Products-People-Digital Equilibrium

With Prof. Michael Porter

With Dr. Michael Porter

I am writing this blog post to bring out the essence of our discussions that occurred during the”FT-PTC Future of Industrial Innovation Global Series” organized in New York yesterday. Manufacturing industry thinktank and senior leadership personas have come together to exchange ideas on how manufacturers are adopting new-age technologies to compete.

A joint keynote address from Dr. Michael Porter and James Heppelmann (Jim), CEO of PTC, was an excellent “confluence of thought” that brought together strategic mindset and technology acumen.

While the siloed productivity of human and machine/product has been evolving over decades, the Digital technologies are offering capabilities that can enable progress to the global optima and excellence creating Human-Machine/Products-Digital Advantage. Machine and Products are interchangeably used from now on in the context of manufacturing.  The connection between Products/Machine and Digital (Cloud, Digital Twin, etc.) has been established for some time. This connection enables sensing of a product’s data by digital technologies (edge/embedded) or digital controlling through the optimization of products/machines. But there is a lag between the human-machine and the human-digital connection compared to the digital-machine connection. This lag is causing the “discontinuity” of humans in human-machine-digital ecosystems.

Prof. Porter elaborated on the manufacturing evolution to date as shown below. His vision of the next phase in the evolution is “Smart Connected People”. He emphasized that this phenomenon is happening now with progress from connected products (IIoT) to Smart Connected People with the advent of Augmented Reality (AR) on occasions combined with Virtual Reality (VR) and Xtreme Reality (XR).

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Today’s interfaces separate the physical and digital worlds. A prime example being the GPS system in the car. The 2D display on the GPS shows directions, but human cognizance has to take that input, process it, and finally execute it. This 2D to the 3D gap is what Dr. Porter referred to as “Cognitive Distance” which results in “Cognitive Load”. Imagine a “Heads Up” display leveraging AR that minimizes and eliminates the cognitive distance and cognitive load. AR narrows the cognitive distance by integrating the Digital world into the Physical world, seamlessly.

Digital transformation is leapfrogging the industrial and manufacturing progress continuum from Monitor -> Control -> Optimize to “Autonomy”. AR technology is uplifting the human connection by enabling visualization and collecting the instruction to pass on to the machine. Technologies like computer vision are promoting the human-machine interaction such that the embedded software & systems are allowing humans to diagnose the inner workings of products which were an earlier limitation. In scenarios where AR gets dangerous, VR can fill the gap with simulations and move forward. Thus, the Human-Machine-Digital equilibrium is being established to drive the next-level of industrial innovation.

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Prof. Porter’s strategic foresight was well complemented by Jim’s real-world technology development and use cases. New-age digital technologies are expanding industry boundaries through precision agriculture and smart city solutions. In the past, products progressed to smart products and then became connected smart products but the present and future of industrial evolution revolve around “product System” and “System of Systems”. All-in-all it was great mindshare on today’s manufacturing excellence. I am parking the detailed description of use cases to my next blog post.

P4 I summarize this post with two important closing thoughts from Dr. Porter and Jim.

  1. AR enables People as IoT enables Assets/Products
    • Enabling more effective training and guidance to address the shortage of skilled front-line workers
    • Enhancing worker productivity through better collaboration with machines
    • Counterbalancing the shift to automation by empowering human workers
  2. Both IoT and AR combined to change the competitive environment, requiring new strategic choices and organizational models. For example,
    • Technology development: internal or outsource?
    • Disintermediate distribution or service channels?
    • change the business model?

In the end, I interacted with Prof. Porter to reflect on the discussions of the day and sought his expert comments on the man-machine inflection point. Here is the gist of my discussion. Over the past decades, the industry experienced a gradual reduction in annual work hours, resulting in the gradual improvement of productivity and output. One key attribute of productivity is man-machine collaboration. With digital technologies, the man-machine inflection further uplifted the productivity to 2X, 4X and in the panel discussion yesterday, one company executive was mentioning about 9X productivity gains. In view of this, my questions were,

  • Where does the productivity multiplication (constant uplift of human-machine combined productivity/inflection point) lead next?
  • In the near future, is it going to be survival of the fittest between a human vs machine as the trend line of annual working hours continue to decline?
  • In the long term, would machine constantly chase & replace the humans or the cognitive distance prevail in the foreseen future?

I will follow up with Dr. Porter on this and share further learnings. Stay tuned!!

Network Effects & Friendly Developer Moats

Crypto assets are unique in the sense that they are either natively baked into a network or exist on top of a network. There are many crypto assets but one, in particular, deserves your attention. The network is known as Ethereum and it has a native asset called Ether. Ethereum has the most daily users, daily transaction volume, the total number of assets built on top of the network and most importantly, the number of developers.

While Bitcoin is #1 when it comes to total network market capitalization and general market awareness, Ethereum will continue to gain notoriety in the space as it can do what Bitcoin cannot do; smart contractsprogrammable money and decentralized applications. Ethereum has developed an incredible network effect and developer moat during its past four years of existence. This will cause it to not only continue to grow rapidly, but with compounding effects as shown by Metcalfe’s Law.

Network effect is a phenomenon whereby increased numbers of people (developers, companies…etc) or participants (users, investors…etc) improve the value of a good or service. One way to judge a crypto asset’s network effect is to look at projects built on the network.

In the case of Ethereum, there are currently more than 2,600 decentralized applications. In comparison, its closest competitors are EOS.IO and BlockStack which have 297 and 250 applications respectively.

The problem for Ethereum competitors is that they are still building the primitive building blocks that are necessary to create more complex applications. Ethereum has been developing these building blocks over the past few years and includes things like decentralized exchangesoracles, and stable coins. These allow developers to build more complex applications through what is known as composability — the ability to leverage existing projects in order to build something completely new.

Ethereum Building Blocks — Source is Delphi Digital

Source: Delphi Digital

One great example of composability is Set Protocol. This utilizes Ethereum, a stable coin (Dai, built in 2017) and decentralized exchange (KyberSwap, built in 2018) in order to create automated asset management strategies which are sometimes called “autonomous money robots.”

Ethereum Composability — Source is Delphi Digital

Source: Delphi Digital

While there are already projects looking to compose Set Protocol into the next mind-blowing application, Set is just one example of many projects that were created through Ethereum composability.

The term network effect is not new and what we are seeing now is nearly identical to the growth of the internet.

“The internet was of relatively little value to anyone outside of the military and some research scientists at first, but as more users gained access to the Internet, they produced more content, information, and services.” — Wikipedia

This snowball effect that happened in the early days of the internet is happening now with Ethereum.

This network effect tends to create immense stickiness with builders which forms a developer moat. The majority of developers do not want to recreate an entire ecosystem just to deploy their new application successfully. This creates a chicken and egg problem for new networks as developers want access to the basic building blocks to create interesting and complex use cases, which sends them directly to the vibrant Ethereum ecosystem.

This post has only just scratched the surface of Ethereum, which is a constantly evolving organism and is nowhere near its final form. While it’s nearly a full-time job keeping tabs on this lush ecosystem, I do my best. If interested in learning more, feel free to reach out to me directly and I’ll be sure to point you to the best resources.

Reaffirming Bitcoins’ Strength for Long Term Investment 💰

bitcoin

A new study indicates that Bitcoin (BTC) holders make a profit after an average of 1,335 days – which equates to roughly three years and eight months. The data was released earlier by Bitcoin maximalists, and the cycle lengths are shown roughly correlate to the various reward halving events.

The chart (shown above) essentially considers the amount of time between different peaks and how long it would take an investor to profit if they bought at the previous cycle’s peak. Refer to the chart above.

This means that a 100% definite profit would have taken a maximum of 1,335 days, which relates to the bull market run that occurred late in 2013 when the Bitcoin price surged to $1,150. If an investor bought at that price, the peak of that cycle, then it would have meant it took until early 2017 before the Bitcoin price finally broke that level again.

Seeing as this chart is looking at the market extremes, missing the peak of that rally would have resulted in a drastically reduced wait for a profit. Holding Bitcoin for 317 days would have given a 75% chance of profit. You’d have a 60% chance of profit if Bitcoin was held for 35 days, and the likelihood that you were up over any single day was 50%.

If that sounds like a long time, comparable data for the stock market is exponentially longer. To contrast, an investor would have needed to hold their position for 23 years to achieve a sure profit on the S&P 500. This makes it clear that not only is Bitcoin safe, long term storage of wealth, but it is a reliable vehicle for your wealth if you are looking to turn a profit quickly.

It’s also notable that the analysis looked purely at the chance of profit and not the scale of that profit. When Bitcoin is on a bull run, the profits there dwarf those achievable on the stock market indices. A real-world example from this year is the Greyscale Bitcoin Investment Trust, which outperformed everything else so far in 2019 with an appreciation of almost 300% to date.

In addition to Bitcoin, Gold has also been an extremely strong performer this year and is presently a hot topic among traders. Bullish signs continue this week and leading investors have been speaking out on the merits of the precious metal. Mark Mobius, the founding partner of Mobius Capital Partners, appeared on CNBC earlier this week and recommended that investors hold 10% of their portfolios in physical gold.

The latest price targets have the Gold price reaching the $1,600 mark before the end of the year. As global trade policy uncertainty continues, Gold looks a solid bet to keep building on its bullish momentum.

INVESTORS UNNERVED AT MORE WARNING SIGNALS IN STOCK MARKET

Earlier this week, a powerful warning signal revealed itself as the stock market got turned upside down.

Value stocks, or those with low multiples and stable fundamentals, significantly outperformed their growth counterparts. This type of shift is unnerving to investors because “momentum stocks”, or those defined by their large growth expectations relative to the broader market, have outperformed value names in recent years. Rotation away from these stocks could result in a downturn for the broader market.

Over the past 5 years, momentum stocks have blown away their value counterparts. Most of the top-performing S&P 500 stocks this year are growth names. Seven of the 10 best-performing stocks in the benchmark — including Chipotle Mexican Grill, Advanced Micro Devices and MarketAxess Holdings — have a much higher valuation relative to the broader index, FactSet data shows.

Monday’s session was the complete opposite of the year’s trend, however. This, coupled with geopolitical trade uncertainty, casts a dark forecast over the markets for the coming months.

LEADING INVESTOR SAYS ‘GOLD IS THE WAY TO GO’

Mark Mobius, the founding partner of Mobius Capital Partners, appeared on CNBC earlier this week and recommended that investors hold 10% of their portfolios in physical gold.

“Physical gold is the way to go, in my view, because of the incredible increase in money supply,” said Mobius.

“All the central banks are trying to get interest rates down, they are pumping money into the system. Then, you have all of the cryptocurrencies coming in, so nobody really knows how much currency is out there,” he told CNBC’s “Street Signs” on Friday.

Mobius said that investors should place at least 10% of their portfolios in physical gold, with the rest invested in dividend-yielding equities. That’s especially true if the dollar gets weaker.

“People are going to finally realize that you got to have gold because all the currencies will be losing value,” he added.

Gold can retain its value much better than other forms of currency and is traditionally a safe haven during market volatility. A weaker dollar tends to boost the price of gold as global trade in the yellow metal is denominated in U.S. dollars.

“At the end of the day, gold is a means of exchange. It’s a stable currency in some way,” said Mobius.

Now is the time to take advantage of the rising price of gold and protect yourself from stock market volatility. Indicators are showing that these bullish trends will continue in the gold markets, giving you an excellent opportunity for immediate growth and providing protection for your assets against future economic downturns. Don’t miss out on this opportunity. Act now and reap the benefits.