Join technology futurist and digital strategy consultant Tamara McCleary, and Blaine Mathieu, Chief Marketing and Product Officer with VANTIQ, for this interactive discussion on how technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Internet of Things will truly help organizations become ‘real-time enterprises’. We will cover such issues as the meaning of digital transformation and the real-world impact of these new technologies that are now just hitting their stride.
Blaine: Hello everyone and welcome to our VANTIQ webinar series of interviews with thought leaders and practitioners in digital transformation and the real-time enterprise. Today’s topic is business impact of AI and IoT on the real-time enterprise. My name is Blaine Mathieu, Chief Marketing Officer of VANTIQ. And for those not familiar with VANTIQ, it’s a dynamic platform for quickly creating transformative digital applications for your agile business. And the way it does this is by accepting incoming streams of information from devices, people, and enterprise systems, continuously analyzing that information, then then enabling your business to take effective action in real-time.
I am really excited that, joining me in this discussion format webinar, is Tamara McCleary. Tamara is CEO of Thulium, and an international branding expert, technology futurist, and digital strategy consultant. She’s recognized as a thought leader and top-five influencer on topics such as artificial intelligence, robotics, and IoT, and a top 50 influencer in digital transformation overall, pretty incredible. So, I am really very much looking forward to our discussion today. And, Tamara, thank you for joining us.
Tamara: Oh, it’s my pleasure! This is going to be a really fun conversation because you’ve just hit all the topics that I’m wildly passionate about.
Blaine: Well, there you go. And it will be fun, for sure, because this is actually our first webinar in this series. This is our very first one!
Tamara: Get out! I’m it!
Blaine: It is! You’re it! You’re number one!
Tamara: I’m the inaugural one! I can’t believe it!
Blaine: Exactly! So, we’re definitely going to have a lot of fun. It’s going to be very interactive and I think a really interesting group that’s listening to this. So, Tamara, I see you everywhere. You’re hosting panels at tech events, speaking, doing interviews all the time. Give us a few examples of what you’ve been up to lately.
Tamara: I’ve been really excited. Yesterday, I did a panel on augmented reality and virtual reality and the practical applications of these technologies in the enterprise space. Going beyond the hype and how we are actually using the technology, in everything from workforce transformation to healthcare and treatment of people with PTSD to workforce safety in environments where augmented reality, virtual reality actually makes sense. I think what’s really keen on that is when we look at the future, workforce transformation is huge and how are we going to upskill and skill the workers of the future as we have an extraordinary amount of people within the next decade that are going to be retiring.
So, you look at how technology is augmenting our lives, and that’s what gets me excited. And then you pair that with artificial intelligence, which is one of my favorite topics paired with machine learning which is where things get really exciting and how we’re able to really harness insights from the massive tsunami of data out there. Because you know, as you and I are probably going to touch on, with the Internet of Things we have more and more and more information coming in, and that information is really useless unless we can gain meaningful insights from it and do something to grow the business. And really, this is what it’s all about it is how do you grow the business?
Blaine: Wow. Well you’ve given us a great teaser for some of the stuff that’s coming up here. And I understand you’re getting on a plane tomorrow to Istanbul, is that right? What’s going on?
Tamara: Yes, it’s exciting. I’m going to be talking about the future of trust and why this is so tantamount right now that last week I was recently speaking at RSA and talking about: here we have all of this plethora of data and we were harnessing machine learning and all of a sudden, you have to think of the security of the patients and GDPR which you know everyone is running frantic about. But if you have a breach, now there are penalties and fines that are significant enough to take an organization down. So, talking about the future of trust is really two-fold. It’s both within the organization (how they are going to, within digital transformation, make sure that security is not a bolt on and it’s integrated throughout the entire stack within the organization) but also with your customers.
So, with client acquisition, because AI is becoming so exquisite, it’s hard to tell a human from an AI. We’ve got chatbots that I guarantee you wouldn’t know the difference. So, customers are really wanting to know what’s real, what they can trust, can they trust their data with you, can they trust they fact that there won’t be a breach so that they aren’t then basing potential massive damages? So, this future of trust I think is such a juicy conversation, and I’m really excited to deliver and be main stage keynote.
Blaine: That’s really interesting. In fact, you talk about chatbot: I sometimes man the chat line at VANTIQ on our website. And at least three times now, somebody has asked me, “Are you real or are you a chat bot?”
Tamara: [Laughter] I don’t know, Blaine, are you real?
Blaine: I don’t know. I could be an AI avatar right now. I guess it might be hard to tell. But, honestly, one of these guys I could not convince him I was a real person. There was nothing I could say that would convince him. He kept coming back saying, “Wow you’re well programmed!” I said, “Wow, if I’m an AI bot, I’m sitting down to an AI steak right now about to eat my dinner, so can you leave me alone?” It’s amazing. It’s amazing.
Tamara: Well, Blaine, you could’ve taken credit for it and said, “You know, well, here at VANTIQ, we really do take our artificial intelligence seriously.” It’s really funny, and for me, it’s not so much about whether it’s AI or human. Because honestly, I do believe that the genie’s out of the bottle. Sorry, folks. It’s already here, and we are working collaboratively with machines. So, it’s the machine-human integration. And so it matters less as to whether or not you’re chatting with a human or an AI. What matters most is are you being served, are your challenges being addressed, and is this meeting your needs? It’s less about whether or not the person on the other end is human. Is it helpful? Is it serving?
Blaine: Right. Well, so in that little intro we just did, you’ve touched on pretty well every topic we’re going to talk about today. So, that’s fantastic. So just to let everybody know, for the folks that are listing to this live, you can enter questions into the Q&A box, into the video window, and we will get to them at the end. If for some reason we can’t do that, we will follow up one-on-one. So, let’s dive in, although we already have dove into it, but out of all the things you’re exposed to and working on and thinking about, what particularly excites you these days about what’s going on at the intersection of business and technology?
Tamara: What excites me is multileveled. And here’s why: I’m the CEO of a global digital marketing agency, so obviously I have the duties of a CEO, looking at solving our business challenges because for me, everything’s pretty much driven off that P&L. That’s the sad truth of it, but it’s the truth. Coming from the angle of a digital marketing agency, what I am seeing is the fact that we’re using technology to help other organizations be more profitable and that makes us more profitable. Because we’re here to solve business challenges. So, within the marketing space, that’s our role. And we work within the enterprise space specifically. So, we’re helping organizations with their marketing on the enterprise level to be able to prove marketing’s contribution to business growth. And that gives marketing a power seat at the table because they’re now partnering with sales to drive business growth.
And I love it because, having spent many years in both marketing and sales, the old way without being able to quantify what you’re doing, when marketing was squishy, marketing was the first one where their budget was always robbed and they sat defenseless at many of those executive tables when something needed to be done and there were no funds. They were like, “Oh we’ll take it from marketing!” So, I think it’s wickedly exciting to be able to prove the results that marketing is having within the organization. And I think it’s a delicious time to be able to validate what art and science mixed together can do for an organization as far as moving the needle top and bottom line.
Blaine: I think that leads into the next topic around digital transformation. Marketing is one of the elements that can truly help transform an organization. And I know, for digital-first companies like your company and like many startups, they’re not thinking about digital transformation. They’re just doing it. They’re digital native organizations. They’re already immersed in this. But for most companies, they’re talking about digital transformation as something they have to do. They have to take the company from here to there to avoid being disrupted or to drive new areas of growth. I know you’re actually speaking at Digital Business World in Madrid in May, so you talk about this topic quite a bit. To you, what does digital transformation really mean, and why do you think companies are talking about it so much these days?
Tamara: You know, that’s a power-packed question. So, I am going to deconstruct it a bit here. So, if you need to interrupt me, please do. Digital transformation, what it means to me is that each and every organization has to look at how they’re going to remain relevant and competitive. Bottom line is: if you’re not growing, you won’t be here long. And all of us, whether it’s a legacy brand or it’s a digital native brand, we’re all casting annoying glances over our shoulder trying to look for the two guys in the garage that we haven’t identified yet.
So, this is a time when it’s a highly competitive marketplace. Everyone’s trying to figure out how to be the signal in the noise. And knowing that the future is progressing so quickly, our speed to innovation is so fast right now. It’s like taking a drink out of a fire hose. So, we know that the organization has to be ready for the changes that are happening. We know that things are moving to the cloud. That’s the way of it. We know that artificial intelligence and machine learning are really going to have to be harnessed within the organization to be able to make sense of all the data coming in because everything now has a sensor and everything now can be tracked and so much can be automated.
So, we’re thinking about increased efficiencies, but I think the big challenge around defining what digital transformation is and how to actually implement it and execute it within an organization, the challenges within these giant legacy brands that have to keep operations going the way they are because what are you going to do with billions of dollars coming in? You don’t just stop because you’re going to completely reinvent your business process. But what you have to do is keep this going while you implement changes within the organization. And truly, the way this has to happen is in a way that it’s integrated so you minimize bumps or hiccups. As you’re making this transformation, there are a few bumps, but it’s really about minimizing that. Knowing that you have to shift your organization to be ready for the future – I think that’s where everyone’s scrambling.
Blaine: So technology is an enabler, but some of the key challenges are organizational. It’s not just about the technology?
Tamara: I would say most of the challenges are organizational. Here’s the problem, you can’t throw technology into an organization and go, “transform us!” First of all, you have to get crystal clear on what are the business challenges that you’re trying to solve for. Really, it’s that clarity of vision and focus that has to happen first so that as you do begin to bring technology to the table, you understand clearly why you’re bringing it and can it be integrated into what you already have? I find that a lot of organizations have a lot of packages of technology and none of them, or very few of them, are fully integrated with one another. So you have a lot of duplication going on, business units that can’t talk to other business units, and what’s really frustrating is when you have data coming in from one area of the organization that can’t be used or integrated with another part of the organization that’s using a different kind of tool. So, these are missed opportunities, but I also think of it from the fact that you’re losing money because you’re spending money without the wisdom of realizing: alright, we need to invest in things that are completely integrated, and we can share this information amongst the business units within the organization so that we can take steps, actionable steps, on those insights that we are clearly gleaming from the data.
Blaine: It’s interesting. Maybe we can reflect a little bit on, other than broad organizational issues, what some of the more common failure modes for digital transformation are, or maybe success modes. I know you talk to a lot of CEOs, you go to a lot of events we talked about earlier. Maybe there’s a self-selection bias there where you’re going to these events and it’s the companies and the CEOs that are successfully engaging in digital transformation that you are talking to, but where do think the market is overall in terms of its evolution to doing a successful digital transformation? Are we still in the early days, or are you feeling good about some of the CEOs that you are talking to and interviewing on these panels that they’re really getting it?
Tamara: It depends on the level that the organization is at because you’re right. I think you identified something really interesting, Blaine. And that is, the people that are attending these conferences about the future and digital transformation: obviously it’s top of mind for them because they’re willing to invest to be there. And so, the conversations that are going on there are incredibly exquisite. I do think that these organizations are doing a brilliant job of creating a very potent ecosystem of partners to help them. I think the fallacy is the organization needs to digitally transform themselves on their own. Really, the wisdom that I see out there going actress the globe talking about this is that it’s far easier to digitally transform an organization when they do have this ecosystem or partners to help them be successful.
Blaine: Obviously, I fully agree with that because we see VANTIQ as one of those key partners when we work with our clients. At the same time, another failure mode we often see in digital transformation initiatives is the CEO or the executive team or the board decides, “we must transform” and then that begins a ginormous process across the entire company which takes years and never actually happens. Meanwhile, the market’s moving at the speed of innovation, as you talked about. And these companies would be better off to start smaller, be agile, pick specific projects, have some wins, and then expand from there versus trying to boil the entire ocean all at once.
Tamara: I couldn’t agree with you more, Blaine. I think what we have here is a failure to communicate. And so, when you have an organization that’s racing and haphazardly across the board trying to change everything, it’s exactly a setup for failure. I think that it’s far more intelligent to go at it, as you suggested, which is do it in stages. Map it out. Plan it out because honestly, if you tried to do it all right now (and it’s going to take several years for you to do that) the technology is moving so quickly that by the time you get that fully integrated and implemented, it’s probably going to change anyway.
So, I do think that [you should] take if off in bite size pieces, but have a clear map. This is the thing I think too is that you’ve got to have a road map of how you plan to transform the organization, and make sure everyone is on the same page. You’ve got to get everyone aligned on this because, as you know, everything is doomed to failure if it’s just this top down “here’s what we gotta do.” You’ve got to make sure the communication within the organization is so exquisitely interwoven that everybody is working toward the same goal and they are very clear on what those goals are. And the map: what are the stages, what are we doing first, what has to be done before we go to here? I think a lot of people run before they walk, and that’s a mistake.
Blaine: Yup. Well, you mentioned racing a second ago and maybe that’s because you had your interview with the CEO of McLaren racing on your mind that you did a few days ago.
Tamara: I love Zak Brown. Zak is amazing. You don’t think of Formula 1, you don’t think of McLaren as being technology, but there’s a lot of technology that goes into Formula 1 racing. What was interesting from my perspective, and I was wildly excited to do the interview with him because I am a fan, a definite fan, that was delicious like “I get to talk to Zak Brown!”, but what’s interesting is they brought him in because there were some serious business challenges. McLaren needs to win. Your organization, my organization needs to win. It’s the same goal. It’s a business. And so we have to look at what those challenges are. Their challenge is they need to be faster. They need speed to win, and it’s only going to happen through technology. And it’s the same for you and me. The only way we’re going to win, the only way our businesses are going to survive, thrive, and grow, is if we are faster. Speed, whether, you’re a Formula 1 race car or you’re a business, a digital marketing agency, or you’re just solving massive digital transformation problems for organizations, it’s about how quickly can you get to these wins.
Blaine: Right on. And to digress a bit on Formula 1 racing, I’m also a big Formula 1 fan being a Canadian I guess we all watch Formula 1 up there. It is actually startling what the digital transformation has been in Formula 1 over the last decade or so. This is not a bunch of grease monkeys fooling around with fast cars. This is a totally digital experience from the cockpit to what happens in pit lane to now, the broadcasting experience where you can literally experience the broadcast from the point of view of the driver or anybody else on the track. Besides, the cars themselves are now half-electric. They’re hybrid cars. So, it’s truly an amazing digital transformation Formula 1 has undergone in the last decade or so.
To leave that digression for a second, on the topic of speed, I think this is a great segue into the next concept of becoming a real-time business. I’ve long worked on the premise that digital transformation, or a key element on what digital transformation means to most companies, is how do you turn your company into a true real-time organization, a real-time business. Like, Uber’s a great example. The taxi industry was not a real-time business. You made a call, somehow you found the number, you waited on hold, finally you talked to somebody. Then, they dispatch somebody to pick you up. Maybe they arrive, 10, 15, or half an hour later. Maybe they didn’t arrive at all, and then you try to get to your location. The whole thing was the opposite of a real-time business. Uber turned that into a real-time business by a detailed understanding of the location and status in real time of the passengers, the drivers, what their needs are, doing appropriate matching, getting them to their location, and already planning what the next drive will be. Netflix has done the same thing in media to broadcasters: turning broadcasting into a real-time business. Do any thoughts come to mind on this notion of what it means to be a real-time business? Because you talked about speed to innovation, you mentioned racing. I know this concept is definitely on your mind.
Tamara: Absolutely because we’ve changed. Culturally, we’ve changed. As a society, we’ve changed because we are addicted to speed. We want our needs met now. We don’t want to wait. I always joke that when someone says, “where do you live” I say “I live on United Airlines” because I pretty much spend more time on a United flight than I do at home. I remember when I would get on a plane, and I just expected that I wouldn’t be able to use my devices. I wouldn’t be able to communicate with anyone except for – do you remember when you could put your credit card in and use the phone?
Blaine: Oh I remember! Yup.
Tamara: Now, you have WiFi. You can login, you can get work done, you can text, you can do all those things. And so we’ve become to expect that level of service. And yet, when we are denied that, when they make the announcement that there is no WiFi available on the flight, it’s now this massive disappointment. Like, “what?! There’s no WiFi?!” I remember when it first came out, it was like a miracle. The angels descended upon the planes and now we could use the WiFi. It was such a happy experience. Now, it’s just a frustrating experience because it doesn’t work properly.
So, our expectations have changed, and our customer’s expectations have changed. The reason real time is critical is that people want what they want when they want it, and they want it now. [It’s the] same with responses. This is why chat bots are so critical because people want a response right now. They don’t want to have to wait. I think it’s really important for any business, whether you’re Uber, a manufacturer, or you’re a telco, it doesn’t matter what business you’re in. It has to be real time and then almost, we’re getting to that point, Blaine, wouldn’t you agree, that it’s almost like it has to be faster than real time. You have to anticipate, and it needs to be preemptive.
Blaine: Exactly right, and that’ll help us segway into machine learning and AI in just a second. But to step back a bit, the examples you gave are right on. You mentioned manufacturing: on the B2B side, the buyers, customers, and manufacturers are absolutely requiring real time.
I think of many of our clients that have built real-time field service applications. So, you think of the way field service used to be done: machine breaks down, say it’s an air conditioner, how do you find out it broke down? Well, you get a complaint from the tenant in the building that it’s too hot. So, the tenant calls the building owner, the building owner calls the contractor, the contractor schedules a person to come out tomorrow to take a look at the machine. The person gets out to the machine, they don’t have the right tools, they don’t have the expertise. They’re really just there to figure out what’s wrong. They’re not there to fix it.
Think about how this happens today in real time. To your point about always being connected and no matter where you are, what you’re doing. Yet, to your point a second ago, you can now predict that the machine is about to break down because of the IoT devices and sensors sending that data into the system. The prediction is made, a real-time alert is sent to service technicians who are in the area because you know their real time location, they can accept the job, be directed to the location of the air conditioner. Since we know what the problem is, we’re only picking people that have the right expertise and the right tools on a machine to fix it. And then while the machine is being fixed, the air conditioner, it’s continuing to stream real-time data in so they can know if the adjustments they are making are helping or not. It’s truly a radical transformation how this whole process works by turning it from an offline, non-real-time process to a real-time process. Whether it’s in the B2C side or the B2B side, I truly believe that becoming real time is truly central to digital transformation.
Now, you brought up AI, and I think that’s a perfect segway into what’s going on with AI. Tell us a little bit more about the impact of AI and machine learning on business in general and digital transformation from your perspective. What’s going on?
Tamara: I think that the key word that just pops into my mind immediately is efficiency. So, increase efficiency. With artificial intelligence – we’ve had intelligent machines for a very long time. Where it’s really started to change the game is when we had machine learning. So, machine learning being that we now have algorithms that can iterate on themselves. Because these algorithms are iterating on themselves, the speeds are incredible. It’s mind-blowing, and it’s far quicker than any human being could possibly do anything.
So, with this independence capability to iterate on the algorithm, this is why we have autonomous driving right now. You couldn’t have that. This is edge analytics. You take a Tesla and it’s got all these cameras on the car. We have a model X, so I’m keenly invested in how this vehicle works. The reason I have it, as part of walking the talk, is really looking at how does this work and am I willing to be a part of this? The cameras all over it are exquisite. So, it’s taking in all this information and it’s making decisions right there. It’s not sending information back, waiting for it to be processed, and then waiting for an answer back. It’s making decisions.
So, these are decisions at the edge. And when we’re talking about artificial intelligence and machine learning, real time isn’t possible without AI and this machine learning aspect. It’s absolutely, positively happening faster and faster. I mean we’re already talking quantum computing, and at those speeds, we really won’t be able to keep up. This is where all of this, being very preemptive, is going to be important because I think that is going to spill over into our lives. I think manufacturing right now is using predictive maintenance to not only be efficient but safe. Why are we not using predictive maintenance on health? We already have the capability to 3D print you a new heart, if you need it. And what if your sensors are letting your healthcare providers (and we have this healthcare cloud) know, “Hey, you know what? Blaine, you need to come in. A couple years from now, you could have a heart attack, so we’re going to go ahead and get you a new one and 3D print it with your own stem cells so there’s no rejection factor.” Our world is completely changing. And yet, back to regular business, my 17-year-old son works at a grocery store, and on Monday they had their freezers go down. We’re talking a massive gross re-storing, and they have lots of food. If it had had sensors doing predictive maintenance, they wouldn’t have had those loses because it would’ve been taken care of before these freezers went down. Instead, all of the staff is stuffing the meat case with dry ice and sealing it up because you’re talking about hundreds of thousands of dollars of loss
Blaine: Right on. That probably brings us to IoT, the sensors on the freezers and all that, which is really moving pretty rapidly into the real market these days. [It] is a very important topic, and the scenario you painted is exactly the reason why. From what I’m seeing in the market, IoT is finally getting out of the lab and into the real world. Do you agree with that? Or what are you seeing in this regard when you’re talking to some of the folks?
Tamara: Oh it’s definitely out of the lab. You’re right. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s out of the lab, it’s impacting everything from wearables to sensors on bearings and within manufacturing, sensors on every piece of equipment you could possibly imagine so it’s getting feedback. We have IoT in pharmaceuticals. So, you can take a pill and with this IoT enabled device, we can know exactly the dosage, the time you took it, and when it hit your stomach. IoT is infused in everything, and this is why we have so much data! These devices are giving us tons of data. And when you think about, say, in manufacturing you have all kinds of data coming out from these sensors, you don’t need all that data. So, this is data exhaust. What you need is, pairing all of that IoT data again with the AI and the machine learning to really pluck out what you need. But IoT is here, it’s changing our lives, and it’s actually pretty exciting. We need IoT.
Blaine: Plucking out what you need and then taking an action on that is related to another topic you brought out a couple of times now and you started with this, actually. It was a discussion on, you refered to it as human-machine collaboration, and that’s exactly how we describe it as well. It’s about how, as these intelligent machines and systems are increasingly becoming faster and better at what they do, we still need to find ways for people to work effectively in these systems. And in fact, we can work even more effectively by collaborating between humans and machines. That’s what we fundamentally believe at VANTIQ. I’d like you to touch on his a little more since you actually brought up the topic of human-machine collaboration a while ago.
Tamara: Yeah thanks. I am excited about the possibility of being able to increase the capacity of communication through technology because in the end, you have to look at why we are doing anything. I like to reverse engineer from the end. Why are we using machines anyway? Why are we doing any of what we are doing? Well, hopefully it’s because we are trying to augment the lives of human beings and make them better. We’re trying to create more food on the planet for people to eat. We’re trying to clean up the water so people have clean water to drink. We’re trying to make more efficient decisions within organizations to make them profitable and grow and create jobs. So, I think that the machine-human partnership is absolutely critical because of our modern days, because things are changing so quickly, to help us communicate. Because we’re creating new ways of relationships now. With augmented reality and virtual reality and being able to project holographic images. I actually did a keynote once as a holograph. There are different kinds of relationships now, so we have to look at how this machine-human collaboration is going to facilitate those relationships. And our younger generation coming up, they communicate differently. I don’t know if you’ve got kids, Blaine.
Blaine: I do! Yup.
Tamara: We’ve got gen Z’s at home and you know what they do? [They] send you a bunch of emoji texts and emoticons, and you’re supposed to figure it out, you know? What is that? What is this line of pictures mean? This is how this generation communicates, and this generation is massive. They’re coming up the ranks, and all the studies are showing this is a very unique generation in that fact that they are actually most likely to be managing the millennials, which I think is pretty funny. They’re a driven generation and this generation is one that is going to the harness machine-human partnership because we are changing the way we communicate. And it’s much more visual. We’re talking about vocal interfaces, digital interfaces, and no more of these manipulatives. We’re not going to need to touch anything.
Blaine: Right on. I love this notion. I talk about human-machine collaboration quite a bit, but this idea of human-machine partnership, I think that’s a great thought process. If you don’t mind, I’m going to steal that concept from you because that’s a great idea. I’ve never thought about it in those terms before, but it’s literally even more than a collaboration, right? It is a partnership between people and so-called machines, system, software, whatever it is, to make everybody more effective. So, you actually mentioned AR and augmented reality and virtual reality a second ago, any thoughts on real business? Where are we in terms of real business impact of these technologies? Or is it mostly about video games and watching movies on an airplane?
Tamara: It’s a great question that you ask. First of all, I have to say machine-human partnership I probably stole from Michael Dellso you can get it from Michael. I hate to take credit for what’s not mine. You’re right about the AR/VR and the fact that it used to be about gaming. It used to be about the entertainment sector, but it’s moved out of that. And it definitely has a lot of power right now in the enterprise space. The first place that’s really expanded and grown quickly is in the manufacturing space and also within this space of energy utilities and workers out in the field. I was using an AR headset by Daiquiri. I don’t know if you know the company Daiquiri, but I actually was using their headset. It actually was walking me through a surgical procedure so that in the field, if I needed to do this surgery, it was literally showing me what to do, piece by piece.
So, think of all the applications with that within the space of healthcare, delivering services to rural areas that don’t have healthcare providers, or in combat. You think about folks on the ground who need emergency treatment and the person needing to deliver that treatment doesn’t have the previous experience. So AR and VR applications are also rocking the space with education. So, it is completely disrupting the model that we had that’s not serving most people in education. Think about kids with autism being able to experience a different level of education. They’re forced into this public classroom that’s an old model. That’s the industrialized model of teaching: let’s shove information down people’s throats, instead of teaching them how to think and teaching them how to learn.
AR/VR let you access information from absolutely anywhere. So, another really cool AR/VR piece is within the space of healing traumatic memories. They’re actually able to take people through scenarios that simulate what’s causing a lot of distress, let’s say, with previous combat experience. She may have PTSD or he may have PTSD and they’re actually showing that AR/VR is helping them to be able to overcome that and transition back into civilian life, which is huge. Anything about this space of veterans. This is such an underserved market, and these people have served us, done their duty, and they’re expected to come back and live an average life. We’re asking a lot of these people. I think technology used to heal human and make human beings better and serve humanity. To me, that’s where the juice is at, and AR/VR is so much more than entertainment now. It’s just absolutely, positively exciting. Soon, it’s going to be about just putting on your headset. It’s not going to be about what you learned before in your past. It’s going to be about what you can do right now, and it’s going to change to learning.
Blaine: And enable, exactly, this human-machine collaboration that we’ve been talking about. Before we wrap it up, I’m going to ask you some takeaways or key tips for business leaders that are trying to drive a real-time transformation. Before we do that, I do have a couple of question that came in during the webinar. I know we’re getting a little low on time here. But, let me get a couple of them out.
We haven’t brought up the topic of blockchain yet, and the question is: Is blockchain hype or is there something real there? And I’ll just say my personal commentary on that is I was speaking about real-time event-driven applications in the space of IoT at a London technology event two weeks ago. This event was 2/3rds blockchain. It was crazy. I can tell you from a personal perspective, 2/3rds of that, 2/3rds was just pure smoke and mirrors, a lot of noise, a lot of BS. But I also think there’s something fundamentally real there. What’s your thought on blockchain, the state of blockchain these days? That’s what the question is about.
Tamara: First of all, I cannot believe we waited to the very end to bring up blockchain.
Blaine: [Laughter] I know. I resisted! I resisted bringing it up.
Tamara: Not bringing up blockchain is like not bringing up bacon.
Blaine: You’re right. They’re about equivalent. Although, neither of them are good for you. No, I take that back.
Tamara: I know you’re just joking. To answer your question, every time we have something new pop up and it becomes super sexy to talk about and include in everything, there is a certain amount of hype to it, for sure. I mean, didn’t we see this with artificial intelligence? It was the cool thing, the cool kid on the block to talk about. But everybody’s like, “Show me the money! Where is it actually working?”
So, this is where we’re at with blockchain. Blockchain is extremely real. It is probably the coolest thing to hit the security space, because we have this digital ledger now. Where it’s really transforming is if you look at energy utilities. Blockchain is enabling you and I to take our surplus energy that we have from our solar cells and sell them to our neighbor. I mean, this is real stuff. This is stuff that the energy utility companies know! They don’t want to talk about it, but they are very aware of it because it is happening in certain parts of the world already and in the US as well. Blockchain there is disrupting energy utilities. It’s power to the people. It’s giving individuals the power to make transaction that before, they weren’t able to do.
In the space of security, blockchain coming into our phones is really going to be next because these things can be hacked. Your SIM card can be hacked. Now, our current method, your bank, if you go to make a change to your bank or you go to make a change to your security password on Facebook, they’re going to send you a text message with a verification code. Now, if someone’s already hacked into your phone, they can access anything that you have. And guess what, that security code that send to them, they input it in. They can change all the passwords on you. Now you’re locked out. It’s your stuff. So, I think that blockchain is critically important for being able to make things secure. I wish I had a chalkboard here so I can explain to people how blockchain works.
Blaine: Oh no, god. Please, god. God help us.
Tamara: Because everybody’s probably listening to this, they’re like, “No. Don’t tell us, Tamara.” But it’s this really cool diagram of this building with all these blocks. The reason blockchain is so exquisite is, if you have a hacker and they come in and they hack here, you can’t pull that block out of the building because there’s all these other blocks on top. So, it is real. You just have to be exquisitely inquisitive as to how are you going to apply it. Just like AI, what is the challenge you’re trying to solve for?
Blaine: That’s right. What’s the use case? What’s the challenge? I agree. I agree with everything you said. I think that right now a lot of the hype is hype of the technology ahead of the use case, and we’re only just starting to find out some interesting use cases like you were talking about. So, alright I had to bring it up. And now we’ve done our blockchain segment.
One more quick question before we wrap it up. This is actually I think a really interesting one that comes up all the time: Who should own digital transformation in the enterprise? Should it be the IT group or the business side? IT or business, who should drive digital transformation in enterprise? This is sort of a classic. Should it be the technology guys or should it be the business units? What’s your opinion?
Tamara: Honestly, I think it has to be a really tight collaboration. I do believe that business needs to drive what they’re solving for. So, businesses coming from asking the right questions because poor IT goes, “All right. Fine guys. We’ll give you what you want, but what is it that you want?” So, IT needs the support of business to direct what it is that they want so that IT’s empowered to deliver.
So I think it is incredibly important that there’s this really tight collaboration. I know ownership is critical. I do believe that maybe business needs to own and be very clear about what it is they expect from IT, so that when IT delivers, they’re not crucified and a scapegoat on the table for not digitally transforming. I love the IT departments. They work their tails off, and they’re the ones scrambling right now. They’re the ones everyone blames for not having digitally transformed an organization, but they need direction. They need to know what it is clearly that you want. And business needs to know why they want it. So, it’s never about the fact that they don’t have the technology. It’s about them never really taking the time to ask the right questions of the technology so that IT can deliver those answers.
Blaine: I think that’s right and in addition to all that, one way I also answer that question is: what do you mean IT or the business? IT is in the business.
Tamara: I love that! Thank you!
Blaine: So there you go. Like just to set it up as IT or business, which I did, is incorrect right from the get go, for all the reasons you said. That’s just the short version. IT is in the business. What are you talking about? Anyway, it can’t be a separate silo of things. I agree.
Alright, let’s wrap this up. Any key takeaways or tips for business leaders who are trying to drive a transformation of their business in real-time?It could be IT people because we’ve now put IT in the business.
Tamara: Get real clear on what the business challenges are that you have that you’re trying to solve for. And then, get exquisitely good at asking the right questions of the data and of your folks. I can’t stress enough how important it is to involve a really healthy, potent ecosystem of partners. Again, this isn’t something that any organization should do on their own because you can’t be great at everything, and if you try to be, you’re not going to be around for long. You need to include people within your ecosystem that organizations and companies that are experts in these areas can come in and help you and support you
Being crystal clear about what those businesses challenges are that you’re trying to solve for will help you pick the right partners within your ecosystem. It’s a we not a me. We’re better together. Organizations are better partnering with organizations who are experts within those fields. I can’t stress enough the power of – If you want to be innovative, disruptive, and grow within your marketplace, get a powerful ecosystem of partners together so that you’re driving with the security of knowing that you don’t have to have a team that’s the experts in everything. That’s just not possible.
Blaine: Well, Tamara, thank you so much for this. It’s been a really enjoyable conversation. Let’s remind folks who are listening, you can find Tamara McCleary on LinkedIn, Twitter (a huge twitter following). You can check out her company: Thulium.co. And again, Tamara, thank you so much for the time today. We really appreciate it.
Tamara: My pleasure. It’s been too quick. This was really delightful.
Blaine: Well we’ll do it again! We’ll have to do it again.
Tamara: Thanks so much. Take care.
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