Who said work isn’t fun?!

In the last fortnight IBM’s Wimbledon in a Box tour has been in Scotland. To jazz things up a little we’ve created our own version of Pharrell’s “Happy”. It’s ridiculous and hilarious.

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June 26, 2014 · 12:11 pm

Happy 25 Years Wimbledon and IBM!

I always think that everyone like’s a birthday and then I’m reminded that there are one or two who would rather forget.

Well, even if you don’t IBM does like a birthday. We celebrated our Centennial a couple of years ago (see this video of all our achievements during that time), and now we’re delighted to be celebrating 25 years with Wimbledon.  (If I’m pedantic I believe it’s our 24th birthday, but we are celebrating working together for 25 years.)

It started when we became official supplier and consultant to The Championships in 1990, and since then together we’ve done cloud – before it was called cloud – and run the website which includes dealing with the fun that happens when the men’s final takes place on the Monday not the Sunday and everyone watches from their work desktop not the TV.

We brought in eCommerce so we can now buy those infamous towels without crossing the entrance at SW19 and even gave people SMS updates of court scores in 2002 long before we all had access to smart phones. Now we have SlamTracker, and the piece I love – the Social Command Centre.  More on that later…

The digital strategy for Wimbledon is “The next best thing to being here”, because despite about half a million people making it through the gates at SW19, nearly 20 million experience it through web, smart phones, tablets and so on.

In a way it starts with data.  And getting the data right.  Of course, the umpire captures the score and drives the scoreboards, which provides some basic statistics.  But IBM captures a far more detailed set of stats such as the direction of serve, speed of serve, return shot selection, number of strokes in the rally and the point ending stroke.  You may have heard that IBM has the biggest mathematics department in the world outside of academia. Well, it seems we are creating our own tennis team too! We have 48 highly trained tennis analysts – county, national and international standard tennis players – who capture the data on the court side.  And we have these people because with an audience of 1.2 billion around the world the quality of the data is absolutely vital and only these tennis players really know what type of shot has just been played and whether an error is forced or not. .

We take data from almost every kind of input data source available such as sensors, counters, video, images, and text.  We also ingest data from social media of all kinds.

And then we do some – lots – of analysis and spit it back out again in ways that are easy for consumers to digest.

So, the data gets sent to the Wimbledon Information System and to the BBC for all the presenters (did you really think they had done all the research themselves 😉 ), to the BBC for the graphics on TV, to the players so they can understand their performance and areas for improvement, and to SlamTracker to make us feel like we are the tennis coaches.

The bit I get most excited about is what we do with the social data that’s available.  This year the Wimbledon Social Command Centre has been launched.  It provides real time insights into social media trends, allowing the Wimbledon digital team to tailor their content according to what fans are interested in. This is all to provide a more engaging experience.  It has cutting edge social media network node analysis to understand who the key influencers are.   This looks at activity versus engagement, dependency, authority, timeliness and followers. And it has practical application, it’s not just a nice to know: on one occasion in 2013 the queue was too long and the All England club wanted to advise people who didn’t already have tickets not to come to Wimbledon that day. Using influencer analysis, the club could discover who had the highest timeliness rating and also strong network authority and could then target those people with communications to get the message out rapidly to the highest number of people.

I’ve already taken part in the Social Hill called Hill v World. The idea is to improve fan engagement on and off-site.  Questions are posed and responses available via Large Screen TV and all digital platforms, including in the Social Command Centre.  Again, this is in support of the next best thing to being there.

You see, social media volumes are increasing exponentially, with a 100% increase in twitter traffic about Wimbledon from 2012 to 2013. It will be fascinating to see how that increases again this year. So, social media has to be a fundamental part of the digital strategy.  Wimbledon has 1.5 million facebook likes, 90K instagram followers, 800K twitter followers and 75K youtube subscribers. That’s potentially a lot of thoughts, opinion and experiences that can be tapped.

(I must stress that social business is so much more than just twitter and social media, but they are a part of it, and are especially interesting from a marketing and customer point of view, and can even inform product development.)

There’s a lot more we do with Wimbledon too.  It takes us 3.5 minutes to provision additional infrastructure when needed, we use Watson to improve the accuracy of those provisioning requirements, and we keep it secure using our Security Intelligence Platform.

There’s a phrase being used a lot these days which I quite like.  It’s “Not your father’s IBM”. Please don’t misunderstand me. We have done a lot of groundbreaking stuff over the last 100 years (see earlier video), all with a lot of relevance.  However so many people still think of us as a hardware business and that we make PCs, and even that we’re old fashioned.  But we sold that PC business back in 2004 and we continue to be relevant and applicable. Our social enterprise software has been named as the global leader 5 years in a row. IBM Interactive Experience is our global digital agency and we’ve recently invested yet more in it – $100M I believe.  In the UK we were announced as number 2 in the Econsultancy UK Top 100 Digital Agencies.

Wimbledon is a great example of that.  Did you know we did so much for them?

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B4C: the new B2C

I think we need to change our vocabulary.

I remember being on a course focused on finances and we were encouraged not to say “CapEx” and “OpeEx” but instead their full phrases “Capital Expenditure” and “Operating Expenditure” so that we would really focus on what they meant.

So while we keep using the phrase “B2C” we are inevitably going to think of it as the same old “Business To Consumer”.  How can I, the Business, sell more to my customer, the Consumer?  How can I make the consumer like my products?  How can I influence the consumer so that they think they need my product?  Essentially, how can I push or sell to my consumer?  It puts the business first.  But these are changing times, we’re moving towards a consumer- or citizen-centric model.

We could say “Consumer From Business” and thus put the Consumer first; but I don’t really like it and so I’m not disappointed that it doesn’t abbreviate well.

So, let’s move the focus away from “To” and instead think of “Business For Consumer”.  That puts the consumer at the heart of what I do because it will make me think how my business caters for that consumer.

BusinessDictionary.com defines “Customer Centric” as

“Creating a positive consumer experience at the point of sale and post-sale.  A customer-centric approach can add value to a company by enabling it to differentiate itself from competitors who do not offer the same experience.”

But that’s not enough really.  For a start it’s pre-sale too.  Am I getting it right up front so that I have the right products for my customers?  If I understand my customers, and most importantly my most profitable customers, I – as a business – should be building my business upon them.  I need to take the lifetime value of a customer into account. My products should be built for them, my offers should be hyperpersonalised to them.

Not that this is easy.  Ever since IT was introduced to everyday business we’ve used it to improve our processes, to make ourselves more efficient.  Our focus has been on our own internal optimisation.  Now we need to look outward for continued optimisation.

We should be aiming to get the right message, at the right time. for our customer, every time.  In reality these days even those who are at the forefront of this may just be wrong less often which in itself is no bad thing, but our target must be getting it right, not less wrong!  We can use many sources of information, and build analytical models to better understand our customers, getting more and more sophisticated until we have a segment of one. We integrate our Systems of Record (the single source of truth, transaction stores, data warehouses, etc.) and Systems of Engagement (the more modern, social, interactive, customer facing front end systems/apps/etc.) and create Systems of Insight which consist of the aforementioned analytical models.

For example, IBM is working on a technology called “System U” which can use fewer tweets than you’d expect (I’m not sure if I’m allowed to share much information about this publicly) – as well as data from other social media sources and enterprise data – to derive a detailed model of an individual’s Big 5 personality traits, values, fundamental needs and social genome (i.e., who they are close to and in what context).  This allows extreme personalisation of offers, at the right time.  I definitely recommend watching the YouTube video but it’ll take an hour of your time.

Of course, if you are a company who has not been capturing email addresses for your customers until recently you may not have the most accurate view of a customer’s preferred channel for communication.  So within a System of Insight a feedback loop is necessary to take what has been successful, what has not, and improve the accuracy of the results of our analytical models.

Which is all very nice in theory.  And although I said that the experience of interaction wasn’t enough it is still extremely important.  In the interest of practicality I think this chart(1) from www.ibm.com is a really useful one to demonstrate how a transportation organisation can move to being customer centric.

Image
But back to my original point: B4C. As consumers our access to mobile technologies is redefining our sense of immediacy, intimacy and efficiency.  We have different expectations of the businesses from which we purchase products; we see ourselves and our opinions as more important and with social technologies allowing us to share our points of view with many, many people whether in formal business or product reviews or just a negative tweet.  And so those businesses have to readjust their thinking and put us first.  They exist because of us and it’s easier now than ever to make that known.
Not B2C.  B4C.

 

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Why has social technology worked?

Today I had the honour of talking at Dundee’s Women in Science festival.  I had picked the subject “What is the Millenial Virtuous Cycle?… and other social impacts”, with the “Millenial Virtuous Cycle” being a rather interesting cycle of innovation being predicted by IBM Research in this year’s Global Technology Outlook (link to 2013’s report) as will become standard – or more standard – in the next five years.

But I introduced the topic by talking about why social technology has been successful, and that there’s a place for social technology for everyone, or rather, for all types of people.

I started by considering Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Diagram showing Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

The first four needs – physiological, security, friendship and love, esteem – are in  way the  more important for if we the fundamental physical needs are not fulfilled we have physical problems, and if the three on top are not fulfilled we tend to become tense and anxious, have psychological challenges if you will.

Friendship and love is interpersonal and concerns our sense of belonging.  We humans need to feel acceptance amongst our social groups, regardless if these groups are large or small.  If we don’t feel love or belonging we can be lonely, anxious and even clinically depressed.  Maslow stated that this need for belonging could even overcome the physical and security needs depending on our culture, the peer pressure placed upon us.

For those who find face to face conversation difficult, or just don’t have people like us around us, social technology offers us the ability to form different social groups than those physically around us.  And for those who find face to face conversations a breeze, well, chances are we like engaging with others in many ways and so social technology offers us yet another way to connect.

Esteem is our desire to be accepted and valued by others, we need to feel resepcted and this includes the need to have self esteem and self respect.   We have a profession or vocation (which perhaps could be more than just a job) and have hobbies in order to get that recognition, to feel like we are contributing, making a difference event.
People with low self esteem often need more respect from others and may even want to seek fame or glory.  What easier way than twitter?!

Again, though, one doesn’t have to have low self esteem to consider using social media, but I can’t remember ever seeing a tweet that said something like “oh, no, not another follower”.

So, perhaps social technology allows us to meet those fundamental needs.

But also, my attention was drawn to a new Harvard report “Disclosing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding“*; so called because that’s exactly what they concluded.

It starts by telling us that studies of human conversations demonstrated that approximately 30-40 percent of our everyday speech contains information about our private experiences or personal relationships.  But surveys of internet use suggest that over 80 percent of social media posts are simply announcements about our own immediate experiences.

It goes on to say that a number of commentators have argued that these unusually high rates of sharing could come from a motivation specific to humans to share our beliefs and knowledge about the world.

As you’d expect from such research the team required empirical support to prove their hypothesis and so they used five studies with a combination of neuroimaging and cognitive methods.

And they did conclude that we humans are motivated to share what we are thinking (or “propagate the products of their minds” as it is more eloquently put in the article), and that opportunities to share our thoughts should be experienced as a powerful form of subjective reward.

We like sharing and social technology helps us doing that.

Which leads me to think, so maybe knowledge is power, but is it more powerful if it’s shared?

* Disclosing information about the self is intrinsically rewarding; Diana I. Tamir and Jason P. Mitchell;  Department of Psychology, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138

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The future of the L&P data centre (part 2 of 2)

In my previous post I started thinking about the influences which will change data centres in Life and Pensions organisations.  There are a few more topics I believe will have an impact.  The first is DevOps.

Introduction of DevOps

It’s more than just one of the latest buzzwords, DevOps is the sort of practice which IBM and the most forward-thinking companies are adopting for continuous delivery of software.  The idea is to better respond to business requirements and to much more quickly respond to market opportunities and balance speed, quality and cost.

Although often described as a new approach to traditional application lifecycle management I tend to think of it more as the next evolution.  We broaden software dev and delivery – using agile and lean principles – to all stakeholders in an organisation that develop, operate or benefit from the business’s systems.  I think the “benefit” piece of that sentence is hugely important, and have been chatting to others about “BusDevOps” because it’s crucial we include the business and correctly assess the importance and relevance of their perceived needs.

DevOps provides greater integration between line of business and IT dev and delivery organisations.  It should address the “Business-IT” gap as well as the “IT-IT” gap.

DevOps is used extensively for Systems of Engagement for expanding customer outreach and enabling an increasingly mobile workplace.  This has particular importance for L&P organisations aiming to benefit from customer insight, and to increase customer engagement and customer transactions.

(You can read IBM’s perspective of DevOps here: http://www.ibm.com/ibm/devops/us/en/)

Next on my list of influences is….

Automation of IT service design and delivery

In this new DevOps environment the importance and relevance of automated provisioning also increases.  Many existing L&P organisations now boast of virtualised infrastructure which provides a solid foundation on which automation can be built, and it that automation should be applied to workflows, provisioning (including dynamic allocation of workload), deployment, discovery of infrastructure elements and their configuration, event resolution, metering and billing.  These latter two in particular are vital in demonstrating the value of technology to the L&P businesses which increasingly see IT as a cost centre and not a value centre; with application of analytics to the finances of delivering IT comes better insight.

Recording and automation of expert knowledge within IT must be considered to support geographically-dispersed organisations, as well as better integrated and policy-based service management.  As capability to allow staff to use mobile devices to work on the move is provided, consideration must be given to ensure that service and IT management via these devices is also possible.  Although self-service portals already exist to allow end users to make technology requests, this should be extended to allow technologists to request provision of environments for development.

And of course, next is…

Adopting Cloud

For existing L&P organisations I would not argue with any decision that Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS) capabilities will be provisioned privately, on premise.

Traditional IT management is centred on the hardware, with a somewhat bottom up approach.  There are many silos: server, storage, network, and homogeneous compute, and there are is often extensive manual process intervention.  But the IT world is moving to new software defined management which is workload aware, with a top down approach. and integrated server, storage and network.  There is heterogeneous compute federation, and it is managed by programmed automation.  Both software and infrastructure have integrated workload patterns exist.  This is the goal which these organisation should be aiming to achieve.

To begin this journey, any internal IaaS and PaaS offerings should be based on a foundation of open standards and interoperable technologies.  A common open-standards based architecture will provide flexibility and choice in how to build and deliver cloud services and we’ll also have greater confidence that technical processes will work together across heterogeneous environments.  This should probably be ITIL compliant, and it should be a fully managed and hosted IaaS and PaaS solution with committed SLAs and management of virtual instances above the hypervisor layer.

To get the cloud strategy right, we have to simplify the delivery of environments, standardising across platforms, and removing the plethora of choice from developers.  For example, IaaS offerings for x86 could be simplified as per the following table.

x86 options 32-bit configurations 64-bit configurations
Small Medium Large Small Medium Large Extra large
Virtual CPUs 1 2 4 1 2 4 8
Virtual memory (gigabytes) 1 2 4 2 4 8 16
Instance storage (gigabytes) 64 128 192 64 128 192 384

Where relevant, mainframe and other enterprise compute should also be included within the cloud environment, this is not just an Intel capability.

Regarding PaaS, each IT delivery organisation should determine the best infrastructure on which each platform should be deployed, again removing choice for the developers, placing power in the hands of those provisioning and operating the environments.  For example, should a business require a business process management environment to develop upon this should be provisioned based upon the workload characteristics, rather than on an individual’s personal technology preference.  It is desirable that this provisioning is automated as far as possible, with human intervention only at approval stages.

Without the constraints and legacy of existing technology any new entrants to L&P may choose to entirely bypass any internal hosting – despite regulatory demands – and to build purely upon cloud, using a combination of IaaS, PaaS and SaaS, perhaps even “Business Process as a Service”.

For any organisation – L&P or otherwise – the success of implementing a cloud-like environment depends upon accurate and mature monitoring, metering and billing to the businesses.  According to the IBM Cloud Computing Reference Architecture, usage can be measured in a number of ways:

Allocation usage: the result of a consumer occupying a resource such that other consumers cannot use it.  For example: the time period IT infrastructure topology (e.g. servers, CPUs, memory, storage, network, database, WebSphere cluster) has been allocated to a particular cloud service.  This is most suitable as a service usage metric.

Activity Usage: The result of activity performed by the consumer e.g. CPUSecs, bytes transferred, etc.  This is most suitable as a cost usage metric.

Action Usage: Actions initiated by the consumer that the provider may wish to charge for or track costs against such as backup/restore server, change virtual server configuration.  This action may or may not involve manual steps.

Software as a Service will become increasingly attractive for certain business requirements, but should be monitored carefully, with a short term target of consolidating any SaaS contracts already in place, as these are likely to have been agreed without any real governance.  In parallel, organisations must develop a proactive strategy for engaging with their business counterparts to influence and govern any SaaS purchase.  Whilst it may continue to be preferable for some organisations to host their internally developed applications and systems of record on premise (especially considering the train of thought that these contain an org’s ability to differentiate and intellectual property), SaaS will be increasingly relevant for commoditised function such as CRM, email, and even analytics.  Note that it is as important to have a SaaS exit strategy, as it is to have one for SaaS usage.

In the new API economy, SaaS may also be offered by a L&P organisation externally in a future state.

Security must be built in to the cloud strategy and implementation, no longer can we afford for it to be an add-on, an afterthought.  Real-time monitoring of data and proactive evaluation of applications must also be implemented.

Conclusion (so far)

The future for the L&P data centre is not just about cloud technology. It’s about streamlining business processes to make the different organisations and people more strategic, more responsive to change and more oriented to service delivery.

At least five steps are now necessary: define a value-driven cloud computing strategy, transition to private cloud quickly and affordably, accelerate software delivery with DevOps, optimise any virtualised infrastructure and secure your cloud across lifecycle and domains.

And I stand by my introduction in my previous post: “Regulatory challenges, internal operational strategy, and intellectual property all influence the future of the data centre in the Life and Pensions sector”…  “Whilst regulatory requirements continue to be immature in comparison with the IT industry’s experience of delivering technology, those responsible for risk will be driven by caution regarding placement of customer data.  Within those constraints, additional questions will continue to be asked regarding placement of homegrown, organisation-specific applications which in their way represent a company’s intellectual property.”

 

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The future of the L&P data centre (part 1)

In response to conversations with some Life and Pensions organisations recently I have been pondering the future of the data centre in that sector.

Regulatory challenges, internal operational strategy, and intellectual property all influence the future of the data centre in the Life and Pensions sector.  Although the provision of information technology is not the key business of an L&P organisation, it is understandable that these influences will result in a desire for a number of these organisations to deliver at least some technology services internally.

Whilst regulatory requirements continue to be immature in comparison with the IT industry’s experience of delivering technology, those responsible for risk will be driven by caution regarding placement of customer data.  Within those constraints, additional questions will continue to be asked regarding placement of homegrown, organisation-specific applications which in their way represent a company’s intellectual property.

The advantages and disadvantages can be debated and in reality, the future for some financial services institutions will be outsourcing of their entire IT estate, for others to maintain their own IT function but to use only cloud, and for others the preference will be to use a hybrid cloud model.

In all honesty, I expect the same considerations and changes will have an impact on all – or most – financial institutions, no matter the specialism, although my expertise across the Financial Services sector varies.

Systems of Engagement are a Driving Force upon the Provision of IT

IT is moving from Systems of Record, focused on transactions, to Systems of Engagement, focused on interactions.  To quote Martin Gale, IBM Client Technical Architect, “Systems of Engagement support consumers and knowledge workers in the achievement of their objectives. Systems of Engagement optimise the effectiveness of the user by providing the required responsiveness and flexibility to deal with the fluidity of everyday life.”[1]  Martin explains that although Systems of Record will continue to have a key role because of their efficiency and robustness in quality of service, they have limitations as they are usually enable only a subset of the process to achieve the real outcome desired, and are constructed from a provider’s point of view rather than the consumer’s.

The Harvard Business Review[2] describes nine traits of Systems of Engagement:

  • Design for sense and response
  • Address massive social scale
  • Foster conversation
  • Utilise a multitude of media styles for user experience
  • Deliver speed in real time
  • Reach to multi-channel networks
  • Factor in new types of information management
  • Apply a richer social orientation
  • Rely on smarter intelligence

These Systems of Engagement will have new workload characteristics such as an integrated lifecycle (through DevOps); rapidly changing, bursty workloads; eventual consistency and continuous availability.  They are enabled by the proliferation of mobile devices, the increasing use of social tools, analytics and big data capabilities, and cloud computing as a delivery model.

As traditional L&P organisations move to a more customer-focused model and greater embrace mobile and social technologies, the underlying platforms must be enabled as systems of engagement.  New entrants to the market will have the advantage with greater flexibility in developing such systems.

Systems of Engagement for blog

Increased Industrialisation of IT

As the architecture management discipline matures further it will be possible to enable standardised and integrated application and infrastructure landscapes underpinned by automation of IT service design and delivery.   A L&P business should have these demands of their IT provider, whether an outsourcer or internal organisation.

IT processes must be made efficient by running on top of an optimised application portfolio and a scalable IT infrastructure.

With increasing pressure on cost of resource the application delivery model, IT service operations, support and management model should be optimised to balance resources.  Alignment of skills should be performed with respect to business requirements; cheapest skills do not always lead to cheapest models.

Although more centralised IT functions have arisen in industry to provide greater control and standardisation, the weight of influence on IT decisions is increasingly coming from lines of business, increasing the importance of alignment of business and IT strategies.  Governance is ever more key to ensure effective and targeted IT service provision, especially where growth means that technology delivery moves to a global model.

Next Time… DevOps, Automation and Cloud…


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Apps in business: bandwagon or reality?

These days everyone wants to access the function they need to do their job in the shape of apps for their smartphones and tablets don’t they?  More and more app stores are available whether iTunes, Windows Store, Google Play, IBM PureSystems Centre, and so on.

A conversation I had recently got me thinking more about how we consume IT and the changes IT delivery organisations will experience.  I also wonder about the hype cycle and where we may be on it these days.

Right now an organisation may find that consumers of its IT want access to just one or two functions via an app, and perhaps 10 apps will be created for 10 different functions.  (By function I do mean one type of interaction with some back end technology, whatever that may be, perhaps searching for client information.  I don’t mean the “Sales” function or other such organisation.)  And that sort of thing is proliferating, so perhaps we’re somewhere between the “Technology Trigger” and “Peak of Inflated Expectations” with lots of these new apps being developed.

But where do we draw the line?  That is, is it realistic or unmanageable to have to navigate between 10 or 20 apps to do one’s job?  As we move more and more to this new model driven by the consumerisation of IT I think we will hit that “Trough of Disillusionment” when it starts to get hard.  As it is I have well over 100 apps on my smart phone, and while very few of them are to do my job,  I expect that to change increasingly.  Management of that is going to be very hard.

apphypecycle

So, I’m thinking about what is next.   Will we ditch our smartphones, tablets and their apps, and go back to a desktop/laptop world to access enterprise applications?  Back to green-screens anyone?  I seriously doubt it.   There will clearly continue to be a place for both.

We’ll mature into a world with more feature-rich apps to allow us to do more from our smart devices in a sensible manner, and with better models for identifying which instruments are best for which tasks.

So, what changes?  Our architects must be able to design technology which has the flexibility to support a number of interaction models, and a variety of performance models, and our requirements gatherers (business analysts, system analysts, etc.) must understand our companies’ business models to better define who needs access to what function and information in what form.   The “business” must get closer to “IT”, DevOps must become BusDevOps, and whilst a technical person may think their business counterparts need to listen more perhaps technical leaders must learn to become trusted advisors.

Analytics will become increasingly important to allow us to understand the non-functional characteristics and apply that knowledge to future developments.  Is it possible for security to be any more important than it already is?  Perhaps not, but we may see more organisations begin to take it more seriously, and we certainly need to adapt our security measures more quickly.

And as these are just my initial thoughts they’ll evolve and mature themselves!

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Don’t be afraid…

… to get it wrong.

That was another conclusion from a Smarter City workshop and I think it’s so important.

Not every good idea will work in every area in every city.  But not every idea that fails in one area will fail in another too.  So don’t be afraid to trial things.

After all, it can be expensive and hard to implement a solution city wide, especially when so many of those that are in the name of sustainability come with results that can be hard to quantify in advance.  So, try them out in a couple of areas; a Proof of Concept is not a bad thing.

Then understand why an idea was successful, or why it was not.  And keep a record.

Of course, wouldn’t it be nice if you *could* predict whether something will work?  And that’s where predictive analytics comes in.  Wikipedia’s definition is “Predictive analytics encompasses a variety of techniques from statistics, modeling, machine learning, and data mining that analyze current and historical facts to make predictions about future events”.

So, a local authority can use a variety of data (e.g. the demographics of where a solution is be applied, asset management in the area, historical data about similar solutions in this city and others) to model the implementation of the solution and the likelihood of its success across the city.  A small investment up front in the analytic solution can mean resources are better applied to sustainability: whatever shape those resources come in (funding, people, tools, etc.).  Spend wisely to spend even more wisely.

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Two for the price of one

I’ve been thinking about this ever since I sat down in a workshop with Sustainable Glasgow to discuss the future of the city centre in Glasgow and what changes are required, with limited resources, to cater for future needs.

The climate is changing, and it’s likely to get wetter and warmer.   Anna Beswick, of Adaptation Scotland, presented on the subject, and some solutions which assist.  Take a look at their website to find out more.

What jumped out at me was the need to implement solutions that can address more than one problem, thus maximising any investment.  For example, green walls and roofs assist with CO2 challenges, but also provide a level of insulation which reduces fuel consumption and therefore costs to domestic households, and to businesses, and carbon emissions by the energy providers.  Of course, this would not be appropriate for every property, but where applicable more than one challenge is being (in part) addressed by one solution.

I know less about these non-technical solutions than ones which are provided by technology, but I believe the principle applies to technology also.  One of the benefits of a system such as IBM’s Intelligent Operations Centre, is that it is a platform which allow reuse of technologies which have been applied to one requirement of a city – and of the learnings from that technology – for additional requirements of the city.  For example, it can be used to integrate asset management of roads and demographic data (typically data held by different functions in a local authority) so that it is possible to work out which roads and pavements should be gritted first in winter based upon the people that use them.  The next step could then be to integrate with CCTV provided by organisations external to the local authority to monitor traffic on the roads, and enhance the gritting plans based upon that.  (Ordinarily this example would be appropriate for this time of year, but perhaps I need to change this to dealing with flooding and floodwater instead.)

Two (or more) for the price of one is always an attractive proposition.

The challenge now is assisting cities with how to allocate cost internally when one solution helping more than one department…

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I’ll be talking about Fuel Poverty in December

In 2011 I had the privilege of being a part of an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge team, a team deployed to Glasgow to tackle the issue that is Fuel Poverty.  Making our goal “affordable warmth” we recommended a long list of actions for Glasgow, and not all of them were based on technology, but about collaboration and sharing experiences.

I’m going to be talking about this at an event for BCSWomen in Scotland on 6th December, in the early evening.  So, save the date in your diary, and I’ll add a post here when the sign-up page for the event is ready.  In the meantime take a look here bcswomenscotland.wordpress.com.

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