Archive | October 2013

Diwali Special – ” Preferred October Tidings, U.S.A.”

     Congressional Celebration of  ‘Diwali’ – Festival of Lights –  the First ever  on  October 29, 2013 signifies a strong cementing force between India and U.S.A.  reinforcing the compassion, endurance and patience of the people of the two great democracies in the world.  I pick the following 5 key October events that will have Global significance in their respective sectors:

     1.   “Business”  :                ‘Twitter sets the price for IPO’

     The acushla of Social Media,  Twitter,  disclosed its plan to sell 70 million shares at  $17 to $20 each.  Expected to raise about $ 1.3 billion. Twitter is expected to be valued at $10 billion excluding options. Include that, and it will be valued at $ 12 billion. This will put  Twitter more than three times as big as one of the first Internet giants  AOL, but only a fraction of  Facebook, the last big Internet  IPO,  which has a market value of  $127 billion.

     (a)  Is pricing it low (though several reasons are adduced) a prudent measure  OR  being too cautious?

     (b)  Will its decline in growth of numbers, specially this year compared to 2011-2012 ,  affect its performance?

     (c)  Will Twitter change the pricing gauging the response to its road shows?  Will Twitter change the pace  of competition and growth strategies of Internet players?

 

     2.   “Education”  :   ‘Education  &  Career  Prospects in  U.S.A.’

     Global Research Company, Yougov,  has released its latest finding how applicants and their parents choose Colleges. The majority of the Nation (54%) says a College Degree is Beneficial but not Essential to succeeding later in life – while just 12% say a degree is not essential to a successful career.  Only 51% of nation says ‘only certain subjects’  justify the expense of a college education.  Out of these 84% say that Engg & Tech degrees are more valuable.  Art & Design degrees were seen as worth by only  8%. About 38% of college graduates are not in “Bachelor’s degree”  jobs in reality.  Cost trumps education.

     (a)  Will this scenario have a serious impact on Innovation,  Creativity  &  Progress of the Nation known for its path-breaking  innovation  and as a consequence impact the prosperity of the world?

     (b)  Which level of degree be optimal for a decent job and quality of life in future?

     (c)  What will be the changing role of Technology in influencing careers ?

 

     3.  “General”  :   ‘Happy  Birthday  UN – Ted Turner marks  UN  Day’

     On  United nation’s  Day  (24  Oct 2013),  United Nations Foundation Founder  & Chairman  Ted Turner released a statement to commemorate “United Nations Day”   which marks the 68th Anniversary of when the UN Charter went in to effect. ” The United Nations is the world’s platform for peace & progress.  Today’s  toughest issues know no borders  …  Strong  US engagement at the UN is essential to advancing  America’s ideals & interests  and to promoting Global peace and security. ..”   More than 100 events were hosted in Communities around the country.  

     (a)  Ponder why UN is really Great ?

     (b)  What every citizen can do to support  UN’s  Goals?

     (c)  World remembering Woodrow Wilson’s  World Vision.  Pulitzer Prize writing author  A Scott Berg : new book “Wilson”

 

     4.   “Central Bank”  :   ‘Janet Yellen to be the next Fed Chairman’

     President Barack Obama will nominate Janet Yellen ( Vice Chairman of the Fed since 2010 ) as Chairman of the Federal reserve which will put the most powerful Central Bank in the hands of  the First female  Leader in its 100 year history.  Yellen, 67, would succeed Ben Bernanke whose term expires on January 31, 2014.

     (a)  Will Janet Yellen taper the QE or make different changes  for better ?

     (b)  Will she say anything different to the people of America about Monetary policy and how that can impact Global economy?

     (c)  Will she take the pride of America to a new level ?

 

     5.   “Government”  :   ‘Debt  Ceiling  resolved’

     President Barack Obama signed the Bill passed on 16th October ’13  by Congress to end  Government  Shutdown and raise the Debt Limit.  Government employees returned to work on Thursday ( Oct 17,  2013)  morning.  The deal will finance the Government through January 15, 2014,  and raise the debt limit through February 7, 2014.

     (a)  Will there be another deadlock and will the Government be undermined?

     (b)  Has Obama’s  Leadership Skills  prevailed under the circumstances ?

     (c)  What is the fate awaiting the  Affordable  Care  Act   OR   Cuts in spending and how it will impact the citizenry in the next round of budget talks ?

 

     “Dieu  avec  nous”

 

     October 28,  2013 –  Monday  –   3.45 p.m.  (IST)

 

 

 

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Evolutionary Infotainment & Connectivity – Volvo’s Model

     Autonomous cars and flying cars are still oneiric with no reality in sight.  But the expectations and aspirations of today’s  connected genre  (fb connections apart)  demand conveniences  that limit the possibilities of imaginations  and increase the challenges of the manufacturers and the app developers manifold.  Yes,  I am referring to the generational growth of  Infotainment and Connected abilities of the CARS that have become an integrated part of our lives, specially in Cities.  A survey shows that about 50% of the world’s population lives in cities and it is set to grow to 75% by 2050.   City  infrastructure   in every country struggles  to keep pace with  Population Growth.   Also,  Car is no longer a  ‘status symbol’  (it used to be in the 50s & 60s here in India) for city dwellers  but a provider of a  ‘timely service’  enabling an individual’s  commuting conditions.  Infotainment  is an  added value.  Cars will get connected too in future  playing a greater role in collecting, processing, and delivering enormous data (say about location just to cite one parameter) to handle the issues.  Computer scientists  of companies – like those in Big Data –  will need to have their sleeves rolled up to bring grist to the mill.  Apps developers can have their fertile imagination  move forwards & backwards;  sidewards;  replicating the possible movement of the present day cars.  Up and down only when flying cars become a reality !

     “Volvo”  has taken the first step Towards the new tech christened    “Sensus Connected Touch”  which turns the 7″ display in the dash in to a state-of -the-art  Infrared,  beam-scanned  touch screen one can use even when wearing gloves –  a World  First in Companies.  It allows drivers to be able to stream music with a 3G/4G dongle or via the driver’s mobile phone connection through their dashboard.  This  NEW  TECH  responds to demand from drivers for consumption of music on road combined with Volvo’s safety Value.  The tech also includes access to  1000s of radio stations from all over the world.  System is based on android tech.  Other apps available via Sensus Connected Touch include  Google maps,  TuneIn,  iGO  navigation,  and an app store for new functions and updates.  Internet data can also be transferred via WiFi between the mobile phone and  Sensus Connected Touch  &  WiFi network can be shared with everyone in the car  when using a dongle.

     This went on sale as recently as May 2013 and can be fitted in all Volvos. ( V40;  V40 Cross Country;  V60;  V70;  XC60;  XC70;  S60 &  S80).  Haken  Hellman,  Product Manager  says :  “The  intuitive user interface,  a very  rapid  browser response,  and the wide choice of around 20 functions and apps are benefits that makes Sensus Connected Touch  outstanding compared with our main competitors.”

     An exciting  EVOLUTION in store  for  Consumers,  Car  Manufacturers  &  Mobile field operators.  Even more exciting will be for the discerning graduates whose thought processes the tech  can accend.

     Tech has always enthralled me and I view tech as not just a means to enhance the quality of life of  the human being;  but to arouse the grey matter  to  explore further.  True merit and value of a brief outline of a new tech like this lies in adding value in terms of substance/impact   OR  possible aspects of future diagnosis/exploration(s).  That is the take-away for the gourmand in terms of intellectual food. I  stick to this rigid rule in all my pieces (either embedded in the text itself for the reader to discern and discept or stated explicitly in the opening or concluding part)  to make it meaningful, relevant  and  useful.   In this context I provide the three following aspects for detailed scrutiny and investigation(s) :

     1.   What  Business Models  will create value in Connectivity  to  Customers ?

     2.   What compelling  Infotainment that the users will be willing to pay for ?

     3.   Can the ‘Cloud’ enable the delivery of in-car-services and if so how ?

 

     “Dieu avec nous”

 

     October  26,  2013.  (Saturday)   3.15  p.m.  (IST)

    

“Zeroth Neural Processing Unit” – ‘coup de maitre’ from Qualcomm.

     Central Nervous System has been our Communication center for ages.   Smartphones (mobile devices) will soon be taking that place in our lives.  Can you imagine a smartphone which can see, hear and detect movement like an individual ? How will it be if it can mimic perception,  cognition,  emotion,  visual processing, recognition,  orientation,  memory,  higher information processing, reasoning,  …  ?  A new class of Processors mimicking  Human Perception and  Cognition called Neural Processing Units (NPUs) is set to revolutionize and alter the landscape of Computing with ‘serial architecture’  advancing to ‘parallel architecture’  with unlimited possibilities.  The Company in the center of focus is “QUALCOMM” which is on course to make Computer chips  with a new processor design  “mimicking the human Brain and the Nervous System.”

     That nimble robots engaged in some basic human activities is just a portent.  Use of processors/chips to aid several activities is also known. Scientists have also been attempting to build artificial neural networks which seek to mimic brain processes since the 1940s when Donald Hebb articulated the Hebbian Learning Process. It is becoming a reality now.

     The NPUs are branded  “Zeroth”  after the  Zeroth law from Isaac  Asimov’s Robot novels.  It will enable applications ranging from Artificial Vision sensors to Robot Controllers and even Brain Implants – Qualcomm Chief Technology Officer  Matt Grobb said in a talk during MIT Tech Review’s  EmTech  Conference 10 – 12 days ago.  The ‘neuromorphic’  hardware is biologically inspired – a completely different architecture – and can solve a different class of problems that conventional architecture cannot.  It really uses  physical structures derived from neurons  – parallel and distributed –  Grobb said.  What is new is the ability to drop down large numbers of these structures on silicon.  It is teaching by means of dopaminer based learning a.k.a. positive reinforcement – not by programming lines of code. The processor will characterize neuron behavior while they send, receive, or process information.  It will also replicate the efficiency with which our senses and brain communicate information, assez bien.

     A version has been already built in to a robotic platform that learns by being encouraged & not by programming.  It already built  a version of chip in to a small wheeled robot that the company trained to move around a playfield stopping at some squares along the way.  Parallel processors are the Future enabling work on a multitude of tasks at once.  Qualcomm sees this new  ‘Zeroth’  sitting aside the  ‘Snapdragon’ processing what our eyes, ears, skin, nose and mouth all produce giving the real sensory experience of the Brain enabled one in us. Human brain uses neurons to  to pass information.  Zeroth, they claim is scalable to 10 million neurons at present. It passes data in the form of small ‘spikes’ – akin to neurons sending electrical impulses in brain –   and when they run in parallel   (parallel processing  as opposed to serial processing) it becomes a large amount of information.

     Qualcomm Director of Business Development,  Samir Kumar said that they will “define and standardize”  an NPU architecture which could be used in stand-alone devices or in conjunction with traditional microprocessors and even live  side-by-side in future system-on-chips. They vouch that the model can be used to  ‘train’  a future cellphone. A cellphone is a kind of robotic device but only it lacks arms and legs,  they also claim.

     Will this give a leg up to Qualcomm in their race with other mobile chip makers ?   IBM and research partners Cornell University and iniLabs have now completed the second phase of their $53 million systems of  ‘Neuromorphic  Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) project.  With $12 million in new funding  from the  Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA)  IBM said work was set to commence on Phase 3  which involves developing intelligent sensor networks built on a “brain-inspired chip architecture”  using a scalable interconnected, configurable network of  “neurosynaptic cores.” Also refer : ” IBM scientists show Blueprint for Brainlike Computing.” Aug 8, 2013; Computing News.

     Intel is also developing similar technologies. Also refer : ” Intel reveals Neuromorphic Chip Design.” – Computing News, June 2012.

     I always remain captivated by Technological advances and I am a fan of Qualcomm too.  Will the  ‘zeroth’  chip narrow the gap between human brain and computer in the race to supremacy?  Will ‘zeroth’ take the consumers’  admiration to a new high?  Will the reviewers,  journalists, and users be impressed?  These are what  many will be eagerly looking forward to in the coming months.

     I’ll keep a watch and follow it with interest to post further.

 

     “Dieu  avec  nous”

 

     October 25,  2013 ;    Friday;    4.20 p.m.  (IST)

    

    

Big Data – Microsoft’s Field of Sight.

     Just a couple of days ago (on 22nd Oct) in my post on this topic at the end, I promised to sketch a brief outline of Microsoft’s robust tools driving the Big Data forward separately.

     Here it is for you :

     In the present social world we live in now,  things go viral in a hurry and when they do, they need computation that will scale elastically with it.   “Big Data =   fb … +  mobile devices +  Cloud.”   Hence,  the importance and primacy of Big Data today.   A survey showed that  Companies view growing data volumes as an important business asset.  Approximately  62% of respondents currently store at least  100 terabytes of data.  That is really huge – a goldmine –  if collected,  analysed  and  inferred  can be of enormous benefit(s)  to enterprises.

     Not  long ago Big Data has been the asthore of the Technology Reviews and publications. It has now graduated to the hub of Business groups/meets/conferences.  With it, a new vista of opportunity combining research, investigation and application has opened up with enterprises leaping into the band wagon (rightly so)  in an effort to realize its full potential.   MICROSOFT  has been quick to ramp up its strategy to enhance and optimize businesses with New Tools of Big Data Analytics.

     1.  Early in June this year,  Microsoft ( one of the first to dwell deep into this)  proposed  Integrated Solutions addressing the changing operational and business requirements of ,  specially,  the  Oil & Gas Industry.  The scenario was quite opportune.  Surging Oil demand has been accompanied by a shortage of skilled manpower in Exploration and Production.  Microsoft enabled the organizations/enterprises involved to achieve an excellent depth of Decision-Making  by its skillful handling of the humongous data reliably and securely  to provide a sort of an elixir to them.  Better Cost Control,  Faster time to market from exploration & production,  refining,  and  retail,  while establishing an efficient  Product Life cycle Management (PLM)  in a sustainable fashion  are the fruits.

     2.  Microsoft has also made the effective use of  “Visualization  Technologies”  to give Enterprises a better insight into their  manufacturing and marketing operations.  It supports timely and profitable  outcomes.  ( Refer :  penaenergy.com  for web cast viewing  via  tablets and smartphones )

     This is just the tip of the iceberg for Microsoft’s emerging technologies in this frontier area.  I am no expert to make any observations except admitting my interest and attempt to study profoundly on the topic; Collected information is culled. The singular effort I make is to relate the information to my thoughts. And that in effect is my labor and thought.  “BIG  DATA”  is  the  “BIG  GAME”  being played out in this extremely competitive  world  and the stake for enterprises not just to step ahead but even to stay afloat  is  critical and vital.

     “Dieu avec nous”

 

October  24,  2013  (Thursday)    3. 35 p.m.  (IST)

 

 

Hyderabad (India) Beckons ‘Pegasystems’ to ‘CHANGE’ business mantra.

     Data explosion is the order of the day.  Companies are waking up to the reality of more data within and outside them.   Companies  today  are  functioning in a  ‘Web World’  where a single customer complaint is more dangerous to their REPUTATION  than even the best efforts of Marketing or Public relations.  Changing business environment needs changing business strategies.  It is in this context that Pega  Developers’  Conference next week intends to make a difference.

     Hyderabad (India),  the gemmy city and home to many avant-gardiste  IT/ITES  companies  with modern infrastructure/exclusive inhabitation centers is set to host a  key  “CHANGE” centered  Conference – 27 & 28 October 2013 –  focusing on Business Process Management (BPM)  and  Customer relationship Management (CRM) with improvements in  Productivity  and  Customer Loyalty.    Organised by “Pegasystems”,  a renowned software producer in the above areas based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, U.S.A.,  with offices in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific,  the conference is expected to showcase  “Pega 7”  the latest  ‘Build for Change Platform’ .   About 45 Tech sessions, 1700 delegates, Training on latest versions of the systems,  and a Tech Pavilion with live insights and demonstrations to make everyone  ‘Pega ready’  are the major benefits – says  John Berone,  Vice-President, Strategic Alliances for Pegasystems.   Gartner  provisions  Pega  as a Leader in  2013  for the  CRM  Customer Engagement Center.

     The conference participation and deliberations will be a boon to a wider cross section of companies in various sectors as  “Financial Services;  Insurance;  Health Care;  Communications;  Media;   Life sciences  and  Public sector.” 

     “Customer is the Real King in the Web  World” –  says  CEO  Alan Trefler.  Echoed also by  the  CFO,  Craig  Dynes. Pegasystems is known for doing things in varying ways going through various permutations to bring the ‘best-in-class’  product(s) to the market.  Pega  “Automates work;  Adapts in real Time;  Adds Actionable Insights”.  It eliminates operational  silos to bring new end-to-end process efficiency to every Organization. Pega is simple; delivers ideal customer experience while maximizing  customer relationship.  “Pega software boosts Productivity; Unification is better than Integration;   Improves Productivity and increases Customer Loyalty.” says the CEO.

     Gold dust in store for all participants and delegates.  An opportunity to take back more than what anyone will give.  Knowledge, Application and Profits in ‘one package’ is the rare gift.  A fitting possibility for those wanting to “CHANGE  COMPANIES  BIG.” What more can I say here ? 

     “Be Different;   Do  Different;  and  Make  Different”   –  Your ultimate Gain without any Pain. What more can the Conference offer ?

 

     “Dieu  avec  nous”

 

     Wednesday,   October  23,  2013;    6. 10 p.m.  (IST)

“Big Data Analytics” – Bangalore – Part 2.

     Resuming  my  interest in  Big Data (how long I’ll sustain is anybody’s guess),   and as a sequel to what I put up regarding the international Conference in Bangalore  (this week) in my previous part,  my search and interaction(s) revealed interesting and valuable knowledge driving the accelerated pace  of growth of Big Data.

     A very significant name that emerged is that of Dr Satwant Kaur who has a remarkable history in  IT.   She is also the author of  INTEL’s   “Transitioning Embedded Systems to Intelligent Environments.”  Her achievements earned her the  nickname  “The First Lady of  Emerging Technologies”  in sportive familiarity as she is known in Silicon Valley.  Dr Kaur has 4 patents  while at “Intel” ,  20 distinguished awards,  over 50 papers and publications and several keynote conference speeches. She is currently the Master Solutions Architect at  HP.  She is in California.

     She cited the following 10 Emerging Technologies as chief drivers of Big Data  :

     1.  Column-oriented databases;  2.  Schema-less databases or NoSQL databases;  3.  MapReduce;  4.  Hadoop;  5.  Hive;  6.  PIG;  7.  WibiData;  8.  PLATFORA;  9.  Storage Technologies;  &  10.  Sky Tree.

    (Refer :  10 Emerging Technologies for Big Data  by  Thoron Rodrigues – Big Data Analytics  Dec 4, 2012 )

     Dr Kaur also put forth the idea of “Smart  Cloud”.  Every Computer scientist/specialist will be aware that Big Data and Cloud Computing go heads and thraws.  Smart Cloud tech is emerging and businesses are beginning to adopt. The model, however, is special.  In the emrging model – “Computers are mobile; Devices are connected; Applications are interactive;  Development is collaborative;  and  Service delivery needs to be IMMEDIATE.”   She emphasizes that, “Cloud computing can enable all the capabilities for Businesses while optimizing costs and resource usage since infrastructure (IaaS);  Platforms (PaaS);  and Software Applications (SaaS)  can be delivered on a Usage-based Service Model.”  Despite the rapid pace of developments there still are some gaps  that need to be filled. The Conference, it is hoped, will throw more light on that too. I also feel that as society gets networked the information and data available to be mined will also increase exponentially raising the challenges further.

     Technological marvels are known to bring with them certain associated evils camouflaged in a benign or baneful way and Big Data is no exception,  despite the benefits outweighing shortcomings by a long head.  Big Data also seems to make our  ‘privacy’  a thing of the past.  ( Not in Surveillance or Snowden mode !  huh! )  Predictive analytics seems to have made it too easy to piece together information about individuals regardless of the law.  With more Tech and Best Practices emerging by each passing day it will not be long before this skepticism is submerged.

     Incidentally,  Microsoft also offers some robust tools to manage and drive the growth of Big Data about which I will deal separately soon.  Stay tuned.

     Good Luck and  God Bless,

 

October 22,  2013 –  10.30 p.m.  (IST)

    

“Big Data Analytics” in Bangalore – A new Star in the Enterprise Horizon !

     Great and rapid increase in Business Data information is set to grow more than 40 times to 35 Zettabytes ( 1  zettabyte =  1, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000 bytes ) by 2020,  reports IDC.  Add to that the surfeit of data from us, Consumers,  (data, messaging, chat etc) and the digital information that we generate & use is mind boggling.  It is here that, a new discipline,  ‘Big Data Analytics’,  promises to deal with the challenges & opportunities even while altering the landscape of Future Business in Real Time. Yes;   FUTURE BUSINESS IS REAL TIME.  A new star is born.

     The scenario we face now is  : ” Growing Volume of Data;  Collection of Real Time Information from IT Systems;  Delivering better insight to Decision makers; Affording a better chance of thriving through the Difficult Economy.”  It boils down to  “Real Time Data,  Real Time Decision Making,  &  Real Time Business”,  according to  Dave Loughrey, CIO, of Open Group Systems.  Big Data will become part of wider management strategy of companies in future – says Suranjan Som, Head of BI, Management Group.   Gaining Competitive advantage; Increasing Revenue; Demonstrating Tangible value will become the norms for what one does with Big Data in the next FIVE Years.

     Bangalore, India, is set to witness an INTERNATIONAL MEET under the auspices of IT.biz next week.  The Meet could not have at a more appropriate time than this when  Business challenges force companies to look for Newer approaches to stay afloat.  The meet  will discuss the hidden values to be unearthed through cohesive and coherent approach to Information Management.  ‘Big Data’ is one of the Top Three IT priorities for Enterprises. A key session in this meet will discuss how to mine and monetize this Big Data.  Any discerning Computer Scientist/specialist knows all too well that Traditional Tools like basic Database & Warehouse Management tools cannot process this Voluminous and Complex data.  The Session will discuss the NEWER approaches to understanding the Complexity and Making Valuable decisions with New Tools to capture markets. Computer Scientists/specialists are also conscious of the fact that ‘Volume,  Variety (structured along with variably structured data), &  Velocity’  are the three  “V”s of Big Data.  The session is expected to focus on the  Fourth “V”, i.e the VALUE added.

     2013 is the year of experimentation and early adoption for  Big Data,  says Research V.P. at Gartner,  Frank  Buytendijk.  92% of companies in a study of 720 Organizations  have not taken the initiatives beyond the Planning Stage.  Less than  8% of the Organizations studied actually deployed  Big Data Technologies.

     India deserves to pat itself on its back for being the Early Bird Adopter in Asia of this new discipline/technology.  “A study of 430 mid market companies by Forrester Research reveals that 35% plan to invest in the next two years.  But only 8% of companies planning have a projected or proven Return on Investment (ROI).  Reducing costs is the main focus for  30% while Asset Utilization is 25%.”  This is just a straw in the wind.  However, clarity regarding the Real Benefits,  ROI information,  Various approaches to Adoption, &  Outcome  Ideas – are still lacking  in their planning.

     Have they yielded too early to the hype surrounding the Big Data?  Not many analysts think so; a morale booster for India. The session will, hopefully, deliberate this aspect too. The meet is also expected to discuss  Digital Analytics; Cloud Storage;  Mobility;  R&D;  Consumer Electronics; and Industrial Electronics.

     Will the deliberations of the Meet be the ‘Goose that will lay Golden eggs’  for  all those in the forefront of competition in Business?  The session will, sure, lay a course –  many  believe.  I am not au fait with Computer Science but certainly an avid follower of events in this field.  Stay tuned for more on this in the days / weeks to come !

God Bless

20 Oct 2013;  4.45 pm  (IST)