Archive for Digitizing Everything

Industry 4.0 – Digitizing of Everything Else

In 2012 I wrote about the Digitizing of Everything. Since then, even more than I imagined has been reduced to 0 and 1, stored in the cloud or on drives, and changed the world forever.

Looking back, I realize that while I stuck a toe into the science fiction of the future as it was then (how do you refer to the future in past tense – the historic future?), the realities of just how much can and will be digitized is growing at an amazing pace.

Bill Gates and others are now raising concerns with the impact robotics and artificial intelligence will have in social, not technical, terms. This is a recognition that the realization of these technologies is now a foregone conclusion in the minds of forward thinkers, and the human impact is top of mind. Bill also sees some other technologies that we are on the verge of realizing.

Old MediaMuch of what we have digitized has been in the consumer and data worlds – music, video, text, shopping, documents, information, etc. While there are new formats that challenge the old – playing music on mobile devices rather than records; reading on screen rather than on paper; shopping online rather than in a retail store; filing a medical claim and getting paid online; completing HR process at the office – they do not destroy the old formats. Books, records, retail stores, paper medical claims all still exist and the Millennials seem to like these more tangible formats. (Everything old is new again).

Fringe concepts like face recognition for security, self-driving cars, 3D printed items, and unmanned aircraft – from the military to home delivery – are now all part of today’s world. They may not have had their Janus Moment and become the “norm”, but they are no longer the fringe.

We are however entering a period that I referenced to in the “historical future” of 2012 where computers are beginning to do new things, not just in new formats. I wrote:

In the book AFTER THOUGHT The Computer Challenge to Human Intelligence James Bailey proposes a completely new impact on humanity due to the computer’s ability to “think” differently than we do.

One example he uses to illustrate the impact of the speed of computing is weather predictions. Given the same data, humans could calculate the predictions just as machines, but in hundreds of “man-hours”. By then, the prediction would be useless.”

Today, we find Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, Internet of Things, Augmented Reality, Bots, Predictive Analytics, Conversation as a Platform (where Bots talk to each other instead of humans). Quantum Computing, and more. These concepts were talked about in 2012, but today they are fully realized if not fully implemented.

The result? What the World Economic Forum refers to as the Fourth Industrial Revolution.

This may sound familiar as well. That’s because in 2012 the Economist wrote about the Third Industrial Revolution. Yup, the Third Industrial Revolution lasted a brief 4 years. (it was televised and is available for streaming via NetFlix.)

The Fourth Industrial Revolution connects systems and computers in ways humans can’t (fully digitally) and begins to form new processes and tools around how computers, not humans, think.

Imagine this: a sensor in a subscription oven (one where the restaurant pays based on usage rather than all up front) sends its report to an intelligent system that predicts failure within 2 weeks based on usage, model, location, and more. This triggers the calendar bot to schedule the appointment with the restaurant based on day/times it’s open and the service center’s availability. Confirmation of the appointment is sent to the chef and the oven which displays the information on its screen – if a technician is needed at all.

Instructions are sent to the 3D printer at the restaurant (crediting the monthly invoice for materials used) and the restaurant’s alarm system pairs with the bot in the service tech’s device to allow access when he arrives. Or, an interactive bot walks the restaurant owner through the process of replacing the part using a video recognizing app or augmented reality glasses.

So why should the event and conference industry care?

  • Fewer Workers means fewer attendees: The example above shows that there will be fewer service techs and training in the future. If service teams and training are your audience and content, they may be greatly reduced inside of 50 years. Add autonomous vehicles like trains, trucks, ships, tractors, taxis, buses, and more and there will be even fewer audiences for these types of events. (More on the impact of Autonomous Vehicles in a later post). At one time, every elevator in the world required an elevator operator, now almost none do. In the future, one or more drivers per vehicle or one service techs per service call will seem as strange as one operator per elevator does now.
  • New workers mean new attendees, content, and conferences: However, new skills, technologies, and industries means new events. All the technologies above will form into mature industries over the next 20 years. The concept that a chef will also do maintenance on their kitchen appliance via augmented reality glasses means new and different skills for many attendees at what do not appear to be “technology” events. Tech, IT, Robotics, and more will become more mainstream and therefore more necessary curriculum for attendees everywhere.
    Robot at Microsoft Ignite

    Robot at Microsoft Ignite

  • Changes in business process: Bots and connected systems will replace the order taking, warehouse, and quality control process by sending orders directly to robots and drones for assembly into self-driving truck, or a 3D printer on site. How does a warehouse change if there are no humans involved in the storing and gathering? How can you change the Event and Conference business as an event owner, agency, or service provider?
  • Online attendee experience will change: Richer media, attendees navigating physical space via robots and/drones (just piloted at Microsoft Ignite), sessions streamed globally by attendees, attendance fees based on content consumed not physical or online access. Skype Translator alone allows for global audiences for content consumption.
  • Interconnected data: Just as Facebook and Google profit handsomely from the broad sets of data related to their user and their preferences, event data will become more broadly used and valuable beyond the event itself. Publishers once were the channel to new audiences with mailing lists; today all sources of information have increasing value not only to marketers, but to the systems that provide the augmented reality, predictive analytics, conversations, and more.

Robot Attendees

The birth of SkyNet is coming.

While Terminator shows one fanaticized version of what self-aware machines learning and working together might be, the events industry needs to digest the realities of how the digitizing of everything will impact, well – everything.

Be assured, even if the machines do rise, they will need an annual conference for networking, planning, and training. And the Resistance will need a series of events as well!

Who will be first to introduce an event for them?

 

 

The New Era of Silent Movies

In a short attention span, “I’m not listening”, world – communicators need to ensure that their visuals carry the story on their own when needed.

To address the “mute” button and multi-screen society, some of the best broadcast commercials have told moving stories without spoken words for years. Check out the Budweiser #bestbuds series with the sound off – still moving, emotional, universal, and effective.

Social media and streaming services now offer a preview of rich media in one’s social posts, but until your click to view, without sound. This is further changing how people engage with video and rich media, forcing creators to look for ways to capture attention and tell the story with visuals only; or in the best case scenario, solicit a click to view the content with sound.

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Fortunately, there are lessons to learn from Silent Movies. The golden age of Silent Movies was the result of new technology (moving pictures) and the lack of technology (no real way to capture and sync sound as well). Stars such as Charlie Chaplin, Harold Lloyd, and Mildred Davis all rose in their craft by telling stories that captured the imaginations of the audience through their acting, visual techniques, and intertitles. An audio soundtrack was in some cases provided by an organ or piano in the theater, and added to, rather than carrying on its own, the storyline.

Adding simple subtitles and captioning can make the difference between a video that’s “silent ready” and one that isn’t. The BBC has a series called BBC Trending that does a nice job of using subtitles graphically and selectively. In contrast, KOMO News in the Seattle area posts “QuickCasts” on Facebook without captioning. Adding captions would immediately change the value and view-ability of these otherwise concise and relevant local news.

Using techniques from broadcast, commercials, and silent movie era – and lessons from live presentations such as graphics, charts, and animations to carry the story – the new era of silent movies has arrived. These tactics also benefit in reaching diverse audiences by allowing those with hearing disabilities to receive the message, and by using multiple languages, reaching a broader audience.

Some organizations are leading the new ear of silent movies. Robert Reich’s Big Picture series on MoveOn.org,

 

and Home Cooking Adventure

are good examples where silent movie techniques allow the message and information to be told with the sound off, or understood more when the audio is on. Unlike the mini-stories of broadcast commercials, both of these examples have specific details, information and actions, and both are part of series which is also not lost on the viewers.

So if you want to know just how “silent-ready” your rich media is, turn off the sound and see if your message is being communicated.

 

 

Seeing Around Corners – ECEF 2015 Keynote

Social norms, technology and the economy are under constant pressure.

Small but meaningful changes that have the potential to disrupt our plans are advancing every day. Like pressure on a fault line, they can release small tremors or become major earthquakes. From the decline of intermediaries to the growth in protests, the shocks will affect your event, your attendees, and your business.

How can you be ready for the inevitable and the unknown? At the Exhibit and Conference Executives Forum I shared my thoughts on a strategy I have used to help you anticipate the worst, while preparing for the best.

MPI World Education Congress 2014 | Closing General Session

The Closing General Session at MPI World Education Congress 2014 featured Scott Schenker, the General Manager, Events and Production Studio at Microsoft and Founder of Janus Dialogs.

Scott believes there is magic in discovery and innovation. However the process of innovating is not magical – it comes from observing what others are doing, tapping the collective imaginations of empowered and engaged individuals, and embracing the fringe for new norms.

Developing a habit of appreciating, understanding, and being energized by these new norms – rather than fearing or dismissing them – has been one of Scott’s key to success in the Events industry.

Scott will share insights on how he approaches innovation, searches for new ideas, and “borrows” them from completely different industries to introduce them into the events he and his team organize. He will explore the four reasons for, and the four types of, innovation as well as the importance of looking at social, political, and economic realms, and the bright and shiny technical innovations.

 

Demystifying the Big Buzzwords In Events | BizBash LA

Posted August 4, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT by BizBash

At the Event Innovation Forum in Los Angeles, Scott Schenker examined some of the latest buzzwords the event and meeting industry is obsessed with.

These days it seems the event and meeting industry is obsessed with a constant stream of new buzzwords. But are they really as original as they seem? Do bright and shiny ideas blind us to the lessons—and the smart practices—of the past? At the Event Innovation Forum—Los Angeles on June 19, Scott Schenker, Microsoft’s general manager of worldwide events and Microsoft Production Studios, discussed concepts like selfies and gamification, exploring their origins to discover the core lessons they offer planners and marketers now—and how the industry should really look at innovation.

 

New Norm | The Rise of Audio

 

Audio’s day is coming.

Like battles in geopolitics, operating systems, and hem line length, the mediums of text, images, and audio have each been in and out of favor.

Text took an early – and admittedly long – lead with the Gutenberg Printing Press in 1436. This allowed for not only storage of text, but easy sharing in the printed form. The impact of the printing press on religion, politics, thought, education, and the world is nothing less than transformative. There is not a single area of society that escaped the impact of simply storing, reproducing, and distributing text.

In addition to storing the original, print allowed for standardized translations, search via a table of contents and index, and elevated text into an art form with different fonts, colors, and layouts.

It was close to 400 years before images gained the same storage and sharing ability with camera photography, and like printing, several more decades before it became more widely spread. Finally, in 1877 audio finally caught up to the storage and sharing race with Thomas Edison’s phonograph cylinder.

With the birth of computers in the 1940s a new race began. Given the complexity and size of image and audio files, it is not surprising that text took (again) an early lead in this realm. While mice and trackballs were added as part of the GUI interface, text became the default input and output media.

Digital audio did gain a short lead over digital photography and the two grew steadily in the 1980s and 1990s. In fact, it is now estimated that 10% of all pictures ever taken have been taken in the last 12 months. With 7 billion people on the planet speaking all the time, imagine the scope and scale of audio compared to images.

Yet behind the majority of the searching, sorting, and organizing of audio and image files is text in the form of metatags, indexing terms, etc. thus limiting the ability to use audio as an input device or to truly search within the file itself.

This is all changing. Just ask Siri or Google Now.

Audio is now being used as a control device replacing keyboards, it can be searched to the spoken word within recordings and videos, and can sync content across multiple screens. Imagine a world with no keyboards, searchable audio, and instantaneous translation.

TVPlus [+] is an interactive television application you use while watching your favorite programs on TV that syncs your second screen device to your television and delivers interesting, relevant, contextual content and social activity about each scene of the show, including actor bios, music, photo galleries, behind the scenes facts and much more.

MAVIS is Microsoft’s Audio Video Indexing Service which uses state of the art speech recognition technology developed at Microsoft Research to enable searching of digitized spoken content, whether from meetings, conference calls, voice mails, presentations, online lectures, or even Internet video.

Shazam, SoundHound, and Tuneup listen for music or audio from commercials and bring you to a web page, URL, or special content. SayHi and T-Translator will translate spoken words in real time on hand held devices.

Even one of the backbones of image tagging – the bar code – is being converted into acoustic barcodes that convert the spacing of the barcodes to unique audio patterns that can be recognized.  Chirp is using unique sounds for sharing between devices. And Gocen is converting written music to audio in real time

We are more than just at the fringe of the rise of audio and we still have a long way to go.

The movies, always a good place to look for signs of new norms, show everything from audio activated spaceships in Prometheus to voice interactive videos in the new Total Recall. And in the real world, SayHi exceeded 10 milliontranslations back in July, Shazam 5 billion songs in August, and specific conversation assistants like Winston are delivering social updates and personalized news in a narrated broadcast format..

Have you started thinking about the voice and personality of your experience or corporate audio? Changing bar and QR codes for unique audio tags? Are you adding voice interface to your event mobile app?

 

Note: As always, the desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretakers for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.

 

 

Event Marketing Summit Presentation

 

 

In early May of 2012 I presented at the Event Marketing Summit 5 trends facing the Experience Marketing industry. That presentation is embedded below.

 

 

Some additional notes related to this presentation:

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New Norm | Third Industrial Revolution

 

I was planning on writing this one last week but the Economist beat me to it, and much better than I could.

The impact of this new norm – 3D printing and additive manufacturing – will be nothing less than transformative to all aspects of business, society, and technology.

Think about printing new light fixtures at home whenever you want a new design, to the size and dimensions you need; or restoring a classic car by printing the pieces missing; or going to the 3D printer at home depot for any part for any home appliance every made; or printing custom giveaways on show site, with your prospects and brand together.

You owe it to yourself to read this special report.

Impact on Distribution Channels


Computing, binary code, and calculating have been with us since the 1930’s. And as devices that needed data, the process of digitizing began as well. Weather data, stock trades, order and inventory, sales transactions, etc. The trio of Word, Excel, and PowerPoint are the most visible caretakers of this transformation – but there are databases of ever-growing size in every area of our worlds.

Most digitization has been of existing data, or data we would have recorded in another form one way or another. Media, sales records, stock transactions, inventory, medical records, weather patterns all preceeded digitization and would have marched on with or without the computer age. Just look to the constant stream of new data being added.

The benefits of digitization are numerous and for the most part obvious. Digital files are searchable, sharable, easily stored, faster to analyze, etc. This greatest impact of this has been to the distribution channels.

The most valuable asset for media companies was the channel of distributions – subscribers, airwaves, retail outlets, etc. Owning the prime TV and radio channels in a city, and having a subscriber base in the millions was success. Digital changed this and allows the content to be sent more directly – person to person – without these controlled channels.

As the control of the channels disappears, so do the profits.

Consider the USPS – they do not generate any content, they are strictly a delivery channel yet, the Janus Moment for the USPS came in 2001 when the zenith of First Class mail was reached.

The declining annual rates are threatening to put the post office out of business and at this pace, this 400+ year-old institution (the United States second largest employer) could be gone in our life times.

If your event or experience is nothing more than a channel for distribution, then your time may also be challenged. How are you bringing more value than just the distribution of content?

New Norm | Life Logging

Personal diaries have been tucked under mattresses, hidden in secret drawers, and peeked at by nosy friends for a long time. But as everything analog shifts to digital, technology allows unlimited storage and sharing, and new gadgets are introduced – we’re starting to collect a lot more, and different kinds, of data about ourselves.

Logging has established roots in business and public sector.

For instance, it is now normal to have a video camera in a patrol car. In 2000 only 11% of State Highway Patrol vehicles had dashboard cameras. This rose to 72% by 2004. In 2003 police vehicles in cities with 200,000+ people with dashboard cameras broke 50% – that’s a Janus Moment.

It is standard to have your customer service call recorded, your social media comments captured, and manufacturing lines checked by cameras, thermometers, and other instruments to ensure quality. All logged for “training”, archival, or regulatory purposes.

New gadgets like portable cameras, smart phones, motion-sensing systems, GPS, connected devices, and increased bandwidth are allowing individuals to document and share their lives in new and surprising ways.

 

It is now possible to track your workouts, weight, blood pressure, sugar levels, and many other aspects of your health and to share these with a designated or open community. In fact, the motivational benefits of sharing these details are part of the value propositions being promoted. No more asking “have you lost weight?” just check my Facebook page. (But thanks for asking!)

Insurance companies are adding discounts to policyholders who log their driving in real time much as professional drivers in the business world are tracked. And there are services to track your kids as they start to drive as well.

Some are getting into trouble for tracking too many things – like where’s your iPhone? Nonetheless, the trend is towards this type of life logging becoming more and more the norm.

The Google Glasses are the most aggregating and adventurous gadget to date and could add further fuel to the life logging fire. But what does a future of everything being captured, stored, and shared look like?

Robin Williams starred in an interesting science fiction/fact movie on this subject in 2004 call The Final Cut. He plays a cutter, someone with the power of final edit over people’s recorded histories. Think highlight videos of your life played at your funeral. It reflects on true versus perceived memories, and how we all have things we have done we may not be so proud of – or want to share.

And there are even more powerful possibilities as lives are logged.

Patterns, information, and knowledge can come from sorting through large amounts of big data. What could be bigger than the life logs of say 1,000 people over 50 years; or 1,000,000 people over 80 years; or 100,000,000? The ability to log the physical state, geography, emotions, and activities of larges groups is here, as it the ability to store, analyze and interpret the data.

Is laugher really contagious? Are there places in the world that are truly healthier, is there a link between being caught in the rain and how you will score on a test later that day? What is the human “butterfly effect”? Correlations and relationships never though of before (or provable) could become common knowledge. Whole-Live Data Mining could be an interesting job in about 100 years.

The desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretakers for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.

In the near term –

  • Are you ready for your attendees to share every moment of their time at your experience?
  • To record and share their conversations, sessions attended?
  • Do you have a policy for life loggers?

What do you think? Log your thoughts here –

New Norm | User Generated Content (UGC)

Social Media started with content relevant to your “social” world. It was through new channels like Twitter and Facebook and about you. But once released from the bottle, the genie cannot be held to just the social aspects of life for long.

User generated content is typically seen as ‘Conversational Media’, as opposed to the ‘Packaged Goods Media’ of the past century.1 

But while the conversations are certainly growing, user-generated content carries a few more influential characteristics as well.

Packaged Goods Media was centrally controlled and needed costly distribution channels like subscribers and/or airwaves, which required a return on investment. Given the costs there was a resulting correlation between the “professional” look of the medium and the assumed quality of the message.

But in addition to the social change of “who has something to contribute”, the technical and economic changes have equalized the distribution playing field.

The Walla Walla Washington high school newspaper website has the same reach as the New York Times or BBC. [I picked them because they came in second in the 2011 Edward R Murrow High School Journalism Competition.]

Technology has also made media capture and manipulation common for the common man. Print, photo, web, music, and other rich media can be laid out and published like never before. These are the same applications used by the media enterprise. Thank Adobe for this.

As a result User Generated Content with its endless reach, low investment, and equal perception of quality has enabled anyone to generate and distribute anytime. ANYONE CAN DO IT! Look at me. If “video killed the radio star” than the digital revolution killed the radio, print, TV, newspaper, and guest keynoter.

But are we pushing a string or pulling it with this ability? Do people really want to create content?

Jeff Jarvis, Professor at New York University and author of the book “Public Parts” says,

“Sharing is a social and generous act: it connects us, it establishes and improves relationships, it builds trust, it disarms strangers and stigmas, it fosters the wisdom of the crowd, it enables collaboration, and it empowers us to find, form and act as publics of our own making.”

The network on which this user-generated content is shared is making the world smaller. Maybe not literally, but the “6 degrees of separation” are now 4.7. Some bloggers have more street cred and influence than established news writers.

How does this affect the experience marketing and events industry?

First, ANYONE CAN CREATE AN EVENT. Certainly anyone can create valuable content. Your community, competitors, just a guy looking to make a few bucks while you need to make more. What is your real experience advantage? Your event, and its relationship with the audience, is no safer than the radio, video, or TV star.

Second, supply and demand quickly come into play when there are so many willing and able to provide content. Any equation between the value of content and price paid is broken. Thousands will freely contribute content to news outfits, blog sites, or direct to readers, friends, fans.

“FREE” or inexpensive content is expected. If you’re selling something, people will find a back door to getting it for less or free. If content is a key to your financial success – you are in trouble. Professional photographers have been replaced by Flickr searches, record companies bypassed, and comics are producing their own TV specials.

Some organizations have embraced this Janus Moment. The Event Marketing Summit has introduced Unsessions – Targeted conversations created, managed, and executed by attendees. They have looked to “place” as the differentiators in the marketing mix.

 

Lynda.com have done one better. With no direct affiliation with Apple, Adobe, or Microsoft, Lynda.com offers a universe of user-generated print and video content on all things computing and software from self (and community) proclaimed subject matter experts resulting in a differentiating “product” with search, digestible and relevant results, and monthly subscriptions.

The desire of Janus Dialogs is not to adjudicate the appropriateness of any trend, but to bring it to the forefront for consideration by the caretakers for the shared moments in time we call experience marketing.

How are you dealing with User Generated Content?

  • Does the rise threaten your events value?
  • How can/are you adjusting the content exchange?
  • Beyond content, what other aspects of your program are or should be user-generated? The agenda, tools, locations?

Contribute your user-generated content to the dialog –

The Digitizing of Everything

There are 31,463 digital images in my photo library including scans from my earlier work and old family images, and photos taken in digital form.

Currently there are 416 emails in my work inbox, and 256 in my 5 personal email accounts. I have thousands of emails filed from the past 30 months.

My 5,699 songs would take 16.3 days to play and can be accessed from several devices via the cloud.

I received no printed magazines, instead using iBooks and Zinio to manage my 25 annual subscriptions. We watch movies from iTunes and Netflix, event sessions on YouTubes, and video-conference with the family almost weekly now.

All these items can be stored, searched, manipulated, sent, and shared across digital channels.

You get the picture – the digitizing of our lives has had a material effect on the media, communications, and entertainment realms.

Most digitization has been of existing data, or data we would have recorded in another form one way or another. Media, sales records, stock transactions, inventory, medical records, weather patterns all proceeded digitization and would have marched on with or without the computer age. Just look to the constant stream of new data being added.

These are the “low hanging fruit” of digitization. They have assisting in organizing our worlds, speeding the calculations, and showing patterns but how have they truly changed it?

In the book AFTER THOUGHT The Computer Challenge to Human Intelligence James Bailey proposes a completely new impact on humanity due to the computers ability to “think” differently than we do. [Note: this is a 15-year-old book and not an easy ready, but one whose concepts has stayed with me for years.]

One example he uses to illustrate the impact of the speed of computing is weather predictions. Given the same data, humans could calculate the predictions just as machines, but in hundreds of “man-hours”. By then, the prediction would be useless.

This is where the next chapter of digitization is taking us – to digitizing things that we would not think of as digital – like currency, our lives via life logging, and 3 dimensional items not for display on 2D or 3D monitors but for reproduction in 3 dimensions.

Take a minute to look around your world, what do you think can’t be digitized? Chances are you are wrong.

The digitizing of everything is one of the most impacting elements of the quantum change known as computing. It has just started to truly run its course and will, over the next 50 years, bring truer if not greater change than it has in the last 50.

The End of Cash | The End of “The Hardest Part”

In the song “The Hardest Part” Blondie sings

Twenty five tons of hardened steel rolls on no ordinary wheel
Inside the armored car ride two big armed guards
In a bullet-proof vest, shatterproof glass, overdrive, we’re gonna pass
Twenty five tons of hardened steel rolls on no ordinary wheel
The hardest part of the armoured guard
Big man of steel behind the steering wheel

But like so many great movies of the past whose storylines would now make no sense due to cell phones, this song may well become an oddity that our children fail to understand.

To paraphrase Willie Sutton “Banks aren’t where the money is.”

The digitizing of everything has reached currency and will continue to impact not just the financial realm, but soon the icons of currency distribution networks – banks, armored cars, ATM, etc. Bank Tellers, currency printing, and “big men of steel behind the steering wheel” will all be a thing of the past.

Never happen – while Sweden, the first European country to introduce bank notes in 1661, is now pushing to get rid of them. Sweden has already reduced notes and coins to just 3% of their economy (vs. 9% for the EU and 7% in the US).

As a result of banks not being where the money is, bank robberies are down 85% in the past 3 years. What good is grabbing someone’s purse or wallet, if there is nothing in it that can be used?

Are you ready for the cashless society?