Creating Value in a Hyper‐connected World | Automation.com

Creating Value in a Hyper‐connected World

March 162012
Creating Value in a Hyper‐connected World
March 2012
 
By Bill Lydon, Editor
 
Tom Koulopoulos gave a thought provoking presentation at the PROFINET Executive Leadership Forum on February 23-24, 2012, held at the Trump International Beach Resort in Sunny Isles Beach, Florida.
 
Tom Koulopoulos is the founder of Delphi Group, a 20-year-old Boston-based think tank that provides advice on innovation practices and methods for organizations and government agencies. Mr. Koulopoulos has authored a number of books including The Innovation Zone and Cloud Surfing.   He is also an Executive in Residence at Bentley University, the past Executive Director of the Babson College Center for Business Innovation, and past Executive Director of the Perot Systems Innovation Lab, which was acquired in 2009 by Dell Computer.
 
Tom Koulopoulos took the time to attend all the presentations at the PROFINET Executive Leadership Forum and was the last speaker. He started by commenting, “You are really establishing a platform for the future – a platform that is essential to create a manufacturing backbone in the United States that is worthy of the intelligence and assets that we have in this country.”
 
Innovation
 
Koulopoulos suggested that we all see the world through our own lenses and after a time our lenses get cloudy. He asked how many believe the statement from Charles H. Duell, Commissioner of U.S. Patent Office, in 1899 that “Everything that can be invented has been invented.”   Of course no one believes that but Tom asserts that we all tend to behave as though we do! This is a paradox where our belief and behavior are opposite. “We tend to behave as though all the good stuff has already been created,” said Koulopoulos. He noted that nobody wants to feel they are not open to new ideas but is important to understand our behavior to open ourselves to new ideas. We need to “clean our lens.”
 
Our perspective and keeping an open mind is important to remain innovative. Koulopoulos used a visual example to illustrate that we can be set in the way we look at things. Here is a YouTube video of what he showed. Can you tell which way the dancer if spinning?   
 
Spinning Ballerina
 
If you have trouble seeing her spin both ways this will help...
 
He discussed how organizations get stuck in patterns of thinking by giving an example of a newly hired person getting a job out of college. The boss says she always spins clockwise and that is why we are successful! The new person will typically agree with the boss. How many of us have been in the position of knowing one thing but behaving differently?
 
Koulopoulos provided a great example of a company that believed in new ideas but did not behave innovatively, using this 1993 AT&T commercial: 
 
 
“These are all technologies we use today...AT& T didn’t bring a single one of these technologies to market,” said Koulopoulos. He further noted that AT&T only developed proprietary approaches and a big missing ingredient were standards.   Every single one of these technologies only evolved when the standard evolved. He asserted that we need standards.  Koulopoulos explained, “Nothing changes behavior as much as a development based on a universal standard.” Standards can change and evolve but you can’t have connectivity without standardization. 
 
Connections
 
Koulopoulos made the point that making connections has and will continue to be the enabler for civilization to make progress. He offered this equation for consideration:
 
Connections + Data + Behaviors = Intelligence
 
It is our ability to connect that often creates progress.  He thinks of networks like PROFINET creating connections as essentially a new form of intelligence. “Intelligence by definition is able to cope with uncertainty…what you are creating is a system that is deterministic in that it can deal with any inevitability,” said Koulopoulos. “That is the ultimate objective of manufacturing; we can build anything in a moment. We don’t have to worry about how to reconfigure what we have.”
 
Collaboration
 
Koulopoulos thinks the “cloud” is ushering in a behavioral shift in how we approach problems using a hyper connected, fluid process of collaboration. He gave the example of his son playing the Black OPS game and in minutes is collaborating with a global team on a mission around the world and he thinks nothing of it.   Another example is a project that is using telescopes around the world with a cloud-based application to create a large virtual lens. “The technology is easy to figure out; the behavior is nearly impossible to figure out,” said Koulopoulos. Kids growing up with the internet, computer games, cell phone, Facebook, twitter, and mobile computers don’t view these as technology - it is second nature and part of their behavior.
 
Predicting Behavior
 
The cell phone industry started in 1992 when Motorola introduced the first (really heavy) transportable cellular telephone that cost about $3,000.   Forecasts of how many cellular phones would be in use by the turn of the century were at the highest - 100,000 million. Today there are 5 billion cell numbers enabled with about half being machine numbers, like vending machines. The world population is about 7 billion people. The growth of cell phone use has been driven by behavior which was almost impossible to predict.
 
Big Data
 
“How are we going to possibly surf this tremendous tsunami of connectivity, hundreds of billions, trillions perhaps of connections…we don’t have a sense what big data means…,” said Koulopoulos. Facebook and Google are giving it away for free in exchange for information (data) on the users, which is the fuel they use to create value. He commented, “I would propose that same principal applies to what you are doing.” He suggests capturing all the data in devices and machines on the plant floor where the value is not necessarily apparent today but will have value in the future.   “You have to work with uncertainty,” said Koulopoulos. Koulopoulos suggest that capturing data in advance sets the stage for “architected serendipity,” an architecture that will deal with future uncertainty.
 
Thoughts & Comments
 
Tom Koulopoulos presentation reinforced that idea that businesses will need to react in real-time which requires being connected, dealing with big data, and collaboration.
 
Dealing with the “Tsunami of information” will require more analytics in automation systems so they can provide useful information.
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