09 February 2022
A Brief Guide to IoT Disruption
IoT Leaders with Nick Earle, CEO of Eseye and Ade McCormack, Disruption Readiness Advisor at Møller Institute
09 February 2022
IoT Leaders with Nick Earle, CEO of Eseye and Ade McCormack, Disruption Readiness Advisor at Møller Institute
We’ve had the smallest taste of digital disruption in the past couple of years. We still think of it as something that happens to us.
Today’s guest advises organisations to take charge of disruption by learning to be on the lookout for threats that become opportunities.
Ade McCormack, Disruption Readiness Advisor at Møller Institute, talked with Nick about the effect of IoT on disruption — and how the human brain holds the keys to technological innovation.
Join us as we discuss:
Join us on the IoT Leaders Podcast and share your stories about IoT, digital transformation and innovation with host, Nick Earle.Contact us
You’re listening to IoT Leaders, a podcast from Eseye, that shares real IoT stories from the field about digital transformation swings and misses, lessons learned and innovation strategies that work. In each episode, you’ll hear our conversations with top digitization leaders on how IoT is changing the world for the better. Let IoT Leaders be your guide to IoT, digital transformation and innovation. Let’s get into the show.
Nick Earle (00:35):
So welcome to the IoT Leaders Podcast with me, your host, Nick Earle of Eseye. And this episode, I think, is one you’re really going to enjoy. It is with Ade McCormack, who is a Disruption Readiness Advisor and if you’re wondering what that is, you’re going to hear about it now in the podcast that follows, but essentially he’s talking about the waves of disruption that are coming that are all technology enabled, which are coming at us so fast and from so many different angles that we have to construct companies in a way that’s completely different. Almost like the analogy of the tribe in the Savannah or the way animals live in that you have to be awake, you have to be sensing, you have to be able to react and you have to expect that a disruption could happen at any time from any angle. And what does that all mean?
Nick Earle (01:23):
And then as part of it, we connect it to the role that IoT is playing, which is how IoT is enabling these disruptions across a whole range of industries, including Healthcare, which is one area that we go into in a bit more detail. So as I say, I think you’ll really enjoy it. We cover a lot of ground and it is a very interesting chat, particularly, because Ade has a fantastic resume and written multiple books, given hundreds of speeches and is advising to major corporations, governments, and even a major religion as you’ll hear on the implications of all of this going forward. So please enjoy my chat with Ade McCormack.
Nick Earle (02:05):
Okay, so let’s get going Ade and I know we’ve got a tremendous amount to talk about. When we were talking previously, the conversation went in a whole series of areas, all of which are really interesting to do with how information is going to change the way companies run, the idea of a sensing organization, how people’s jobs and their roles will play. I mean, a whole series of areas that we’re going to get into, but before we go there, one of the things I was fascinated about is your title and your LinkedIn profile, which has some really interesting things that you’ve done over the years. So perhaps that’s where we can start and, say, maybe you can just share with the listeners and the viewers a little bit about your journey so far that’s brought you to this point in your career.
Ade McCormack (02:55):
No, that’s great. Well, I guess I’m a former Technologist, former Software Engineer. Worked in lots of different companies across different countries and I realized that there was a big opportunity in explaining technology to business people, so I’ve set up a business doing that. That took me into writing a column for the Financial Times around demystification of IoT and that bubbled up into advising leaders in terms of how to cope with the digital age, which took us into the world of transformation. And as the world’s become increasingly disrupted, disruption has become a very big theme. So in essence, a lot of what I do is around advisory, a favour to keynoting when, well pre-COVID, and some writing as well. I’ve written about six books on themes around digital.
Nick Earle (03:58):
It’s often guests underplay their achievements. So I think you’ve done it as well. Again, your six books, the number of keynotes that you’ve done and the client list that I saw was pretty impressive. You’ve been advising and continue to advise some major well-known brands on disruption, digitization, demystification of technology and what it all means, aren’t you?
Ade McCormack (04:24):
Yes. I am advising at country level. Even one religion is being, I’m advising on its transformation program. So some fascinating, basically, different sectors are waking up to the reality that they can’t continue as they are. So they’re looking for how to transform.
Nick Earle (04:48):
That is interesting, by the way, one of the podcasts I listened to recently, just before we dive in, was on exactly that front, which was the 22-year-old founder of an app called Glorify, that is actually creating the equipment to Facebook for religion, with a real reason to create a community. So it’s interesting that now we’re talking about IoT and, well technology where specifically IoT and its effect on disruption and reinvention of religion. So you know that this is big when you’re actually reaching out into those communities. So, let’s dive in. So your title, as I said, is a Disruption Readiness Advisor, and a lot of people will listen to that and go, okay, I know what those three words mean individually but when you put it all together. What’s the pitch? What’s the main thing that you do? If I was one of your clients, potential clients for instance, how would you explain to me what you do and why I need it?
Ade McCormack (05:51):
Okay. Well, in essence, disruption for quite some time was considered something that was invented and developed in Silicon Valley but the reality is, is that disruption is something that happens to us. So, we’ve tasted digital disruption and now biological disruption in terms of COVID-19, and there’s a whole array of conflating forces bearing down upon us political, social, the war for talent, the war for natural resources, the space race, there’s all sorts of forces bearing down upon us. And this is taking us out of what you might call the finite game, where the rules are clear and the object is to win, grab market share, whatever, into an infinite game where the game is all about staying in the game, there are no rules or the rules are changing in real time.
Ade McCormack (06:44):
So, essentially, we have to be ready for all of this and this requires a very different model to, “let’s come up with a strategic plan and let’s roll it out over a few years”. This takes us into the world of fighter pilot dog-fights and the fighter pilots that go up in the air having pre-planned their manoeuvres, won’t be in many dog-fights. So I’m, essentially, advising organizations on how to be more situationally aware, how to be on, not even on the lookout for anything, because we don’t know in what way threats and opportunities are going to appear. So it’s almost like it’s the ability to be paying attention at all times. Not quite sure what you’re looking out for, so you’re constantly looking for weak signals and not so weak signals of what might be coming up fast.
Nick Earle (07:34):
As you were talking there, I was thinking, I’ve been in IT for 40 years and we’ve always had the word disruption. It used to be technical disruption and then it was business model. I remember they were saying, well, you got to get the, your IT strategy should match your business strategy. That was a big thing for about 10, 15 years. And then there was disruption and the winners and the losers, and only two or three of the top 10 leaders by industry would make the next wave and now. But at all times that the, disruptions, as you say now are broadening, not just technology, pandemic being a great example, but they’re actually becoming closer together.
Nick Earle (08:16):
And so you’re basically, at least as far as I get what you’re saying, you’re basically saying it’s not about setting a business strategy and saying, well, we will win when this happens. It’s about, as you said, staying in the game on the basis that disruptions are going to be coming out as constantly, we will live in a world of constant disruptions, which we can’t in many, well probably most cases, plan for. But we have to have an ability, almost an animal-like ability, to survive. Come what may. So, he’s talking about staying in the game to stay alive as a company, during disruptions. Have I broadly got that right?
Ade McCormack (09:03):
Absolutely. Yeah. I think, most businesses today are built on a industrial era factory model and that’s a model that presumes a synthetic certainty in society in the world. And that synthetic certainty is required in order for a factory owner to make the decision to invest, knowing that the demand for the goods would be a sufficient duration to get a return on the capital. That is no longer the case. Disruption is making the future totally unpredictable. So we need new ways of operating and, as you point out, that’s more like a living organism. Where we are in the market at the moment is that a lot of organizations think transformation is simply a technology makeover. If you sprinkle your old business model with blockchain, AI, and IoT, you’re good to go for the future. And what’s not to like about faster, smarter, cheaper? But at the end of the day, a faster, smarter, cheaper Titanic is still a Titanic and even one optimized to detect icebergs is no match for air travel. So we’re not talking here about simply automating processes. We’re talking here about changing operating models.
Nick Earle (10:15):
And fundamentally, it seems to me, fundamentally changing them. You’re, from an IoT point of view, it’s not just redesigning them. And we’ll talk about all this data that’s being created, which is where the link to IoT comes in because the amount of data that’s being created at the edge is doubling. I don’t know what it is but it’s, what’s the opposite of half-life? I mean, it’s not shrinking, but it’s doubling every, whatever, exponentially. So, that information’s going to come into this picture. But, it seems, every IT tool that we use, every way we measure managers, every way we define business strategy, every McKinsey study that companies do to plan what to do, is set up for the previous world. It’s not set up for a world in which you are talking about. So this isn’t just a, “well you needed another piece of software”. This is a fundamental change in how companies run and how they sense and listen, and therefore the role of individuals. Is that right?
Ade McCormack (11:22):
Well, individuals, in the sense that your individuals can be sensors into the market, as well as IoT technology as well. So in that sense, people are important but because we’re going into an unknowable world we’re going to be facing increasingly novel scenarios that will require innovative responses. Now, technology doesn’t do innovation very well. Humans do innovation very well. And so the game of talent management in the 21st century is in the harnessing and harvesting of cognition. That’s why companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, they create environments that are essentially cognitive gymnasiums. Where people only have to focus on the, if you like, being creative as it were.
Ade McCormack (12:14):
And then that creativity is harnessed, is channelled into innovation. And to create the conditions for innovation, you need to create the conditions for people to be human. And I’ve identified a number of anthropological drivers in that respect. The need to be mobile, social, curious, creative, have a sense of purpose and so on. So smart organizations are realizing that people are not some sort of cog in the machine, they are the engine that creates the innovation that’s necessary to engage and adapt with your environment, like a living organism.
Nick Earle (12:57):
But also an implication of that, I guess, is that what’s not going to happen. I mean, there’s another group of people who would say, probably because of self-interest, but it would say, machine learning is out-facing the human brain and AI machine learning and Web3, all the different interfaces. And actually, ultimately, the machines will take over and the humans will do less and less and less just because they can. You are actually saying no, it’s a combination. It will always be a combination of the human creativity and the interpretation of the data by the machines or the software or whatever. But the human creativity, the combination of the two, the fighter pilot example, is really the key to success here. It isn’t the case that all of this work will, the role of the human will dramatically shrink and the machines will, and machine learning software will run the world.
Ade McCormack (14:03):
Well, I think, again, the future is unknowable. What we do know at this time is that your carpet cleaning robot is not having thoughts of interaction. So this, robots taking out humanity, is not there yet. Machine learning, in effect, is a maths parlour trick. It’s not artificial intelligence, at best it’s artificial, artificial intelligence.
Nick Earle (14:27):
Okay. Yeah. We need to, you say some great phrases and I’m following most of them. But just, occasionally, the time out. Let’s just rewind on that one. A maths parlour trick. It’s not really artificial intelligence.
Ade McCormack (14:40):
Nick Earle (14:41):
Just replay that again. That sounded.
Ade McCormack (14:43):
Well, artificial intelligence, strictly speaking, hasn’t progressed in the last half century. As a child of the ’60s, I was expecting full anthropomorphic robots in the home by the year 2000.
Nick Earle (14:55):
Ade McCormack (14:55):
That hasn’t happened. I’m a little disappointed. The reality is, is that very little has happened in terms of actual, if you like, representing our brain in technology. What we have seen, are some maths parlour tricks. Machine learning, advances in computer processing and storage have given rise to impressive advances in robot process automation, for example. But we are nowhere near replicating the human brain, in part, because the neuroscientists don’t actually know how our brains work. So, quite a few steps to be taken before we get there. The chances are, we will perhaps get there. But remember, AI has been developing over the last, let’s say, 100 years, our brains have been programmed over the last million or so years.
Nick Earle (15:48):
Ade McCormack (15:48):
That’s a lot of…
Nick Earle (15:50):
Catching up. That’s a lot of catching up.
Ade McCormack (15:52):
A lot of catching up.
Nick Earle (15:53):
Ade McCormack (15:54):
And whilst AI does big data sets very well, we’re extremely good at small data sets and that counts for quite a lot when you’re on the Savannah and the faint snap of a twig could mean death of the tribe.
Nick Earle (16:08):
So let’s bring this into my world, because I do believe these two worlds are, inexorably, going to merge together. So from our point of view, Eseye about IoT, we do the connectivity and the management. Actually we do a lot of the device designs, but essentially everything, and the thing can be Nano-sized, but everything will have an IP address. And it doesn’t have to have power, it can create its own power from sunlight or just light in general or movement. And once it creates its own power and you can print it, it doesn’t have to be manufactured. In fact, you could inject it. It can be inside the body and therefore you can put a sensor on the skin and find out where it is. You can program it to explode on a certain signal. That means it can kill certain cells because it binds to them.
Nick Earle (17:06):
But, essentially, every single thing is going to be able to transmit data. So if we take the world that we’ve got today, it’s and we talked about exponentiality earlier, when technology came about, you’ve had, only very few people had access to the machines. In fact, the original phrase, the computers referred to the people, not the machines and then gradually departments got it and then minis and people got it, PCs, then individuals got it, smartphones. And now it’s everywhere because, name one area that isn’t technology. But the point being, it really is a case of “you ain’t see nothing yet” – because the moment everything gets connected, the amount of data increases at least two orders, if not three or four orders of magnitude. So for example, if you look at factories, I mean, there’s 150 years, how old is Siemens or there’s 150 years worth of equipment still out there that isn’t smart, that isn’t transmitting data.
Nick Earle (18:21):
Every product, there’s only a tiny percentage of products are now smart. And the point being about IoT is it turns a product into an experience where you actually get the data about how the product is being used by the consumer or by the other thing that’s controlling it, is much more valuable than the product itself. So what you then start getting is the fact that if you can sense the data real time, like in an oil rig, 10 million sensors, and actually have a view of everything, you can totally re-engineer your maintenance process, for example. How you manage everything and people’s jobs. So it seems like the, what is happening in IoT, is accelerating and enabling what you’re talking about. Because we’re not just following Moore’s law in terms of price, but it’s going sideways, unbelievably, quickly to the point where it’s just, everything is something that is giving this data. And therefore the amount of data that you have to sense is going to be unbelievably big, I guess where I’m going with this.
Ade McCormack (19:45):
Nick Earle (19:45):
So that seems is going to be both the opportunity and the challenge, isn’t it? Because if you’ve got a certain amount of data and you sense it and react to it faster than somebody else then, okay, you’re great. When you’ve suddenly got a million times more data trying to sift it and pull out the relevance from it, is going to be one of the key attributes of success. And I guess that’s where some of the people creativity side comes into it, because that’s very hard for machines to do, to interpret all this data that’s coming at it.
Ade McCormack (20:22):
Yes, no absolutely. I think IoT’s going to be one of the great drivers of new business models because of its ability to create value out of something that was previously inert. So there’s no question IoT is central to this. The internet has enabled us to communicate with each other. The Internet of Things is allowing devices to communicate with each other. As portables become wearables, as wearables become embeddables, the Internet of Things becomes the Internet of Things in people, which you’ve alluded to. So if you start to get to the point where you can molecularly map IoT devices into the body, that’s pretty mind-blowing.
Ade McCormack (21:07):
And you might say that the 20th century was the era of IT and the 21st century is the era of biology. So you start bringing in genomics, synthetic biology, bionics, bioinformatics and even nootropics, the augmentations that we’re going to see in people in the next few years is going to be profound. One might go as far as to say that we will see a species change from homo sapiens to homo extensis or augmented man. But the key point here, whether we are seeing a speciation or change or not, is the augmented man requires augmented services. So that has profound implications for your viewers and listeners in terms of where we’re going with all of this.
Nick Earle (21:52):
One of the things I really like about talking to you is that you drop these little phrases in each of which could be a 10 minute, a deep dive, instantly thought of the matrix and the.
Ade McCormack (22:02):
Nick Earle (22:05):
The thing in the back of your head. But lets to go back to the medicine one, because healthcare is actually, that absolutely is an area where this is, very definitely, happening. We, here’s an example, we have a customer of ours, we have over 2000 customers, but customer of ours called AcuHealth and AcuHealth make devices. Essentially we’ve helped them design devices, medical devices, that you can have in your house but these are the same devices that would be in the Mayo Clinic or the Cleveland Clinic or University College London, a major hospital. And the idea is why do you need to be sitting in a room in a hospital? And the primary reason is because you need access to the specialist and you need access to the equipment.
Nick Earle (23:00):
But the moment that the equipment is available in your house and, at the same time, the specialist is actually getting proactive notifications that something about your body is changing because in hospital it’s often reactive, a bleeper goes off and then they try and get the doctor to come to you. But if someone’s getting proactive and some AI software is saying, oh, the combination of these factors’ means that there’s something going wrong, so then you have an intervention, but it’s a virtual intervention. You then start thinking, why do I need, why do hospitals have to be such large buildings? It’s almost like hotels with doctors. And this whole area of course is called RPM, remote patient management, and it’s not based on the assumption that Wi-Fi’s going to be the thing, because most patients who need it, can’t configure a device to their iPhone because they are, perhaps, they’re older people and so it has to be ubiquitous i.e. cellular.
Nick Earle (24:02):
And then on the surgeon side or the intervention side, there are many cases of technologies, which now are changing, using CRISPR, changing cells. So you can inject something that’s trackable inside the body that will only bind to another type of cell and you can, essentially, remotely make it blow up. So you don’t need a surgeon. You don’t need surgery. There’s no keyhole surgery. You just, basically it finds all the cells, binds to them, press a button and boom. You talked about 30, 40 years ago, you’re disappointed that we didn’t have robots and the old cartoons showed that the robot in the house. But the idea of that world that I just described could even be remotely possible, would’ve been unthinkable. And so you start thinking, oh, if we can do that, there isn’t a single part of our life that won’t be affected by this.
Nick Earle (25:04):
But that disruption is enormous because that disruption has an impact on business models. So to your point, the more you can go directly to the true end user, the more you disintermediate the supply chain, because a lot of supply chains have intermediaries. So, you’ve disintermediated the doctor, the GP, by having hospital healthcare direct to the patient. We talked a lot about Costa Express, our customer that puts these fantastic coffee machines with 90 sensors in, in locations all the way around the world and we helped them design that machine. But they have disintermediated the people who have shops because they said, well, why do you need a shop? I just put a machine anywhere, tell me again, why I need a shop? Well, you always need a shop for coffee. Well, no, you don’t, actually, need a shop.
Nick Earle (25:58):
And so some of the best, we do Amazon’s lockers, e-lockers, worldwide, of course they’ve disintermediated retail as well. So what you are getting is not only the connection between the device and the company that is selling the service, but you’re also seeing disruption across the whole value chain because a lot of companies have been set up because of the inefficiencies in the value chain.
Ade McCormack (26:26):
Nick Earle (26:26):
The engineer that has to go to the oil rig has to hire a helicopter from the helicopter company but if the engineer can sit in Houston and see the oil rigs and see the sensors and make an intervention, nobody needs to get on the helicopter to go to the rig. So the world is going to look very different and people’s roles will change. And it, we talk about the future. I think one of the reasons why you’re in such demand and giving speeches is that the future is now, as they say, but it’s just unevenly distributed.
Ade McCormack (27:05):
Nick Earle (27:06):
It is, absolutely. It’s one of the reasons we created IoT Leaders, was to shine a light on some of the things that are happening now. And what you’re extending that into saying, yeah and you need to be aware of that and you need to be doing something about it, otherwise these waves of disruption, the first one might not get you but eventually these waves of disruption will wash over you because they’re happening now.
Ade McCormack (27:30):
Yeah. And things like IoT might be seen as perhaps fanciful by traditional business leaders but they are, in fact, increasingly table stakes. You need to be on top of this technology. You need to be experimenting with it. You need to be developing new business models because at some point the digital Grim Reaper is going to come into your foyer and that will be game over. And if you only have one egg in one basket, you’re stuffed.
Nick Earle (27:59):
Yeah. Maybe I could change our marketing as a, we keep the digital Grim Reaper from your door. I don’t think it would look quite as good as the balloon that’s behind my head.
Ade McCormack (28:10):
Nick Earle (28:10):
If people are watching this, which is all to do with getting insight and getting a wider view, but the digital Grim Reaper. But it is a digital Grim Reaper because the, I mentioned this earlier in the podcast, there is some really great data, scary data, which says that if you take every major wave of technology enabled disruption, so the internet was technology enabled, cloud was technology enabled, the smartphones was technology enabled. So if you map those jumps in technology to which companies take 20 segments, industry vertical segments, and the top 10. I believe I’m right in saying that on average, only two out of the 10 survive each wave.
Ade McCormack (29:01):
Nick Earle (29:02):
And it’s the same for technology companies as well, actually. Only two out of 10. I mean, we’re in the middle, even the technology companies are disrupting, we’re in the middle of a massive disruption in our industry. And our listeners will know this if they’re listening to this podcast. I mean, a great example of this is there are 820 mobile network operators in Vodafone’s One Net. Every single one of them has got a same business model, which is a proprietary SIM, that if you get that SIM in a device, you are connected to them and that’s worked for 40 years. And now suddenly there’s this little technology thing, apparently little, which is profoundly disruptive, which says, well, what if the SIM could be dynamically programmed, it’s called an eSIM and the standards called eUICC, what if it be dynamically programmed, so it can connect to anybody?
Nick Earle (29:52):
Suddenly it’s great for users because they then can, in effect, have the choice of any mobile network organization in the world, which is what we do. But it has massive implications for a trillion dollar industry, which is what the mobile network operator industry is. Because for 40 years it’s been a, “get the SIM in and then we’ve locked the customer”. And suddenly the users say, no, I’m going to have, it’s going to be agnostic and I’m going to be able to put one product SKU, like one Amazon locker, one Costa coffee machine, one AcuHealth medical device, anywhere in the world and connectivity is just going to be a feature. And we won’t talk about connectivity anymore, in fact, the SIM’s going to disappear. It’s just going to go into this software of the Silicon actually. So connectivity is not something we’re going to be talking about in 15 years time. It’s going, what are you talking about connectivity? It’s like Wi-Fi today.
Nick Earle (30:54):
Remember we go into the hotel room, there used to be a room, at the hotel there used to be a room, just off reception, called the computer room and that’s where the internet was. It was either that or under your bed, where you had to take, get the screwdriver out and do it. Now, kids think that’s hysterical because the internet’s everywhere and that’s what’s going to happen. So this is a exponential disruption coming at every player in the industry, including the technology companies. As you say, countries, first I had heard that religions. So one question I have for you, there’s so many questions I could ask you, but otherwise this would be too long a podcast. I guess everyone’s like, okay, we’ve got it. I’ve got what we’re talking about here. So what are the lessons learned? If you take, you mentioned countries, are there any attributes that why you think certain countries will be better at this? I mean, is this an opportunity for leapfrog? For the emerging market countries?
Ade McCormack (31:56):
It is. Essentially, the developed countries have had an industrial era by and large, and that has trained us to behave in certain ways. Largely it’s trained most of us to not use our brains on a day to day basis. We have simply compliantly followed the OPS manual. We have concepts like weekends, even breakfast, retirement, pensions, careers, these are industrial era notions. And, of course, we have invested in these industrial era assets, the machinery, the plants, the land and so on. And so we can’t just shake them off overnight.
Ade McCormack (32:38):
And you can see this in the business schools. The business schools have invested very heavily in materials, in research around the industrial era. So they’re struggling to make the transition into the 21st century. What they’re doing is they’re sprinkling their old school syllabuses with a few buzzwords of the moment but, essentially, they’re promoting the old model. The developing countries are not burdened with such baggage and therefore can go straight to this, if you like, post-industrial innovation centric world. And I have a very rough heuristic. When I go to different countries, I can tell which country is going to have a very good future by the amount of disrespect it has for authority. So as I stand there at the traffic lights, in the UK, we rarely wait for.
Nick Earle (33:37):
Ade McCormack (33:38):
No, we just march across.
Nick Earle (33:39):
We might just check out what colour the light is and go. Yeah.
Ade McCormack (33:43):
Yeah. We don’t hang around. If there’s no traffic coming, we just cross the road. That’s a very good sign. That shows that we’re thinking for ourselves. And when you go to other countries, and maybe not even, countries might be overstating it, maybe states within a country, you see some very heavy duty adherence to the rules. So I’m not saying, I’m not suggesting that anarchy is the way forward by any means. But I think a degree of dissatisfaction in your society is the critical conditions for innovation. Would I put my money in Silicon Valley or would I put it in an innovative business park outside the centre of Kolkata? I put my money in Kolkata because those guys have to innovate to survive. Silicon Valley is very awash. It’s, you can become quite intellectually lazy when there’s just so much free money about.
Nick Earle (34:42):
Some of our listeners will have heard this story, but most of them won’t, because I told it on a earlier podcast, maybe about 10 episodes ago, but it’s worth telling again in this context. So prior to, I’ve been in IT for 40 years, but I did a two and a half year stint just prior to becoming CEO of Eseye, and on Virgin Hyperloop, which is also technology. It’s basically reinventing trains to work like the internet. Packetized travel. Parts are not connected together. It’s basically the internet routes and switches. It’s the internet applied to moving people. So all you need to know about Hyperloop. Anyway. So I spent an unfruitful time, and I was chief operations officer, going around the world trying to sell this thing, so $8 billion but it was better than high-speed rail and I spent two and a half years failing to kill HS2.
Nick Earle (35:28):
It will kill itself, high-speed rail in the UK, people outside the UK. It will eventually kill itself and it’s doing a damn good job of it, but I couldn’t persuade UK government to do it. But I went to India, actually, I’ve done a TED talk on this, so I went to India and I went to Mumbai-Pune, which is, it’s a best, I think it’s about a two and a half hour road drive from Mumbai to, it’s cheaper to live in Pune than Mumbai. So there’s a lot of people, millions of journeys go return trips, a day five hours, right? Lots of buses with people in and they don’t get home to see kids and they set up early. Anyway, the first contract that was signed for Hyperloop was with the head of Maharashtra, the state there, which would take that two and a half hour journey down to half an hour.
Nick Earle (36:12):
And so, it’s a big infrastructure project. It will take several years, but basically you give five hours back per day to millions of people. Point about the story being, is that the guy who signed it, the premier of the state, I believe there’s about 112 million people living here, so it’s twice the size of the UK but it’s part of India, and he said to me, “Mr. Earle,” he said, “I just want you to know that India will do this before the UK.” And I said, “oh yeah, oh, you will.” He said, “no, I want you to understand why India will do this before the UK.” He says, “because we have to.” And he said, “we’ve got this terrible problem and so we understand that technology will leapfrog. You gave us the railway stations and all of that. Thank you but now it’s our turn. We will do this. We will leapfrog you.”
Nick Earle (37:05):
They had better 4G for a long time on London. We will do this because you will try and take that legacy system and squeeze it and squeeze it, whereas we will, we have such a terrible drain system, we’re very happy to, a road system, we’re very happy to throw it away. And I think you’re right. I think if the regulatory environment, because it allows you to innovate and you have the problems and they have the great assets and an awful lot of very smart people and they don’t want them to go abroad. Then, actually, some of the innovation that will happen here will come from those parts of the world. And we, some of our most innovative projects that we see, because we get involved in the design of the device. So we start off with someone saying, I’m thinking of making this, can you help me design it? And then I’ll have 10, 15 years worth connectivity from it.
Nick Earle (38:00):
So we start at the project phase and some of the most innovative projects that we are seeing are from either those parts of the world that we’re talking about or engineers from those parts of the world who are perhaps working in other countries, but given the chance, they’d go back and do it there. And so we do see that happening because it is a great leveller. The internet is a great leveller. And the business benefit of an experience is just as big, in fact, even bigger than in a Western Market. A two and a half hour, one-way road journey collapsing down to half an hour, is a huge benefit to millions of people.
Nick Earle (38:46):
They can take another job. They can work longer. They can get home at night to read their kids a story. And that’s where it doesn’t have to be implemented between two cities in the US or from Manchester to London, although I wish it would be, but the government clearly disagreed. Anyway, enough on Hyperloop. So I think we’re getting, probably, to the end of our time, we covered so much ground. Maybe I can just finish this by asking you, I’m sure people have been fascinated by this. When you talk to people and you consult, you speak and you do a lot of consulting work with corporations, is there a list of dos and don’ts? Is there a net takeaway when you finish your session as saying, look, if you’re thinking of doing this, it’s such a big subject but here are the guardrails or the lessons that, things you really need to think about as you embark on this inevitable journey?
Ade McCormack (39:44):
Sure. I mean, my, if you like, advisory model is based around helping organizations become tribal. So you might say that distils down to, well, what are the five characteristics of a successful tribe? Well, the primary one is their ability to pay attention for the reasons I mentioned. If you don’t understand your environment, you might get eaten by it.
Ade McCormack (40:12):
So attention is key. Ambition is key. Everyone in the tribe having the same esprit de corps, the same sense of direction. So there’s no friction in how the tribe moves forward. Artistry is a key part of being tribal. So the ability to create value in an innovative way, how to address new challenges and new opportunities. So we have attention, ambition, and artistry. Then there is the idea of adaptability. You can look at the berry bush all day and if there’s no berries on it, that’s it, you better find another food source.
Ade McCormack (40:53):
So being adaptable is very important. And then fundamentally, finally it’s the ability to add value. Tribes create value in order to trade for resources that the tribe needs. So these are the five key, if you like, operating elements of an organization going forward. I sometimes refer to the organization as being super resilient and that means it behaves like a living organism. So it’s constantly sensing, deciding, and acting. So emotional intelligence, intellectual intelligence, physical intelligence. So bottom line here, we’re in a post-strategic planning world. It’s all about navigating the Savannah and adapting to the changing environment.
Nick Earle (41:40):
Fabulous and I would, to put the little IoT bow on it right at the end, I would say the best people to listen to are always your customers and the best way to listen to your customers is to get real time, near real time, information about how they are actually interfacing with your product, as opposed to how you think they’re interfacing with your product. Because you always put too many features in your products in case people want to do it and then you have no idea whether people are using those features or not. The moment you make a smart device or a smart thing, you know exactly how every user is using every product all of the time.
Nick Earle (42:24):
But like in the Costa machine with the 90 sensors, they know every, because you put your QR code so you identify yourself to get the loyalty points, but you identify yourself, they know exactly what buttons you pressed and what cup of coffee you got, from what machine, at what time of day, in what location. That knowledge is so much better than walking into a coffee shop, getting a cup of coffee and walking out again and they have no idea who you are and you are paying for the shop. I think there are these early examples and I think the world, the two worlds that we come from, which are kind of different, well, they’re very different, but I do believe they are blending together, very high-speed. So I’m sure this isn’t the last time that we’ll be talking about these issues together because our customers need this.
Ade McCormack (43:13):
And to put some sprinkles on your IoT bow, so to speak, you are helping organizations grow their data capital asset and that is the fastest growing asset class out there. And most organizations don’t quite know how to manage this yet, how to turn their data into value, and I think IoT goes a long way towards making that possible.
Nick Earle (43:41):
Great. Well, we’ll leave it there on that. I hope our listeners and viewers, as we say, enjoyed this because you’ve been listening to the IoT Leaders Podcast. We try and bring you great people, big thinkers, big ideas and I think we definitely did that in this episode. You can get a full list of all the other podcasts on our website, just search for IoT Leaders. And thank you from myself, Nick Earle, the CEO of Eseye but, most importantly, thank you to Ade McCormack for a mind-blowing description of a world that, I think most of us would agree, is actually not only inevitable, but is arriving really quickly. So Ade, where should people go if their interest is being piqued by this, and I’m sure it has, where can they go for more information?
Ade McCormack (44:33):
Well, my website, ademccormack.com, all one word, contains my blog, which has about 500 entries in it. So if you’re curious about my thinking, that’s the place to go.
Nick Earle (44:46):
Perfect. So, I think, we’re both going to be very busy but Ade, thank you so much for being a guest on our IoT Leaders Podcast.
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