Friday, September 30, 2016

Counterpoint: Uber

"... it is a rerun of the oldest sort of business: middlemen insinuating themselves between buyers and sellers."

Writes Mr. Leo Mirani on Quartz here via Ms. Aruna Viswanathan  Mr. Mirani offers a compelling counterpoint to the much hyped Uber for X concept and the build up of the sharing economy.

"There are only two requirements for an on-demand service economy to work, and neither is an iPhone. First, the market being addressed needs to be big enough to scale—food, laundry, taxi rides. Without that, it’s just a concierge service for the rich rather than a disruptive paradigm shift, as a venture capitalist might say. Second, and perhaps more importantly, there needs to be a large enough labor class willing to work at wages that customers consider affordable and that the middlemen consider worthwhile for their profit margins."

The middleman has always been a part and parcel of business from time immemorial.  Real estate and financial transactions being the oldest.  One could say that religions may have cornered the market in creating the man in the middle business, yes?

The article is worth a read and refreshing, though what it highlights as the key reason for such economies to emerge, income inequality, is a bit disconcerting.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Entrepreneurism in the USA

The drop of entrepreneurism driven growth in the USA has a plethora of reasons.  One of them is US's policy on immigration:

"For decades, the United States invited the world’s best and brightest to come and study at its universities and provided them with temporary work visas. But it placed tight limits on the numbers of permanent-resident visas for those who wanted to stay, so the lines grew longer and longer. My research team at Duke, Harvard and NYU documented that there were, as of October 2006, more than a million skilled workers in “immigration limbo” in the United States, with only 120,000 green cards being made available every year for their work categories. Ten years later, I estimate the number of skilled workers in limbo is roughly 1.5 million. I explained in my book, “The Immigrant Exodus: Why America Is Losing the Global Race to Capture Entrepreneurial Talent,” that this would lead to a reverse brain drain. That is exactly what happened."

Writes my friend Mr. Vivek Wadhwa in The Washington Post opinion column Fewer foreign entrepreneurs say they need the U.S. That’s a problem here.

This has resulted in entrepreneurial innovations growing across the world.  Mr. Wadhwa's conclusion is correct - The tide has surely turned:

"The world’s entrepreneurs used to dream of coming to Silicon Valley because it was the innovation capital of the world and there were few opportunities elsewhere. This is no longer the case, as I learned during my recent trip to New Delhi. There are start-up incubators sprouting up all over India, and the quality of the start-ups is second only to those in Silicon Valley and China, which are running head to head.

I spoke to about 50 entrepreneurs at local incubators and meetups. Unlike earlier generations, very few had interest in moving to the United States. Most said they believed the greatest opportunities were in India. As technology designer Himanshu Khanna said, “Why should I move to Silicon Valley when I have a market 10 times as large here?” Five years prior, Khanna had asked me to sponsor him for a long-term U.S. visa, which he could not get.

The tide has surely turned."

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Telco: New commercial models

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has a new proposal, "The FCC has a plan to free us from our cable boxes" here at

"But cable providers may still fight this proposal. This is the latest in a string of plans hatched by the FCC to rein in the telecommunications industry, including the agency’s net neutrality rules and new regulations on how much telcos can charge for phone calls made from prisons. The telco industry is currently fighting the the FCC’s net neutrality regulations, and has already defeated the agency’s attempt to stop states from banning municipal Internet service. With $20 billion a year in rental fees on the line, the industry is unlikely to stand still."

Looking forward to the new wave of innovation in telco.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Hyped up Gartner Hype Cycle

In a recent posting from TTI/Vanguard:

"Has anything on the Gartner hype cycle been hyped quite as much as the Gartner hype cycle itself has? In any event, it’s always interesting. [I agree] The headlined item this time around is smart machines, which, weirdly, moved backward since last year. (Has the Second Law of Thermodynamics been repealed without our hearing about it?)"

The post referenced article on Datanami is "'Smart Machines' Top the Hype Cycle, Gartner Says" here:

"And while Gartner talks about the importance of “deep neural networks” for big cognitive workloads, it apparently doesn’t think that “deep learning”—which is the core underlying technology that’s enabling much of the advances in this arena—is worth adding to its report. Or maybe the group just prefers to come up with its own names for things."

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Oil & Gas: Digital Frontiers

Good friend Mr. Naveed Iftikhar sends along an article from McKinsey "The next frontier for digital technologies in oil and gas":

"Harnessing new technologies could boost efficiency—a mandate that’s especially important for oil and gas players globally."

The article states the obvious in layman terms. The oil and gas leadership that understands the imperatives discussed is already moving ahead. The ones who are tied up in cost cutting and "going back to the basics" have claims such as how can we even take the first step when the data is not organized and is in silos.

My company The RBR Group is currently engaged with the oil and gas leadership, which has chosen to quietly begin the leapfrog to machine learning, deep learning and cognitive computing.  The next few years are going to be interesting if the oil price fluctuates significantly in either direction.

Read the complete article here.