Creating Generational Legacies

Thursday, November 16, 2017

100 years of America’s Top Companies

Prize goes to the person who predicts the top 3 in 2050!

“Gatesville” - a smart city in Arizona

Bill Gates just purchased 25,000 acres of land in Arizona to begin construction on a new ‘smart city’ dubbed “Belmont” which is named after one of Gates’ investment firms, Belmont Partners.
He has invested $80m into the 25,000 acre space -- and when it’s complete, it will contain 80,000 residential units and a population of around 182,000 people, one would suspect, mostly nerds.  I think I will apply instantly for the Coca-Cola and Crisps franchise.
This property is just 45 minutes outside of Phoenix, already the fastest growing city in the US with a growth of over 1000 people a week.  On that basis alone it looks like a great investment.

The smart city will be designed to feature high-speed networks, data centers, autonomous cars and vehicles, new manufacturing technologies, congestion minimizing traffic lights and automated logistics hubs. Comparable in square miles and projected population to Tempe, Arizona, Belmont will transform a raw, blank slate into a purpose-built edge city built around a flexible infrastructure model.
The concept of smart cities is something that’s steadily gained pace over the past few years. Last month, Alphabet’s Sidewalk Labs struck a deal to turn an area of Toronto into an “internet city,” where 800 acres of land will be equipped with modern technology like self-driving cars, smart street lights, and public Wi-Fi. The project included a $50 million commitment from Sidewalk Labs to install and test the company’s smart city technology. The company is also aiming to transform an additional 16 cities s into tech-friendly “laboratories.”
Gates plans to populate the city with around 3,800 acres of offices, stores, and homes while keeping around 470 acres for public schools.  The city will transform a raw, blank slate into a purpose-built city built with a flexible infrastructure model.
While this plan is ambitious it isn’t exactly new. Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has plans to build a new $500 billion metropolis spanning three countries, and India plans to build 100 other smart cities.
But with the UN predicting that 2.5 billion people will migrate into cities by 2050, they all seem to have the same goals in mind: to bring a new, progressive focus into city living by improving infrastructure for the people who wish to live there

Australia is punching above its weight when it comes to fintech

 Australia has a record ten companies in this year’s Fintech100 report by KPMG and H2 Ventures. Second only to the US. The report is available here:

(Insight by Simeon Duncan from Amcham’s 2017 Innovation Mission)

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Mining Big Data - the worlds most valuable resource

Inspired by the economist - 

A century ago, the precious commodity was oil.... now it is DATA  - the oil of the digital era.

FAGAM, (Facebook,Apple, Goole, Amazon and Microsoft) are the five most valuable listed firms in the world, collectively making $25bn in net profit in the first quarter of 2017. 

Amazon captures half of all dollars spent online in America. Google and Facebook accounted for almost all the revenue growth in digital advertising in America last year.

The giants’ success has benefited consumers. Google’s search engine, Amazon’s one-day delivery and Facebook’s newsfeed - all free (users pay by hanging over data )

Smartphones and the internet, information gleaned from self driving cars and face recognition have made data abundant and ubiquitous. Being able to mine this Data will make this commodity far more valuable. 

Whether you are going for a run (with your fit bit) , watching TV (what you watch is analysed by Netflix) surfing the internet ( data being more motored by Apple and Google) , walking in the road or even just sitting in traffic ( activity being caught by self driving cars (Tesla)  -   virtually every activity creates a digital trace—more raw material for the data distilleries. 

And then there is Equifax , sitting with most of America’s key data, including social security numbers , mortgage details and financial position (which has just been hacked). To say nothing of information collected from various Census data .

It is the data scientists, using artificial-intelligence (AI) and machine learning that will extract relevant information from this data , using algorithms that  can predict patterns that will make this data turn to Gold. 

Who are these people? Where can they be found? 

These algorithms will tell you when a customer is ready to buy, a jet-engine needs servicing or a person is at risk of a disease. 

Industrial giants such as GE and Siemens are looking to reinvent themselves as data firms so that they can compete with the likes of startups such as Data Robotics and Box Inc and Tech giants such as CISCO and FAGAM .

This abundance of data and the ability to mine and analyse it is a game changer.The difference between oil and data ...... data is not scarce! 

By collecting more data, a firm has more scope to improve its products, which attracts more users, and generating even more data.   

FAGAM’s surveillance systems span the entire economy - With there “God’s eye view” of the economy , they can see when a new product or service gains traction, allowing them to copy it or simply buy the upstart before it becomes too great a threat. Facebook’s $22bn purchase in 2014 of WhatsApp, a messaging app with fewer than 60 employees is a case in point . 

And then there is China - with Wechat’s Tencent - who has just taken a big chunk of Snapchat , and with other Chinese companies focussing on self driving cars, China’ answer to Jeff Bezos’s Amazon - Jack Ma’s Alibaba  and Telecommunications such as Hauwei, ZTE and Chinamobile 

Interesting times! 

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Ten trends redefining enterprise IT infrastructure

By Arul Elumalai, Kara Sprague, Sid Tandon, and Lareina Yee

1. ‘As-a-service’ consumption for everything from software to hardware. Moving from In house infrastructure to the cloud - Enterprise buyers increasingly prefer consumption-based pricing models. This shift from capital expenditures to operational expenditures helps reduce risk, frees up capital, and provides increased flexibility. 

From 2015 through 2016, revenues for infrastructure as a service (IaaS) and platform as a service (PaaS) rose by 53 percent, making them the highest-growth segments in cloud and infrastructure services.1Considering that a unit of compute/storage in the cloud can be up to 40 to 50 percent cheaper in total cost of ownership than a unit on premises, the shift to as-a-service models is striking. In addition to moving from on premise to cloud, IT providers and customers are experimenting with annuity-based payments for traditional hardware.

2. The public cloud goes mainstream. While companies have been moving their workloads to the public cloud for years, there has recently been a sea change at large enterprises. Capital One, GE, Netflix, Time Inc., and many others have drastically reduced or even eliminated their private data centers, moving their operations to the cloud.2In fact, cloud providers are expected to account for about 80 percent of shipped server and storage capacity by 2018.

Amazon is the leader in IaaS, with about 40 percent market share.3Microsoft is a clear second, followed by Google and IBM. Together these players account for approximately 65 percent of the IaaS market today.4With the decline of on-premises data centers, they could account for almost half of all IT infrastructure provisioning by 2020. If that is the case, only companies with significant capital-investment capabilities could compete with them. One potential candidate would be Alibaba, which has recently experienced triple-digit year-over-year cloud-related revenue growth, driven largely by cloud adoption in China. 5

3. Increased use of open-source offerings, up and down the stack. Approximately 65 percent of companies increased their use of open-source software from 2015 to 2016, according to the 2016 Future of Open Source Survey conducted by Black Duck and North Bridge. Major IT providers now rely on programs such as Apache Spark, Kubernetes, and OpenShift. Moreover, Airbnb, Airbus, eBay, Intel, and Qualcomm are among the many large companies using TensorFlow, Google’s open-source library of machine-learning code.6Facebook’s Open Compute Project, which aims to make hardware more efficient, flexible, and scalable, has helped extend the open-source movement into the data centers of companies that are participating members, such as AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, and Goldman Sachs.7

4. Cybersecurity remains a major concern.Cybersecurity continues to be a top C-suite and board-level priority. Across all industries, attacks are growing in number and complexity, with 80 percent of technology executives reporting that their organizations are struggling to mount a solid defense. Many companies cannot recruit the internal talent needed because there is a shortage of cybersecurity experts, leading them to invest in managed security services. Cloud-based security offerings are also becoming more attractive to companies, with McKinsey estimating that they will comprise 60 percent of security products by 2020, up from 10 percent in 2015.

5. Mainstream comfort with ‘white box’ hardware. Traditionally, IT infrastructure providers have relied on assembling branded systems for their server, storage, and networking offerings. To do so, they outsourced hardware manufacturing to original-design manufacturers (ODMs). However, this model is becoming obsolete because customers are increasingly unwilling to pay for assembly. Instead, customers go directly to ODMs, using designs for servers obtained from sources such as Facebook’s Open Compute Project to customize their data-center configurations. Open Compute Project member companies that have taken this route include IBM, Fidelity Investments, and Verizon.8As discussed later in this article, many of these ODMs are located in Asia, which is driving more hardware business to that region. By 2020, IDC estimates that “self-built” servers will comprise half the hyperscale-server market.

6. Internet of Things business applications are ready for adoption. McKinsey estimates that business-to-business applications will account for nearly 70 percent of the value that will flow from the Internet of Things (IoT) in the next ten years. According to our 2017 Enterprise IoT Executive Survey, 96 percent of companies expect to increase their IoT spending over the next three years, with some planning to devote as much as a quarter of their IT expenditures to IoT-related capabilities. The most popular use cases for enterprise IoT involve increasing visibility into operations, optimizing operational tasks, or assisting with the development of new business models. The upshift in adoption is even occurring in industries that have traditionally been slow to adopt new technologies, such as oil and gas. The growth of enterprise IoT will vastly increase demand for the compute-and-storage infrastructure, augmenting demand for hyperscale resources and IoT-specific PaaS solutions.

BI Intelligence predicts that more than five billion IoT devices, such as inventory-control and safety-monitoring tools, will require edge solutions by 2020 because they must collect and process data in real time.9Edge solutions allow information processing at the device or gateway level, rather than within the cloud or a data center, reducing both latency and connectivity dependencies. Of the $500 billion in growth expected for IoT through 2020, McKinsey estimates that about 25 percent will be directly related to edge technology. Edge computing will help improve data compression and transfer in the connectivity layer of the technology stack, reducing network bandwidth and making a wider range of IoT applications possible.

New trends to watch

In addition to the acceleration of familiar trends, several new developments are altering the IT infrastructure landscape for both providers and customers. These include the shift to Asia in hardware, the use of DevOps for software and hardware, container-first architectures, and the growth of artificial intelligence and machine-learning-optimized stacks.

7. The shift of the hardware infrastructure market to Asia. Asian original-equipment manufacturers (OEMs) have been making inroads in the IT infrastructure market dominated by US-based providers. Consider two examples in the server market:

  • Huawei plans to shore up its position in the server market by spending about $1 billion of its annual $9 billion R&D budget on equipment for data centers.10
  • Lenovo acquired IBM’s x86 server business in 2014, helping to expand its footprint in large enterprises globally.11

An equally important shift involves Asian ODMs, which have also increased their share of the hardware market as white-box systems become more popular. Taiwan-based Quanta Computer’s cloud-computing revenue from server, storage, switch, and IoT devices has been strong. Several Asian ODMs now provide servers to some of the top global hyperscale cloud providers, including Amazon, Facebook, and Google, all of which are investing heavily in expanding their data-center infrastructure.12As noted earlier, initiatives such as Facebook’s Open Compute Project are accelerating with this shift, since they allow members to obtain plans and designs for servers, storage, and networking. Some Asian ODMs are also offering off-the-shelf products based on open-source designs. If current trends continue, Asian ODMs may increase their revenue share of the hardware market two- or threefold by 2020.13

8. DevOps for software and hardware. IT departments have to deliver new features even faster. Meanwhile, companies now expect greater availability from them—24-hour coverage every day of the week. DevOps can help achieve both goals by fostering a high degree of collaboration along the entire IT value chain.

The new DevOps business model extends beyond application development to encompass application operations and IT infrastructure. Within DevOps, all three groups work as one. Many organizations understand the benefits of this model and are moving in this direction. In McKinsey’s 2017 IT-as-a-Service Survey, 80 percent of respondents stated that they had implemented DevOps practices in some part of their organization. In addition, 53 percent of respondents stated that they would apply these practices across their entire organization by 2020, up from 37 percent today.

In keeping with these trends, demand for DevOps talent will surge over the next few years. Companies may have trouble finding staff to fill all roles, since 40 percent of survey respondents stated that a lack of internal talent and skills was the primary factor preventing DevOps from becoming mainstream.

9. Container-first architectures. No longer confined to niche development environments, containers are on the path to overtake virtual machines and become the primary unit of deployment in the cloud. Atlassian’s 2016 report, Software development trends and benchmarks, revealed that 34 percent of software professionals have adopted containerization in their development teams.

What is most remarkable about containerization is the speed of its growth. In RightScale’s 2016 State of the cloudreport, only 18 percent of respondents reported deploying containers in production environments. In the 2017 survey, by contrast, respondents stated that Docker was their most frequently used DevOps tool. The growth of containerization has been occurring in tandem with the proliferation of microservice architecture—the development of software applications in small, independent units. As developers refine microservices, they are also addressing many of the challenges that prevented containerization’s growth, including inadequate security, problems with management or orchestration, and scalability.

In parallel with these trends, the next logical step in application atomization is emerging. It involves the abstraction of compute resources, in which functions become a unit of deployment, or function as a service. This will eliminate the need to provision infrastructure or manage compute resources for these functions.

10. Artificial intelligence and machine-learning-optimized stacks. After many years of refinements, artificial intelligence (AI) is delivering benefits to companies across industries.14Consider, for instance, how AI helps utilities forecast electricity demand, or how it allows automakers to create self-driving cars. Various developments are encouraging this new wave of AI, including increased computation power and the availability of more sophisticated algorithms and models. Perhaps most important, data volume is exploding, with network devices collecting billions of gigabytes every day.

McKinsey Global Institute estimates that the entrepreneurial activity unleashed by AI drew between $26 billion and $39 billion in investment in 2016—three times the amount attracted in 2013. Most AI investment comes from large digital natives, such as Amazon, Baidu, and Google, which are exploring innovations in semiconductors, infrastructure software, and systems. Some companies are building new computing paradigms that incorporate tensor processing units from Google, graphics processing units from Nvidia, and field-programmable gate arrays from Xilinx. The large hyperscale providers are also offering AI and machine-learning capabilities to enterprises through the cloud.

As enterprises gain increased access to leading-edge AI and machine-learning technologies, automation will increase. According to MGI, about half of all the activities people are paid to do in the world’s workforce could be automated, accounting for almost $15 trillion in wages.

The scale of disruption in the technology infra-structure landscape is unprecedented, creating huge opportunities and risks for industry players and their customers. Executives at technology infrastructure companies must drive growth by transforming their portfolios and rethinking their go-to-market strategies. They should also build the fundamental capabilities needed for long-term success, including those related to digitization, analytics, and agile development. All of these ambitious steps will require more capital and capacity, but customers in the new IT infrastructure landscape will reward their efforts.

Bitcoin and why its so important

 The Bob Pritchard Column 

Everywhere you look these days there are references to Blockchain…but you probably wonder what the hell is it. It is the technology behind one of the 21st century's most remarkable social and financial innovations: the cryptocurrency.
It all started with Bitcoin just seven years ago when the world's first digital currency, or "cryptocurrency," only carried a few cents in value. Today, after years of price appreciation, a bitcoin is valued at close to $8000.   The reason behind this explosion in demand all goes back to the fundamental technology that lies at the core — the revolutionary public ledger that makes Bitcoin and dozens of other cryptocurrencies so appealing to both end-users and businesses.

But what is it, exactly?
Currently, digital transactions like the kind you might execute on a daily basis using a credit card have to go through a bank as an intermediary. That's where the transaction is authenticated, processed, and catalogued.  What blockchain allows is for consumers and suppliers to connect directly, eliminating the need for the centralized third party. Taking a rather democratic approach to ensuring security, blockchain provides a decentralized database, or “digital ledger,” of transactions that everyone on the network can freely access.
This network is a chain of computers that must all approve an exchange before it can be verified and recorded, making it virtually impossible for a hacker to counterfeit a transaction — something they can easily do using traditional credit cards. And because this blockchain network is independent of any government agency or bank, the transactions cannot be tracked, regulated, or taxed.
The result is a 100% secure, 100% sterile means of exchanging currency for goods or services; and since the first-ever transaction was recorded in 2010, tens of thousands of businesses worldwide have started processing transactions using the world's most popular digital currency: Bitcoin.
That astounding rate of commercial adoption has been the main driving force behind Bitcoin's skyrocketing market capitalization, which today stands at $125 billion.   This growth represents the fastest gains ever, with Bitcoin appreciating a total of 8,666,000% in the seven years between the first-ever commercial transaction and today. But blockchain and the opportunities it opens for a first-ever decentralized currency are too big for just one coin. 
This year, Ethereum, another cryptocurrency operating on the same principal, also saw incredible price growth as it rose from $10 back in January 2017 to $300 today. The second biggest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, Ethereum's total value is now $28 billion, with more than 96% of that market capitalization created in just 2017 alone.
Today, there are over 1000 digital currencies out there, with market capitalizations ranging from billions down to less than $1 million.
Many are highly specialized, designed for specific types of transactions, some even the by-product of work at government agencies like the Department of Defense. This explosion in diversity of product further cements cryptocurrencies as a revolutionary shift in the way value is stored, transferred, and exchanged — perhaps the most important such shift since the invention of paper money itself.
In the next decade, blockchain is going to play a pivotal role in evolving the way business is done, both domestically and across boarders, and many of those 1000+ cryptocurrencies will explode in value to fill the demand of an ever-growing volume of transactions.
“Bitcoin is a remarkable cryptographic achievement and the ability to create something that is not duplicable in the digital world has enormous value”   Eric Schmidt, CEO of Google

Sunday, November 5, 2017

Artificial Intelligence and Robotics saving the Planet

 Insites from the Tata Communications sponsored 2016 CEO Summit, with the theme “Artificial intelligence meets emotional intelligence”.

Inspired by Oliver Pickup Daily Telegraph (UK)

Infrastructure of next-generation telecoms, power and agriculture systems need to be built in 3rd World Countries  , providing consistent and secure global connectivity to the 4b people who have not got mobile connectivity 

Vinod Kumar, chief executive of Tata Communications and host of the summit, praised the China-led One Belt, One Road project. It aims to develop a strategy and framework focusing on connectivity and co-operation among 65 countries. “It will connect 60pc of the world’s population, and is estimated to add $2.5trn to those countries in the next decade,” said Mr Kumar, whose company is currently building India’s first-ever IoT network, which will underpin many AI applications in the country. 

(Ik Insite:- Not only will it help the third world population - but will bring into the grid an extra 2b potential consumers and (through elearning) educated minds to add value to the planet. )

Some insights from New York Entrepreneur - Jack Hidary, who moderated a session

  1. the technology needed to revolutionise inefficient, ineffective food and healthcare systems in developing countries is within grasp and can be implemented now helping the 2b people that are going hungry with a need for medical attention.
  2. Soon we could expect instant medical advice and prescriptions from 'smartphone laboratories'
  3. Technologies such as GPS have increased the yield in developed countries but have not yet been widely used in developing countries. Now we can level that playing field with smartphones and access to the cloud
  4. “The ability to increase the yield of farmland under tillage in developing countries is a mission-critical challenge. I see that as within reach using these technologies. We already have autonomous drones for agriculture, for both shooting seeds into the ground, and fertilising.” In India, Tata Rallis, an internet of things (IoT) project, uses drones to administer pesticides. The aim is to harness data, such as crop health and soil conditions, to boost output.
  5. Drones are able to pick fruits, almonds and other kind of foodstuffs that are difficult to collect for humans. Drones are cheap – about $100 (£75) – and could be used by communities for farming and other tasks, and don’t have to be owned by one person.
  6. Smartphones are now more widely used by people in developing countries. Soon we could expect instant medical advice and prescriptions from “smartphone laboratories” (Casinos n point - providing hairlip surgery via trained local technicians guided by surgeons in USA
  7. Prediction - A device that attaches to a smartphone could take samples of blood, saliva and urine - It would tell the patient if they had diseases as serious as zika, cholera or ebola.
  8. AI could  speed that process and save many lives. There would be no need to send samples to a lab to the (usually unequipped and under-resourced local hospital , which could take weeks. There could be an immediate analysis and a prescription issued. Often the solution would be just a few pills or an injection, getting to the person to care - sending them medicine by a drone or isolating them.

About TaTa Communications 

Powering the future 

  • Over 24pc of global internet routes are carried by Tata Communications’ network
  • Tata Communications’ superfast fibre network is 710,000 kilometers long – the only such network that encircles the globe
  • 400 million locals will benefit from India’s first IoT network, being built in cities such as Mumbai and Delhi by Tata Communications

Tata Vision 2025

By 2025, 25 per cent of the world’s population will experience the Tata commitment to improving communities’ and customers’ quality of life. Tata will be among the 25 most admired corporate brands globally, with a market capitalisation comparable to the world’s 25 most valuable firms.