I was reading an article on new research led by the University of Adelaide on the subject of an AI’s ability to predict a patient’s lifespan simply by looking at images of their organs. After taking a deep breath picked up my coffee and started walking thinking about the deeper engagement of AI in human life. While paying for coffee a few minutes ago, I realized that my credit card got misplaced and called the Bank customer service to inform. A bot attended my call and navigated through the issue and without getting a human agent involved, bot blocked my lost card and placed a new one. I am sure it would have simultaneously updated records in the backend with lost and new card information in multiple systems beyond handling customer communications. This is a classic example of automating a standard business process and corresponding workflows. Then I realized ANI (Artificial Narrow Intelligence) has already made inroads into human daily life.
While contemplating further on AI reach on our lives, reached my home. My ten-year-old daughter approached me handing over the home phone and said, I am holding a call for you and it seems that “bot thingy” is on the line. She was right, it’s an automated calling service from credit fraud services. The bot enquired about the recent loss of my card, security, and privacy related queries. Then transferred the call to a human agent, who confirmed card replacement and started offering adjacent services like fraud protection, started analyzing the credit situation identifying potential needs offering a new credit card that in a way precisely address my requirements. My surprise went to the next level, as AI started traversing deeper in my life routines. Of course, post my last call to the bank, cognitive AI might have picked up from ANI and started advanced analytics on data deriving next level insights and triggering a bot to make a follow-up call. As bot done its preliminary job handing over to the human agent, this cognitive AI started helping him in offering adjacent products the make perfect sense in my scenario. The bot may sooner completely replace human interface. Isn’t it nothing but AGI (Artificial General Intelligence)? A machine that could successfully perform any intellectual task that a human being can or aid human being in doing so.
Perfect! I walked into the kitchen and got into a dialogue with my wife. We decide to go shopping. She was on her iPhone as we walk through the aisles, and I noticed that an NLP chatbot advising her on retail product recommendations with a greater personalization with rich images and connecting to VR interface enabling product tryout. What an intrusion of AI in every walk of life. This I call it ASI (Artificial Super Intelligence).
Albeit, in a day of life, I traversed with all three phases of AI with increasing degrees of influences on daily routines, needs, and decisions. Going back to the article I read in the morning, I felt humans natural dependency on AI is on a rising path.
Let’s visualize, you walk into a jewelry store and see a very aesthetic diamond necklace you were dreaming to buy to your fiancé on Valentine Day. What if you have a technology at hand that make sure the jewelry is authentic. Self-authentication is seemingly the need for many consumers buying various products before making a purchase to avoid fake in a world of counterfeiting. As per OECD estimates, global trade-related counterfeiting accounts for 2.5% of world trade, or 461 billion USD in 2016.
Going back to the diamond necklace purchase scenario, let us visualize that you have an application on your phone and scan the necklace. The application tells you if necklace is real or not. Further to that application (a DApp on a Blockchain) displays a video of the designer explaining why you should select that precious necklace. You may find out that the necklace you like is a very limited edition and only 50 persons on the globe can have such a necklace. You can’t resist anymore and you just buy the necklace. After buying it, you ask the seller to transfer the ownership to you. They show you a QR-code, for instance, on their phone, you flash it with the app and declaring to everybody in the Blockchain that this necklace, one of few of the limited edition, only 50 pieces in the world, belongs to You.
The use case explained above is very much coming into reality with Blockchain enabled ant-counterfeiting platforms. Startups like Everledger, veChain, Chronicled, BlockVerify, Digmus etc. are offering Blockchain solutions for anti-counterfeiting. In today’s world counterfeiting plagues supply chains affecting consumers and businesses in many ways including the product under your possession can be a counterfeit or a products on the go can get diverted to a new destination or products gets stolen or products tied to fraudulent transactions / money laundering. Counterfeiting is widely present across industries ranging from luxury goods, diamonds, pharmaceuticals, wines/whisky, electronics, semiconductors, many retail products.
Why Blockchain Technology is promising in anti-counterfeiting?
Counterfeiting is basically a double-spend problem – the very problem the initial bitcoin blockchain was designed to solve. Blockchain offers a transparent environment where it is impossible to duplicate products. Enterprises can create registries of their products and monitor supply chains leveraging cryptographically secure mechanisms for anonymously transferring the identity of products as they move through multiparty supply chains.
Anti-Counterfeiting Blockchain Platform (ACBP) primarily has two key constituents. One is a Blockchain that acts as the storage of unique products identifiers and history of product transfer between parties. Blockchain technology can check the brand authenticity, issue crypto certificates and stores product information and additional data to verify authenticity. The second constituent is offering better UX to end user with a DApp which will be used to verify the product and provide verification for additional authenticity. With the advent of core technology and UX, ACBP identifies the product as it moves through the supply chain and alert the blockchain network if a duplicate shows up to the existence and location of a counterfeit.
Challenges of Blockchain anti-counterfeiting platforms and future focus areas:
Enterprises and blockchain communities have t aim overcoming the following potential challenges to deploy Blockchain Technology for anti-counterfeiting solutions.
High volumes and underlying transaction fees:Blockchain comes very handy for very high value goods with low volumes without above said problem. But for Anti-counterfeiting blockchain platform to scale up to serialization in overcoming counterfeiting, it has to provide individual tracking of high-volume items with relative low value may not be viable. A potential solution to this is moving certain types of transactions into off-chains where they are processed, freeing up the blockchain for its primary role as a distributed ledger. The popular off chain solutions being piloted recently are
Lightening Network for Bitcoin
Plasma & Raiden Network for Ethereum
Public vs private blockchain for anti-counterfeiting:As decried above limitations of public blockchain like Bitcoin Blockchain is lack of handling high volume (consider a manufacturer producing a millions of products per day) at speed and underlying fees for these transactions would be several hundred thousand USD per day. However, going with private Blockchain has its downside: it give an opportunity to fiddle with data in some scenarios. To get the best of both worlds – performance and low cost of private Blockchain, and trust of public Blockchain, is a hybrid blockchain. Data is kept in a private Blockchain, but on regular intervals the control checksums of private Blockchain are persisted in a public network, which makes it is impossible to corrupt or modify existing records.
Data Privacy: Anti-counterfeit systems need to find a balance between privacy and transparency. Blockchain was designed having transparency and anonymity in mind, while leaving enough freedom for developers to decide on the level of anonymity and transparency Blockchain-based solution should have. Finding the right balance is one of the toughest challenges, as increase in transparency kills anonymity and vice versa. One way to handle data privacy is separating public data that is necessary to validate product from sensitive data. Sensitive data is then encrypted and securely stored off-chain. This way only users who possess eligible identity, such as representatives of governments or controlling organizations, are allowed to read protected data.
To summarize, Blockchain enabled distributed ledger technology can provide a way for large groups of unrelated companies to jointly keep a secure and reliable record of their products and transactions.Reducing costs and time by eliminating the need for third parties that administer ledgers and clear transactions has business benefits that can improve the profitability of blockchain adopters for anti-counterfeiting. The promising features of blockchain is undoubtedly positioning this new technology a means for anti-counterfeiting.
As Blockchain Technology is gaining a broader acceptance, one of the lingering problem is on mainstream adoption of new technology. Blockchain as a technology can be used as an exchange network to complete transactions, move value and assets amongst peers on the network without the need for any 3rd party intermediary to validate or maintain these movements, and presumably at a lower underlying fees.
The core principles of blockchain sound great promising the blockchain technology’s viability across many fields with an opportunity to serve part of $3 Trillion global markets as follows,
Address part of global remittances which are of the magnitude of $444B annually (2017 world economic forum data),
Online/ecommerce payments of $2.1+ Trillion (based on latest data compilation from Invesp),
Global micro transactions of magnitude $500B+
Think of transactions of 2B+ unbanked people as per World Bank statistics.
While blockchain technology has potential in shaping the various markets and industries, let us dive deeper into finding pragmatic approach to adopting this new technology, key areas of concerns and evolving solutions in an attempt to sustain the innovative edge.
Blockchain adoption approaches:
The anomalies and contraries of public vis-à-vis private blockchain plays an important role in evaluating adoption approaches. The optimal adoption approach of blockchain depends on the nuances within the context of a company or group of companies or industries. The top two characteristics that drive the adoption is utility and speculation. While utility is to do with means of enabling transaction of buying or selling products and services, speculation comes from the investment eye of user/investor in terms of returns expected from adoption of technology. We drive deeper on these characteristics in determining the pragmatic approaches in adopting blockchains. Refer to my blog page to brush up on basics of private vs public blockchain @ https://akshinthalakk.com/blockchain/
“Public Blockchain” offers an ability in maintaining both anonymity and transactional transparency. Most popular public blockchain like Bitcoin blockchain facilitates Monet-over-Internet-Protocol (MoIP) with progressive track record of use cases in B2B payments, remittances, online payments etc. Cryptocurrencies or “Coins” such as bitcoin are just value exchange applications built on top of blockchain technology. Cryptocurrencies were instrumental in demonstrating the power of blockchains and the many applications that blockchains will support and power. Due to technical limitations of Bitcoin blockchain like lack of coding Loops that limits proliferation of distributed applications on Bitcoin and complexities of UTXOx (Unspent Transaction Outputs) that makes implementation of smart contracts tougher, led to other popular public blockchains like Ethereum blockchain. Ethereum enables ease of creation of smart contracts and democratize application on top of underlying blockchain. Similarly the race for privacy has led to other public blockchains like Monero, ZCASH and DASH. All the above public blockchains underpins both utility and speculation. Utility by virtue of completing transactions and moving assets paying premium for utility with localized cryptocurrencies bitcoin, ether, litecoin, monero etc. and drive speculation with sheer value appreciation of cryptocurrencies over time. Collectively there are close to 900 “Coins” are available to steer the public blockchain adoption by incentivizing the utility and as well as fueling the speculation.
“Blockchain Platform” is another means of driving the public blockchain momentum. Platform allows development of various applications (a.k.a dApps) serving numerous use cases. Any of the above public blockchains can offer Platforms for the development of dApps, but the technical limitations of Bitcoin as narrated above allowing Ethereum to drive the momentum of public blockchain adoption with robust community building applications on the Ethereum platform. Alongside Ethereum, there are a variety blockchain platforms came into brining decentralized ledger technology (DLT) one step closer to the reality. As per the Coinmarketcap.com data, there are more than a dozen blockchain platforms like Counterparty, NEM, NEO, Omni, Waves etc. exists today for the user and business to choose from based on their specific needs of privacy, security, scalability and gas requirements. When adopting to these Platforms, blockchain community got another flexibility in terms of “Tokens”. Tokens differ from cryptocurrencies. Instead of developing application leveraging native cryptocurrency based public blockchain platforms, nonnative currencies known as tokens can be used to incentivize the utility of the Platform. Such tokens are EOS, TRON which are used as an alternative to “ether” currency on Ethereum platform. Collectively there are nearly 540 tokens available across 13 Platforms as of Jan 2018 that could potentially expedite the adoption of public blockchain. By embracing the full power of tokenization and platforms lead communities to deliver on the full promise of blockchain technology and ultimately, the allure of the public network.
Let us look at potential real life use cases of public blockchains. What if a vending machine that can monitor and report its own stock, and accept bids from distributors and make payments automatically via micro transactions for delivery of new SKUs? Bitcoin acceptance for online payments at many mainstream businesses such as Microsoft, Dell, OpenBazar and Overstock are few real life examples. This is how public blockchain may drive value convergence in future endeavors.
“Private Blockchain” becomes relevant if anonymity in transactions is not the top priority for companies or group of companies. Private blockchain can be secured by the familiar model of user rights and secrets that organizations are comfortable with over a longtime while still maintaining many kinds of partial guarantees of authenticity and decentralization that blockchains provide. Another use of private blockchain is for testing and experiment purposes. Private blockchain mainly focus on utility with or in most cases without any incentives and without aiding speculation as there need not to be an underlying “Coin or Token”.
Private blockchain can be started as a first step in blockchain adoption. Enterprises with a private blockchains start operating like distributed databases and notary services, often with very specialized objectives, such as tracking product origin and status. Private blockchain ca reduce transaction costs and data redundancies and replaces legacy systems, simplifying document handling and getting rid of semi manual compliance mechanisms. While private blockchain can be a useful start, but not a permanent solution as at maximum it offers hacker-proof database, where the software replaces a central bank as the intermediary of choice. Another downside is with write permissions being kept centralized to one organization and read permissions may be public or restricted to an arbitrary extent, the owner with a master key defeats the purpose of having a blockchain database in the first place. In a way private blockchain can be compared to an intranet with private LANs or WANs instead of using the public Internet and not leveraging full potential of blockchain technology. Private blockchains typically start with a single application and progressively extended to building interfaces across multiple applications and then extending to bigger ecosystem of cross-company landscape. That being said let us examine some private blockchain examples.
MultiChain is an off-the-shelf platform for the creation and deployment of private blockchains, either within or between organizations. It aims to overcome a key obstacle to the deployment of blockchain technology in the institutional financial sector, by providing the privacy and control required in an easy-to-use package. The other one is MONAX open platform private blockchains.
Federated Blockchains or Consortium Blockchains:
A mid path to public and private blockchain is a federated Blockchain that operate under the leadership of a group or Consortium. As opposed to public Blockchains, they don’t allow any person with access to the Internet to participate in the process of verifying transactions. Federated Blockchains are faster (higher scalability) and provide more transaction privacy. Consortium blockchains are mostly used in the banking sector. The consensus process is controlled by a pre-selected set of nodes; for example, one might imagine a consortium of 15 financial institutions, each of which operates a node and of which 10 must sign every block in order for the block to be valid. The right to read the blockchain may be public, or restricted to the participants. Examples of consortium blockchains include, R3 for Banks, EWF from Energy, B3i for Insurance, Corda etc.
Vitalik Buterin, co-founder/creator of Ethereum said as follows on private/consortium blockchains:
“The consortium or company running a private blockchain can easily, if desired, change the rules of a blockchain, revert transactions, modify balances, etc. In some cases, e.g. national land registries, this functionality is necessary; there is no way a system would be allowed to exist where Dread Pirate Roberts can have legal ownership rights over a plainly visible piece of land, and so an attempt to create a government-uncontrollable land registry would in practice quickly devolve into one that is not recognized by the government itself….
While blockchain adoption approaches of public vs private vs federated is an ongoing debate, leading technology providers has started offering blockchain as a service construct in setting up an environment to test and research blockchain adoption approaches leveraging their cloud offerings. Microsoft has partnered with ConsenSys to offer Ethereum Blockchain as a Service (EBaaS) on Microsoft Azure. IBM(BueMix) has partnered with Hyperledger to offer BaaS to its customers. Amazon announced they would be offering the service in collaboration with the Digital Currency Group
As enterprises mulls on pragmatic approaches to blockchain adoption, from the above description one can draw few primary approaches to blockchain adoption as described below.
“Jump start with ready-to-go public blockchains”. Start developing blockchain using the tools provided by the Ethereum, Bitcoin, Ripple etc. Serves the need of trust less, anonymous, transparent system with low transaction fees.
“Leverage ready-to-develop private blockchain platforms”. Get on to blockchain bandwagon leveraging open development tools of MultiChain and MONAX overcoming a key obstacle to the deployment of blockchain technology in the institutional financial sector, supply chain management, asset origination & servicing, claims management etc. by providing the privacy and control required in an easy-to-use package.
“Adopt industry specific consortiums in building blockchains”. Leverage the vertical solutions offered by industry specific consortiums like R3 for Banks, Clearmatics for building out financial market applications to streamline payments and clearing and settlement processes etc.
“Build-on-demand blockchains with BaaS”. Take advantage of as-a-service models of ConsenSys to try out various scenarios and use cases to evolve the right path of adoption of blockchain technology.
As Blockchain technology is getting into the mainstream of large enterprises, I have been contemplating on how micro, small and medium enterprises (MSME aka SMBs) can benefit from Blockchain. Let me explain what I mean by this.
I looked into the data on Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the United States at International Finance Corporation (World Bank Group) website (http://www.ifc.org ). As per IFC consideration, Microenterprise has <10 employees, the small enterprise has 10 to 100 employees and medium enterprise has 100 to 500 employees. The latest data from IFC totals to more than 6 million MSMEs in the United States. Based on the scale and size, the technology adoption in MSMEs is driven by three factors – lower costs, ease of usability of technology and more importantly demand and advantage from new-age technology to their consumers/users. I would like to describe few scenarios before landing on to Blockchain advantage for MSMEs.
Scenario I: Blockchain can offer a substantial value by easing and expediting SME Lending process. Blockchain (i.e. Distributed Ledger) technology based SME lending Platforms could address information asymmetries and collateral shortage in aninnovative way and is applicable to any SME digital asset transaction performed online bypassing the need of any middle-man or the risk (and cost) of enforcement.
Scenario II: Chatbots have made a progression to successful use cases at large enterprises. Look at examples of Allstate Business Insurance Expert (ABIe), Capital One Financial’s Eno, Domino’s pizza chatbot, a real estate bot like Apartment Ocean and list goes on. But I never come across a chatbot in interacting with a local restaurant, a childcare center, a mom and pop shops to state few examples from MSMEs. The reason being an initial capital cost and annual maintenance costs difficult to break-even with MSME financial models. Adding new-age advancements in AI, NLP and Machine Learning further enriches the power of chatbots. There exists a real opportunity in bringing the efficiency of chatbot to MSMEs by taking over tasks for which humans are not essential
Scenario III: Mobile Apps and monetization opportunities. Both Google’s Android and Apple’s mobile apps got exploded in recent times (7+ Million total apps as Aug 2017). According to the Small Business Mobile Apps: 2017 Survey by Clutch, 85% of micro-enterprises with fewer than 10 employees do not have a mobile app and whereas for SMEs in the lower fifties. There exists a significant business opportunity enabling MSMEs access to mobile apps.
Scenarios IV, V, & VI: SMS/USSD messaging, e-commerce/direct-to-consumer websites and instant messengers are other scenarios that would enhance MSMEs capability in addressing gig economy consumers. The technology is available to MSMEs in these scenarios, but development & customization needs, and costs are slowing down the adaptability.
Blockchain backed Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) offer real opportunities enabling multiple channels like chatbots, mobile apps, SMS/USSD messaging, e-commerce/direct-to-consumer websites, and instant messaging to MSMEs and as well enable Omni channel capabilities. Blockchain decentralized autonomous platform (BDAP) can connect MSMEs, technology providers, developers, marketers, crypto ecosystem, and marketplace offering minimal transaction fees, competitive prices in the open and transparent marketplace, ensuring secure transactions, easing the channel access and simultaneously create the Omni-channel customer experience.
First, Blockchain (BDAP) platform takes-out the initial capital investments to access new-age technologies enabling multi-channel capabilities, establish a distributed ledger technology offering peer-to-peer financial system, smart contract to execute secure transactions and an exchange for MSME tokens, and platform that enhances exceptional customer experience.
There is an opportunity for sellers (tech providers/developers/marketing firms/startups) to play Business Integrator role creating MSME tokens and made available in the marketplace for MSMEs, Developers, Marketing & Content Firms, and Technology Providers.
MSMEs buy tokens for fiat and cryptocurrency. Developers, Marketing & Content Firms, and Technology Platforms decide the price of channels and determine token equivalents. This gives an opportunity for sellers to form a partner syndicate for creating Omni-channel AI Agent experience as an additional value-add.
Once tokens are received sellers of various forms (developers, marketers, media firms, technology partners etc.), MSME channels (chatbots, mobile apps, e-commerce/direct-to-consumer websites, instant messengers etc.) gets launched per purchased token volumes.
What MSMEs get out of BDAP is an asynchronous participation of ecosystem players offering a decentralized platform to access channel capabilities otherwise tied to higher capital and ongoing costs. Another key advantage to MSMEs from Blockchain enabled decentralized ledger is while MSMEs ensures their product quality building a trust/brand evaluation system, BDAP helps MSMEs scale to reputation evaluation system leveraging the platform.
I am publishing this post to highlight few aspects of combined effect of Amazon’s supremacy in online retails sales and its recent acquisition of Whole Foods. Amazon is undoubtedly a retail disruptor and eying for dominant role in pretty much every consumer segment. Based on recent analyst reports, Amazon’s wallet share is about 44 cents out of every e-commerce dollar spent in the USA, followed by eBay (6.8 cents every e-commerce dollar), and Walmart & Apple each at 3.8 cents every e-commerce dollar. Highlighting below Amazon’s impact on CPGs and counter measures
Amazon fueling CPGs Direct-to-Consumer (D to C) channels going forward: Amazon being brand agnostic, promotes them all and let consumers decide the winners and losers. What’s relevant and important, though, is to give consumers the best prices possible. Amazon looks at itself as working on behalf of the consumer. If a CPG company has the resources and patience to work through their D to C strategy integrating with Amazon (probably the largest CPGorganization in the world) it will benefit. Furthermore, if brands are willing to play ball the consumer-oriented way, they’ll win. The losers will be those that don’t know how to play D to C tactics with Amazon, or don’t have the resources.
Amazon acquisition of Whole Foods impacting CPGs: High cost has been Whole Foods’ biggest obstacle to the fresh concept. With Amazon in the picture, more consumer-friendly pricing is already on the horizon. Secondly, along with entry into “fresh” play, Amazon is trying to get a “bite” out of Millennials’ shopping habits. Amazon is looking at grocery as the next step in consumer satisfaction and Whole Foods enables Amazon to have 450 brick-and-mortar locations and multiple distribution centers to enhance its online delivery to the customers who want it.
Combining Amazon online supremacy with in-store experience: We can foresee that Whole Foods in-store experience will evolve as Amazon uses consumer purchase data to reduce inventory levels at Whole Foods making space for Amazon to use Whole Foods stores as showrooms for Amazon products (Books, Kindles, Alexa, etc.) and pickup locations for Prime purchases. CPGs will have to prepare for tighter inventory management, faster shipping, and possible packaging changes to adapt to the new format.
Leading to “Click & Collect” dominance: Amazon can leverage Whole Foods physical stores as pick-up locations for Amazon Fresh Pick-up. CPGs will have to ensure that they achieve full distribution in Amazon Fresh and invest to ensure strong platform visibility.
Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods could influence consumers shift away from pre-packaged foods and center of store items so be prepared for volume declines on brands that aren’t able to be positioned as healthy and all natural. The shift towards healthier, more natural food and personal care products will accelerate. CPGs will need to shift their product portfolio accordingly.
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.
Increase User Base.
Generate Revenues with Ads.
Zero Base Price.
Optional In-App Purchases (premium features, additional content, subscriptions, or digital goods etc.)
Pay to Download App / But App Bundles for Discounts
One Point of Monetization at the time of initial buy
Outstanding design, functionality, and marketing
Combination of Paid & Freemium Models (Can Combine in App Bundles)
Pay to Download & Options to Buy Additional Features
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
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.firstname.lastname@example.org for a deeper discussion on App Monetization.
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.
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.
Digital forces like AI, Machine Learning, IoT, Robotics, VR/AR, Blockchain etc. are reimagining business models transforming goods, services and labor markets at unprecedented pace enabling the superfluidity of the markets. Two fundamental characteristics of superfluid markets are shrinking lead times making the interactions seamless and near realtime, and second is extreme focus on cost-to-value ratio. I will discuss the evolving nature of markets with few use cases below.
1) Goods and Services in Superfluid Markets:
i) Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning: AI combine with machine learning is paving ways to new business models for example, changing the landscape of online ads by connecting shoppers to goods using images. Take a look at an AI platform called The Discover Machine, created by the startup Z Advanced Computing (ZAC). This new machine learning backed platform is changing the landscape of online ads. ZAC claims to offer something unique by producing online ads generated through images, not text. The machine-learning platform can be applied to searches from shoppers that will lead to the product on a merchant’s website, or to serve merchants by generating targeted visual ads based on a customer’s browsing history. The intended users of the platform include shoppers, merchants, and bloggers or other publishers.
ii) Internet of Things (IoT): As the Internet of Things (IoT) continues to grow and drive a more connected world, it is changing the way we live, shop and pay by moving data and the point-of-sale to wherever the consumer wants it to be. Take a peek at 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. Experts estimate there will be 380 million connected cars by 2021. Visa is working with a number of car manufacturers (and other companies from across the car ecosystem) to build and test prototypes for car-based payments. By connecting the car ecosystem to the Watson IoT Platform and enabling the car with secure payment functionality, imagining the many possibilities becomes easy. Drivers could be alerted when their smog certification is about to expire or if a specific car part needs replacing, responding by either scheduling a service appointment or ordering the part that has the combined lowest cost and fastest shipping time. The range of other options is virtually limitless, extending to insurance offerings, paying for gas without a physical card or zipping through the drive-thru that much faster because the payment part of the transaction no longer exists.
iii) 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.
iv) AR/VR in a classic example driving superfluidity is transforming the retail industry. 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
2) Labor Markets:
“On-demand and online talent platform” is a new labor model in the connected digital age. As per multiple surveys 1B+ people are unemployed in Developed & BRIC nations. According to McKinsey, online talent platforms serve as clearinghouses that can inject new momentum into job markets. By 2025, they could add $2.7 trillion, or 2.0 percent, to global GDP and increase employment by 72 million full-time-equivalent positions. Global companies are rethinking their talent strategies to tap Connected Transparent Talent Pool.