Paul Lewis

I look forward to someone trying to hashtag this one

Blog Post created by Paul Lewis Employee on Feb 7, 2014

If my commute wasn't over 2 hours this morning, I probably wouldn't have cared about my lack of GPS functionality.  Good thing I have my thoughts to keep me company.  I’m my own best friend.  I’m thinking about taking a vacation with myself, walking hand in hand in the white sand, playfully throwing myself into the water. Oh, the memories we will share.


I’ll book that later…


There is no doubt in my mind that my commute could have been less than an hour, if my GPS performed far more valuable functions.


My use case is simple: Get me from home to work the fastest way possible. 


My expectation of base functionality (at current price point) is simple:


  • Based on my driving habits, predict that I am heading to the office considering I leave home at 6:25am every morning and drive exactly to the same location
  • Automatically turn on, set my current location, create the appropriate driving directions, and feed me the first instruction…as my car is warming up while I sit inside staring at my car warming up
  • As I am driving, push my current speed/location to the Cloud, as I would expect all GPS devices within a 100KM radius to be doing.  It takes a village to get me to work every day.
  • Using the current/speed location of every car heading to my location, evaluate the current set of directions against a large but finite set of alternative directions, and if needed to achieve the goal, automatically adjust my driving directions and in turn my next instruction in real time
  • Using the current/speed location of every car in the next kilometer, evaluate the current speed of my current lane against alternative lanes, and if needed to achieve the goal, automatically suggest a safe lane change instruction in real time
  • The last two features obviously have to use weather data, news feeds for accident reports, construction tenders from the government, etc.
  • Of course it goes without saying that it will need to use all my past drives to work (and other people’s “like” drives”) as history to appreciate the more technologically challenging aspects of these features:  variances in road distress, paths of emergency vehicles, traffic light slowdowns, etc


I’m really not asking too much.  One simple app.


So now that you have read the premise setup, I could (to use a Baseball analogy, to which I have absolutely no right in using) hit a few ways.


The most obvious “home run” would be lecture on Cloud and Big Data and Predictive analytics.  You know, the old story where none of those features are possible without:


  1. An ability to collect and store all that seemingly unrelated data from thousands of unknown and ever changing “sensors” and other third party sources in an “always available” tier
  2. Correlate that data together against a known volume of structured data (ie street maps), use high performance computing with intense analytical “sensing” algorithms to not only evaluate content and context but to graph and rank results
  3. Unwavering elasticity and unlimited network bandwidth in the platform knowing the demand will peak during rush hours across time zones and based on weather conditions


No too obvious.  Not my style.


Less “most obvious” triple would be a disquisition of the financial implications of building such a system for consumers:


  1. One needs to consider the Return on Investment of such an undertaking.  How many consumers would buy such a product, and for what price versus the millions not only to build such an application, but also the full time equivalents to keep it running and evolve the service over time. It’s not just TCA folks, its TCO.
  2. Do I have any capital constraints here?  Will I need to buy all the infrastructure and software day 1, or can I scale out/up/in as my consumer use grows over time.  How about data residency?  Will I have to duplicate the capital infrastructure in multiple regions around the globe?
  3. From a business model perspective, what is the best way to earn revenue, and the best way to spend on expenses (ie pay per use, consumption, subscription, wholesale/retail, etc)    


The least “most obvious” bunt to the infield would be an elaborate speech on a technology leader’s requirement to balance a variety of concerns for the best future of the organization.  CIO’s don’t make simple decisions, they consider a variety of possible alternative decisions, balancing a variety of concerns before coming to the “best” set of directions:


  1. Balance meeting the needs of a variety of clients to IT versus the reality of how much IT costs
  2. Determining what level of technological innovation  is required for the business purpose
  3. Understanding what level of operational efficiency and maturity is required to maximize the teams effectiveness
  4. Appreciating that the team expect to be treated as individuals, but keeping it fair for everyone


Hmm.  All good spins.  I’ll think about it and get back to you.


There are two rules for success in blogging: 1) Never reveal everything you know.