5 Compelling Use Cases for Blockchain
5 Compelling Use Cases for Blockchain

4.5/5 (2)

4.5/5 (2)

It can often be difficult to keep track of assets and transactions in a business, and that is where Blockchain is unleashing its potential. It is revolutionising enterprises with its shared ledger technology. There are numerous, and specialised, use cases of Blockchain but the adoption is nascent in most industries. There are a few early adoption use cases of Blockchain, however, which have the potential to replace traditional systems and processes.

In the global Ecosystm Mobility study, organisations are asked about the adoption of Blockchain as a means of authentication. Industries that appear most open to Blockchain adoption are those that have also embraced IoT for tracking and traceability.

Adoption of Blockchain for Authentication – An Industry Comparison

Adoption-of-Blockchain-for-Authentication-An-Industry-Comparison

 

Across industries Blockchain technology is being used primarily for these use cases:

 

Supply Chain Traceability

Supply chain traceability allows producers, retailers, and consumers to track products from source to consumer. It connects all points in the supply chain, creating transparency and trust in the product. When a business comprises complex processes, a large and dispersed workforce, multiple locations and different operations, a lot of administrative and regulatory frameworks are required to manage and control the supply chain. Functions such as order management, procurement, import, delivery, tracking, and invoicing have their own unique set of requirements and processes. In several cases, especially across primary and retail industries, business complexity has been reduced with the use of Blockchain. The technology allows for improving digital assets and inventory tracking for better services and processes.

Blockchain is ensuring food safety by providing a complete view of the supply chain and creating a real-time trail of products – allowing a ‘farm to fork’ view. Walmart is a good example of how retailers can use Blockchain technology to ensure that they sell fresh produce. Fresh produce shipments can be tracked as they change hands from the farmers to the middlemen, to the distributor and finally to the store. This can have an enormous impact on containing food-borne diseases and food contamination. Not only does Blockchain increase food safety, it ensures fresher food since it secures production and packing dates.

Intellectual Property Intermediary (IPI), an organisation established under Singapore’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, is an affiliate of Enterprise Singapore and focuses on technology innovations in the industry that can empower enterprises to develop new processes, products, and services. IPI has identified Blockchain Technology for Food as an area where the industry can benefit from innovation. The ecosystem will also benefit from the information gathered, with the potential to further improve the production chain.

 

Fraud Prevention

Taking supply chain visibility a step further, Blockchain technology is being used for fraud prevention – especially payment fraud.  Financial transactions are complex and involve multi-step processes and human intervention – involving collaterals, settlement, currency denominations, third-party mediation, and so on. It is often the prime target for fraudsters. The most common instances of fraud involve bank to bank transactions, mobile payments, and digital identity fraud, essentially by tampering with ID or using it an unsanctioned way – providing unauthorised access to digital systems and falsifying information.

Blockchain helps automate preventive measures enabling real-time information sharing which is transmitted on a chain of connected devices where all the nodes in a system verify the transaction. Since it stores the data on several nodes and every other user on the network has a copy of the entire data on the Blockchain, it is virtually impossible to hack or destroy it completely.

Earlier this year, Standard Chartered Singapore showcased their cross-border trade finance transaction which digitalises trade processes and financing documentation. Blockchain enabled the transaction between parties by digitally streamlining the documentation process while providing security and transparency between the partners. Not only does it support the clients’ entire supply chain, but it also creates a transparent way to provide same-day trade financing.

Non-profit organisation BitGive Foundation uses Blockchain technology to provide greater visibility to their donors into the receipt of funds and how they are used by sharing financial information and project results in real-time. The GiveTrack project is built on Bitcoin and Blockchain and is a user-friendly, data-centered and comprehensive user interface. People making donations can precisely track the donations and how the funds were used.

 

Legal & Compliance

In industries that have higher Compliance & Regulatory requirements, Blockchain can enable safe, secure, and scalable data-sharing.  The industry is seeing instances of self-executing contracts, smart registries, secure and time-stamped documents with Blockchain. Blockchain is introducing abilities to record events for a long duration which might include indisputable claims, criminal records, case procedures to support the potential legal work.

Dubai launched a city wide blockchain strategy. Dubai Land Department is implementing blockchain to make property transactions secure, transparent and immutable, thereby reducing fraud and eliminating reams of physical documents. This impacts the entire ecosystem – customers, developers, the land department, utility providers, payment channels, and municipalities – to work in collaboration.

Shipping companies that need to enforce global contracts daily are also benefitting from Blockchain. However, the biggest use cases will eventually come from the Public Sector – across citizen services and criminal justice systems. For instance, National Stock Exchange of India (NSE) is testing Blockchain e-voting facilities. The project is still at the pilot stage and aims to tokenised voting which makes it easy to conduct test and audit for the votes. This allows the regulating authorities to access real-time data, and at the same time, provides means to audit the regulators.

 

Cybersecurity

73% of global organisations believe that a data breach is inevitable, according to the Ecosystem Cybersecurity Study, and only 18% of them use some form of tokenisation and other cryptographic tools. Blockchain technology offers several capabilities in mitigating cybersecurity risks and detecting and combating cyber attacks. For example, Blockchain can be used to prevent DDoS attacks, and crypto secured biometric keys can replace passwords providing robust ID authentication systems, more secure DNS and decentralised storage. Blockchain implementation can also prevent man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks by encrypting the data in transit so it is not manipulated during the transmission or accessed by unauthorised parties – thus maintaining data integrity and confidentiality.

Lockheed Martin, a US security company, is implementing Blockchain into their protocol. The company is enhancing Blockchain cybersecurity protocol measures in engineering systems, supply chain risk management, and software development. This includes researching on expanding on Blockchain capabilities protect their weapons development unit and make it incorruptible.

eGovernment initiatives will also benefit from Blockchain. The biggest stumbling block for providing eservices has always been cybersecurity, where the Government cannot be sure that the citizens are able to access their own records in a secure manner. It has always been a question of responsibility and liability – is the Government liable for a data breach that happens because of a citizen’s fault? Estonia is using Blockchain to protect their digital services such as electronic health records, legal records, police records, banking information, covering data and devices from attacks, misuse, and corruption.

 

Customer Experience

The ultimate benefit of Blockchain will be realised when it is used to enhance Customer Experience (CX). It brings transparency in doing business, gives on-demand data visibility and fosters trust in customers. A company that shows all transactions between the company and the customer, and in a secure manner, can create a better relationship, increase overall customer satisfaction and retain their customers in a competitive market. For example, Blockchain technology can allow more secure and transparent loyalty programmes, through token creation that can be redeemed on-demand, without customer service intervention. Singapore Airlines’ KrisFlyer structures their payments and loyalty programme with Blockchain. Their digital wallet enables members to convert KrisFlyer miles into KrisPay miles instantly to pay for their purchases at partner merchants. The users can pay through an application by scanning a QR code at a merchant’s location .

Customers will increasingly look for ease of use and security in their transactions. Bank of America has filed a patent for Blockchain powered ATM, for securing records and authenticating business and personal data. This will boost the transaction rate and facilitate various transaction experience with full encryption and security. Blockchain-enabled transactions can be registered and completed with greater easy while lowering the transaction costs for customers and keeping the network safe.

 

While Blockchain technology is continuing to evolve for a range of applications and industries, it comes with its own share of risks. Adoption should not be based on the hype around the technology but should be evaluated carefully. The starting point should obviously be a real business needs analysis.

Speak with an expert today to evaluate whether your organisation can benefit from Blockchain.

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British Open Golf Royal Portrush
The British Open Golf & IoT : My Kind Of Work!

5/5 (2)

5/5 (2)

The Giants Causeway on the Antrim coast in Northern Ireland has always held a special place for me. I was born just 8 kms from there and the hexagonal shapes of the rock formation made the volcanic outcrop wonderful stepping stones. Each connected column gave me the inspiration for my company name, Causeway Connections, and the hexagon used by many in the marketing of the highly connected Internet of Things (IoT).

In July, after 68 years, the British Open golf championship is returning to Royal Portrush, a beautiful, but gnarly links course just around the corner from the Giants Causeway. The course is a very traditional links course which means that the rough will be very rough, the wind could be blowing hard, or the well-drained fairways will make ball control a must have skill to win. After selling out in record time, the ‘Open promises to be an exciting, cheerful event that will highlight the hospitality of the region.

However, when we watch a sport like golf we don’t always appreciate the amount of technology that goes into making the experience as good as it is. The PGA Tour has embraced the IoT and Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) and with the help of Microsoft Azure launched the PGA Tour Content Relevancy Engine (CRE) captures over 32,000 data points per event and have about 174 million shot attributes in its database. All of this is the necessary input to keep broadcasters fed with color commentary about a player, a course, or a tournament.  So how are the data points collected? There are several sources, but perhaps the biggest belongs to Shotlink. In 2008, CDW became the official technology partner of the PGA Tour and powers Shotlink. Each golf course is mapped prior to the event so that a digital image of each hole is used as background information in order to calculate exact locations and distances between any two coordinates (e.g. the tee box and the player’s first shot).

Other data sources that are used by equipment manufacturers and clothing include Cobra Connect and its partnership Arccos who promise that you may never need a caddie again since all of your swings, both good and bad, will end up in the cloud with a layer of AI tips applied to them. Will this be the end of the ‘grip it and rip it’ swing J .

Golf courses are expansive amounts of land that require detailed management to make sure that the customer experience is the best that can be given. Knowing the state of the greens, the conditions of the fairways and the speed of play by the casual hacker, the weekend ‘play ready’ expert, or the corporate sales meeting at the opening tee all contribute to a profitable golf course. One company that uses IoT to improve the round of golf is FairwayIQ whose mission is to ‘equip every golf course with real-time information and insights to attract and retain more golfers, drive more revenue, and maximize course efficiency. (I also feel that there is a strong environmental sustainability message here). FairwayIQ is in the forefront of using low powered sensors (LoRaWan) from MachineQ  (part of the Comcast family).

Finally, what about the ball? Why doesn’t it have a sensor in it? Think of the stress on the ball at the time of impact from a driver and quickly you see that putting the sensor in the ball may need some protection. Second, the size of the ball makes real estate a prime challenge for any sensor, although there are some very tiny sensors that could be squeezed into a ball. Third is consistency. The professionals spend hours and hours practicing their swing and they expect the ball to behave in a very consistent manner. There are some startups that have test products tied to simulators but nobody has gone into full production. However, there are companies that put sensors into balls that take a lot of beating – Green Fields Digital Sports Technology . By the fact that a major ball maker such as Titleist hasn’t come out with a ‘smart’ ball indicates that IoT might be tinkering with the Holy Grail of golf. Golf balls stir a healthy debate on whether or not the ball should be a uniform product (just like almost every other ball sport). Purists might say that it’s the choice and uniqueness of each player and the type of golf ball that they play with that makes the game so hard to be copied or players to be programmed. We say, to that argument, by putting a sensor into a golf ball improves the uniqueness  of every aspect of the game while democratizing the details of what makes a great golfer great.

However, what is clear to everyone is that modern golf is kicking off lots of data that is being used by an elaborate eco-system to make the customer experience better for everyone. Enjoy the 2019 British Open! Sláinte

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VendorSphere-Cisco-IoT-at-C-Scape-2019-in-San-Diego
VendorSphere: Cisco IoT at C-Scape 2019 in San Diego

4.7/5 (3)

4.7/5 (3)

During the past 12 months, Cisco has worked hard at refining and relaunching their IoT strategy. Initial overall impressions of the progress are good with strong alignment with both Cisco and their customer needs. Launching IoT to three different audiences at Cisco Live Barcelona, Hanover Messe and Cisco Live San Diego was critical as it enabled Cisco to talk to network, industry and enterprise audiences in a focused and personalised manner. However, there are other market dynamics at play that will challenge Cisco’s IoT Edge strategy and ecosystem play. Both the progress and challenges are discussed in this review.

Overall Rating B+

Much of the 2018-2019 efforts may be collated under three main categories.

  1. Hardware. Establish a hardware foundation from which any IoT device or customer can reap the benefits of Cisco’s larger corporate strategy built around initiatives such as Cisco DNA Center, Intent Based Networking, ACI and Security. With the acquisition of Sentryo and the refresh and launch of their routers, Cisco is now well placed to have legitimate discussions with Industrial IoT or IIoT customers and prospects. Bringing IBN functions to the edge of the network will enable Cisco’s customers to begin to develop richer business outcomes from the network. Rating: A-
  2. Developers: Raise the availability of IoT-based applications through Cisco’s DevNet developer community. Cisco has a significant advantage over their competitors by having over 500,000 developers who understand how to write apps for Cisco’s product line and who now have access to new types of data that can enrich traditional network outcomes. Over time this advantage will become more and more valuable as data becomes utilised across markets as well as within markets thus creating wealth in a much larger ecosystem. Rating: B+
  3. Partners: Transform their partner management through the Customer Experience (CX) program. Much of Cisco’s business is conducted through partners. It is a critical success factor for Cisco to enable the partners to be IoT-data savy. IoT will enable Cisco to accelerate the transition from product sales to higher value subscription services. However, based on discussions with customers, partners and Cisco management, we believe that there is much more work to integrate an IoT strategy in to CX. Rating: B-

The Industrial IoT (IIoT) and Cisco

Cisco identified the IIoT market as one where Cisco’s strengths in hardware, software and partner ecosystem will play well with their customers and prospects. While having a strong foothold in the industrial space, we believe that Cisco’s success will be much dependent on the customer’s workloads and what they want to achieve with their data as it is reducing the complexity between IT and OT (Operations Technology) issues. Cisco has addressed the IoT connectivity and network security at the edge of the network through its ruggedized routers while their competitors are building distributed computing environments. Competitors who are adopting a full IT stack at the edge of the network aim to offer up more OT-based industrial services as well as emerging innovation services such as digital twin, augmented reality and robotic process automation. One key consequence of a customer choosing either approach will result in differing partner ecosystems to form and support the customer. These ecosystems will also be different in how they are managed and by who manages them.

Our recent IoT study shows that while security (a sweet spot for Cisco’s strategy) remains extremely important to an organisation’s solution, technology integration is equally important. When vendors are considering implementing an industrial solution, they need to be able to provide an end-to-end solution that encompasses both the IoT Edge and the IoT Enterprise while smoothly bringing together the OT and IT procedures.

This all starts with an easy on-boarding of any IoT device that is secured and managed with confidence and reliability. The good news for Cisco is that these challenges are also a natural opportunity for Cisco’s partner organisation and systems integrators by creating a new styled IoT ecosystem. However, despite which hardware path an end-user takes, we believe that Cisco and others do not have all of the necessary components of the full ‘IoT’ stack to fulfil a complete solution. To that end, everything will pivot to the vendor who either has the better systems integrations partnership, or, plays in the strongest ecosystem.

IoT Services

Most of Cisco’s business is driven through partners and therefore any success for Cisco’s IoT strategy is dependent on how well they execute it. IoT will accelerate the shift from product based solutions to subscription/as a Service deliverables as more information is generated from the connected devices. and as such the Cisco partner community should be trained/incentivised to offer up IoT. Cisco partners are already undergoing their own business transformation as Cisco’s Customer Experience (CX) strategy is introduced to them. Having the IoT hardware align with the broader Cisco vision was critical to enabling any CX IoT strategy. However, partners may be in ‘transformation’ overload as they embrace the traditional Cisco customer needs and requirements and may be slower to take up the IoT opportunities.

Our IoT study shows that customers believe that the transition from products to services innovation is the highest scoring benefit from an IoT implementation.

However, this is a difficult but critical part of any company aspiring to become a digitally driven business. An IoT strategy is a corner stone of this vision as it will provide the data to be able to run a services or subscription-based business model

Cisco is well positioned here but there is a maturity and readiness gap between Cisco and their customers. Patience will be a key asset as Cisco and their partners close technology gaps for their customers (e.g. adopting and implementing widespread analytics as part of the corporate digital strategy. Most customers are not ready to take advantage of IoT-based analytics outcomes and therefore the RoI case has not been fully articulated).

Finally, Cisco needs to address the mid-tier market with solutions that are compatible with budgets. While it is important to have an ecosystem of high calibre partners within systems integrators, we feel that there will be many customers who cannot afford Cisco’s end-to-end solution. As a result of this Cisco partners are still not ready to address the mid-tier market. Cisco will need to promote offerings across all markets by participating in high-, mid-, and low-end ecosystems. This may mean acknowledging non-5G licensed spectrum/ non WiFi solutions for the most cost sensitive customers for the sake of broader market and industry share.

Recommendations For Cisco IoT

The following are our recommended actions for Cisco IoT based on C-Scape and the prior 12 months of strategy rollout:

  1. Create stronger value proposition for network based IoT business outcomes. Customers are asking for end-to-end validation which means that Cisco needs to articulate a role with the likes of Salesforce, SAP and Microsoft to enhance customer’s enterprise management systems. This is where Cisco’s CX and partner organisation will also be challenged but can open up a lot of opportunity. Move the message up the value chain. More work has to be done with CX. More has to be done with developers.
  2. Articulate a stronger comprehensive Industry 4.0 solution that gives customers all of the application qualifiers to run on Cisco’s hardware. Cisco will be challenged by the IT-lead distributed IoT compute stack over its industrial strength routers. More marketing has to be invested in the IoT Edge campaigns.
  3. Segment the IoT market by customer maturity/readiness/size and their IoT connected assets. Based on asset churn and customer size will dictate the type of new IoT ecosystem that Cisco will either build, manage or participate. For example, an IoT solution of Capex intensive assets with longevity is very different for agriculture supply chain management. Segmentation is critical for Cisco to be successful.
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IT Cutbacks
The GBP 183 million fine that accentuates the false economy of IT cutbacks

5/5 (2)

5/5 (2)

It’s been a tough couple of years for British Airways (BA). 2017 saw an IT failure that resulted in 726 flights getting cancelled and 75,000 passengers being stranded on a busy holiday weekend. The fallout from this incident was around GDP 80 million in compensation paid to passengers and an almost immediate 4% drop in the share price.

Then, in 2018, the British carrier fell victim to a security breach in which around 500,000 people had their personal data, including their credit card details, stolen by hackers.

It is this breach that British Airways is now told that it will be fined 183 million British Pounds for. The fine was announced by the British Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), and if it stands, it will be the biggest fine ever imposed for a data breach in the UK or elsewhere in Europe. In fact, the fine dwarfs previous fines issued up until now.

The biggest fines issued by the ICO in the UK were to Facebook and Equifax – both of whom were fined GBP 500,000.

Facebook’s fine was for the notorious Cambridge Analytica data scandal, where the information of 87 million Facebook users was shared with the political consultancy through a quiz app that collected data from participants as well as their friends without their consent.

Equifax Ltd. fine was for something more similar to the British Airways case: In May 2017, hackers stole personal data including names, dates of birth, addresses, passwords, driving licences and financial details of 15 million UK customers. In its ruling, the ICO said that Equifax had failed to take appropriate steps to ensure the protection of this sensitive data despite warnings from the US government.

But these fines were all from before the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) came into effect. Now, under the new rules, fines can be as high as EUR 10,000,000 or 2% of total global annual turnover for the previous year (whichever is higher) for lesser data breach incidents. For significant data breaches and non-compliance, the fines can be double that: EUR 20,000,000 or 4% of total global annual turnover (whichever is higher).

British Airways’ GBP 183 million fine is the equivalent of 1.5% of its turnover in 2017. Had the ICO gone for the maximum limit, the fine could have been as much as GBP 489 million.

A lot can still happen before the fine is finally issued, and BA is likely to dispute the decision in court (Willie Walsh, the CEO of BA’s parent company, IAG, has said they will). But even if the fine ends up being significantly lower, there are obvious lessons to be learned from this case:

 

  1. “People’s personal data is just that—personal.” These were the words spoken by Elizabeth Denham, the ICO Information Commissioner, in response to media enquiries on the fine. In other words: companies will need to take data privacy extremely seriously from now on or expect very hefty fines.

 

  1. Attitude matters. British Airways chairman and chief executive, Alex Cruz, said in a statement that BA was “…surprised and disappointed in this initial finding from the ICO. British Airways responded quickly to a criminal act to steal customers’ data. We have found no evidence of fraud/fraudulent activity on accounts linked to the theft. We apologize to our customers for any inconvenience this event caused.”

Although we can’t know this for certain, the response may reflect what could be described as an “attitude problem” in how BA has been dealing with the ICO: a whiff of arrogance, blaming the breach on criminal hackers and failing to accept any blame or real responsibility for the incident.

We know from other GDPR cases in other countries that any failure to cooperate with the authorities may result in larger fines. Full transparency, full cooperation and accepting responsibility are the way to go. If it’s your data, then the buck stops with you.

  1. The risks associated with IT cutbacks just went through the roof. The operating losses following the financial crises of 2008 made the carrier slash back its IT budgets (as well as other “expenditures”). Airlines, in general, are notorious for under-spending on IT, but when combining that with further cutbacks on IT expenditure, disaster may ensue. BA’s recent IT related woes may or may not be a direct result of under-spending on IT, but in the court of public opinion, this connection has been made.

 

In any case, with the new fine regime under the GDPR, the risks associated with under-spending on IT – and on IT security in particular – have now gotten substantially bigger.

More than ever, the notion that IT is an expenditure that can be cut back on is a false economy.

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New Zealand digital transformation roadmap
Ecosystm Snapshot: New Zealand’s digital transformation roadmap

5/5 (1)

5/5 (1)

To drive its digital transformation initiatives, the Government of New Zealand recently published a roadmap ‘Growing innovative industries in New Zealand: From the knowledge wave to the digital age’, which outlines the strategic objectives of the Government to uplift and drive innovation for the country’s industries. The policy is focused on achieving a sustainable and productive economy for the country. The central elements for the plan were developed in consultation with all the key industry players and include the ideas necessary for transitioning the economy.

The Government will primarily focus on four significant sectors for its Industry Transformation Plans: food and beverage, agritech, forestry and wood processing, and digital technologies. For this, the government will work with businesses, workforce, and Māori to determine the best path towards to achieve their goals.

 

Agritech Industry Transformation Plan

New Zealand’s agritech sector spans across a range of technologies including genetics, information and communications technology, machinery and equipment, including robotics. The government is working with industry body ‘Agritech NZ’ and other relevant entities to draft a strategy and action plan for agritech transformation in New Zealand. The objective is to support production, drive innovation and increase exports for New Zealand’s industry.

Commenting on the NZ’s digital transformation Ecosystm Principal Advisor, New Zealand-based Jannat Maqbool, said “the agriculture sector needs to focus on innovation in order to compete and thrive as global trends and consumer demand presents challenges in feeding the growing global population. Investment in programmes driving investment in technologies and related initiatives to boost innovation and productivity in the sector will support the growing Agritech sector including work to scale Agritech businesses internationally.”

 

Digital technology opportunities

To support the ongoing development of New Zealand’s technology and industrial sector, the NZ government is taking several actions. The government has plans for more coordinated action between industry and the Government. Including:

  • Continuing work with the IoT Alliance and the AI Forum to drive applications of digital technologies;
  • Implementing Industry 4.0 programmes to increase uptake technologies and processes across manufacturing sectors, improving productivity and competitiveness;
  • Coordinating, developing and rolling out a National Digital Infrastructure Model to generate value from data for all aspects of the economy–e.g. infrastructure management and development;
  • Supporting New Zealand digital technology firms by providing a level playing field for New Zealand firms to compete for government business;
  • Working through the Digital Skills Forum to ensure the digital technology sector, and the industries that rely on digital technology workers, can access the tech talent needed to support the growth of these sectors and the economy.

With Government setting itself for the fourth industrial revolution, there will be certain challenges and opportunities in the implementation, “the opportunity is for increased productivity and to focus more on value add to compete internationally whereas a key challenge will be finding the skilled employees that will be required as industry 4.0 is adopted” said Maqbool.

 

Journey of NZ industries for digital transformation

SMEs make up over 97 percent of enterprises in New Zealand and digital transformation presents an opportunity for accelerated growth and competitiveness, potentially contributing US$7 billion to New Zealand’s GDP. “Digital transformation requires awareness, adoption and effective change management but before all of this there needs to be a shift in mindset of those in charge or a changing of the guard so to speak to understand and appreciate that the move is necessary, not only for the business itself but for bridging the digital skills gap and supporting a region’s productivity and economic growth ” said Maqbool.

 

The Government has also created plans for tourism, creative industries, aerospace, renewable energy and health technologies for the digital push. These advances will facilitate the development of new industries in New Zealand.

“It essential that efforts through government initiatives align with other approaches already driving the move to digital in order to ensure available resources are effectively utilised and for ongoing sustainability,” says Maqbool.

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The future of 5G for APAC
Ecosystm Snapshot: The future of 5G for APAC

4.3/5 (6)

4.3/5 (6)

Roll Out of 5G will Contribute $900 Bn to APAC Economy over the next 15 years

According to a forecast by the GSMA Foundation, 5G will contribute almost $900 billion to APAC’s economy over the next 15 years. APAC’s edition of the GSMA’s Mobile Economy series published at MWC19 Shanghai revealed that Asia’s mobile operators will invest $370 billion – two-thirds of their overall investment in new networks – in building new 5G networks between 2018 and 2025. The report forecasts that the number of subscribers is expected to increase to 3.1 billion by 2025 with the main contributions coming from India, China, Pakistan, Indonesia, Bangladesh, and the Philippines.

 

The Roadmap for 5G

Every major Asia Pacific country has announced its intent or made the commitment to roll out 5G. The upside for an Asia Pacific digital economy is huge which will be driven by massive amounts of cross-cloud, inter-cloud, and smart infrastructure giving rise to the need for high-density connectivity between businesses and consumers.

“Take a step back and look at the key attributes of 5G – speed, latency, and density. Now take a step forward and look at global urban development. The explosion of bigger and more modern cities makes the telecom infrastructure a scaling issue for which 5G will be the right technology,” says Ecosystm Executive Analyst, Vernon Turner.

Working closely with the mobile operators pioneering 5G, governments are also engaging in the preparation and roll out of 5G Networks. Recently, the Singapore government announced to set aside SG$40 million to build up a 5G ecosystem. To promote digital transformation and economic growth, IMDA and the National Research Foundation (NRF) has allocated this funding for innovation, trials, R&D and enterprise use-cases in the 5G technology.

Similarly, the Vietnamese government awarded its first 5G trial licence to its largest telecommunications company, Viettel, to uplift the economy. Thailand is also seeking to deploy 5G and aims to start commercial 5G service next year.

“By 2022, 5G will be ‘the rising tide that lifts all boats’, making the Asia-Pacific region the biggest network offering network services that could give it an economic advantage,” says Turner. “But before that, some challenges for 5G belongs to regulatory approvals and the cost to build the next generation wireless network. For example, 5G networks operate on ‘millimetre waves’, a high radio frequency able to transmit large amounts of data but only over a short distance. To overcome this issue, governments have to approve large numbers of 5G small cells for operators to deploy.”

 

Is this an opportunity to skip out 4G altogether and leapfrog to 5G?

 

“The challenge for operators is to find workloads and applications that need 5G and at a price point that customers will pay. In my everyday travels, I have been underwhelmed by the number of customers ready to take advantage of 5G. Existing networks have the speed and capacity to run much of their businesses. I can see a scenario whereby operators will be forced to roll up 3G and LTE network functionality into 5G networks without being able to raise prices – despite being able to offer more benefits” says Turner.

 

How will 5G impact industries?

 

The future of interconnected ecosystems runs through IoT. The data that IoT sensors will create will be more valuable the faster it is analysed to produce business outcomes. Turner commented “Innovation accelerators such as VR (Virtual Reality) and AR (Augmented Reality) will generate new services for both consumers and industrial uses cases. The potential for asset management and services is ripe for disruption as 5G will bring more valuable information to workers through more efficient platforms. The knowledge-based worker and the future of work is here.”

Ultimately, APAC has the same possibilities and challenges as the rest of the world. Overall, the involvement of telecom companies, government organisations, infrastructure upgrades and the adoption of devices by consumers can affect the development and only after that can 5G become a reality.

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VendorSphere: Motorola’s Vision in the World of Critical Communications

5/5 (3)

5/5 (3)

Critical Communications World, 2019 – TCCA’s largest event in global public safety communication – was held in Kuala Lumpur in June.  Mission-critical communications are essential to maintaining safety and security across a range from daily operations to extreme events including disaster recovery. A UN report estimated that economic losses from natural disasters could reach USD 160 billion annually by 2030.

I attended the event as a guest of Motorola Solutions – one of the leaders in this field. Many people associate Motorola only with phones not knowing that they have been the cornerstone of some of the largest critical communications deployments around the globe. For instance, Victoria Police completed its AUD 50M+ rollout of Motorola Solutions managed services, enabling almost 10,000 police officers across Victoria access to mobile devices loaded with smart apps, and data when and where they need it most.

Motorola’s ability to provide customers with a private network which is secure, robust and redundant in the event of disaster has also been one of the reasons for their success in the industry. In the event of natural disasters or terrorist attacks, situations can arise where networks will not be available to send and transport any information. Having a secure and private network is critical. That explains why some of the largest police departments in Asia work with Motorola and these include Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.x

Motorola acquired Australian mobile application developer Gridstone in 2016 and Avigilon, an advanced video surveillance and analytics provider in 2018. These acquisitions demonstrate how Motorola is innovating in the areas of software, video analytics and AI.

Key Takeaways:

 

Public Safety Moving to a Collaborative Platform with AI and Machine Learning 

Andrew Sinclair, Global Software Chief for Motorola Solutions sees AI enhancing future command and control centres and allowing greater analytics of emergency calls.  Call histories and transcriptions, the incident management stack, community engagement data and post incidence reporting are all important elements for command and control centres. Using AI to sieve through the information will empower the operator with the right data and to make the right on-the-spot decisions.

The Avigilon acquisition, enhances Motorola’s AI capabilities and less time is spent monitoring videos, giving first responders more time to do their jobs.  The AI technology can make “sense” of the information by using natural language technology. For example, if asked to find a child in a red t-shirt, the cameras can detect the child and also create a fingerprint of the child. The solution enables faster incidence detection by using an edge computing platform. It gathers the information and processes it to relevant agencies making the search operation faster and more streamlined. The application of AI in the video monitoring space is still in its early days and the potential ahead for this technology is enormous.

The other area that can empower first responders better are voice activated devices. The popularity of Alexa and Echo in the consumer world will see greater innovation in the application of public safety solutions. For example, police officers responding to an emergency may have very little time to look at screens or attend to other applications that need touching or pressing of a button as time and attention is essential is such scenarios. The application of voice activated devices will be critical for easing the job of the police officer on the ground. This will not only save administrative work on activities such as transcription, but also help in creating better accounts of the actual happenings for potential court proceedings.

While it is still early days for a full-fledged AR deployment in public safety, there are potential use cases. For example, firemen standing outside a building to make sense of the surrounding area could use AR to send information back to the command and control centres.

The Growth of Cloud-driven Collaboration

Seng Heng Chuah, VP for Motorola APJ talked about the importance of all agencies in public safety to be more open and collaborative. For instance, currently most ambulance, police and fire departments work in silos and have their own apps and legacy systems.  To achieve the Smart City or Safe City concept, collaborating and sharing information on one common platform will be key. He talked about the “Home Team” concept that the Singapore Government has achieved. Allowing all agencies to collaborate and share information will mean the ability to make faster decisions during a catastrophe. Making “sense” of the IoT, voice and video data will be important areas of innovation. Normally when a disaster happens, operators at command and control centres – as well as onsite staff – face elevated stress levels and accurate information can help alleviate that.

The move towards the public cloud is also becoming more relevant for agencies. In the past there was resistance and it was always about having the data on their own premises. In recent years more public safety agencies are embracing the cloud. When you have vast amounts of data from video, IoT devices and other data sources, it becomes expensive for public safety agencies to store the data on premise.  Seng Heng talked about how public safety agencies are starting to “trust’’ the cloud more now.  According to him, Microsoft has done a good job in working with local governments around the world, and their government clouds have many layers of certifications as well as a strong data centre footprint in countries. The collaboration between agencies and more importantly agencies embracing the cloud will drive greater efficiency in analysing, transcribing and storing the data.

The Rise of Outcome-based, Services-led Opportunities

Steve Crutchfield, VP of Motorola Solutions for ANZ, talked about how Motorola is a services-led business in the ANZ market. 45% of Motorola’s business in ANZ is comprised of managed services. The ANZ region is unique as it is seen as early adopters and innovators around public safety implementations. Organisations approach Motorola for the outcomes. Police and Ambulance for example in the state of Victoria use their services on a consumption model. Customers across Mining, Transportation, and Emergency Services want an end-to-end solution across the network, voice, video and analytics.

The need for a private and secure network is significant in several industries. In the mines, safety is of priority and as soon as the radio goes down it impacts productivity and when production stops that can results in huge losses for the mines. Hence the need for a reliable private network that is secure for the transportation of voice and video communication is critical.

Crutchfield talked about how the partner ecosystem is evolving with Motorola working with partners such as Telstra and Orion but increasingly looking for specialised line of business partners and data aggregation partners. Motorola works with 55 channel partners in the region.

Ecosystm Comment:

Motorola Solutions is an established player in providing an end-to-end solution in the critical communications segment. The company is innovating in the areas of software and services coupled with the application of AI. Dr Mahesh Saptharishi, CTO at Motorola Solutions talked about how AI will eventually evolve into “muscle memory”. That will mean that there is far greater “automatic’’ intelligence in helping the first responders make critical decisions when faced with a tough situation.

In the end the efficacy of critical communications solutions will not just be the technology stack, but the desire and ability for cross-agency collaboration.  As public safety agencies analyse large volumes of data sets from the network right to the applications, they will have to embrace the cloud, and which will help them achieve scale and security when storing information in the cloud. From the discussions, it was clear that the public safety agencies have started acknowledging the need to do so and we can expect that shift to happen soon.

Motorola will need to keep evolving their channel partner model and start partnering with new providers that can help in delivering some of the end-to-end capabilities across Mobility, AI, software, analytics and IoT. Many of their traditional partners may not be able to be that provider as the company evolves into driving end-to-end intelligent data services for their clients. The company is playing in a unique space with very few competitors that can offer the breadth and depth of critical communications solutions.

 

 

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IoT Enabling Intelligent Retail
IoT Enabling Intelligent Retail

4.8/5 (5)

4.8/5 (5)

The Retail industry faces constant disruption because of unpredictability and seasonality for reasons ranging from economic uncertainties to festive seasons. Technology adoption has emerged as a key differentiator between the success stories and the also-rans in the industry. The biggest example of this would probably be eCommerce heavyweights in China, that were revolutionised by digital technology, forcing global Retail counterparts to transform to compete. Emerging technologies are helping organisations drive customer loyalty and improve their supply chain for better cost efficiency.

 

Drivers of Technology Adoption in Retail

There are several factors that have made the Retail industry one of the leaders in technology adoption.

  • Evolving Customer Preferences. Understandably, customers are kings in the Retail industry and their preferences drive the industry. For many years, customer loyalty was implemented through ‘loyalty programmes’ but today’s customers are not bound by cards and points, and factors such as same-day delivery, multiple payment options, on-the-spot problem resolution, and even invitations for exclusive events have a role to play in customer retention. The focus has shifted to better customer experience (CX). Retailers have access to immense data on their customers (which in turn raises concerns around data handling and compliance – requiring further investments in cybersecurity solutions), which is collected at every point of interaction and can be analysed for personalised and just-in-time offerings.
  • Maturity of the Omnichannel. Omnichannel retailing has been gaining grounds since the advent of eCommerce. However, the proliferation of mobile apps enabled not only easy access and monitoring of loyalty programmes, but also advanced capabilities such as the real-time view of inventory, and incorporation of virtual assistants for CX – and are pushing traditional players in the Retail industry to innovate and adopt the technology. However, as omnichannel has become the norm, retailers are evaluating the channels they want a presence on. While experts predicted that a brick-and-mortar presence would become redundant, retailers are realising that while consumers do research on the Internet and apps, many prefer to inspect and buy at a physical shop. This requires better integration and supply chain visibility across all touchpoints.
  • Globalisation of the Market. No longer can a retailer be sure of where the actual competition lies. One just has to look at the number of platforms and websites originating from Japan that have a presence across the globe to understand that competition can come from outside your country and very easily. Nor can they be sure of the best place to source their products as the world becomes one global market. In this global world, it is very important for retailers to have complete visibility of their supply chain, whether for a brick-and-mortar store or for eCommerce.

The global Ecosystm AI study reveals the top priorities for retailers (and etailers), focused on adopting emerging technologies (Figure 1). It is very clear that the top priorities are driving customer loyalty (through initiatives such as market segmentation and pricing optimisation) and supply chain optimisation (including demand forecasting and fraud detection, as procurement widens). Top Technology Priorities for the Retail Industry

 

IoT as an Enabler of Retail Transformation

The Retail industry is particularly leveraging IoT as they are faced with the overwhelming need to transform. The global Ecosystm IoT study reveals the areas that organisations are looking to benefit from IoT implementations (Figure 2). Retail organisations are essentially looking to creating a competitive edge – cost savings are not high on the list of benefits they are looking at.Drivers of IoT Implementation in the Retail Industry

 

Several Retail organisations are deploying customer management IoT solutions such as payment systems, customer identity authentication (especially in eCommerce), Digital Signage, customer satisfaction measurement through smart buttons, and location-based marketing. Asset management IoT solutions such as IoT-based inventory and warehouse management are also gaining traction.

 

Examples of IoT Use in Retail

IoT for Customer Experience
IoT for Marketing
  • Digital Signage. Digital Signage has proved to be an effective way of target marketing, eliminating the need for employees to put up physical signs and enabling dissemination of the latest product news and promotions to the consumers. Advanced Digital Signs include heat-mapping to upsell items based on high-traffic areas. Prendi, an Australian design agency created an interactive retail experience that is intended for store managers to showcase the most popular products, provide information, and simplify the overall sales and purchase process. Customers can take time to easily navigate through store inventory on a single screen, order for items digitally, which is then sent to a salespersons’ handheld devices, allowing them to take the items over to the customers.
  • Location-Based Marketing. Many retailers are collaborating with financial institutions and location-enabled apps to send push notifications on latest deals and offers straight to the customers’ devices, once they enter a demarcated location. This provides just-in-time data that increases app engagement and retention. Ukrainian hypermarket, Auchan, started a beacon pilot in Dec 2016 and kept adding new campaigns to strengthen the offerings in 2017. The hypermarket makes use of beacons to enable customers to receive notifications on navigation and promotions as they move through the store.
IoT for Supply Chain Optimisation
  • Smart Shelves. Shelves have turned out to be more than just a surface for displaying and storing objects. Retail stores are utilising RFID readers, weight sensors, proximity sensors, and 3D cameras for real-time visibility on inventory, layout, and shopper preferences. For FMCG products, monitoring the shelf life of perishable goods and proactive reorder alerts are extremely useful. Kroger Smart shelves are designed to offer digital support – they show ads, digital coupons that consumers can easily add to their mobile devices and changed prices as stores calibrate their product pricing. The shelves are built on top of sensors that keep track of products and real-time in-store inventory counts.
  • Remote Supply Chain. Retailers are looking to create a competitive edge and grow profits by optimising and digitising their supply chain management through IoT. Tive helps users keep real-time tabs on the condition of their shipped goods, notifying them about shock, vibration, tilt and other factors that might detrimentally affect those goods. Doing so allows retailers to expedite a replacement shipment and give customers a heads-up, and also tells when and where the delay occurred so future shipping routes can be adjusted if necessary.
  • Warehouse Automation. Devices, sensors and RFID tags help warehouse managers to know the exact details, location, and progress of any product at any time. This gives higher visibility into the inventory and the entire supply chain. UPS is using smart glasses in test programmes to reduce the amount of labelling on packages. Robots are used by the worldwide shipping company DHL in some of the company’s more modern facilities to reduce labour costs and improve order fulfillment speed and accuracy, all without disrupting ongoing warehouse operations.

 

The Retail industry already has several IoT use cases and AI-enabled IoT will further transform the industry. What are some interesting use cases that you can think of for the Retail and allied industries?  Let us know in your comments below.

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Is AI Subsuming IoT?

5/5 (1)

5/5 (1)

Some of you may be familiar with the famous Goya painting, ‘Saturn Devouring His Son ‘, which belongs to his series of ‘Black Paintings’. It is the best comparison I can make after returning from the TechXLR8IoT World Europe Summit in London.

In the painting we see the god Cronos/Saturn, who immutably governs the course of time, devouring one of his sons. I see Cronos as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and his son as the Internet of Things (IoT). The analogy can be carried further – there are other brothers waiting their turn to be devoured by this hungry father. Soon it will be Augmented Reality /Virtual Reality (AR/VR), Blockchain and Digital Twins.

If we look at the Ecosystm global IoT Study, we find that adopters of IoT are developing their capabilities in related technologies, with AI, Machine Learning and Predictive Analytics being the most significant. Very soon the IoT that is part of our lives will have AI embedded in them.

So, if you are still waiting for the IoT boom, this event is a confirmation that IoT is not throwing up many new things at least in Europe. The few IoT companies that exhibited their products and services at Excel London showed nothing that could overshadow the big winner, the ubiquitous father AI.

I have been finding it more difficult to justify coming to these IoT events. However, my role as a speaker and moderator allows me to maintain my influence and keep my followers on social networks, informed. The organisation this year has sought speakers that mix vendor presentations with success stories of clients. But this year neither of them was able to raise the tone of the event. The few large IT firms present such as Microsoft, SAP and Oracle are on the AI bandwagon and their demos on pure-play IoT are oft-repeated.

The larger systems integrators did not have adequate presence either. Many of them should have implemented IoT solutions for years but never really risked investing in IoT, and continue to focus on digitalisation projects, cloud migration projects, products updates and customised developments.

The discussions of the first years of the IoT boom revolved around connectivity, security, IoT platforms, and even business models. Now, nobody is interested in these matters anymore.

There was no significant IoT news during the event. Perhaps the most important announcement was made by Marc Overton who took advantage of his presentation to announce the recent collaboration agreement between Sierra Wireless and Microsoft to claim industry’s first full-stack IoT offerings.

As for my sessions, they mixed IoT and Blockchain, something that would have guaranteed success for attendees two years ago or even last year but that did not arouse great enthusiasm this year. It is evident that both technologies are becoming a commodity. Something that is not bad, since we would stop speculating about possible use cases and actually implement the technology in our lives and businesses.

Do not worry, the life of IoT events continues, and so this week there are three more just in Europe:

Here is what I think event organisers and Tech vendors should keep in mind:

  • Organisers need to find a way to facilitate meetings between vendors and attendants – and focus on how to create indirect lead generation opportunities. This would be mutually beneficial for all concerned.
  • Organisers and exhibitors need to try to reinvent these IoT events where we see IoT present in every corner of the floor, in every stage, in every service (cafeteria, rest rooms, transportation….). We need to breath IoT every minute.
  • IoT vendors need to demonstrate that they are working with partners and not present isolated use cases or demos. We need to see that “intelligent things” from different vendors in the exhibition area are interconnected.

Otherwise the IoT events will continue to drive away both visitors and exhibitors. What would you like to get out of future IoT events? Let me know.

 

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