Thursday, January 3, 2019

Not just any new year post

First things first, welcome 2019!

We are now just an year away from the Cliched "2020", the year which used to be such a content driver to make all sort of predictions and future world fantasies. And no we are not yet run by the machines but they do increasingly occupy our lives. The data-driven machines or as the buzz word terms it around something 'artificial' :P

The 'data-is-the-new-oil' can't just be termed as a fad but it's a reality of everyday life. The Instagram picture which you clicked of your morning brunch, being liked and viewed by your social-media circle, provides a platform for sponsored advertisements following it, which again is based on your Facebook data or maybe something which you google or even talked about (scary but true!).

Source: The Economist

And this is not just limited to your online activities. Cross a retail outlet on your way back home and an ad for the same might just appear in your FB feed by the time you reach home, thanks to the real-time location based data which you unknowingly have provided and now you wonder, who reads your mind! Literally one thing leading to another and you are already being served a highly personalized content everywhere. This may lead you to think that life is good that way and you are the boss, but are you?

With data comes the power, to rate, rank, compare, judge, and what not! After all the better you extract this new oil, the more worth it gives. But more of that in the coming posts, as i resolve this year to blog a lot more and keep generating more of data which anyway machines can keep judging crunching about.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Before and After

B-School changed me. But it changed me for good and my blog for bad. Or so as I like to believe. I no longer write about what's on my mind, FB has started taking a major chunk of it. I no longer write about travels, too busy Instagram'ming them. A person of few words, as I would like to call myself, with some rare exceptions who could disagree on, I became a person of fewer words, never mind the lots of hashtags though.

A few hours in a workshop today with lots of marketing and designing folks from the company and around, I had three realizations:

  • I was the diversity today and it didn't had to do anything with my gender, with less than 1% of Engineer-MBA in the room. A self achievement unlocked
  • Business Feasibility, is a concept I now understand way too well (not in a very usual modest mode today) and hence that spoiled my day with some really stupid marketing ideas around me! 
  • I just needed to scribble here 
Phew! :)

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

The other view

So after 10 years of regular blogging, 2017 clearly marked itself as the year when I officially stopped being a regular. However, I do wish to begin 2018 with a Happy New Year note to all :) and with it comes my 2 cents on the changing, or rather not changing trends on the technology driven offline vs online, in an emerging economy like India, which quite reflected my thoughts here as well. As a millennial Indian consumer i pen down what i personally observe.

       Offline shopping still gives a very good competition to offline and is here to stay for a while – Why I say so? Well, it definitely takes a bigger share of my wallet and the people around. Even the most important moment of truths as a consumer be it apparels, books, or electronics still happen around offline. Thanks to the not such a developed technology infrastructure even in tier 1 cities like Hyderabad/bangalore (where the quality of mobile internet has its own regular doubtful moments). Add to it the backend infrastructure and challenges in logistics, the reduced trust on the reverse logistics and so on! It might still take some time before the complete life cycle of E Commerce develops, for it to overtake the regular brick and mortar.

Having seen my husband try his hands on subscription model (in furniture), I personally think it still seems to be more of a fashionable thing to do rather than a financial decision. Thanks but no thanks Amazon, I do not wish to subscribe to the grocery items which you give an option to, I would rather like to keep my options open when it comes to choosing the purchase the next month and these also include the offline deals which I pass by along with the dozen of mobile notifications I get from the ever upcoming local online competitors which just can’t seem to stop mushrooming even after a perceived investment slowdown in online retail. So, though subscription is an interesting option when it comes to models like netflix but yet to take over the mainstream business!
     Now local transport is an interesting area where my wallet share has completely skewed (and wallet blown over quite literally). From what used to be a once in a while indulgence in ride hailing apps, it is now becoming a regular habit, thanks to the convenience offered. It comes with its own disadvantage, the discounts seem to have finished from the cab rental market, and the supply demand totally owns the quality as well as price of the service. But irrespective of that wait, did I hear Uber buying a fleet of cars from Volvo?

So when we think the technology is changing the business (which it definitely is), a check on when and how far can bring some interesting insights as well!

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Leveraging IoT for Smarter Buildings

Imagine if one of your EOD (End of the day) task at work is collecting the ingredients of a pre-decided dinner recipe just outside your work place. Or picture coffee machines at work which remember your preferences and tell users when they need to be refilled. Too smart, too soon? Not exactly! These are the features of, what has been claimed and awarded as, the world’s most sustainable and smart office building called The Edge, with an “outstanding” rating and highest ever BREEAM (short for Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Methodology) score of 98.36%.

The way, ride sharing apps have connected our smartphones with a more convenient transportation (while simultaneously occupying a bigger wallet share!) similarly, buildings are one of the basic components which are swarming with opportunities. A staggering 40% of the world’s electricity is consumed by the 1-billion buildings on the earth’s surface, and they are responsible for 33% of the globe’s greenhouse gas emissions. This leads to the need for greener, smarter, and more intelligent solutions — The Smart Buildings.
Smart Buildings are said to be among the fastest growing commercial market under Internet of Things, along with Smart Home and Transport. According to Gartner estimates, by 2017, use cases in smart commercial buildings and transportation will be the main contributors, representing 58% of all IoT installed base in a Smart City. This article covers the business use cases and areas which show the impact of IoT technology in the Real Estate sector, or the Smart Buildings.
Buildings have evolved from simple to automated and now pave a way to smart connected buildings along with technology progression. IoT, by its basic definition, implies connected physical objects communicating data about their condition, position, or any other attributes over internet. For any business to derive value while leveraging IoT, it needs to focus on reducing the major cost forms to generate viable returns. Improvisation and reduction of the operational and maintenance costs, which form a huge portion of the Life-cycle cost of a building, are key attributes impacting the smart index of a building. Following details the important characteristics of a Smart Building:
  1. Optimization of the Building resources — As sensors track different building functions like motion, pressure, light, temperature, etc. an integrated platform can intelligently monitor and control them accordingly. This has led to a growing number of technology providers in the energy efficiency space like lighting, energy usage monitoring, smart plugs, occupant detection, HVAC monitoring and control, access control, water management, and others. According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) about 35% of the total building operation costs is spent on energy, while a little over a third, is spent on lighting. An interesting example in this area being View Dynamic Glass, a Smart Glass player, whose tint can be modified automatically based on weather outside (solar heat coefficient) or through smartphones based on a user preference. The company has seen over 300 completed commercial installations and another 150 in progress of an extensive client portfolio since last 12 months and boasts of investors like GE, Khosla Ventures, DBL, etc.
  2. Automation — Reduced manual human intervention across various dimensions like building security, environment risk detection, structural health sensors, etc. not only aims to improve the user experience but can also identify grey spaces in savings through features like fault detection, proactive maintenance, energy savings, or interfacing with various applications in general. For instance PointGrab claims to use embedded edge analytics on a low-cost ARM-based processor for image sensors to identify and process occupant details while protecting privacy. Such technology can lay foundation to numerous upcoming use cases like staff planning, space utilization, etc. in a Smart Office or advanced analytics in retail chains.
  3. Personalization — A normal automated building might have a centralized feedback, however an interactive control flow makes a building smarter. Dynamic and self-learning control systems, preference-based operability providing occupants with smartphone based control over the end-user energy flow in workplaces, or personalized retail experiences like automatic check-in, marketing, payment, etc. are some opportunities which can be harnesses through Smart Buildings.
Hence, the real-time visibility of building operations and energy responsiveness are clearly the game changing way forward towards a smarter home, office, hospitals, and an overall smarter infrastructure in a Smart City ecosystem. However, there are few challenges which still need to be addressed before the wide-spread implementation of the technology to provide the desired commercial returns. These include:
  • Smart Building capabilities should match with the needs of existing facilities like existing legacy system controls or proprietary technology
  • Upfront cost needs to match with the life-cycle savings of the simple sub-systems like efficient light control. While implementing the smart solutions at The Edge in Amsterdam, Deloitte considered implementing the smart solutions with a return on ­investment of less than 10 years. Moreover, the recurring costs of a traditional and smart building might vary a lot for an end-user
  • The security issues associated with Smart Buildings — A simple break-in to the Building Automation System (BAS) can lead to not only software but physical vulnerabilities as well, as exposed by the IBM X-Force Ethical Hacking Team
  • Privacy concerns of an end user — The data being collected by continuous monitoring of a building brings out certain privacy concerns by the users. Hence smarter buildings need to come up with smarter regulations to address the same.
Real-time monitoring, sustainability analysis, energy consumption, and innumerable similar scenarios can further create multitude of business opportunities bringing forth a new disruptive frontier in both B2B and B2C space through real estate sector. Established players like Cisco, Intel, Honeywell, Huawei, Philips Electronics, and others have already realized the commercial importance this segment can bring with their own Smart Buildings solutions. Future lies in implementing the same to address the right problems, keep evolving the solution with enhanced underlying technology, and get back the expected overall returns in a long term.
Views expressed here are my own and do not represent that of my employer (Current or Previous)