Saturday, December 10, 2011

Insights from Revised Education Sector Network Diagram

(click the network diagram image to change node focus)

For our final network diagram of the education sector, our team’s goal was to create a true bipartite diagram mapping key education sub-sector industries against the involvement of our individual companies and their competitors. We then employed a node layout that helped to identify the relative positioning of the sub-sector industries. Node size is determined by number of connected edges (we initially attempted sizing nodes by sub-sector industry revenue but Institutional Delivery at $456B unacceptably skewed the scale). This more focused approach resulted in a far more useful visualization of the education sector, and led to the following insights:

  • The relative size of eLearning/Collaboration shows its current and future importance in education work. It is clear that if universities do not adopt eLearning methods, they risk being marginalized (as the eLearning node did not even exist 15 years ago).
  • There are relative groupings of several education sub-sector industries, in particular the more traditional industries of Traditional Publishing, Physical Distribution, and Retailer.
  • There is a strong relationship between companies and organizations engaged in Institutional Delivery and eLearning / Collaboration.
  • Digital Publishing is primarily made up of companies that are in Traditional Publishing.
  • Sub-sector industries on the periphery include Devices and Education Policy.
  • School Management and Testing/Assessment include nearly the same companies. If a particular company is in one but not the other, it would be a natural area for them to expand their operations.
  • Testing / Assessment have fewer players, indicating a dependence on governmental policies (i.e. if a policy shifts or a new technology allows a policy shift, companies in that space may need to rapidly update their product offerings).

What if cars drive themselves !

"Moore's Law, first predicted in the 1970’s, talks about the long-term exponential growth of technology. It states that the performance of a computer’s central processing unit (CPU) consistently doubles every 2 years. This means that by the year 2030, the average mass-market computer chip will be 1024 times more powerful than the average computer chip in 2010. It also means that a single computer chip will be able to do more computations per second than the human brain itself." Sounds frightening but is very much a possibility. Though there could be the "Matrix effect" or other implications, this also means that you can let chips drive your car and not break your head on traffic chaos, believes the Japanese students working on the Autonomy concept.

The Japanese believe that it could reduce traffic congestion. Though a distant 20 years into the future, the concept of cars using sensors to maintain traffic discipline instead of relying on drivers could perhaps lead to better traffic management.

Interesting..but is it possible ? "Nothing is impossible" says our education..let us wait and see.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

If there remains lingering doubt that =everything= will move to the cloud...

In spite of terminal service applications such as Citrix, I have heard the argument that high-end applications such as Photoshop and AutoCAD won't work in the cloud, necessitating workstation-class PCs, at least for some people, essentially forever.

This site is early proof that that idea may not be accurate. It allows you to stream relatively recent games to your PC, Mac, TV or iPad (with iPhone support coming soon), fullscreen, with pretty good detail and frame rates. I downloaded the free client and experimented some and I have to say it works much better than I had expected. You get pretty high resolution streaming gaming content, which reacts to your input without much lag. It's not quite the experience that a high-power computer delivers, but given a fast internet connection, it's dangerously close. If you're a gamer, it's worth checking out. $10 / month for access to a growing list of games (currently at over 100) isn't a bad deal.

I'm talking about the Spotification of games! As a concept, I think it's pretty cool.

Of course, this doesn't address the problem of international laws and cross-boarder data transfers, but the "performance" argument seems to be breaking down.

In the future, as more and more high-performance applications move to the cloud I can imagine the concept of Chrome Books catching on more dramatically, even as home PCs. Alternately, the holy grail idea of having the same desktop experience on any computer worldwide could actually be realized (here's hoping).

Energy Sector Data Analytics

As we mentioned in our previous analysis, one of the key benefits of the Smart Grid, beyond its 2-way communication ability, is the vast amounts of data about usage it will provide. The problem is, what do we do with all that information? If we think about, in the near future, every electric outlet or piece of equipment connected to an electric outlet within a house will be able to communicate back to the utility how much energy it uses, and how and when it uses it. If we multiply this by the number of times a measurement can be made (and the more often this is done, the better), then by the number of houses in a city or a region and then we merge this data with all the data coming from other cities and regions, we will have an enormous quantity of data, that not only needs to be transported and stored, but also, and more importantly, analyzed.
According to Pike Research, the yearly worldwide spending on data analytics for the Smart Grid will reach $4.2B by 2015:

Although these are big numbers, there won’t be space for everybody. Big players like SAS and IBM will tend to buy smaller companies to complement their offering, while smaller players will either devote their efforts to focus in niche applications, or will join forces to create a new player. Whatever the outcome, one thing is clear: data analytics will be one of the pillars for the Smart Grid.

Updated Gaming Bipartite Network

Updated Network Insights

As we look at the network model for the gaming industry over the next few years, a few trends emerge. Even over the past five years, more firms who were traditionally platform providers or content creators have moved into distribution, leveraged by content digitization and with the strategic goal of cutting the middle man. We have seen companies such as Microsoft, Apple, and Nintendo develop direct consumer relationships -- areas once controlled by GameStop, Target, and other brick and mortar retail stores. We have seen this play out in the music industry and more recently with ebooks.

Also as a result of the digitization of video games, it is becoming easier for new content creators ("indie studios") to reach an audience. The gaming platforms that are being developed also require a less formal knowledge structure to begin development. For example, the mobile gaming SDKs have a lower learning curve than the more robust XBOX or PlayStation SDKs. These dynamics have led to a proliferation of smaller independent video game development firms, who can create and deliver a video game with as little as one person -- a feat that was impossible as recently as five years ago.

All this trends are visible in our network of relation of the industry. When analyzing the network big picture it is interesting to observe that the bigger players in the Industry - Microsoft, Sony, Nintendo - are positioned in a central node that allow them to oversee the industry and influence in the different layers. Also is remarkable how heterogeneous the game development layer is. With game studios, movie makers and brands interacting for the content development creation.

In our view in the near future this network will continue its expansion towards the online and social gaming layers, those companies able to effectively incorporate this new trends in their value chain will prevail in the market. At the same time content creation will become even more competed since technology has increase the availability of tools for creative small player and also has lowered development cost.

Smart Grid Partnerships

As we learned in class, when digitalization is central to core capabilities, vertical integration moves further away from economies-of-scale achieving lower costs, and instead, we see “economies-of-expertise” appearing through integrating portfolios of capabilities through relationships. In short, companies are partnering or merging together in order to encompass more of the industry.

The Smart Grid industry has seen a lot of this. As discussed in our previous analysis, one of the interesting things we’ve seen in analyzing the Smart Grid network is that companies are spanning across multiple layers within the industry. Due to the industry’s maturity coupled with the decade long partnerships among several of the industry’s main players, the energy industry has traditionally been almost incestuous in its growth. Basically, larger players will swallow up smaller players to take advantage of their expertise and increase the company’s vertical integration within the industry. For example, Siemens recently signed an agreement to acquire all of the stock of eMeter Corporation. With this acquisition, eMeter will become part of the Smart Grid Division of the Siemens Infrastructure & Cities Sector and will become Siemens’ center for meter data management. (

However, as Smart Grid networks are built-up, we’re seeing increased activity of new players entering the market, especially at the consumer-facing level. Several competitions throughout the world offer incentives for young entrepreneurs to build clean technology startup companies. For example, the Cleantech Open has fostered such companies as ByteLite, NextGenEn, Inc. and Qado Energy. Will the small companies continue to be acquired, or will Smart Grid be dominated by small players? We predict that it will be a combination of acquisitions and partnerships over the next five years that drive this industry.

Expanding the Smart Grid edge into the home

The Smart Grid industry has faced an uphill battle to achieve widespread adoption because it has only been able to take a supply side approach. All the optimization has been on the supply distribution side and not on the demand side, at least not for residential consumers. In order to gain the capability of offering demand side value at a more granular level, the industry will need to expand the boundaries of their firm from outside the home with smart meters to inside the home with intelligent consumption at the individual plugged in device level.

There are several major issues that will need to be met to extend the energy grid network into the home:
  • Technology: In home energy grid networking has in the past utilized either very low bandwidth existing power wiring or low frequency wireless to avoid the 2.4ghz Wi-Fi spectrum. These networks have historically been isolated and not connected outside the house to the smart-grid. 
  • Process: The industry will need to establish processes to provide security and protect connected devices within a home from outside intrusion. 
  • Governance: The industry will need to establish decisions rights that protect consumer privacy. 
  • People: By expanding to interact with consumers directly the energy sector will need to expand their personnel skills to include consumer help lines and consumer facing public relations.

Digital Technology & Distributed Generation

At the beginning of the semester, we read a McKinsey article called “Clouds, big data, and smart assets: Ten tech-enabled business trends to watch.” One trend that was discussed was how distributed cocreation is moving into the mainstream. While they were talking about web communities like Wikipedia, we can see how this can also be applied to distributed generation. In distributed cocreation and generation, “individuals” are contributing small pieces that eventually make something larger. In the case of distributed cocreation, individual people might be contributing their ideas in order to create a comprehensive article on Wikipedia. In distributed generation, individual sites are generating energy in order to power the grid. In both cases, larger organizations are spared from large expenses (either paying authors and publishers to create a whole piece of work or investing capital to build a new and expensive power plant). As with cocreation, distributed generation is becoming “mainstream.” According to the Congressional Budget Office, distributed generation has grown from representing 0.5% to 14% of energy in the US since 2000. We believe that as long as individuals are given proper incentives by either the government or utilities, distributed generation will continue to grow.

The same McKinsey article also discussed the trend of “wiring for a sustainable world.” The article talked about how IT’s share of the world’s environmental footprint is growing rapidly because of the increased demand for IT services and capacity. We believe that this will be a key factor in encouraging the spread of distributed generation. In our previous paper, we speculated that we would see a large jump in the number of commercial buildings (like data centers) being used for distributed generation. We think that many companies, but IT companies specifically, cannot only save money from participating in distribution generation, but they can drastically improve their reputations in an increasingly environmentally conscious society.

Santa Claus 2.0

With all of our discussion of digital transformation of industries, we forgot a very seasonal one:

Mall Santa

I don't know why I'm surprised, but it appears that Santa video chats are popping up all over, giving families with kids the relief that they no longer have to brave the crowded malls during holiday season to tell Santa what they want for Christmas. Great business opportunity for those owners of a web cam, white beard, and velvet red suit (smarter to probably rent during the holiday season ... not sure why you would need this outfit any other time .... Christmas in July?). But if this idea really takes off, what effect would it have on the economy if those families would otherwise turn the mall Santa visit into a shopping trip. More e-commerce I bet. I wonder if retailers would actually join the fray, almost as a way to advertise directly to kids. But maybe that's going to far.

The online Santa business is only beginning. I know from experience that my nieces and nephews make regular checks to NORAD on Christmas eve to see Santa's location (We're usually in California, so when he approaches New Mexico, it's time for bed!), along with phone calls to the NORAD Santa hotline to double check his location (in cases where the kids don't believe the website is up to date). What other holiday opportunities are out there that are waiting to be digitally transformed?

I'm personally looking forward to an online Festivus airing of grievances.

Happy Holidays everyone!!

419 Eaters

Our discussion on information security from our last class reminded me of a group I had heard about on an NPR piece a few years back.

419 Eaters are a group of scam artists who target online scam artists. The group's goal is to otherwise occupy or embarrass scam artists so that they have less time to commit crimes, or hopefully stop completely.

For example a 419 eater might respond to an e-mail from a wealthy Nigerian businessman who needs help moving money from his homeland and so needs access to a bank account, but will pay back the good Samaritan in the future. But instead of giving his bank information the 419 eater instead claims to be from a hand-writing institute and needs help on a project. Specifically, he needs the supposed businessman to hand-copy a book so that his hand writing can be analyzed, after which he'll be paid for his time. A book like Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

Or something completely different...

The Gamification of Education

Gamification is the process of taking otherwise mundane tasks and making them more enjoyable and participants more productive by using rule systems and presentation styles that have been successful in games (clear objectives, friendly competition, an instant reward system, etc.).

Many businesses are looking at gamification as a way to increase worker productivity or gain greater customer loyalty, but one area that this could have the greatest impact is in education. Again, this doesn't mean educational games, but an educational environment that teaches children using techniques drawn from games. Teachers could have a new way to motivate and reach students, and the hope is that the students would continue educating themselves outside of the classroom because the game is so rewarding and immersive.

Unfortunately, there is always the tension between standardization in education to help inform administrative decisions, and innovation to help better serve each child's own individual needs. But with the frustration over the state of education in America, this presentation method is slowly gaining traction.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Uniquely tracking you based on your browsing environment

Whether you realize it or not, you can be uniquely identified by just visiting a website! When you visit a website, you carry a fingerprint that isn't necessarily unique, but unique enough. The EFF has released a tool called Panopticlick that uses various information that is provided by your browser.

For example, many people are familiar with the browser's user string; mine is "
Mozilla/5.0 (Macintosh; Intel Mac OS X 10.6; rv:8.0.1) Gecko/20100101 Firefox/8.0.1". This isn't, however, the only information that gets passed along:

Based on this information, "
Your browser fingerprint appears to be unique among the 1,881,909 tested so far.

Currently, we estimate that your browser has a fingerprint that conveys at least 20.84 bits of identifying information."

What does this mean for everyone else?

Jeff Bezos Owns the Web in More Ways Than You Think

Ever wondered how Amazons Owns the Web? Check out this Wired Magazine interview with Jeff Bezos the CEO of

I particularly liked the comparison it made of both Apple and Amazons competitive strategy.

Healthcare Industry Network Diagram

Here is the Network Diagram for the firms that we are analyzing in the healthcare industry. The firms that we focused on are in blue.
First off, it is worth noting that the five companies (Versik Healthcare, Philips Healthcare, Microsoft Health, Allscripts an AthenaHealth) are from different subsectors of the industry, including EMRs, analytics, and medical devices. This makes for a fragmented diagram. The multiple offshoots with few connections also indicate that the healthcare industry in general is not well connected through strategic partnerships. This offers many opportunities as the industry matures into a networked economy. For example, EMR providers may want to form partnerships with payers so they can provide decision support to their customers, and also absorb the analytics layer which we discussed previously.

Updated network map - Energy sector

Here is our updated network map for the energy industry

xkcd: Password Strength

Thought this would be relevant (and entertaining) in light of today's discussion on passwords.
Alt text: "To anyone who understands information theory and security and is in an infuriating argument with someone who does not (possibly involving mixed case), I sincerely apologize."

Taken from:

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Smart grid data analytics market will be worth $4.2bn by 2015

Pike Research published a report last week analysing the market for smart grid data analytics. The report concluded that the associated software and services will represent one of the largest growth opportunities in the utility sector over the next few years

Social Media Architecture

3 Ways to Improve Your Company’s Social Media Architecture:

While the pressures on large organizations to use social media have gone up, creating a social media presence has reached one-click simplicity. The result is a sprawling mess. Many are redundant, fracturing the same potential audience into separate, so-called “communities.” And the bigger the organization, the bigger the problem.

The solution is a “social media architecture” — a structure that brings harmony, utility and durability to the diverse elements of an organization’s social media presence.

Check out article to know how to build it.

Sony just won big with this one!

I know I have been dissing Sony a lot lately. Mainly, because the more I research them, the more I think they have fumbled big time and have let Microsoft take away their success. However, Sony is a big company, with deep pockets, and I am sure that they will not let the gaming industry get away from them. If we are talking about capabilities, Sony has just aligned all of them to come up with this fantastic video that has shown me that they are not ready to give up. Long Live Michael!!!! .... and Sony!!!!

Todd Valentine deserves credit for finding this one.

Boxee Live TV: Game-Changer? Or the next Google-TV?

So Boxee has been around for a while, but this new device seems revolutionary. Boxee has long been known as an alternative form of media/entertainment delivery, connecting the internet to your TV and allowing you to utilize the hard drive space of your computer as a DVR to record shows online and watch later. But with Boxee Live TV, you actually bypass the internet and can record HD-quality TV from an HD-antenna, connected directly from the antenna to your Boxee Box through this USB device.

The one thing this device falls short on in terms of completely cutting the cable cord is sports entertainment. While the device would allow the recording of over-the-air sports in HD, which is huge, it still doesn't offer access to ESPN and other premium sports networks, which currently are available only through cable subscriptions (with the exception of, which is available to certain cable internet subscribers). In my experience with GoogleTV, and I think this is true for Boxee Box (Linux , blocks the browsers on those devices, based either on the browser's user agent or the lack of a flash player. For sports fans, the Boxee LiveTV doesn't provide an answer, but if you don't care about sports, this is an intriguing value proposition.

Unfortunately the USB device ($49) looks like it's only compatible with the Boxee Box by D-Link, which runs about $179, but for a total of $230 you could cut your cable bill and still get HD-quality shows, saving hundreds of dollars in the long run. It's certainly making me rethink my recent purchase of a $249 HD laptop as an entertainment center to stream current network content, although the sports viewing aspect is still a big one for me. Thankfully Costco has a 90-day return policy on their electronics, in case I change my mind. :)

We all know the cable cord-cutting revolution has begun, in my opinion this device is a game-changer.