“Today’s hyper-competitive business climate requires flexible, configurable billing solutions that can handle a wide-variety of consumption and subscription-based business models – and the ability to change them, quickly and without IT intervention.” Andrew M. Dailey, MGI Research
Programming in the 1990s
My first experience of programming was in Fortran (Formula Translating System) for statistical analysis of an engineering experiment for my undergrad. It was the early 90s and Fortran language computer engineers had not yet figured out how to build in demarcations that allowed humans to find the erroneous lines in the program.
One dark and stormy night, I sat in the computer lab trying to compile my program. I kept getting [Unknown error] again and again. I tried everything I possibly could. I went through every line painstakingly. I reviewed the syntax with the hardcover book I had on Fortran programming. But it wasn’t till 3 a.m. in the morning that I realized that I had missed a “,” (comma) in one of my program lines and so the machine could not understand what it is that I wanted it to do. It did not compute my communications!
Feeling beaten by the frustration of not being able to communicate with the machine (H2M) using a language that only worked on a trial-and-error basis; I strapped on my backpack, mounted my bike to ride uphill in the stinging rain towards home. As I approached my home, the rain gave way to a moonlit sky and dark clouds with silver lining. I looked up at the moon and held up my fist up and said:
“As God is my witness, as God is my witness they’re not going to lick me. I’m going to live through this and when it’s all over, I’ll never PROGRAM again.” (Based on Gone with the Wind)
I programmed again…albeit grudgingly.
H2M | M2H Com
Fragmentation of Technology Solutions in 2010s
Fast forward to today, building a technical solution for humans has become a massive co-ordination effort among a team of humans.
Programming has definitely become easier and faster. With today’s object oriented programming (OOP), programmers are integrators of existing code (objects) supplied by the giants of technology like Apple, Google, SAS, etc. At worst you can find the code in code libraries or ask questions in many readily available forums online. Error correction has definitely become simpler and programming languages for the most part are easier to use but still hard to learn.
But the business of developing a technology solution has definitely become fragmented. First, there are approximately 700 different programming languages in existence today. One must learn at least a few of these languages to actually become a coder.
Second, programming in itself is not sufficient to enable H2M|M2H Com today. We must also have:
- product managers to interpret customer needs and define what to build,
- business analysts to write it in pieces of requirements,
- editorial for actually convert information into human language,
- user experience for visual optimization of screens,
- design to make sure everything is sized correctly for different devices,
- marketing for call to action or campaign design,
- IT for data feed and processing,
- analytics for analysis of data into information being fed in and out of systems,
- QA to make sure that there are no errors in all of it,
- testing to make sure that everything works together,
- publishing to put it out there in the real world,
- support to catch any problems from internal business managers, and
- customer service channels to catch and fix all the problems from customers.
And all of the above does not include team of humans that maintain the hardware and software that allows this communications to physically exist on machines.
Agile ‘process’ is one attempt to shorten the above human based co-ordination process but it only reduces the time that humans (businesses) talk to each other before putting together a complex set of separate systems to then communicate to other humans (customers/businesses/employees). Also, the time saved in the original build is taken up by repetitive iterations of solution updates and changes.
Side: Here is a great YouTube video on Computer Programming.
The fragmentation of H2M|M2H Com in the 2010’s has generated over $1 Trillion of spending in IT and should grow over $3 Trillion by 2016 as technologies in homes, cars, businesses, clothing, watches, household goods, etc. come into existence. The cost of doing business using technology has increased because the cost of building and enabling technology has also increased along with its complexity. (Moore’s Second Law)
So why have human beings become multi-layered translators between a group of humans (businesses) to machine to another group of humans (customers/businesses/employees)?
Because technology today still hasn’t solved the fundamental problem of H2M | M2H | M2M Communications. Communicating through technology today is a bit like playing ‘telephone’ while accumulating errors over layers of recollection from humans to machine to humans.
H2M | M2H | M2M Com
A Proposal for Fusion Innovation in 20XXs
To move forward in Communications through technology, we must look to the past.
Thomas Edison’s critical decisions related to the light bulb’s key component: the material of which the filament is made of, Carbon as oppose to Platinum. Edison knew that using a much cheaper material for the filament would lower product costs and market price, and make light bulbs cheaper and more appealing for consumers. He always went for the jugular of mass market.
‘Internet of Things’ refers to connecting everything we live with to the Internet so that our human needs can be communicated directly to businesses we purchase from on a daily basis. Businesses will be able to mine daily habits of people at an aggregate level and realign product strategies on a daily basis, if they have the man-power to do so based on existing technologies. Big Data can finally be a reality!
However, in the recent WSJ.com blog the following was stated “’Internet of Things’ challenges [current] business models, forcing [companies] to figure out how to cut costs in order to boost volume” and hence serve the mass market.
Challenging the business model is not enough. Like Edison, we must challenge the technology itself and re-invent the fundamentals. It is time to destroy the current fragmentation of first building a solution in technology medium (namely, software, codes, hardware, etc.) and then working to translate it all for human use.
Here are some postulations that may inspire humans to solve our generations ‘light-bulb filament’ problem:
- Instead of separating tangible (hardware) and intangible (software)…bring them together.
- Instead of creating multiple machine languages, converge them into one visual language that any human (businesses, employees, families, etc.) can use to build technology solutions in a few hours for any device and then share with others.
- Instead of forcing humans to code machines to talk to each other, enable machines to machine communications without intervention.
- Instead of building one ‘IoT’ at a time…allow humans to wire all their experiences:
home – kitchen, bathroom, entertainment system, etc.
car – driving, music, lights, entertainment devices, steering, maps, etc.
finances – payments, purchases, debt, retirement, etc.
travel – plan, purchase, travelling, tell friends, photos, etc.
There are many reasons not to destroy the current complex technology eco-system…actually there are $3Trillion plus reasons to be exact! But fusing technologies will also create new markets, new opportunities and one day legitimately enable H2M|M2H|M2M Communications.
Kiran Sohi’s career has focused on leading businesses to success by enabling strategic decision making. While my passion is strategy and technology, my work spans a number of corporate disciplines including marketing, finance and operations.
OPEN WRX Consulting Inc. is committed to helping companies improve competitiveness through effective decision making. Services include structuring, facilitating and implementing strategic planning process and strategic solutions for businesses, functional departments and/or channels.
Visit openwrxconsulting.com for more info.