Innovation: Driven by Startups and enablers of Digital Transformation

There are 4 core enablers of the digital transformation that are key for today’s innovations and technologies. These 4 core enablers are:

  • Automation
  • Connectivity
  • Digital data
  • Digital customer access

In addition to these core enablers, there are interdependent / correlated enablers of course, i.e. cloud computing, adaptive manufacturing, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, the internet of things, etc.

Leveraging these enablers lead to so-called Smart Products and Smart Services which heavily base on collected data (from Big Data to Smart Data), hence create an ideal Product-Market-Fit and at the same time accelerate innovation cycles and the competitive pressure.

A Smart Product can stand for very different tangible assets and therefore includes complex industrial machines and plants as well as privately used devices e.g. in a smart home and even your smartphone. Within the industrial sector, smart products (technical systems) are usually cyber-physical systems (CPS) that allow the coupling and coordination of computing power and mechanical elements. These products or systems typically “talk” to each other (machine-to-machine; M2M) and exchange relevant operational data, which they typically collect using different sets of sensors, and they can event (re)act on that data using actuators.

Smart Services are individually configured packages of (smart) products and services over the Internet. The focus is on private and commercial users. With the help of digital data from all areas, smart services are tailored to their preferences and situation-specific “as a service” to generate value-add. Digital platforms and marketplaces play a central role: Here, products and services are displayed virtually, combined, refined with additional digital services and offered as smart services.

A smart product typically ends up in a smart service, and both nowadays are mainly created / invented by startups. Not only since founding a startup has never been so easy – just take a look at all the crowdfunding possibilities – but also due to the importance of diversity and culture within a company: corporates typically do struggle with employee engagement and with their amount of hierarchy levels, which makes them very slow in becoming digital leaders:

DMM

Hence today, corporates do rely on startups, driving external innovation or by hiring from or M&Aing them, but also using accelerators, incubators and innovation hubs and labs to not doom in the digital transformation age.

Cheers,
Sebastian

eSports – Boom!

Since eSports is one of the trendy business opportunities this year, let’s take a look at its potential today and in the coming years. The industry is still in its infancy with great commercial chances across several areas, such as:

  • Infrastructure / Hosting
  • Accessories / Merchandising
  • Betting
  • Training / Teaming-Up
  • Events / Tournaments
  • Streaming
  • and much more…

eSports report - statistics excerpt

In Newzoo’s 2017 report on the eSports market they predict growth rates of almost 36% CAGR till 2020 to roughly €1,3 billion globally. Well that’s not huge but don’t forget that the amount of market-players is rather small compared to other more mature, saturated markets. Following to the report, today the majority (51%) of eSports enthusiasts – that’s the frequent watchers – is in APAC, with a forecasted global audience growth of roughly 20% CAGR till 2020 to 589 million fans; thereof 303 million occasional viewers. An important metric in this space, like across the entire Media & Entertainment vertical, is the total revenue per fan. The US National Foodball League (NFL) – which is the most commercial league globally – generates €37,80 per fan. The average revenue per eSports-fan in 2017 is expected to be €3,15 and €4,50 by 2020. But there are big regional differences between Europe, NA, etc. So take a look at the entire report for more details:

To summarize some key takeaways, I would also like to bring in a few facts from Business Insider:

  • eSports is still a nascent industry
  • It is undervalued at the moment
  • Potential revenue streams are widely spread across the entire space
  • Traditional sport clubs have great opportunities to enter the market, although the markets/target groups differ
  • VR and AR companies are predicted to benefit greatly from eSports

If you are interested in business opportunities within eSports and/or eGaming, feel free to reach out to me. Same if you’re planning to launch an eSports/eGaming business or would like to discuss go-to-market approaches.

Cheers,
Sebastian

My Bot and I – Digital Learning, Working and Living

Bots and other digital assistants, which interact with people in natural language and support us in a multitude of ways, have been the subject of many companies at least since Microsoft’s Build Conference 2016. Certainly, bots are only one form of the digital transformation, but there is no doubt, they are one of the fastest growing.

Why?
Well, here are some of the key reasons:

1. Ease of use
Bots can be controlled by natural language. Everyone can use them. Users do not have to first learn where a particular menu item or function is hidden, which best practice must be adhered to, or which keyboard commands are valid.

2. Versatile valuable data collection
In addition to voice recognition (paradigm shift from graphical user interfaces to conversational user interfaces), bots are also able to recognize emotions and gestures (and much more) of the user if desired. They could, for instance, recognize if someone is falling down and call for help. In addition, the entire context of a user can be better captured, which can lead to completely novel data correlations; e.g. checking how much more satisfied and productive employees are after switching to S/4 HANA.

3. Artificial Intelligence learns at every minute
Bots can also use cognitive technologies to learn by themselves. The more questions they answer and the more data they collect, the more cunning cognitive bots become. They are similar to a child who brings a certain DNA and then learns through education, social interaction, further education, and so on.

4. Automation of processes
Bots can be provided in a variety of ways, with different skills, knowledge levels, personalities, and connections to other bots, as well as software applications, or hardware (e.g., smart homes, smart factories, or smart offices). They can be equipped and expanded with a wide variety of sensors and with very practical as well as versatile actuators.

It is therefore not surprising that bots have been used by companies worldwide for a long time, across all industries. CB Insights presented a great overview in September 2016 (https://www.cbinsights.com/blog/corporate-chatbots-innovation/), listing bots from companies like Taco Bell, Domino’s, Burger King, Yahoo, AT&T, CNN, KLM, Fox News and many more.

Bots are already part of a wide range of business processes worldwide. Often even without the user noticing it. And even in the private sphere, language-driven assistants such as Cortana, Siri or Echo already are a cross-generation paradigm; especially in Asia and North America.
Another “trend” of digitization is the reduction of business process outsourcing (BPO) projects worldwide. Alone between 2010 and 2014, the outsourcing industry in India, one of the most important BPO countries, has halved according to KPMG. (https://assets.kpmg.com/content/dam/kpmg/pdf/2016/02/bots-in-the-back-office.pdf)
Shared services organizations and/or outsourcing customers increasingly rely on so-called Robotic Process Automation (RPA) rather than on human workers or traditional off- or near-shoring anymore, since RPA provides 20% to 30% higher savings than BPO engagements.

RPA solutions can, however, experience an analogous advancement here. Traditional RPA tools are based neither on bot technologies nor on artificial intelligence. They are also detached from single-source-based content creation. This means that, for example, process documentation, training documents and the automation projects must be created and maintained independently of one another with increasing overhead.
But what happens when you combine bot technologies, artificial intelligence, RPA and single-source-based authoring tools?

Got curious? Comment here or reach out to me if you want to discuss…

Cheers,
Sebastian

Social Robots – An introduction to the robotics market

Let’s dive a bit into the robotics market today.

There are two main categories of robots: industrial robots, which we know from the automotive, high tech and other verticals. And there are service robots, which we find in hospitality, healthcare, but also at home, like vacuum cleaners for instance. Following research done by KPMG, there are roughly 30 million robots active today. 6% of these are industrial robots, and 94% are service robots.

The social robots form a special class of service robots; Currently there are approximately 2,2 million active social robots, which corresponds to 8% of all service robots. They interact and communicate on an emotional, personal level with people, and not just with other robots. They react differently to the respective individual. They are integrated into daily life and replace, because of their nature/ability to interpret and imitate human behavior, in some cases even human relationships – especially in Asia, where (social) robots are already common and even participate in family life; The best known and probably the most widely used bot is certainly Pepper, which is available since mid 2015 and (according to Inc) sold more than 7.000 times alone in Japan already – however the Kirobo Mini, Buddy, Kuri and other bots, will certainly create some demand in Europe and the USA as well.

But also service robots that do not accompany us directly in our daily lives or don’t live with us in our own home can be social. For example, such bots interact with us in hotels, hospitals, shops, museums, etc. (e.g. relays, LEA, Oshbot, …) – although these service robots are not really socially, as they replace jobs, they are also classified as social robots. Ultimately, the built-in sensors, actuators and the brainware (an artificial intelligence/cognitive computing thing) are decisive for the perceived “social behavior”.

Examples of sensors might be video and audio – e.g. via webcams, microphones – but also geo-coordinates, temperature, pressure, light/brightness, acceleration, ionic strength and many other measurable variables.

Actuators or triggered actions can be virtually anything: dialogues with a person, other robots or even with your smart home, sending information/alarms, making the robot move/drive, etc.

Apart from the hardware and software of the sensors and actuators in robots, social robots do in addition have a that brainware piece, which allows the the robot to learn and “develop” itself; It represents more or less the personality and logic of the bots, the cognitive abilities, and generates the actions due to the sensory inputs.

For instance, when the sensor system films a face, the brainware is responsible for face, emotion, and speech recognition, and more. It decides/interprets how a person feels, whether she is alone, what the person is doing or maybe has just fallen, and it can even make recommendations for action. The brainware that is created/growing by machine-learning is an essential aspect of cognitive computing and artificial intelligence. In one of my next posts, I will tell you more about cognitive computing – so, stay tuned.

Cheers,
Sebastian Grodzietzki

Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality… and Microsoft’s great new Go-to-Market Strategy

The virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) markets become more and more interesting…and mainstream. Crosscheck here with Gartner’s Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies from 2015: http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3114217 …and 2016: http://www.gartner.com/newsroom/id/3412017

Sure it will still take a bit, but I bet you it will go much faster, more common and longer-lasting than the (home) 3D market. You wonder why I’m so sure about that? Well, let me name the current players, and a fantastic strategy……the currently dominating market players at first, following a recent Business Insider report (http://www.businessinsider.de/microsoft-shows-off-hololens-power-2016-10):

  • Google,
  • HTC,
  • Samsung,
  • Sony, and
  • Facebook-owned Oculus.

(get some details about their VR headsets here: Google Daydream View, Oculus RiftHTC ViveSony PlayStation VR and Samsung Gear VR)

And now…the new kid in VR-town: Microsoft
Well, some of you might say now: huh? Microsoft? What about that Microsoft HoloLens?
Oh well, that’s an augmented reality headset.

Let me quickly get into some basics on VR vs. AR:
Virtual reality (VR) uses a headset to block the world around you and deep dive into stereoscopic, 360-degrees virtual worlds, to make you forget where you are and feel like you are anywhere else. Leading VR headsets are connected to a powerful gaming PC via cable, others use a console or a smartphone to display content to a user.

Augmented reality (AR), in contrast to VR, blends the live view of your real world, either through a camera or directly through clear lenses, along with virtual objects or animations put into/on top of this real situation. AR is able to analyze your surroundings and add content to it so that the virtual may seem interacted with the reality. This way you could see Pokemon Go monsters, or any other digital object, sitting on your couch for instance.

Alright, so we got that.

Now, what about Microsoft? Natya Sadella, Microsoft’s CEO, initiated a great strategic move: Microsoft is going to create a new, more advanced, VR+AR headset…and provide it to their partners for OEM business. Wanna know some of those partners? …here we go:

  • HP,
  • Dell,
  • Lenovo,
  • Asus, and
  • Acer.

You know what that means? Hm, maybe bundles of (all) new laptops and PCs with VR/AR headsets from Microsoft?

Plus, the current market players will continue to bring the technology to smartphones and consoles anyway.

So…the only thing left for mainstream is…?
Content!! (ok, besides a bit more hardware power to get rid of cables, and to improve the display resolution ;))

But yes, the VR/AR content needs to be created…and it will be…
Not only the applicability in private and business of VR/AR is much bigger than with 3D. Also, the invest is smaller.

Let’s look at some facts of that upcoming Microsoft headset – an excerpt from above mentioned Business Insider report:
Less space requirements. The devices will have inside-out tracking, a technology also introduced during Facebook’s Oculus event, that allows the headsets to track users’ movements without additional sensors. This means the devices require less room, which could encourage buyers with limited space to purchase them. Low price point. The devices will start at just $299, vastly undercutting many existing products from competitors, like PlayStation VR and HTC Vive, which can cost as much as $800.”

And what are some of the areas/industries leveraging VR/AR already and within the next few quarters?

  • Healthcare/medical, i.e. teaching students and realtime surgery support,
  • Media and Entertainment, mobile, console and PC gaming,
  • Travel/tourism,
  • Publishers,
  • E-commerce merchants,
  • Social platforms, and
  • …of course: Marketing/ads

So, now…content is key to attract more users……let’s build some… 😉

Cheers,
Sebastian Grodzietzki

Work-life-balance…when will we finally make it…seriously?

Four generations at work…and who pushes the so-called work-life-balance into our lives? It’s not the mature generations, not the ones with a majority on this planet, not the ones working since ages. It’s the youngest, the ones which just enter the marketplace…

That’s sort of weird, right? Why is everyone talking about work-life-balance right now and not during the past decades? Didn’t jobs in general become physically easier, less dangerous, more fun, and better paid? So, why now? Is it the growing amount of burnouts, or the (related) fear of losing your job if you (or your child) get sick, forcing you to stay away from your workplace? And how does all of that relate to YouTubers, bloggers, and the global crowd of mind- and content-sharing individuals?

First of all, we need to make clear that for some the so-called work-life-balance still is just a buzzword. If work-life-balance would be taken seriously, then why would we still need to ask for a day of vacation? Shouldn’t there be – at least – a contingent of days which we can just take without asking for it and potentially getting a “no”? And why should the amount of vacation days be limited? If work would be integrated into life, then there is not even a real need to take “days off”. Think about it: vacation today means, that you are leaving work (the workplace) behind you, ignoring it, happily. As long as that is the case, there cannot be a “work-life-balance”. We are not leaving our life behind when we go to work either, do we!?!

I’m a generation Xer – not even a millennial  – although I really do experience in my own working habits and style since the last few years that I did and do change…and I also feel that change is happening anyways, and it’s ok to adjust…

Just look at Sweden: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/sweden-introduces-six-hour-work-day-a6674646.html

Sweden’s companies are broadly reducing the working time by 25%. And guess what: the profitability – and “balance”, happiness, the well-being – increases. In fact, companies doubled their profits…though less time is spent by each individual at work (6 instead of 8 hours a day)…

And now let’s take a look at some reports on HR and the workforce of tomorrow…like, in 3-5 years from now: no matter if you look at studies from Eversheds, Winmark, KPMG, Manpower Group, IT-daily, or others’ research findings: http://www.hrgrapevine.com/content/article/2016-03-01-this-is-what-hr-will-look-like-in-2020
Our working habits, times, locations, preferences, etc. are changing heavily. Just look at BYOD initiatives which finally arrived in pretty much every company: if you do not allow a 25 year old to use his own mobile…and btw: support working from home or wherever else outside the office, you will not be able to hire (or keep) them…

Just a small excerpt from one of many HR 2020 reports (linked above): “…casual hours, flexible work arrangements and part retirement will all become normalized.
…results showing a more flexible, diverse and skilled workforce than ever before.”

Looking at other sources like Süddeutsche Zeitung, Spiegel or blogs from FAZ to Xing…it becomes clear that self-marketing will become more important than ever too…

Since the (new) crowd-based, event-driven, part-time, project-wise “gig economy” is growing significantly, it’s of massive importance to learn how to market yourself. In future, we will be working on more specialized tasks, regularly pitching against other individuals, from home (or from a café, a co-working place, or who knows from where), for just one hours or a few days, project per project…when we think we need to…

YouTubers , bloggers and other social media ninjas are doing that day in, day out already. Why? Because they like it. They present themselves. Share everything. And what they do in leisure time, they will and be able to do in business, and maybe even just expect from their job. They grow up with all of that Facebook, crowd-funding, Snapchat, bots, IoT and more fancy social internet tools and gadgets…there is (probably) no way they would change the way they are, the way they life……we all are building and changing the world together…and we do that faster than ever before…thanks to the internet, the digital transformation…and guess who changes most…the ones which post, tweet, like, …

Well, so what is that doing to our work-life-balance?

What are your thoughts on this?

Please share!

Cheers,
Sebastian Grodzietzki

Post-Holiday-Syndrome…or: I hate my job! – A survival guide…

Dear All,

I’m actually not quite sure why people are complaining about their jobs, their colleagues, or their boss over and over again, instead of changes something………my credo is: love it, change it, or leave it…

Anyways, for those of you who return from vacation and hate to get back into the office, the so-called “Post-Holiday-Syndrome” can get compensated by these measures, following to Süddeutsche Zeitung:

  • Office Gossip: yip, you’re part of a soap…we all are…and there is always someone with greater problems than yours… 😉
  • Good coffee: enjoy the taste and the caffeine boost
  • Don’t think too much about day 1, just pop-up in the office and take what comes up
  • Continue (at least a few) of the rituals you had during vacation, i.e. finish the book you started, or wear your sun glasses
  • Put your first day after vacation to a Wednesday or Thursday (or Friday 😉 …get your mails done and enjoy the weekend-break… (btw: I see so many people now doing 4-day weeks, think about it!)
  • Control your bio-rhythm -> go to bed early…and leave your bed/house totally refreshed
  • Put your favorite tasks to day 1: meet the loveliest customers, do a brainstorming to plan the next quarter, etc.
  • Bring a nice souvenir, and put it on your desk – remember, dream, …and dive into work slowly…and not too deep ;D
  • Plan your next vacation…and do not forget talk about it, and the one which just ended… 😉

Cheers,
Sebastian Grodzietzki

Event Update – don’t miss the rest of the 2016 I4.0 event season…

Hey All,

You might have read my brief IFA review…here is what comes up next, and you shouldn’t miss if you’re in innovative technologies, like the Internet Of Things, Industry 4.0 or the Digital Transformation:

29th – 30th September | code.talks 2016 | Hamburg
https://www.codetalks.de
Popcorn, Nachos und Code! It’s one of the biggest developer conferences in Europe, and covers all important trends and innovations.

29th – 30th September | CEE-Economic Forum | Velden (Austria)
https://www.forumvelden.at
Future markets – Export, Digitization, Industry 4.0
The 50 most exciting start-ups from east and southeast Europe will be there.

4th – 6th October | IT & Business 2016 | Stuttgart
http://www.messe-stuttgart.de/it-business
It’s the most important event for digitized (and digitizable) business processes and solutions, and it unifies all IT topics of companies within a single event.
-> I will be there in case you would like to meet and network a bit… 🙂

27th – 28th October | IoT Day 2016 | Stuttgart
https://www.t-systems-mms.com/unternehmen/events-termine/detail/iot-day-2016/27/10/2016/event.html
Learn how to manage the complexity of Internet Of Things (IoT) solutions.

8th November | Digital Transformation Exchange | Cologne
http://dialogum.de/wirtschaftsgipfel/digital-transformation-exchange-2016
The Digital Transformation and IoT event with CxOs from all industries.

Let me know if you have other important events to add!

Cheers,
Sebastian Grodzietzki

Reviewing IFA 2016 – Internationale Funkausstellung Berlin

Hi All,

I was joining this year’s IFA in Berlin as one the 240.000 visitors. It was a great show, and was pleased to see so many (young) start-ups there.

In fact, IFA had 13% more exhibitors than 2015, and was the biggest IFA ever – at least from an “amount of exhibitors” point of view. 1823 companies generated a (potential) order volume of € 4,5 billion (for the digital natives: that’s the number when you have to flip your smartphone over to make the calculator except such a huge amount of digits ;)) – anyways, on average that’s € 2,5 million in revenues per exhibitor…theoretically…

What where the hottest topics:

  1. Virtual Reality – honestly…all over the place
  2. TVs …TVs…and more TVs…yes very smart ones of course
  3. Drones..in several flavors…and they performed great artistic air shows…
  4. Smart homes…and connected devices….
  5. …the rest where all niche products… -> but check out my next blogs on more of those niche vendors…

…and of course I will also do a review of latest VR and smart technologies, besides looking at some smaller start-ups’ technologies…

Stay tuned…

Cheers,
Sebastian Grodzietzki

Arriving in a Digitized World Order?

Hey All,

There was a recent IDC study (Advanced Workplace Strategies in Germany 2016) talking about the quality of workplaces, the generation Y – our millennials – and home offices. The outcome is sort of surprising for Germany: more than each 2nd company wants to create cloud-based workplaces. Why is that surprising? Well only 31% of German companies have a strategy for the “Digital Transformation”, following to Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. So, either there is now a shift happening in German industry’s mindset or…… no, there must be a shift…hopefully!

So what’s on the IT agendas in 2017/2018:

  • IT Security (no wonder, right?!)
  • Modernization of workplaces
  • Lowering IT cost
  • Improved support of business (LOB) processes
  • Faster reaction to LOB requests

This all really plays into the same direction when you look behind it:
IT Security needs to be in place if I want to move to (more) contractors or home offices (or “everywhere-offices” which is the most important requirement to make millennials stay), and this goes hand in hand with modernizing workplaces (making them available remotely via public/private clouds). This then will significantly lower IT cost, and will drive instant, everywhere/day-round LOB support. Also, we see a strong trend of in-application support by context-sensitive (self-paced; so-called employee led) learning…well, if all users get guidance inside an application, whenever or wherever they work…then this will definitely boost performance and at the same time bring down operational IT costs……..I just wonder if all generations are ready for such a new business-world order yet…

Thoughts?

Cheers,
Sebastian Grodzietzki