Catching up on Quantum Computing

QC1

Conventional computing which has been evolving following Moore’s Law still uses basic switching and memory units of computers, known as transistors, are now approaching the point where they’ll soon be as small as individual atoms. The need for computers that are smaller & more powerful than today’s is leading us to the realm of atoms opening up powerful new possibilities in the shape of QC, with processors that could work millions of times faster than the ones we use today.

Quantum Computing (QC)  is gaining attention as IBM, Microsoft, Amazon, Google and many leading organizations are extremely focused & reasonably investing in this field. Visualize a version of Google Maps that can precisely calculate the time of your arrival, down to the second, based on a simulation of historical traffic patterns. Imagine a next-gen kid visiting six-flags with a new version of Rollercoaster, where the likes and dislikes of every kid in the theme park are determined by a fully simulated childhood. What if a future version of Adobe Photoshop with brushes that behave with all the quirks of a real, physical implement? Let us take a look at Quantum Computing use cases across industries.QC Use cases

Making a business case for Quantum Computing requires identifying the ‘minimal viable products’ with just enough core features to enter the market. If companies can access a quantum computer through an API in the cloud, they can take advantage of the speed 1Qbit1without that overwhelming overhead. This is an area where 1QBit takes the lead. 1QBit facilitates your transition into the world of quantum computing. 1QBit API as depicted to the right helps the enterprises access the quantum computing/ processing power with this API. 1QBit’s APIs are built on hardware-agnostic platform, allowing them to continuously benefit from both the improvements made to the underlying algorithms and the integration of advancements in classical and quantum hardware.

1QBit is paving path overcoming refactoring of applications and at the same time enable in receiving the best available computational solutions. 1QBit provides industry-leading partners in finance, energy, advanced materials, and the life sciences with solutions to high-value optimization, simulation, and machine learning problems

D-Wave is another firsts in Quantum Computing to develop commercial apps using QC and has been collaborating with Google, the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the Washington DC-based Universities Space Research Association (USRA) on setting up a Quantum AI Lab. D-Wave is driving the hardware forward by bifurcating the QC applications and software tools. Its Qbsolv available in open source, is designed to help developers program D-Wave machines without needing a background in quantum physics. Qbsolv offers a tool that can make this impact graphically visible, by getting researchers and practitioners involved in charting the future directions of quantum computing developments.

May be within 5 years, QC is  going to be a technology that will be very much in use in all sorts of businesses!

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Digital Re-imagination of Industries

Industry4.0

Future of Mobile App Monetization

AP1

App monetization has created fortune for many gaining momentum over last decade and profoundly in last five years. News like “$240 million in customer purchases makes January 1, 2017 the App Store’s busiest day ever” is hitting the headlines. Apps revenues are more than doubled compared to 2014 levels, clocking $58 Billion in 2016 and estimated to reach $78B+ in 2017. In the backdrop of significant market opportunity, I would like to offer deeper insights on App marketplace, monetization business model and key trends evolving in this space.

App Market Insights

First let us look into the current App market landscape and key analytics with a deep dive into this opportunity space as presented in the info-graphic above.

App Monetization and Business Models

App developers can monetize their Apps in many ways. For example, Play Store and the App Store offer the same revenue-sharing terms to developers, ~70% of the amount paid by users goes to developers. Choosing a context specific business model plays a critical role in sustenance and growth. The following are key business models and their characteristics.

Business Model Key Characteristics
Free Model
  • Zero Price.
  • Increase User Base.
  • Generate Revenues with Ads.
Freemium Model
  • Zero Base Price.
  • Optional In-App Purchases (premium features, additional content, subscriptions, or digital goods etc.)
Paid Model
  •  Pay to Download App / But App Bundles for Discounts
  •  One Point of Monetization at the time of initial buy
  •  Outstanding design, functionality, and marketing
Paymium Model
  •  Combination of Paid & Freemium Models (Can Combine in App Bundles)
  • Pay to Download & Options to Buy Additional Features
Subscription Model
  •  Buy In-App Purchases (to access content, services, and experiences)
  •  Auto-Renewable or Now-Renewable (User Driven)
  •  Subscriptions can be offered in Freemium / Paymium models

App Trends

The following trends will continue to evolve in App development in perfect alignment with digital age.

  • Apps are becoming Artificially Intelligent
  • Embedded AR / VR technologies in Apps
  • Faster web page loading on mobile devices with Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
  • Cloud enablement of Apps with an ability of fetching data & analytics from cloud
  • Business processes and workflows are getting on Apps with the help of Micro services and componentization
  • In digital driven economy, m-commerce is becoming a new standard
  • Internet of Things is exploding Apps socialization
  • Location based services are gaining more traction
  • App security is becoming paramount

There is a promising future for value adding Apps. The current and future start up communities have to focus on developing high quality and contextual rich Apps and building tailored business models to succeed in next evolution of App marketplace. Reach out to me at Kishor.akshinthala@gmail.com for a deeper discussion on App Monetization.

e-Commerce Innovations for Vitamins

ecommerce

The size of ecommerce market of vitamin and mineral and supplements (VMS) crossed $2 billion and surpassed Walmart’s vitamin sales of $1.7 billion in 2016. VMS retailers are keen developing e-commerce strategies and integrate with digital commerce platforms identifying high impact opportunities in building competitive advantage driving next level growth.

New age business models combined with e/m-commerce is empowering VMS industry get better access to consumers, exponentially improve customer experiences, prioritize and drive next-gen innovations improving the future success rates. As an enthusiast envisioning the success of vitamin & supplements e-commerce and know-how of recent developments, summarizing below few specific developments in this space.

  • Vitamins are going direct-to-consumer: As 2017 progresses, consumers are willing to spend more for items that contribute to notions of self-care and wellness. With that the vitamin and dietary supplement (VMS) market is on an upward trend, a crop of new direct-to-consumer (D2C) startups came up to capture that. D2C’s are hoping to shake up the category and appeal to consumers with transparency, simplicity and branding. Care/of and Ritual, two high-tech brands that are poised to become the Warby Parkers of the supplement world.
  • Focus on price-to-weight ratio attaining economic sustainability: As online channels ex; Amazon, surpassing the critical volumes of VMS supply, there is an increasing focus on consumer behavior of purchases of only a single SKU remedy or supplement that can present a price-to-weight challenge for the seller. For business sustenance, the profit margin on the purchased item must be greater than the shipping cost in order for the seller to make money. For example, in case of Amazon where per package shipping costs range from $4.00 to $6.00, the breakeven order price for the SKU must be at least $12.00 to $15.00 in order for the transaction to be profitable. This offer a leeway to both the OTC and vitamin/health categories as the single items often meet this type of price-to-weight requirement. When a customer buys a bottle of fish oil for $17.00 or an order of Mucinex for $23.00, the sales model is working and makes eCommerce model viable.
  • OTC extending to in-home with 3D printing: In recent times FDA has approved Spritam, an anti-seizure drug and the first 3D-printed pill. This will bring use of technology one step closer to change the way people are experiencing medicine. In the future, it may even be possible to print vitamin and supplement pills at home There are already a great number of startups focusing on personalizing healthcare (with the help of AI) and making it as easily accessible as possible- in your own home. So, if companies can look at this new channel as a potential source of revenue, it could probably disrupt OTC and healthcare itself. Augment it with telemedicine, and you really could even eliminate some/much of the retail pharmacies today, while really personalizing treatment.
  • AI and ML aided search algorithms are becoming backbone to Vitamin & supplement e-commerce success: If a remedy works for one person, it may work well for another. And vice versa. That’s why the importance of ratings and reviews may be more important in the OTC and vitamin/health categories than in any other category. A good product review is not only a persuasive endorsement that helps drive conversion, it’s also an important component in strengthening a brand’s search rankings. Hence search algorithm is not only powered by the number of reviews a product has, but also by the pace at which new reviews are being added. If a product has too few reviews or not enough positive reviews, people simply won’t buy.
  • Search is critical to success online/e-commerce channels: In gig economy to take full advantage of e-commerce, it is vital for vitamin/supplement suppliers to know precisely how people are searching for its products. What key words are they using? Are there search trends? What is the frequency of searches for “pain reliever” or “headache” or “migraine”? When suppliers are selling in-demand products, they’ve got to make sure their content is relevant to those searches, including product titles, description and bullets, that clearly communicates the benefits and features of what’s being sold. Advances of AI and Machine Learning are aiding to find the patterns and triggers of consumer purchases and behaviors.
  • Ecommerce combined with personalization will lead the vitamin / supplement market: The long-term winners in this space will leverage data and their knowledge of their consumers to proactively offer products that fit their customers’ health needs and provide a degree of personalization and intimacy that don’t exist yet on a broad scale. The levels of personalization will be necessary in upcoming fights against the biggest e-dog of all, Amazon, which also has access to an immense database of purchasing history that it can use to push personalized consumer health options. Amazon offers rush delivery for a variety of over-the-counter products and vitamins and dietary supplements through its Amazon Prime Now service that is operational in around 30 metropolitan areas. Earlier this year, Amazon also quietly expanded its private-label line Amazon Elements into a handful of clean-label vitamins and supplement categories, which perhaps is a signal of the company’s intent to fully jump into this space and opportunistically fill the potential void if GNC and the Vitamin Shoppe continue to decline. As more consumers each day are showing a declining link to physical stores, Amazon has the ability to step in and dominate the market for these products much in the way it has for so many other household staples.

Vitamin & supplements market will continue evolve leveraging e/m-commerce strategies. Constant innovations in this space are what we continue to explore into future. So VMS value chain partners have to collaborate co-innovating e/m-commerce models, offer value based services, identify future direction and collectively come up with a path to succeed.

Betting on Crypto-currencies

With the significant returns on cryptocurrencies over the past one year or so and the recent split (SegWit) of Bitcon into two (Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash), led to a lot of attention on investing in Cryptocurrencies.

Is it worth now investing in crypto-currencies?

What is the true intrinsic value of Bitcoin?

Let me articulate a perspective here for future investors.

The size of global economy in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP)is >$110 Trillion. The size of crypto currency market is ~$100 Billions. Hence there is a very high potential for blockchain based crypto currency in terms of future potential of proportionate intrinsic value. Looking back over centuries, goods exchange was norm of trading, then gold norm, followed by currency notes(physical money). Countries printed their currencies in proportion to their measured gold wealth.

Then cards, one of the first forms of soft currency was introduced. Soft currencies are pseudo currencies and tied to the real currency and assets. Soft currencies became convenience for transactions. Corporations/Banks made money by commissions, fees and interest rates. That means soft currency is one of the first vehicles exploited the purchasing power of consumer that cumulatively led to imbalance of asset to circulated currency imbalance.

If cards were successful, why not crypto currencies which is another form of soft currency. The only lag measure is how soon the crypto currency gets tied to real assets. That anyway is happening by virtue of altcoins promoting the material transactions with crypto currencies and ICOs monetizing assets.

Digital Revolutions

DR

Markets have been constantly evolving from pre-internet era of viscous state through fluid state over last decade with internet democratized access to information, reducing buyer-seller information asymmetry. Digital Revolutions with the advent of AI, Blockchain, Robotics, AR/VR, and hyper connected driven IoT technologies are forcing companies to functioning in a state of super fluidity in recent times.

Fortune 1000 organizations and VC backed startups are applying AI, ML, AR/VR, Blockchain and IoT to empower enterprises to make intelligent decisions, prioritizing and driving next-gen innovations improving the success rates. As an enthusiast envisioning the success of superfluid markets and with know-how of recent technology developments, I would like to summarize below the driving forces of Digital Revolutions

  • Key characteristics of Digital Revolutions: As businesses are trying to become intelligent enterprises with real times responses, there is an increasing demand for dematerializing their physical assets with digital touchpoints. In these times, business operations, supply chain, supporting infrastructure and technology, and enormous volumes of data becomes software driven making enterprises become hyper connected seamlessly and derive proactive insights. This is leading to Digital Revolutions offering a rich user/consumer experiences.
  • Blockchain and IoT are expediting the pace of Digital Revolutions: We have now entered the age of superfluid markets, which represents the convergence of multiple forces. While many transaction costs were reduced during the fluid market period, costs around contracting, trust and the policing and enforcing of contracts remained high. The maturation of blockchain technology as a transaction engine in which trust is “built in” will reduce even these costs. With the Internet of Things, physical goods are being sensed, tagged and linked to the Internet, with the promise to better match supply and demand. Intelligent agents will soon anticipate buyer preferences before buyers themselves. The intersection of blockchain and IoT will create autonomous markets that run themselves cheaply and efficiently. The gig economy implies increasingly superfluid labor markets. And these developments may just represent the tip of the iceberg. Examples include,
    • Blockchain potentiality to offer intrinsic business value in integrated utilities management with a reliable, low-cost way for recording validating financial or operational transactions across a distributed network with no central point of authority. Peer-to-peer energy trading, Billing of AV charging stations, Power Ledger and Smart grid management systems are few use cases.
    • Visa’s IoT platform designed to bring the point-of-sale everywhere by allowing businesses to introduce secure payment experiences quickly to any device connected to the IoT. Visa’s vision and belief is to securely embed payments and commerce into any device—from a watch to a ring to an appliance or a car.
  • Robotics and Bots are first steps of organization in taking advantages of Digital Revolutions: Robotics are emerging to pick up precision heavy activities and “bots” leveraging AI is taking customer service and experience to the next level. Take a look at inVia that is introducing “robotics-as-a-service” to the new economy with first “goods-to-box” warehouse packing system. This new robotics system that put goods directly into shipping boxes. Instead of investing in a fleet of robots, customers pay a monthly service fee.
  • Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning are big boost to Digital Revolutions: AI combine with machine learning is paving ways to new business models. AI technologies already pervade human lives progressing beyond simply building systems that are intelligent to building intelligent systems that are human-aware and trustworthy.
  • AR/VR is becoming a driving force of Digital Revolutions. Let us take examples of retail industry transformation. Virtual reality (VR), along with its sister technology augmented reality (AR), offers retailers the opportunity to transform how people shop. One customer might try on shirts without having to travel to the store. Another might order furniture on the spot, confident that it’s right for the house. Applications using either technology stand to eliminate customer pain points, elevate customer service, and create a differentiated, personalized customer experience. The successful incorporation of VR and AR into retail models also has the potential to vastly change the way retailers are thinking about stores of the future

Digital Revolutions are leading to superfluid markets which will continue to evolve differently across different industries and companies. These transformations are what we continue to explore into future. There is a pressing need for companies to collaborate exchanging ideas, trend spotting, and tap innovations to succeed in  future frictionless markets.

Predictive Maintenance Value for Process Industries

PM

Process industries are undergoing digital transformation building and integrating Minimum Viable Products (MVPs) in their strategic path to enabling business models, services, customer experience, operations, and workplaces re-imagination. What I notice across process industry segment is application of industrial internet concepts in creating predictive maintenance models that are yielding advantages including – greater machine availability, superior process quality, easier to plan service intervals, longer machine service life, safer and more sustainable operation, lower service efforts and decreased costs. I am highlighting few aspects demonstrating thought leadership in this space.

  • Companies are sponsoring proof of concepts and pilots for creating models to monetize predictive maintenance. As Predictive Maintenance and Condition Based Monitoring directly impact equipment uptime, by offering Predictive Maintenance as a service, the manufacturer can guarantee equipment uptime to their customers for a fees, i.e. selling value-added services which promise recurring revenue.
  • Process manufacturing is leveraging integrated utilities to reducing electricity consumption with just-in-time energy management with a dynamic platform delivering energy performance improvement with ‘as-a-service’ through edge connectivity of various assets, data acquisition and gateway, cloud-based technology, and analytics. Also include tracking people movement and asset utilization.
  • SRP performance monitoring center using Industrial Internet is another classic example. Since starting the GE Digital’s SmartSignal program in 2012 and through to 2016, SRP identified more than 1,900 issues, of which 800 were “catches” – a problem that the plant was not previously aware of and, with the new alerts, was able to take corrective action. With time and improved training of the algorithms, the rate at which the company identifies true issues and catches has improved.
  • One use case of specific interest to Food and Pharma industry’s glass packaging quality control and improvement is Wi-NEXT IIoT that drives major changes in glass container quality improvement reducing non-conforming products by 7%, which equals 5% extra line productivity, better process control, and higher customer satisfaction
  • Lastly sustainable business models of predictive maintenance includes – bundling within basic service agreement framework, a freemium offering during warranty with downstream revenue potential, offer value added service with pay-per-use model, and gain-sharing with partner ecosystem.

Process manufacturing winners are those who identify best in class practices for developing business models for predictive maintenance of equipment. Win-win scenarios for manufacturers arise from enabling collaboration of experts in this space to exchange ideas, spot trends and drive innovations.

Healthcare Simplified with AI

AI

Healthcare industry is a front runner in creating business value applying AI followed by Automotive and Financial Services industries.

In simple and direct interpretation, Artificial Intelligence fundamentally helps either completing tasks at a basic level to making decisions at advanced level. AI help in completing tasks is twofold, either totally automate the tasks without human intervention or help humans in completing the tasks in faster and effective ways. Similarly AI can enable decision making in fully autonomous ways with NO to very little human involvement or amplify the human decision making. Let us examine these scenarios in context of Healthcare industry encompassing the four dimensions of applied AI in healthcare.

  1. AI completing healthcare tasks without humans: Chatbot to connect scheduling Electronic health record systems and automate the confirmation and scheduling of patients
  2. AI aiding humans in completing tasks: AI powered diagnostics which helps humans/users in analyzing patient’s unique history as a baseline against which trigger a possible health condition that is in necessity of future investigation and potential treatment.
  3. AI augmenting decision making in healthcare: AI is able to provide clinicians evidence-based treatment options which is kind of a data driven diagnosis. AI as well is aiding in virtual drug development process.
  4. AI autonomously making decisions in healthcare: Will humans let an AI’led robot perform your surgery by itself? As AI proves dealing with complication, it can aid intelligent implantation with improved health benefits and lives.

AI reach in healthcare is everywhere from answering specific patient queries to intelligent implantation. It is evident from recent developments including,

  • Google’s DeepMind platform: Detecting certain health risks thro’ data collected via a mobile app or analysis of medical images to develop computer vision algorithms to detect cancerous tissues
  • Intel’s Lumiata: Using AI to identify at-risk patients and develop care options
  • IBM’s Watson: AI enabled Oncology alongside Cleveland Clinic or work with CVS Health on AI applications in chronic disease treatment, etc.
  • Microsoft’s Hanover project: Medical research to predict the most effective cancer drug treatment options or medical image analysis of tumor progression and development of programmable cells
  • Refer for other examples @ https://www.cbinsights.com/blog/artificial-intelligence-startups-healthcare/

There are a number of startups entering the healthcare AI space has increased in recent years. AI systems are getting involved in full spectrum across Healthcare industry encompassing providers, consumers, payers and pharma and PBM players. The future seems to be very promising as the potential of commercial benefit of applying AI in healthcare will be substantial.

With the earlier posts in this space, I have been discussing on various topics pinpointing the application of AI in healthcare and listing below details for reference.

  1. Intelligent Algorithms in Healthcare https://akshinthalakk.com/2017/06/12/intelligent-algorithms-healthcare/
  2. AI in Pharma https://akshinthalakk.com/2017/03/10/ai-in-pharma/
  3. New age Healthcare evolution fueled by Digital reality https://akshinthalakk.com/2016/06/05/new-age-healthcare-evolution-fueled-by-digital-reality/

Changing Landscape of Integrated Utilities with Blockchain & Cloud Enablement

Utility

Integrated utilities are undergoing a phenomenal transformation with the convergence of utility operations with IT and emergence of blockchain and cloud technologies enabling smart grid operations. I would like to highlight below the latest developments in integrated utilities and specific anecdotes of technology interventions in this evolving space.

Blockchain magic: While blockchain remains largely unproven, and significant barriers remain, it has potential to offer intrinsic business value In integrated utilities management offering a reliable, low-cost way for recording validating financial or operational transactions across a distributed network with no central point of authority.

  • Peer-to-peer energy trading: One of the use case of Blockchain is in updating and improving centralized, legacy systems with a distributed hybrid system made up of both large power plants and micro grids powered by distributed energy resources such as solar power. This shift is prompting the industry to focus on blockchain’s potential to make peer-to-peer energy trading a reality with an integrated trading system that would permit businesses to trade their option to use electricity during a given time frame. For example, one business entity could sell few minutes of unused power during a down time to a different entity that needs additional power. Trading grid flexibility in this way could provide large efficiency benefits for grid operators.
  • Billing of AV charging stations: Innogy, the subsidiary of the German energy company RWE announced that it has launched hundreds of Ethereum blockchain-powered charging stations for electric cars across Germany through its e-mobility startup venture Share & Charge.
  • Power Ledger: Australian energy startup Power Ledger also offers a blockchain-based solution for delivering locally produced renewable energy to the end consumer. Their software allows for tracking every unit of sold energy providing a secure revenue stream for DNSPs. Therefore, energy producers get a transparent, auditable and automated network for trading without involving any third-parties.
  • Consumer switching of Power suppliers: Blockchain technology could enable customers to switch power suppliers more quickly. British startup Electron offers solution for quick change of energy suppliers through blockchain. They cooperate with Data Communications Company, which offers a list of British energy suppliers having Smart Energy Code. Previously, it took much more time and effort to change energy supplier if a customer was dissatisfied with their current services for some reason.
  • Smart grid management systems: Grid Singularity, a startup in Austria, offers multiple blockchain-based solutions for the energy sector, including apps for energy data analysis and benchmarking, smart grid management, trading of green certificates, investment decisions and energy trade validation. Aiming to develop a decentralized energy exchange platform with numerous functions and opportunities for users who can benefit from simple and efficient energy-trading and exchange.

Business relevance of cloud: New-age integrated utilities businesses are offering programs like demand response, virtual power plants, distribution and substation automation, renewable and distributed generation, wide area measurement systems, home area networks and time-of-use pricing. Ability to leverage new sources of information and flexible & scalable IT infrastructure is central to success of these programs.

  • Sporadic and massive fluctuations in workloads: It has been estimated that globally smart meter installations will reach 800M+ by 2020. Smart meters enable utilities move from monthly reads, to meter reads once every 15 minutes. This is leading to massive increase in amounts of data that demand scalable IT infrastructure in connected (IoT) arena.
  • Cloud applicability: Cloud precisely address the integrated utilities business needs by providing scalable, readily available computing and storage environments. Dynamic provisioning is the need of the day for utilities business. Also cloud offers standardized technology platform that make utilities to standardize and automate processes leading to service centric business model.
  • Compliance and security controls: Consolidation, virtualization and centralization of IT resources with cloud makes it easier to manage security controls, to apply consistent security technologies across the enterprise and to ensure the utility is meeting its compliance regulations, like FERC, NERC-CIP, and EPA etc.
  • Roadmap to cloud: The tested path for integrated utilities in cloud adoption is first start with internal and enterprise application services. Then move onto new business processes at enterprise scale, and finally evolve to the as-a-service model. Simultaneously evaluate bringing benefits of cloud to operational applications like SCADA, DMS, EMS and OMS and new applications like data warehousing, electric vehicles, demand response and distribution and substation automation.

Startup companies are constantly exploring the potential of blockchain and cloud technologies that are enabling integrated utilities promoting curiosity among technopreneurs in exchanging ideas, trend spotting, and spot innovations and implications in new-age integrated utility environment.