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February 27, 2017

Mission to Mars: New Frontiers for Media & Entertainment

Posted by Anurag Vardhan Sinha (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:08 AM

Mission to Mars: New Frontiers for Media & Entertainment

A Mars rover on the surface of the red planet collecting soil and other material information. A rover is an automated motor vehicle that can be remotely controlled.

On 20th June 1969, an estimated 600 million people watched the televised landing on the moon. Audiences saw Armstrong walk, while Armstrong and Aldrin planted an American flag on the rocky surface.

Fast forward to 2030

The world is eagerly awaiting the first manned mission to Mars. Unlike the baby boomers, Generation-I are not content with an enhanced version of a televised landing on Mars. They seek an immersive, interactive and imaginative experience. The challenge at hand for the media and entertainment (M&E) industry is to enable the participation of Population Earth minus 25 explorers in the event. How can 25 physical human forms and 10+ billion virtual human minds travel to Mars simultaneously?

The rapid development of technology and familiarity with this pace of technological evolution has ensured that Generation-I expect the M&E industry to stay in sync with their imagination. No longer are they happy with linear streaming and episodic content. The industry needs to respond by renewing existing offerings, adapting to a dynamic ecosystem, and introducing new viewer experiences.

Media and entertainment enterprises can stay relevant by managing production, distribution, monetization and support.

Content creation

Circa 2030: The onslaught of Hollywood sci-fi blockbusters on space exploration has ensured that a televised version of Mars landing is almost passé. What would impress audiences is his/her digital twin, who travelled along with the astronauts to the red planet. The digital twin experiences everything the astronauts do and the human counterpart gets a real-time view even from 249 million miles away. Not only can they have the same experience as the astronauts, each person through their digital twin can have their own individual experiences as well - they see what they want, do what they want to and go where they want within the spacecraft. Subscribers of premium content wear retinal cameras and haptic boots to experience gravitational force and walk on Mars. The mission breaks new ground in broadcasting and content delivery. Discerning viewers co-create content based on their unique interests. Significantly, they can choose between on-demand, catch-up and exclusive 'in it' experiences. Technology doesn't exist to do this today, but so doesn't a spacecraft that can undertake a manned mission to Mars too.

Progress in augmented and virtual reality will ensure that by the time man lands on Mars, all of us will have a chance to become a virtual astronaut. The key point is that by inventing technologies and a value chain for the Mars mission, media companies can revolutionize experiences today - imagine if what we elaborated above was possible today? What we could do with F1, Grand Slam and the Superbowl!

Distribution

Circa 2030: Expecting content to be consumed in a specified set of devices in a pre-designated window of time is irrational even today. In order to be an effective content provider to Generation-I, distributors have to deliver 'here and now' content, while ensuring visibility across diverse viewer segments. Wearable technology, sensors and the Internet of Things (IoT) generate data that provides insights into consumer behavior and consumption patterns. M&E companies should address the challenges in making the experience convenient and affordable by integrating diverse partner and stakeholder ecosystems.

Monetization

Circa 2030: The Mars mission will open new revenue streams and business models across the media, entertainment and telecom industries. Predictive algorithms will enable brands to adopt smart product placement during the interaction of astronauts and viewers. Programmatic advertising will enable the display of relevant messages at the right time.

Media companies should quickly monetize content across platforms to overcome the short content lifecycle. However, increasing revenue from an existing ad inventory and content archive requires visibility into data across content consumption platforms. Digital natives look forward to non-intrusive advertising during media consumption. Accurate customer profiling and programmatic advertising will ensure proper allocation of ad inventory to the right customer at the right time, on the most appropriate screen.

Support

Circa 2030: Gen-I natives personalize their experience based on preferences, local context and form factor. The media and content operations should support intelligent content discovery and incorporate mechanisms to recommend content based on the platform, context, and consumption pattern. The processes and systems of media service providers should be geared for multiple consumption points and unique content requirements of viewers.

Circa 2031: After travelling in space for 6 months, the Mars mission spacecraft has touched down. Media and Entertainment industry was able to give its patrons a unique immersive experience and Gen-I natives have begun to wonder, 'what next?'

February 24, 2017

Rethinking Cloud: Designing the Right Cloud-App Strategies to Win Customers

Posted by Saju Sankaran Kutty (View Profile | View All Posts) at 9:10 AM

Rethinking Cloud: Designing the Right Cloud-App Strategies to Win Customers

Today's business is where the digital customer is, and enterprises must go the extra mile to create contextual, online user journeys for their customers. Data about every click, like, view, and share can be the catalyst for creating better offerings. Cloud-native solutions around Internet-of-Things (IoT) and blockchain need massive processing capability churning large volumes of data. Real-time data gathered from every device is essential to enhance product performance, and the need is to shift from data centers, to putting 'data at the center'.

Rethinking cloud

The expectations from cloud technologies are changing and expanding beyond cost. There is a shift in approach to cloud adoption -- from infrastructure-centric to application-centric. By creating new, cloud-native applications and integrating them with existing legacy Systems of records / engagements, enterprises can transform user journeys quickly and accurately in the digital era. There is also a massive drive to create standalone cloud native applications that can scale massively, are agile, and address new functionalities. While 'born in the cloud' companies had this advantage, leading enterprises have also taken a step in this direction. Capital One, an American bank holding company uses Alexa to enable customers to bank through mobile voice-based queries. Customers can now check credit balances and pay bills through the Alexa app. Adobe too has migrated its entire Creative Suite to the Creative Cloud. Through lower prices, faster innovation, and effective features, Adobe is trying to up the customer experience via applications on cloud.

Customer-experience gains priority over applications and IT infrastructure for enterprises aiming to go digital. Applications need to undergo change continuously to address new functionalities and enhance customer experience. DevOps brings in technology innovation with zero-touch automation across the IT value stream, offers process transformation using lean and agile practices and enables people transformation through an integrated team model. To improve customer experience significantly, every enterprise's focus has to be at the intersection of apps and infrastructure.

Here are three outcomes that will define futuristic customer experience:

  • New applications in days, not weeks

This is the new normal to keep digital customers engaged online. By deploying apps on the cloud, enterprises can reduce the time required to set up infrastructure, experiment with functionalities, and go-live.

  • The right decisions, in seconds

Cloud-native apps can function automatically and optimize features to ensure continuous business operations. GE, for instance, uses the Digital Twin to execute 'what if' scenarios and analyze data to create outcomes. This ensures that enterprises can minimize risks of unplanned downtime and optimize human resources for more valuable work.

  • Top performance, always

Behind every engaging digital user interface, the integration of numerous products, multiple marketing offers, complicated pricing structures, several business rules, and more, must happen in real-time. Through multi-cloud environments, businesses can rely on more than one cloud service provider to simplify large-scale operations, avoid vendor lock-ins, manage varied workloads, gain agility to address new requirements, and isolate system failures. This implies minimal downtime, greater reliability, and faster operations for customers.

In a study conducted by 451 Research, it was estimated that 49 percent of enterprises will invest in business applications across ERP, CRM, and more; in the next two years3. For organizations that want to fast-track digitalization, adopting 'application-centric models' across functions is the next big step forward.

New-Age Applications Powered By Cloud

A robust cloud platform is the prerequisite for every successful application-centric infrastructure.

So, what is the ideal approach for application migration to the cloud? Should all applications be re-engineered? For many businesses, a convincing proof-of-concept can combine the following three cloud migration models to drive effectiveness:

  • Quick Results Model

Applications are recreated on cloud as-is, or without any change in architecture or functionality. This reduces infrastructure costs in the short-term, and organizations can focus on improving security and functionality of their applications.

  • Rapid Scale Model

Applications are recreated on the cloud. They are also tweaked to increase scalability and efficiency. In most scenarios, the application is migrated to open platforms, such as Linux, to ensure applications perform better and are more reliable.

  • Innovative Features Model

Applications are rebuilt from scratch to suit today's digital imperatives. It involves deploying the latest technologies as microservices.

Experience and Expertise Crucial for Quick Results

With extensive experience in migrating applications to cloud, I believe that 100 percent re-engineering of applications need not be the only option. Effective cloud migrations have been structured around an 80:20 ratio

  • 70-80 percent effort to re-engineer applications (a new service in the digital world)
  • 20-30 percent effort to pure-play migration (lift and shift, re-platforming)

For enterprises to reap the benefits of futuristic technologies, they should not limit their investments to cloud alone. The next big thing is to simultaneously invest in platforms of advanced technologies such as blockchain, IoT, analytics, and more; and drive seamless interoperability amongst these.

To deliver simple, yet engaging experiences, applications are the oxygen that businesses need. Managing these applications on-premise is guaranteed to incur huge costs to every enterprise sooner or later. Thus, while the need to migrate applications to the cloud is well-established, the right approach is beyond re-hosting or re-engineering.

February 3, 2017

AI Can Ensure The News You Read Is Real

Posted by Sanjay Nambiar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 10:52 AM

AI Can Ensure The News You Read Is Real

Credit the pursuits of biomedical engineers for developing a microscope called 'SCAPE' (Swept Confocally Aligned Planar Excitation) that can not only view groups of neurons in a living brain; it can do so while the person is busy engaged in an activity. With this innovation, scientists hope to get a deeper understanding into what fuels the brain of a human. We can also hope that SCAPE will help scientist come closer to understanding human 'thought' and decision-making. I find it fitting that this kind of scientific achievement is happening in tandem with the development of machine learning.

That's why I was surprised by the latest scourge of 'fake news' on the Internet, which is largely going undetected. People who get their news from social media sites and not traditional newspapers or television networks are particularly susceptible to fake news. That's because people often don't realize that what appears on social media may not be legitimate news. These social media sites have legions of followers but do not take responsibility for the fake news they disseminate. No platform is telling its users: Don't tune into our site, and why would they, after all their less-then-scrupulous practices are bringing them heavy traffic. Thus far, these social media platforms have not been held accountable for promoting fake news.

Brain Science Versus AI Development

The onus is on the followers of these social media sites to differentiate between remarkably similar real and fake news. Which leads me back to SCAPE and the field of neuroscience. As any scientist would tell you, we are still at the point where we know very little about the brain even after 40 years of intensive research. It's ironic that in the world of Information Technology, machine learning is advancing faster than the study of the human brain. Part of the reason is that our brain houses 86 billion neurons. These neurons form a web of 500 trillion connections. Yes, we're that complex.

Yet it's easy to fool this complex and powerful organ with fake news placed on platforms with which we humans have formed a sense of trust. A case in point is how a fake story about Ebola leading to an entire suburb in Texas being quarantined went viral on Facebook and was shared 339,837 times. The other issue at play here is that if the brain is unable to differentiate fake news from the real thing, think of what can happen someday to a world connected by the Internet of Things (IoT). Unless we devote more effort towards robust cybersecurity powered by artificial intelligence (AI), fake news will be the least of our worries.

For example, hackers can actually turn IoT-connected devices against us. IoT is in its infancy, yet hackers have exploited millions of personal Internet accounts by using so-called back doors such as Samsung refrigerators and other kitchen appliances. Entire hospital IT networks have been compromised when hackers got access to connected medical equipment. And how did the enormous hack of the Big Box retailer, Target, occur in 2014? Reportedly through holes in its Internet-connected heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system. These are events right out of a science fiction movie.

Addressing the Concern of Fake News

Just recently one of the more prominent purveyors of fake news, Facebook, announced that it would begin to vet certain posts on its platform and even bring in a combination of algorithms and independent organizations to help them do it. This is a step in the right direction and I think the move to vet reports to see if they're legitimate news stories or fabrications says a lot about how social media sites and even technology leaders should respond to the world that we now face.

It is perhaps time for large news platforms to pause for a moment, assess the current situation, and figure out which AI-enabled security technology could best be wrapped around their proprietary, consumer-facing offerings. It's not unlike medical researchers that have begun to make great strides studying the human brain. Not only should content providers be proactive about protecting the authenticity of information on their platforms, there is also a need to acknowledge that for IoT to succeed, they must have robust security measures in place that are powered by AI. If it doesn't, then you know the old saying: The bigger they come, the harder they fall.

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