2013 cover-story on IoT showed that the future will be about connecting devices to the millions of invisible transactions of daily life. It's not just about more "cool" features on individual gadgets, it's about connecting them all to generate vastly more useful information and the ability to control.

As more devices emerge that connect to the Web, more of them are able to connect to each other. An example is OpenRemote's software that can connect and automate all kinds of devices. For example, several Internet connected home gadgets - thermostats, door locks and window blinds - which each have separate apps for operation can be merged with OpenRemote into a single iPad app to control everything.

All this is happening very fast. How is YOUR company involved? Lead, follow or simply slide into oblivion.

Click Read Beckhoff article on Industry 4.0

Click IoT: $8.9 trillion market in 2020, 212 billion connected things

Click OpenRemote - Open Source for Internet of Things

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Automation Infotech & Cloud Computing Futures

Information technology (IT) is still a dominating influence in many large manufacturing and process automation companies. But computer expertise is no longer just the domain of a select few, and responsibility is shifting away from centralized IT departments.

Change is here. Computer savvy is no longer just for the geek squad. The number of manufacturing and process automation companies that have no official IT department is growing quickly.

The old IT will not just disappear. It will change and fragment into different arenas. It will actually grow as extensions of every other department.

The cloud is coming. Cloud computing is one of the hottest technology fields today. In manufacturing, clear targets for cloud computing include IT-related applications such as manufacturing execution systems (MES) and production planning systems (PPS). The market is projected to soar from $40.7 billion in 2011 to $241 billion in 2020, according to Forrester Research.

The cloud minimizes the need for in-house IT people. There will be no need to make big investments for local computers, hardware, software and personnel. Information technology will evolve from a world that is server-centric to one that is service-centric.

By 2020, cloud computing will look radically different. Computing will become invisible; software will be modular and divorced from hardware; low-power, low-cost commodity hardware will be standard, including storage, servers and switches with low-cost, high-speed information connects.

Click Automation Infotech Futures

Click Automation Cloud Computing Futures

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The Conflicts of Human Constructs

During the recent political machinations about debt-limits, I watched in amazement as intelligent, rational, patriotic, reasonable Americans kept pointing fingers at each other. Each side kept insisting that the other side was unreasonable, unpatriotic, mis-guided - and even stupid.

Here were elected US Representatives and Senators openly abusing each other with rhetoric that pushed the limits of decency and decor. How was this even possible?

Witnessing this strange scenario unfold gave me just one option: try to explain the situation philosophically. I recognize that what's involved is the conflicts of basic "human constructs".

Human Constructs is the psychosocial construction of reality, the inherited knowledge and experience that establish our conscious and subconscious organization of our world. It includes meaning, motivation, education, media, emotion and thought processes.

We know a quintessential quality of the human mind is to think logically. But, that's not the only way we think. In addition, the patterns that are embedded in our thinking determine our view of the world.

People clearly have different views of the truth because every individual thinks using their own unique perspective. A person's opinion is affected by their own fundamental constructs.

The primary constructs are embedded in the human brain from infancy - Religion, Culture, Love (family and country). These are all linked to our place of birth and surroundings, where we grow up and how we are taught. It becomes part of our basic instincts. These can, of course, be over-ridden and even eliminated through later education and experiences.

Morality is nothing but a human construct. It evolved as humans developed increasingly more complex social interaction. It is a tool that serves to help humans survive in a social environment.

Perhaps chief among human constructs is religion. It has been the most influential the most abusive, and broadly continues to control and influence human relations.

In today's America, it is not politically acceptable to be prejudiced. Can prejudice be over-ridden? Not easily. One intelligent and sincere friend from the Deep South told me, "I was born and brought up to believe that Blacks were like vermin. Now I have to over-ride my own instinctive thinking."

So, think on this: How much of the anti-Obama rhetoric is fueled by prejudice, as opposed to genuine objections? How do cultural constructs affect their thinking? How much is real patriotism versus illogical bias?

How can we ever be certain that this or that politician is telling the actual truth? Is human objectivity even possible?

Click Social Cognition

Click Doublethink and the Mental Construction of Reality

Click 8 Common Mistakes in How Our Brains Think and How to Prevent Them

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Jeff Bezos and Amazon - the Everything Store

I've gotta tell you - I'm addicted to buying online and I buy anything and everything on Amazon.com.

I have very little inclination to buy things by visiting a store. I'd have to go to several places to view limited choices. It would take time (I have very little patience); energy (expensive gasoline and walking wherever); viewing a limited number of choices (no one has more than a few choices on their shelves); price (one is never sure of getting the best price).

I've done other on-line shopping, but Amazon.com is by far the best, the easiest, the fastest. The search is quick - I simply type in what I need and get lots of choices. If I'm interested in a specific item, I can review feedback from other buyers till I'm satisfied.

When I'm ready to buy, Amazon already knows me: my preferences, credit card, shipping and billing address (or the address of anyone I've shipped to before). I often click in and out in under a minute. In nothing flat, there's an acknowledgement in my email Inbox. If I have second thoughts, I can cancel the order within a couple of hours with no penalty.

I'm on prime, so shipping is free. The item arrives on my doorstep within a day or two, always on or before the promise-date. If I don't like it, I can simply send it back. Getting a replacement or credit is easy-breezy.

Journalist Brad Stone has just published a new book, "The Everything Store". This has lots of interesting insights into founder Jeff Bezos and the explosive growth of his company which he named after the river That "blows all other rivers away". In less than two decades, Amazon employs 90,000 people and sells $61 B worth of almost everything.

Jeff Bezos is a limitless spring of enthusiasm and new ideas. After Graduating from Princeton in 1986, he joined a computer-driven hedge fund and then walked away before bonus time to found Amazon - he calls this his "regret-minimization framework". What will be important when you're 80? And what will you regret? The futurists at Amazon are tasked with thinking 7 years ahead.

Jeff Bezos is a polarizing figure, inspiring many people but traumatizing others. Some of his ideas are so crazy that employees call them "fever dreams". Like Apple's Steve Jobs, he is notoriously confrontational. He can be kind, but is also volatile and unsparing of those who make mistakes, "Are you stupid? Or just lazy?" He believes that truth springs forth when ideas are banged against each other.

While Jeff Bezos seems monomaniacal about his company, he also has other absorbing interests. He made an entirely separate fortune as one of the first investors in Google. He recently bought "The Washington Post" for $ 250 M, saying that he's eager to start asking questions and conducting experiments in the quest for a new "golden era". He wants to see what Amazon's relentless customer service can do for the news business.

Jeff Bezos has a public e-mail address, jeff@amazon.com. Not only does he read customer complaints, he forwards them to the relevant Amazon employees, with a one-character addition: a question mark.

Hey, you don't need me to tell you these interesting tidbits about Jeff Bezos. Go buy Brad Stone's new book - on Amazon.com.

Click Washington Post - The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

Click The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon

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Email is broken and can't be fixed

I've used email as a primary communications mechanism for almost two decades. In the midst of the technology boom, it hasn't really changed.

Today, the email experience is often painful. It is not much more than a useless stream of advertising and notifications, with the messages I'm expecting hidden deep within a huge amount of useless spam which is almost impossible to eliminate.

Sure, there are spam and junk filters, but they are primarily algorithmic and often put at least some good emails in with the junk. Sure, there are email services which bounce anyone who is not on your approved list. But, that blocks some new messages that may be valuable.

Google's Gmail doesn't solve the basic problems. Yahoo's updates seem to make email less useful.

I still use Outlook (now on my iMac), though it hasn't really change in two decades. iPhone and iPad mail apps are OK with iMAP (which deletes unwanted emails directly on the server) - but they don't yet have spam filters; and they don't allow multiple folders. I save all good emails in multiple folders - the primary reason I stay with Outlook.

Email is an intrinsically difficult technology problem: managing lots of data while interfacing with ancient protocols and endless spam problems. These are formidable problems: the benefits of anything new must be substantial enough to motivate people to try something new. Change is hard, even when the status quo doesn't work.

And then there's a fundamental business problem: In spite of the millions (billions?) that use email, everybody considers it free. Anything new would have to offer something significantly better than what users now get for free.

Most people still use email, but few really like how they use it. It's a relic of the desktop era and mobile computers are changing everything. Many people have stopped using email. The best and fastest way to get in touch is text-messaging, Twitter or Instagram. But those are limited by the message size.

The new mobile era is creating massive opportunities to transform the email experience into something fast and effective. When? Oh, when?

Click Why No One Has Tamed Email

Click Email is the most broken technology that you use everyday

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eFeedback

Kyle Reissner of GE Intelligent Platforms [Kyle.Reissner@ge.com] on the recent eNews item, "Mobile Devices will hit the Factory Floor":
    "In your presentation, you claim that Automation Control Products (ACP) is first to market with a solution that addresses the need of mobile users in the factory. You mention that ACP's Relevance software resolves location and delivers relevant content. I agree this is compelling and a paradigm shift.

    "I encourage you to read more on how GE is driving a new paradigm called real-time operational intelligence which is sparked by plant floor mobility. Or take a peek at my own most recent blog on how industry has to think about 'true mobile'.

    "What are your thoughts on RtOI and our focus on changing the game for industry with true mobile solutions? One of the other key points is that we’ve been shipping new products to enable real-time operational intelligence (RtOI) solutions for customers since Jan 2013. RtOI really is about data, to information, to action and, of course, the action element has a strong mobile component vs. many others who are simply focused on providing existing system access on tablets and smartphones. In my opinion, this a big difference."

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Jake Brodsky [jakebrodskype@gmail.com] on data security and the like:

    "We are all painfully aware that the NSA is watching, as are many other intelligence agencies from most countries around the globe. Anyone who thinks this news is something only people in the US should worry about is very naiive. For this reason and for the sheer fun of it, I started using encrypted e-mails years ago. My public key is posted at pgp.mit.edu. All this cryptography stuff got me thinking recently.

    "How can we trust that the data from a control system has not been altered? Do operators have ways to digitally sign reports? Is there a time standard with a signature that can not be easily forged? Do we know for certain who started or stopped certain critical assets and how? Do we know the provenance of the application, the firmware, and even the hardware that is running in an RTU or PLC?

    "I think the next big things in control systems will be cryptographic signatures and software life cycle management tools. It will be brought forward despite the groans and whining from all sides.

    "Too many people are scared of mythical hackers busting in to control systems from a coffee shop on the other side of the planet. Although such people do exist, the reality is that your very own co-workers are probably more likely to sabotage the industrial processes than somebody who lives on the other side of the globe. Your co-workers know what these systems do and they know how to mess with them in subtle ways that are more likely to destroy valuable or critical equipment.

    "This ugly truth will be acknowledged and trumpeted soon. I don't think we'll be able to dodge this issue of data, control, and software validation for long."

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Rick Lamb [relamb@midtechv.com] on the decline of college education:

    "The problem with student load debt is that a great percentage of the college students have been passed on by the primary education system, and didn't learn anything.

    "The college degree is now a substitute for a meaningless high school diploma. The student is now paying college tuition for something that he could have gotten free from the public education system. When he matriculates with his expensive degree, he's now qualified to get that job (and pay scale) that in the past were perfect opportunities for High School graduates."

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