Could your next car be the last one you ever buy?

The most compelling reason for the mass adoption of driverless cars is economics, be it personal, business or Government. It’s that simple.

Unlike many other technology must-haves, the benefits are tangible and don’t solely rely on the elusive “productivity benefits”, although these are part of the overall benefits case.
Let’s look just at personal economics.

A recent WEF study “How will ‘robo-taxis’ change the transport industry?  estimated that in New York City, the cost of 1 passenger mile in a ‘robo-taxi’ would be 35% less than by conventional taxi. The cost comparison supports the case for replacing conventional taxi fleets with ‘robo-taxis’.

WEF RoboTaxi
The economics of driverless vehicles could propel faster mass adoption, reducing vehicles ownership, the total number of cars on city roads, easing traffic congestion and greenhouse gas emissions.

So, why would you own you own a car, if there was a safer, more efficient, less costly option immediately available?

Posted in autonomous vehicles, driverless, Infrastructure, Innovation, Mobile, Networks, Smart Cities, Transport, value chain | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Driverless Vehicles on UK roads in 2017 as Govt releases Code of Practice for Autonomous Vehicles

Continuing its ambition to be a centre for driverless vehicles, the UK Govt. has released its Code of Practice for Autonomous Vehicles. Its simple, easy to understand and also addresses the key liability issue. Testing of  driverless cars will be on UK roads in 2017.

The UK Govt believes that it has a three-year lead over rival Europeans nations in research into the sector because the UK never ratified the Vienna Convention on road traffic that requires vehicles to have a driver.

With a potential market worth £900bn ($1,400bn) a year globally by 2025 (source: UK Govt), the £100m Govt funding announced in Spring 2015 for research and development of automated cars and the systems they require, such as telecoms, over the next five years, looks under-whelming.

The new code of practice for testing autonomous vehicles states that:

  • A minimum of 30 seconds of data must always be available so if the driverless car is involved in an accident, the cause of the accident can be determined;
  • The pavement ‘pods’ must have someone who can remotely control them (but doesn’t need to be inside them) to bring them into a safe state in the event of a problem ;
  • The M1 driverless vehicles must have a manual driver in the vehicle who can take over if the autonomous system fails;
  • If there is an accident, in the case of the M1 vehicle the liability lies with the driver, in the case of the driverless pods it lies with the remote controller of the vehicle.
Posted in autonomous vehicles, driverless, Infrastructure, Innovation, Smart Cities, Transport | Leave a comment

“Smart Cities” is so “Information Super Highway”

In the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, visionaries and techies were talking about the “Information Super Highway”. In 1989 Senator Al Gore was chairing a US Senate hearing on the Information Super Highway. At the time, the prevalent metaphor was of a “super highway”. We understood how atoms (cars) moved around and so extended that to bits (information). In the build-out phase of the Internet this made sense, but soon this metaphor became dated as we looked for ways to use this new-found interconnectedness.

Today’s discussion on Smart Cities looks very similar. Most of the talk is about the concept of a “connected city” and the enabling technologies (sensors, Wifi, 5G, etc). There’s mention of useful applications and the occasional Business Case, but little discussion on end-to-end integration, process change and hyper-automation.

When we stop talking about Smart Cities and start talking about end-to-end integration, process change and hyper-automation, then I guess we’ll know we’ve left the “hype and hope” well behind us.

Posted in Business case, Digital Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Mobile, Near Field Communication, Networks, Smart Cities, Smart City OS, Trillion Node, Uncategorized, WiFi | 1 Comment

Fail more to discover the value in the connected future

The “bottom up” connected future requires mass experimentation and a lot of failure to find the services that are valuable and viable.

A recent MIT Technology Review article  talks about the underappreciated ties between art and innovation and also the FailCon events , where entrepreneurs share stories about failures and how they help them.

An excellent example is Andre Geim who won the IgNobel award for levitating a frog and also Nobel prize for isolating Graphene

What’s becoming clear is that the “top down” view of connected world and smart cities is joining the “walled garden”, as something that grew from corporate strategy workshops and business models, but was never able to make it as a sustainable approach.

Keep failing!!


Posted in Art, Digital Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Innovation, Internet, Mobile, Networks, Smart Cities, Smart City OS, Trillion Node | Leave a comment

Intel Internet of Things infographic predicts $6.2 trillion revenues by 2025

Here’s another beautiful infographic on IoT from Intel.

Clearly we need to have connected devices to enable this potential revenue streams. I’d like to see more focus on the value of the problems we’re solving, rather than (endless) predicitions on the number of devices that will be connected. In fact, I think many of could relate better to that than an abstract number and future date.
I am keen to do an infographic from the “value” rather than “connected devices” view for IoT, so please get in touch if you have some good links.

Posted in Business case, Digital Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Trillion Node, Trillion Node Economy, Value Creation | Leave a comment

Where’s the value in the Trilion Node Economy

Introducing the Trillion Node Economy (TNE). The Trillion Node Network is being built every day. Whether it’s Oslo’s new streetlight infrastructure  or the Songdo Smart City in South Korea. This blog has so far focused mainly on the technical, political and social issues of the Trillion Node Network.

Technology’s role is to add value and so does the Trillion Node Network. There’s lots of “noise” around Smart Cities and the amazing applications they can support and enable. Cisco believes that Smart Cities is a $1.2 trillion opportunity , “maybe bigger than the internet” according to their CEO John Chambers.  For me, too many of these are examples of what technology can do, not solving real-world valuable problems.

I’m going to continue to comment on the progress and issues of the growth and development of the Trillion Node Network, but will focus more on the economics of the Trillion Node Network, or “Trillion Node Economy”.

As people start to feel more comfortable with the idea of a Trillion Node Network, I want to answer some key questions about the Trillion Node Economy:

1)   Where’s the value?

2)   What does the eco-system look like?

3)   Who can play (and who shouldn’t)?

4)   Where’s the creative destruction?

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Uncovering the value in the Trillion Node Economy

I believe there is a distracting and value destroying focus on technology for its own sake, with little emphasis on providing elegant and valuable solutions to customer challenges.

So, where’s the value in the Trillion Node Economy? Simply, it lives where complex, valuable problems can be solved using the Trillion Node Network.

Whilst that might sound too simplistic, it always surprises me that most thinking starts with what cool stuff we could do with new technology, without much thought into the demand and the value.  Just think back to the £22bn spent on UK 3G licences with no supporting business plans or understanding of potential customer needs (I know, I was there!)

There are a lot of people spending lots more money looking in the wrong places. Providing solutions to problems that don’t exist or where there’s little or no realisable value.

There’s a long list. Just look at any Smart City project searching for compelling services that justify the network investment and generate new revenues. Lots of hype, but when you look closely at the business cases, they don’t add up.

Meanwhile, look at Apple. They have focused (and executed brilliantly) on solving valuable problems that people will pay serious money for. Interface that works, devices that are beautifully designed and simply work.

Designing new technology is relatively easy. Money, smart people and hard work will deliver new devices, applications and services. Finding valuable, problems that people are willing to pay for is less obvious and fraught with failure. And if there’s one thing Executives and Shareholders don’t like it failure. Hence, I believe the focus on the more concrete new technology with visible, tangible outcomes.

When Orange was successful, we used to focus on a day in the life of our target customer base, see what challenges they faced in their daily lives and try to find ways we could help them find solution using our network, our services and their handsets.  Of course we needed to find solutions that people would find worth paying for, but the starting point was the customers’ challenges.

Some companies do start here, but quickly lose sight of solving customer challenges in favour of gleaming, cool new technology. Then they’re off on the wrong track, along with the rest of their competitors.

The late Steve Jobs summed up this approach neatly saying “Start with the customer experience and work back to the technology, not the other way around.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Smart Cities are built “Bottom up, Incremental and Inclusive”

Recently I’ve been Tweeting on “Bottom up, Incremental, Inclusive” (BII) approach to building Smart Cities.

Whether its Smart City OS or a Walled Garden approach, history tells us that not only cities, but recent advances like the Internet, just aren’t built top down. Social innovation is bottom up.

I like ICF’s approach to Smart Cities. They need to be innovative, inclusive and boot-strapped. People are also more innovative about their daily lives than any government or corporation. Just look at the Jugaad Innovation happening in some of the most populated cities in the world.

We need technology and investment, but don’t be blinded to solving the problems of cities and making people’s lives easier. We need “Bottom up, Incremental & Inclusive” approach to Smart Cities.

Posted in Digital Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Innovation, Internet, Jugaad, Networks, Smart Cities, Smart City OS, Trillion Node | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Move the work to the people, not the people to the work – PART 2

In March 2011, I wrote about the UK Government plans for HS2 High Speed rail link. My message was clear and simple, don’t move the people to the work (moving atoms), move the work to the people (moving bits).

The Department of Transport had said “HS2 is a project that will deliver jobs and prosperity across the entire country by connecting the south with our great northern cities.” This week UK Govt seem to be back-tracking on the HS2 plans.

Here’s a great opportunity to rewrite that DoT aspiration to “The 100Mb Fibre to every home is a project that will deliver jobs and prosperity across the entire country by connecting the south with our great northern.”

We’re in a global economy and we need to ensure that we have the best and widest wired & wireless infrastructure in the world. Its understand we need great airports (visible assets) to be a global player, why is it so hard to make the case for massive investment in communications infrastructure (invisible assets).

A plea to UK Govt, if you’re not going to build HS2, please give a big shot in the arm to our well-below-world-class communications infrastructure. Now!

Posted in Digital Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Internet, Mobile, Networks, Smart Cities, Transport, Trillion Node, Trillion Node Economy | Leave a comment

Telco’s on track to miss Trillion Node Network revenues

On 15th February 2001, the BBC website article on “Search for 3G Revenues  said “gaming and betting would be the largest revenue category” (Source: Datamonitor) and the revenue model for operators would be “to take a cut out of the profit of transactions carried on their phones”.

Well, 11 years later in 2012 things look very different. It’s Apple who are taking a cut of the transactions and social networking is the most popular application on the mobile internet.  Telco’s need to use this recent history lesson to ensure they arrive in 2020 looking back on another missed opportunity.

Telcos need to understand the Trillion Node Network value chain and where they can be sustainably profitable and have competitive advantage. Whilst each telco will have a different strategy, depending on their market position and depth of pockets, they all need to ensure they adhere to 3 golden rules that they ignored last time around:

1) Stop thinking like network operating companies. This is the path to becoming a utility with a low margin business

2) Experiment on a strategic scale – Think like Google and seed lots of ideas and give them backing, ensuring there’s a healthy mix of new people with “Internet culture” in their blood

3) Deliver outcomes, not services – To be valuable and embed yourself in customers businesses you need to deliver end-to-end transformations. New, innovative services are just not enough.

I don’t see any telco embracing all 3 golden rules yet, but they need to and quickly to ensure the next 10 years isn’t about declining margins and missed opportunities.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment