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The Fourth Revolution

How we think about our place in the world has been transformed through various revolutions of ideas from big thinkers such as Galileo, Darwin and Freud. Now, Philosopher Luciano Floridi believes that we are now into a new fourth revolution in the mass age of information and data. Could it be that now that we are regularly being outsmarted by computers that can reason and analyse better than we can. It’s no longer possible hold to the view that humans are better at thinking than everything else.

Designing for the Future … and the “Future” is NOW (Part 1)

Usability in Ubiquitous Computing and Interactivity

Once upon a time, we used computers exclusively at our desk to look for information, or to use a specific application. But, increasingly, computing devices are becoming an extension of human experiences, as we go about Preview_Wireless_technologyour daily schedules. Event-based, contextualized presentation of information is introducing new demands to the usability factor for applications running on mobile devices. Now, more than ever, usability  needs to hone the user experiences that are enabled by ubiquitous computing.

To consider the implications of the lack of usability in a mobile application, the interactivity modes in which a user incorporates its capabilities into their daily flow, need to be analyzed. A badly designed interface in a mobile application, which is used in short, five-second episodes throughout several periods during the day, can cause a lot of pain for the user solely due to the frequency mode. Other high-context applications need to take a deeper anthropomorphic view of the users’ needs to ensure that specific interactions deliver the usability components for a superior experience. A lack of insight into these aspects will cause the user to abandon the application due to the mismatched impedance. [Read more…]

Blockchain: cryptoplatform for a frictionless economy

Welcome to the wondrous world of the complex and highly imaginative crypto-economy. The world of blockchain and bitcoin, of miners, sandboxes and hashes. If you are not well-up in this subject yet, you may easily fall under the spell of the fascinating and fast-growing crypto-environments. And even if you have already made a study of the subject, some elements of the crypto-economy may remain mysterious and to some extent intangible.

blockchain_dog

This joke aims to alert you to the serious stuff we are going to dish up. Sometimes the effect of the blockchain as well as its possibilities can be a hard nut to crack. Our advice is: read, leaf back and reread, and consult sources that we refer to. Even if it fascinates you and you might consider your own form of innovation, always keep switching between effect and possibilities. As mentioned, both will be dealt with in this report.

Just imagine that with every transaction that you effect on the internet a notary should look over your shoulder to make sure that nothing is wrong. That would be a very costly affair indeed. But it is an entirely different matter if it could be computerized. What you have then, basically, is a possibility to do friction-free business, as the transaction is already structured to deal with the monitoring. This may well be the key to lots of new possibili- ties. Such a system exists. It is called blockchain, a strong chain without weak links offering a solution to numerous actual problems within the digital economy. In this report we outline the new possibilities.

You can download the complete report (in Dutch) over here. An English version will follow soon.

Converged Solutions Help Transform Healthcare and Financial Services

It’s almost impossible to name an industry that hasn’t been transformed by technology. But as technology advances, so do the opportunities for transformation.

Consider two of the biggest industries in the US: Healthcare and Financial services. Not coincidentally, they’re also two of the most affected by new business demands and new technologies.

Healthcare

heathcare-automation

Source: Infiniti Healthcare

This industry was burdened with cost challenges even before the enactment of the Affordable Care Act; now, the industry has been mandated to improve patient care and reduce costs. It must get better at identifying patients with chronic conditions, to shift services from in-patient care (more expensive) to outpatient care (less expensive).

One of the best ways to tackle these challenges and achieve transformation is to focus on making data-driven decisions—that is, using data to predict trends. Being truly efficient about this, of course, means compiling data from a variety of sources. In healthcare, these days, this means being able to compile and analyze data from electronic medical record (EMR) applications, from medical devices that are part of the growing Internet of Things and even from social media. [Read more…]

I Will Not Fight the Future

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Top Five Essentials of Living in the Digital Age

You know this… so let’s do this! These are the five things everybody should do to stay happy and healthy, digitally.
Take an hour to do these things and prevent days or weeks of hassle later in life. Really, do it now!

remote-cloud-backup1. Backup –Install a backup solution, either use your Mac or Windows backup solution, or use a dedicated Cloud backup tool for a few dollars a month. You will be so happy you did this, if you ever lose your laptop or accidentally overwrite that all-so-important, almost-finished manuscript. Don’t forget your mobile devices: back up important data such as pictures, contacts and messages too!

[Read more…]

Mobile: IT changes everything

IoT and Transportation

The second VINT report on Design to Disrupt (D2D), titled “New Digital Competition”, contributes significantly across industries by focusing on the platform economy.

Ten principles were proposed in this document. It’s worth pausing on the principle “Getting the MOST out of SMACT.” By digging into the opportunities offered by the Internet of Things and working in a collaborative manner, it is indeed possible to offer the transport industry on a dedicated digital platform.

By combining the expertise of three complementary businesses – Kuantic for Embedded Device, Gruau for the Transport Business and Sogeti for IT  – it has been possible to practically and operationally illustrate the implementation of a ‘framework for corporations.’ [Read more…]

Computer Says No – Part 2

Last week the VINT conference 2015 took place in the Netherlands. About 750 guests attended the meeting. We have recorded all presentations of the keynote speakers. In the coming days their speeches will be published online.

Below you can find the next three presentations.

Gerard Doll, CIO RDW, “Consequenties van intelligent vervoer”

Roel Steenbergen, Innovatiemanager Rabobank, “Watson bij de Rabobank”

John van der Wens en Mark Boog,“Poetry in Motion”

The previous three keynotes can be found here.

Big Data, Robots, Apocalypse and Profit Improvement

Image Credit: Appleseed movie (© Masamune Shirow/Seishinsha)

Image Credit: Appleseed movie (© Masamune Shirow/Seishinsha)

For years, I have been fascinated by the apocalyptical stories about computers and robots… and how they will steal jobs, replace ‘us’, improve themselves, rule the world, then eliminate “us,” etc. etc.!

Of course there has been few ‘stray incidents’, with some HFT bots missing the point and losing billions, a military robot going berserk and shooting bullets at friendly soldiers, a popular social network announcing a teen pregnancy, showing lack of diplomacy.

However, most of these so-called ‘fears’ have more to do with us than the technology itself. About us ‘engineers’, as we are not exactly law specialists but think that we can establish laws for such machines, instead of working with and understanding how law specialists function; about us ‘humans’ with existential doubts about our own relevance; and also, about us ‘citizens’, lost in the global / micro / macro economy. [Read more…]

Land Rover Autonomous Car Technology

Land Rover is researching a new remote control technology that represents a stepping stone towards the fully autonomous car. It could be used by the driver to manoeuvre their car out of difficult situations safely or negotiate challenging terrain, whilst walking alongside the car at a maximum speed of 4mph. The Multi-Point Turn Range Rover Sport is also capable of autonomously manoeuvring through 180 degrees, with the system taking over gear selection, steering, braking and acceleration.

Pardon my Scrum-But

Scrum-ButAn organization may know that they have to do something different in order to meet their goals consistently. They have been told that Agile principles and Scrum can transform them into a highly efficient company, but transformation takes a lot of effort and commitment. And maybe, they have been told that unless they adopt the principles fully, they shouldn’t even begin.

I say, let’s start with a Scrum-But instead.

The Scrum-But is a transitional stage in an organization’s Agile transformation process. It’s a way to describe how the organization is implementing Agile principles. For example: “We are doing Scrum, but we are still getting used to all the ceremonies.” or “We are doing Scrum, but our stakeholders and product owner are not participating fully yet.”

Transformation is not instantaneous; it requires commitment – the kind of commitment that was demonstrated by the explorers of the New World when they burned their boats after arriving, and said, “There’s no going back and only discovery ahead.” So, an Agile transformation is marked by the creation of the Scrum-But, when the organization commits and begins their journey. Progress is measured by how the Scrum-But shrinks. [Read more…]

Microsoft Hololens and Minecraft

You don’t always need to imitate to innovate

Leonardo_Design_for_a_Flying_Machine,_c__1488If we look at the history of invention, we would see that a lot of our innovations have been inspired from the actions of animals.

We learned to fly by examining / observing birds and other flying creatures. Leonardo Da Vinci started developing the design of a flying machine based on the shape/pattern of a bat’s wings. Recently, the US Army was working on a boat surface that’s similar to shark skins, in order to stop bio-fouling (caused by small sea creatures that get stuck to the sides of ships).  Also, a new adhesive based on how geckos grab the surface with their feet is under development.

As such, we see that quite a lot of innovations come from imitation, but that definitely doesn’t have to be the case always. [Read more…]

Computer Says No – Part 1

Last week the VINT conference 2015 took place in the Netherlands. About 750 guests attended the meeting. We have recorded all presentations of the keynote speakers. In the coming days their speeches will be published online.

Below you can find the first three presentations.

Opening by Menno van Doorn and Sander Duivestein

Pieter Jonker

Maurits Kaptein

Converged Systems + Analytics = Transformation

Big data - 3d rendered illustration

Technology has always been about hardware and software. We’re coming out of a crucial, multidecade era during which enterprises focused on the two, separately. More recently, though, the importance of transformation—and especially reducing the time-to-value of new systems—is driving a return to thinking about deploying hardware and software together.

Enterprises accrue significant benefits when their IT departments increase their focus on transformation. It’s not just a question of protecting the digital enterprise through high-availability solutions or using powerful analytics to detect and manage security threats. It’s also the idea of empowering the data-driven organization—that is, one that harnesses digital assets and enables data-driven decision-making for higher levels of innovation. Transformation also has a place in enabling workplace productivity while making data and collaboration tools available anywhere, from any device, with no degradation in performance.

These efforts, done in concert, contribute to the transformation to a hybrid infrastructure, one that not only builds the foundation for on-demand capabilities, but also simplifies IT’s ability to both deliver applications and manage them, with easier methods for automation and analysis. [Read more…]

Meet Holus: The Interactive Tabletop Holographic Display

Holus provides a blend between the digital and real world by converting any 2D digital content into a 3D holographic experience.

Trust goes all the way

TrustThe effect of trust on Scrum teams

Trust is something that any work situation demands. However, it’s hard to find trust nowadays, as it has been replaced by ‘control’ in traditional work environments. Our business models, leadership principles and relationships at workplaces, usually, do not accommodate trust.

I’ll give you an example from my youth. As a young student, I got an evening job in a supermarket. I helped replenish the store’s in-shop inventory. One night, my supervisor accused me of stealing. He claimed to have seen me putting something into my pocket (later, it turned out to be my own watch that had slipped off my wrist while doing my job). This incident questioned my integrity in a big way. I felt scared of losing the job and my reputation; and my expectation of justice suffered a severe blow. Although, I was cleared by HQ later, the relationship with my supervisor was never the same. He never trusted me after that and I must admit, I could never trust his judgment either. [Read more…]

Blocksize Debate at the Breaking Point

CSN-VINT-SYMP-2015This session here (video) was recorded just a day before Mike Hearn was one of the keynote speakers at the 21st VINT Symposium. His current pet topic is Bitcoin XT. In his own words: “In about 1 week, Bitcoin XT will include support for 20MB block increase.  I will release another version of Bitcoin XT – which also doesn’t include any blocksize changes, but it just tidies a few things up. And then probably within a week or two Gavin will have a change that’s ready to submit to me, through Bitcoin XT, and then we’ll integrate that and release it as a version of Bitcoin XT that anyone can upgrade to.”

Whether the block size should be increased to 20MB has created more controversy than any other question in Bitcoin’s recent history. For some, it is an urgent and necessary step in Bitcoin’s evolution. Their view is that leaving the block size at 1MB would be irresponsible inaction with potentially catastrophic consequences. Others see increasing the block size as unnecessary and a dangerous first step down a slippery slope towards a more centralized Bitcoin.

Bitcoin is the currency of the Internet: a distributed, worldwide, decentralized digital money. Unlike traditional currencies such as dollars, bitcoins are issued and managed without any central authority whatsoever: there is no government, company, or bank in charge of Bitcoin. As such, it is more resistant to wild inflation and corrupt banks. With Bitcoin, you can be your own bank.

And make sure to also read my article on Blockchain Being the Missing Link to Multi-billion Secure Connections.

When is the DoD “Done”?

What do you think of “Definition of Done” items like “All source code has been reviewed” or “All user stories have been tested”? I think they are poor, to the point of being useless …

Not everybody agrees with me on that. Actually, these are real life examples, so there are entire Agile teams that disagree with me ;-).

Wrong Definition of DoneThe first time I questioned a DoD, phrased like this, I argued that ‘just doing something’ does not guarantee quality. What if the reviewer’s remarks are not followed up? What if the tests fail?

I very quickly found myself in a rather awkward discussion around ‘others’ knowing what was meant and ‘I’ did not and ‘others’ knowing and trusting each other and, again, ‘I’ did not. Basically, the discussion became very personal with an implicit undertone of “you don’t understand Agile.” It ended very unsatisfactorily and in a bad, almost hostile mood. [Read more…]