Research: Get your Company Ready for AI

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In a world of fleeting tweets and memes, it’s important to ground your business based on in-depth research. Kaleido’s latest 50-page report on AI Readiness, get your company on the right track as they adopt automation. We offer both a sample at no-cost, and ability to purchase the entire 50-page report.

I’ve been interviewing many companies on how they’ve been rolling out AI for their customer-facing engagements as well as for customer care use cases. One thing is very clear, they’re experimenting, and in most cases, they don’t have the full support of the rest of the organization.

My talented business partner Jessica Groopman, has published an in depth 50-page report which gives unseen insights, pragmatic recommendations based off interviews and research on how companies need to be prepared for AI. Surprisingly, much of the readiness isn’t just about getting technology and data cleansed –there’s many cultural, impacts, including preparing employees and even setting up a clear code of ethics.

Don’t just dump your company’s data and brand into an AI engagement without having a larger program that reflects five different areas:

  1. Strategy: AI-driven transformation begins with ground-up problem-solving, but must be supported by a foundation of governance and aligned with business objectives and enterprise data strategy. While approaches and metrics vary by organizational maturity, customer experience is always true north.
  2. People: Preparing people for AI is as important as preparing data, and it is essential for businesses to prioritize human factors over technological capabilities. Instill the “AI Mindset” across myriad stakeholder groups; foster lockstep coordination between technical and product, and address AI’s limitations and cultural stigma head-on.
  3. Data: Data preparedness is not a linear destination. AI data readiness requires organizations address their broader data strategy and orchestrate data pipelines and resources for ongoing enterprise learning and evolution.
  4. Infrastructure: Decision-making around the technical architecture and integrations required to deploy AI must align with core product strategy, balance reliability with flexibility, and account for rapidly evolving AI software, hardware, and firmware.
  5. Ethics: The mass automation of big data and AI call for a new business competency: a formalized approach to organizational resources, bias assessment, transparency, and ethical preparedness.

Get the report, and get your company ready for AI.

Is Technology making us Calm — or causing us Anxiety?

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Is the technology in your life making you Calm? Or increasing your Anxiety?

When you look around at all the beeping and blinking apps and devices, most of the technology in our lives is trying to get and hold our attention. Even media websites and social networks are trying to get your eyeballs for ad-based monetization, even at the detriment of emotionally hooking us as we fight over politics or coo over kitty videos.

To best illustrate the dichotomy, here’s a slide from a research project on “Modern Wellness” I’m working on with colleague Jessica Groopman for a client who’s building out new technology and wants to be on the right side of history. It’s based off key points that Amber Case presented at a keynote she delivered at Anxiety Tech in SF, and she blessed I could share it here.

Much of the concern of Anxiety tech is that the tech companies are often operating on an “attention economy” model. Free software or content, in exchange for advertisers who pay to reach you. As a result your data is sold for attention. When people are the product — they are treated like commodities.

I surveyed a number of tech folks, and found that they have the highest trust with Apple and Google. They trust Apple as they pay a hefty price to use their hardware and software, and there’s been no history of Apple betraying users data. I’ve heard similar responses to Google, despite much of their business model being attention economy (search ads are 70% of the revenue).

In order to rethink this business model, one idea would be to offer premium based social networks and media networks — but savvy thinkers realize this would create an elite internet separate from the less fortunate, further perpetuating societal issues.

Solutions. What are the business-level solutions (beyond limiting notifcations from devices and apps?), I see three scenarios:

  • Some had suggested government provided social networks. Unsure this makes sense, as some government media doesn’t end up being on the side of the people.
  • A mixture of business models that enable companies like Facebook to also generate revenues from other product offerings like devices, ecommerce sales, and beyond.
  • Coop owned technology companies where the users own the equity (see Juno in NY) perhaps blockchain based companies that offer to their users, as a form of reward and loyalty.

Love to hear your thoughts of other solutions, this will shape society as we know it.

The Six Ways Your Business Will Use Mixed Reality

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Download high res version here. 

By Jaimy Szymanski with Jeremiah Owyang

Though consumer applications may receive most of the fanfare, mixed reality technologies offer enterprises many opportunities to supercharge employee skill-sets as well.

Utilizing internal-facing augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) applications––often referred to simply as “XR” for “extended reality”––companies can increase collaboration and transform traditional approaches to education and training, repairs and maintenance, sales, product and site design, and more.

The latest report from Kaleido Insights’ we published “Prepare for the New Reality of ‘Super Employees,’” explores in detail the most effective cross-departmental use cases of mixed reality within organizations. These are applicable to a variety of industries (see Fig. 1 below), with advantages of utilizing XR over traditional processes, practices, and legacy technologies abound. The six enterprise use cases are:

  1. Engineering and Design Modeling: Utilizing 3D modeling in engineering products is a tried-and-true method in most manufacturing environments. Reviewing designs in a collaborative VR space offers novel opportunities as traditional computer-aided design and modeling (CAD/CAM) technologies evolve.
  2. Training and Employee Education: Conducting training exercises in a VR environment offers many benefits over real-world programs, including increased safety; managing information transfer amidst high employee turnover; scaling trainers; and upskilling existing workers.
  3. Real-time Information Overlay: Primarily a use case meant for AR, real-time information is provided to a viewer utilizing wearable AR headsets or accessible through a mobile device or tablet via an AR app, while simultaneously viewing real-world surroundings.
  4. Theft Protection: Though primarily retail in its industrial application, theft protection is an emerging use case utilized by large retailers to combat shrinkage of high ticket-value items.
  5. B2B Sales: VR and AR can offer new, immersive opportunities to sell industrial products while simultaneously increasing portability and scaling salesperson efforts.
  6. Marketing and Entertainment: AR and VR content marketing is a growing field for digital marketers looking to reach audiences in new, engaging ways in order to compete with other online and mobile experiences.

From designing machinery in a collaborative VR space to avoid collision issues, to utilizing AR wearables to overlay information for technician repairs in real-time, the XR space is filled with opportunity for innovative corporations seeking to empower “super employees” while achieving greater efficiencies and engagement. Like many modern-day superheroes, these employees are strengthened with superpowers made possible via technological sidekicks that augment their bionic brains.

Learn more about each enterprise XR use case, as well as challenges to adoption and recommendations for implementation, by downloading the full report here. 

Virtual Assistant Management Systems (VAMS)

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By Jeremiah Owyang and Jessica Groopman, Kaleido Insights Analysts.

A new category of software companies must emerge, these companies enable a business to manage multiple virtual assistant experiences from one single platform.

Business needs: marketing, customer care, and other departments are struggling to manage various virtual assistant and AI platforms ranging from Alexa, Cortana, Facebook messenger, and beyond. The APIs will frequently change, often without notice, multiple scripts will have to be integrated and managed per each platform.

These vendors have the following features:

  1. Enable a business buyer to manage a single set of chat scripts from a single platform,
  2. Manage changing APIs from various Virtual Assistant companies, reducing customization by the business buyer
  3. Enterprise-class data security and compliance
  4. Provide aggregated analytics and dashboard reports cross-platforms
  5. Foster data integration and common data standards
  6. We’ll obtain more business requirements from the large companies we speak with on a regular basis.

If this patterns sounds familiar, we saw this same exact market movement in the social business industry, and a rise of Social Media Management Systems emerged (I covered this market at great length) to manage dozens of social networks with ever varied and changing platforms.

Management tool will need to manage AI agents across multiple functions, channels, platform providers:

  • Voice services (Alexa, Cortana, Siri, Google Assistant)
  • Branded service agents (IPsoft’s Amelia; Autodesk’s AVA)
  • Massaging Chatbots (via Facebook, WhatsApp, website)Platform agents (Adobe’s Sensei; SFDC’s Einstein)
  • Custom back-office agents (workflow, project management, productivity, recruiting, sales, ecommerce, advertising, inventory search etc.)

Photo used with attribution by UnSplash

Analysis: Should Blockchain Power Your Customer Loyalty Program?

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By Kaleido Insights Research Analysts: Jeremiah Owyang, Jessica Groopman, Jaimy Szymanski, and Rebecca Lieb

Trend: Nearly a dozen companies have announced their intent to launch blockchain-based loyalty programs and/or branded cryptotokens to encourage customer engagement.

But should your company? 


Is it right for your loyalty program? Is it just hype? Should you deploy? Our analysis of what you should consider.

Keep in mind, many of these are corporate announcements of intention to launch the programs, few are currently deploying. A few examples:

  1. Recently, restaurant holding group Chanticleer (franchises include Little Big Burger, American Burger Co., Hooters, Just Fresh, and BGR) announced its intent to use a blockchain-based loyalty coin for rewards across its dining brands,
  2. Japanese ecommerce giant Rakuten just announced a token at Mobile World Congress called Rakuten Coin aimed at deriving additional loyalty from customers,
  3. Singapore airlines announced a blockchain based loyalty wallet across retail partners for frequent flyer loyalty wallets,
  4. Coffee brand Latesso announced partnership with qiibee for loyalty cryptocurrency across locations in Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Austria, and Benelux,
  5. A tea company rebranded to Long Blockchain Company, and their stock price tripled,
  6. In 2016, China Unionpay (CU), the third-largest payment network by value of transactions processed, behind Visa and Mastercard, recently announced a blockchain PoC project in collaboration with IBM to develop a loyalty bonus points exchange for its 200+ members across 150 countries,
  7. Snipps (digital marketing promotions provider) recently partnered with LoyalCoi,n
  8. Elements’ ELM token cryptocurrency miners can earn ELM for “proof of work” processing. These universal tokens can be used for shopping, airlines, movies, etc.
  9. Russian Burger King’s WhopperCoin announced their program

Business Opportunities:
While private blockchains and branded cryptos are nascent, bleeding edge technologies with limitations, we have to ask: Why is this a budding trend? We see many potential business opportunities including:

  • Fraud reduction: Blockchain reduces loyalty fraud, as members in the network have key information shared in the distributed ledger––a core feature of blockchain. It’s a “single source of truth;”
  • Loyalty exchange: Interchangeable points for other currencies, including other cryptos or even fiat based currencies, this provides more value than holding points to one single company’s loyalty program.  
  • Transferability: Tokens could theoretically be exchanged across other businesses or services, allowing customers to freely choose how to redeem for rewards, discounts, and more, all which encourages repeat engagement. Rewards or tokens become equity, monetizable to consumers.
  • More flexibility: Blockchain enables rewards to be more easily tracked, transferred, and allocated into micro-redemptions. In addition, new modes of engagement (e.g. tied to specific content consumption; IoT product use; biometric authentication; beacons; local or regional campaigns) could be more easily scaled up or down across loyalty networks.
  • More cost effective: Creating or expanding loyalty programs across affiliates is historically very time- and cost-intensive, especially considering systems integration. A distributed ledger can significantly reduce development, integration, reconciliation, and security costs.
  • Low(er)-risk: As blockchain-based applications go, loyalty programs are relatively lower risk initiatives than those involving capital markets, healthcare, or other highly sensitive data.

Risks and Challenges:
This nascent space is fraught with froth, due to media hype, low barriers to entry and more.

  • So. Much. Hype. Many of the announcements are not fully deployed systems, but rather a promise. In general, the blockchain space is brimming with more press releases than at-scale deployments (most enterprise blockchain projects are in PoC today). Some of these large companies are likely following the popular trend of tech startups launching ICOs (initial coin offerings) to raise funds.
  • Token fatigue, sigh: Consumers may soon feel overwhelmed by all the token offerings, and eventually become apathetic (as many have of current, disconnected loyalty programs)
  • “What’s Blockchain?” steep learning curve: Customers like loyalty programs––it’s unsure if they’ll see more value in a blockchain or token-based loyalty program.here are multiple steps to educate customers, as well as encourage them to download, setup, and manage token wallets and accounts.
  • But will it scale?: This remains an issue, particularly involving public blockchain networks or programs with high volume transactions, including other charges against the scaling issues with blockchain as an overall industry.
  • Hands off my data. Brands will have to collect less personally identifiable information (PII) data for these programs. Not only because of GDPR, and inability to scale, but will have to limit how much PII can be put on a shared network. This also means data aggregators and brokers become less relevant to loyalty programs.  

Kaleido Insights’ Recommendations: Deploy blockchain for your loyalty program if:

  1. You’re poised to experiment with an emerging technology that reshuffles economic benefits of loyalty programs, in favor of brand, affiliates, and customers,
  2. You’re ready to deploy significant upfront marketing spend to educate customers on what and how to use blockchain,
  3. Your company is a holding company with multiple disparate brands, products, locations, and systems,
  4. You’re part of a partnership with multiple companies that all share a common loyalty program, but the systems are not well interconnected,
  5. Current partnerships aren’t delivering meaningful business ROI; are too cumbersome or costly to scale; customer loyalty is not growing,
  6. You’re frustrated with the loyalty vendors in your market, and want to give them notice, there’s a new distributed way to maintain customer loyalty,
  7. Your customers deserve a more flexible loyalty rewards program, and you want to empower them (key segments: early adopters, millennials, crypto-enthusiasts).

We’ve compiled a short list of a few vendors, including: Elements, Loyyal, LoyalCoin, Blockpoint, leave a comment if you hear of others.

Learn More: Kaleido Insights
We’ve published a number of reports on Blockchain including “Blockchain and IoT” and “Business models of Blockchain” and more, to learn more about our advisory, education and speaking services, contact us at Kaleido Insights.

Image from Pixels

5G Networks will give rise to Intelligent Devices

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The vast discussion at Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress isn’t about new devices, but instead about the promise of what an ultra fast 5G network will do. Not only will it enable you to have a fast connection for rich media on your mobile devices, it will also empower many devices to quickly communicate to each other. This is key as we see the rise of the Autonomous World, where intelligent machines can operate independently of direct human control.

How Your Industry will be Impacted by 5G
Working with my partners at Kaleido Insights, we conducted analysis to predict what 5G will mean to a variety of industries, you can read the full post to find out more.

  • Smart grids and smart factories. 5G, combined with “network slicing,” which allows network resources to be allocated on demand, is being tested with traditional power and factory models. In 2017, China’s Huaweidemonstrated a network slicing application for the smart grid, showing how 5G can be used to restore power in 300 ms. It upends traditional models in its ability to be secure, reliable, and high-performing at a low price. Similarly, Ericsson and China Mobile jointly showed how these technologies provide cost-effective, real-time, and low-energy solutions for various manufacturing scenarios.
  • VR and AR. According to Qualcomm, 5G is needed to take VR and AR to the next level for uniform automotive video streaming (when self-driving cars become the norm), social sharing at crowded venues (upload capacity of 12.5 Tbps/km2), 6 DOF immersive content (high throughput, low latency),  and remote control/tactile internet (low latency). Kaleido partner Jaimy Szymanski extends the thinking around how AR/VR and 5G will be technologies in tandem growth.
  • Smart agricultureLanner reports that 5G networks will provide farmers and the agricultural industry Smart Farming IoT technologies for tracking, monitoring, automating and analyzing their agricultural and industrial operations.
  • Industrial IoT (IIoT). Relative to many other industries, the IIoT industry entails more complex data issues for the following reasons: the variety of data source types, messy data, complex data relations, different sizes, different volumes, and varied frequency. Initiative’s like The OpenFog Consortium, launched by Cisco, entail data-intensive IoT applications and analytics with the goal of addressing the complex data issues by enabling AI, IoT, and 5G to work together with fog computing.
  • Autonomous driving. Intel is making 5G modem chips that will transfer gigabits of data on a second by second basis over wireless networks. They believe that this will make autonomous cars smarter by allowing the cars to communicate with a connected infrastructure that will help process sensor, safety, and other information quickly.
  • Law enforcement. 5G’s ultra low latency combined with distributed simultaneous localization and mapping (D-SLAM) will allow law enforcement to exchange live vision feeds between front-end agents dealing with an incident. The benefits are that it will improve the mission’s overall efficiency, as well as situational awareness at an individual level when going into an unknown field.
  • Marketing. AdAge sees 5G changing marketing in some distinct ways. They see an opportunity for hyper-personalization, with consumers interacting with holographic brand representatives based on what they find attractive. And with 5G’s ultra fast download speeds, they see rich mobile video experiences taking off.
  • Security and Identity. Blockchain has the potential to mitigate some of 5G’s security issues. It could help lower the cost of fraud in roaming and identity management, it could secure P2P connectivity for thousands of IoT devices in a cost-efficient manner, and it could be used with identity and data management, with telecom companies providing subscribers unique IDs for automatic authentication on e-commerce websites.
  • Internet of tasks (“tactile internet”). The tactile internet is able to precisely and synchronously map a person’s movements, giving rise to the possibility of duplicating the person’s work remotely and synchronously. This has real-world applications with its near-zero (one ms) latency. Using this technology, a surgeon, for example, could perform remote surgery on a soldier located in a different part of the world.
  • Adult Entertainment. The adult entertainment industry has long been early adopters of technological shifts, starting with VHS in the late 1970s. Now, they’re leading the way with VR. It’s estimated that more than 50% of all VR content is adult-related and that adult content is a large driver of hardware sales. Gene Munster, head of research firm Loup Ventures, estimates the 2017 revenue for the VR adult market to be $93 million, with the possibility of reaching $1.4 billion by 2025. But, the industry faces barriers from large headset makers like Samsung, Sony, and Facebook’s Oculus. Producers feel that the headset makers block adult apps from their online stores, making it harder for consumers to access adult VR content.
  • Supply Chain. As 5G takes off, it will create supply chain opportunities. A couple of key opportunities relate to hardware and smart logistics. The hardware industry will see a boom with the need for new devices and platforms, aimed at both consumers and carriers. Qualcomm and Samsung are currently focusing on consumer needs by developing modems and routers, respectively. And Nokia and Ericsson are targeting carriers, with Ericsson saying they already developed the first 5G radio system. Smart logistics, a subset of IIoT, will be enhanced with 5G by negating much of the human error by changing the manual nature of the industry. The overall benefits are time and cost savings, exemplified through passive RFID tags and “digital twins.” Passive RFID tags can be attached to inventory to automate the process of tracking and recording, as well as sharing this data with relevant parties in real time. When cargo in transit is damaged, smart logistics will clearly show which party is responsible. “Digital twins” (a virtual replica of physical assets, processes or systems) can be used in smart logistics to log changes in real time so that companies can quickly respond to events, such as shipment delays, shortages, and extreme weather. Some of the benefits, as reported by Deloitte, include: always-on agility, connected community, intelligent optimization, end-to-end transparency, and holistic decision-making.

Read the full post on the Kaleido Insights website to learn more.