Archive for August, 2017

Breakthrough Technologies – Search Trends

August 30, 2017

PwC, in July 2016, published Tech breakthroughs megatrend where they screened 150 technologies for global business impact and selected eight technologies that they think would have the most impact over the next three to seven years.

Forrester, in September 2016, published Forrester’s Top Emerging Technologies To Watch: 2017-2021 which listed 15 emerging technologies, of which they also included Internet of Things, Intelligent Agents (Robotic process automation), Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, and Artificial Intelligence. However, they excluded Blockchain, 3D Printing, and Drones as they didn’t think those technologies will have the biggest impacts in the next five years.

Gartner, in August 2017, published 2017 Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies, which includes each of the eight technologies at various positions in time with regards to expectations:

  • 3D printing (now 4D Printing which adds the dimension of time) in the innovation trigger phase;
  • Robots (Smart Robots), Internet of Things (IoT Platform), AI (Deep Learning, Machine Learning and Cognitive Computing), Blockchain, and Commercial UAVs (Drones) in the peak of inflated expectations phase;
  • Augmented reality in the trough of disillusionment phase; and
  • Virtual reality in the slope of enlightenment phase.

Looking at the technologies listed in the PwC paper, I decided to take a cursory look at how these eight technologies have trended over the 12 months since the paper was published. Using Google Trends to examine search interest over time for these eight technologies, it came out in order as Robots, Drones, Virtual Reality, Blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, 3D Printing, Internet of Things, and Augmented Reality.

Looking at interest by region, it was interesting to see that different countries had different most popular search interests – Japan and Russia (Robots); Australia and United States (Drones); Denmark and Indonesia (Virtual Reality); China and Singapore (Blockchain); and, India and Pakistan (Artificial Intelligence).

Robots search interest peaked around March 2017, and finished ~25% above its starting point in search interest over the 12-month period. Highly related queries included ‘robots war’, ‘transformers robots’, and ‘movie robots’ indicating consumer association with the technology related to games and movies. Lesser related queries included ‘human robots’ and ‘real robots’.

Drones search interest peaked around Christmas / New Year, and finished ~10% above its starting point in search interest over the 12-month period. Highly related queries included ‘camera drones’, ‘dji drones’, and ‘drones for sales’ indicating the strong consumer association with the technology.

Virtual Reality search interest peaked around Christmas / New Year, and finished ~20% below its starting point in search interest over the 12-month period. Highly related queries included ‘virtual reality headset’, ‘virtual reality glasses’, and ‘virtual reality games’ indicating the strong consumer association with the technology.

Blockchain search interest trended strongly upwards throughout the year, and finished ~250% above its starting point in search interest over the 12-month period. The highest related query was bitcoin, which was the first distributed blockchain and famous for the technology.

Artificial Intelligence search interest trended upwards throughout the year, and finished ~90% above its starting point in search interest over the 12-month period. Highly related queries included ‘learning artificial intelligence’ and ‘what is artificial intelligence’ suggesting a lesser understanding of the technology. Lesser related queries included ‘artificial intelligence jobs’, ‘artificial intelligence programming’, and ‘artificial intelligence software’.

3D Printing search interest trended slightly upwards throughout the year, and finished ~10% above its starting point in search interest over the 12-month period. Highly related queries included ‘3D printing software’, ‘3D printing service’, ‘3D printing pen’, and ‘3D printing design’.

Internet of Things search interest trended slightly upwards throughout the year, and finished ~10% above its starting point in search interest over the 12-month period. Highly related queries included ‘what is internet of things’ and ‘internet of things definition’, and other related queries included ‘internet of things examples’ and ‘internet of things meaning’ suggesting a lesser understanding of the technology.

Augmented Reality search interest trended slightly downwards throughout the year, and finished ~20% below its starting point in search interest over the 12-month period. Highly related queries included ‘google augmented reality’, ‘augmented reality apps’, and ‘android augmented reality’, and other related queries included ‘pokemon go augmented reality’ and ‘hololens’ suggesting a more directed search of this technology. The drop in search interest correlates with Gartner placing this in the trough of disillusionment.

Time, innovation, and society will determine how these breakthrough technologies will impact the world, businesses and consumers.

Note: This blog post also appears on LinkedIn Pulse.
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Farewell QSR International

August 3, 2017

After 14 years with QSR International, it’s time to move on and explore something new.

It’s been an honour and privilege to work with, lead and learn from so many capable people over the past 14 years.  There have been many great times and some difficult changes navigated; including forming new teams, creating new products, and introducing new development methodologies.  I’ve made many great friendships along the way which I will always appreciate.  I particularly enjoyed working with my teams, direct reports and peers in the executive team over the years.  It was a special privilege to have worked closely with the original founders Tom Richards and Lyn Richards, as well as long term serving CEO John Owen.

My time at QSR International took me to many countries around the world; United States, Canada, United Kingdom, France, Sweden, Netherlands, Bulgaria, Qatar, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam.  The travelling was hectic at times, but it has broadened my understanding of the world and given me a greater appreciation of different cultures and what connects us as humanity.  Particular travel highlights included attending Apple WWDC conference in San Francisco, attending Microsoft Build conference in Seattle, presenting at Universities around the world, and conducting a live-demo in Japan with Japanese data (and no I don’t know Japanese, but did have a translator).

I am proud of what my teams have accomplished over the years.  Firstly, adoption of new technology, from building NVivo for Windows 7 using .NET 1.1 when it was a relatively new language, to building NVivo for Mac 10 using Objective-C when few of us had any knowledge of it.  Secondly, innovation of new data analysis methods, from new analytical approaches to identify patterns within data to incorporating machine learning to handle larger volumes of data.  Thirdly, early introduction of new infrastructure, moving from physical servers to virtual servers to the cloud.  Lastly, hack days were an important event to surface ideas and demonstrated the breadth of talent within the company.

It was great to see the company receive recognition along the way with numerous industry awards, including Governor of Victoria Export Award for ICT and the Dell Small Business Excellence Award for innovative use of information technology in better serving customers.  The Dell Award was particularly fulfilling as we got to meet Michael Dell in person and spend 2 days with Dell executives overseas.

I would also like to thank the many technology partners that I have worked with that ensured our success, including AWS, Dell, Lexalytics, Microsoft, Monash University, and Readify to name a few.  Building integrations with other software vendors such as SurveyMonkey and Qualtrics were both challenging and rewarding.

QSR International had fantastic company celebrations for important milestones, from flying the whole company to Sydney to climb the Sydney Harbour Bridge, to flying the whole company to King Island on DC3s for the day.  I recall fondly presenting at a Board meeting and having the Board of Directors serve champagne to celebrate my 10 years of service.  I appreciate the opportunity afforded to me to study at Harvard Business School.

Ultimately, looking back you remember the people whom you interacted with and what you accomplished together.  We did great things.

What’s next?  Something new.  What that is?  I will let you know soon.

Note: This blog post also appears on LinkedIn Pulse.