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April 26, 2017

Could Intellectual Property Be A Mass Movement for Innovation?

Posted by Sanjay Nambiar (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:10 AM



Apis Cor prints a 3D house in as little as 24 hours [Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xktwDfasPGQ]

26th April, is Intellectual Property Day. The theme for this year according to the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) is 'Innovation - Improving Lives'. As an IT professional, this resonates deeply with me and contextualizes the effort of millions of people, who work with intangible software code to create tangible, positively beautiful products that improve human life.

IP is fundamental to the emerging digital world. Many technologies are required to create a product, and companies often outsource the development of components, or share technologies through licensing arrangements. IP is especially core to the e-commerce economy, which depends on companies working together to share the opportunities and risks of business through licensing.

A couple of other industries which are engaged in aggressive innovation and thus need to plan for IP are travel and engineering. Innovation in 3D printing is set to significantly improve lives. Today, 3D printing enables a house to be built in as little as 24 hours. The first model of 400-square-feet was built in Moscow recently by tech startup Apis Cor at under $ 11,000. Smart machines did the heavy lifting and built a concrete house with all the regular features. Unlike the usual practice of constructing offsite, this house was built by a mobile printer onsite. 3D printed houses offer significant hope to the 60 million displaced people of the world, particularly refugees. But on the IP side, Gartner predicts that 3D printing will result in the loss of at least $100 billion per year by 2018. This loss will be as a result of IP infringement into design patents, trademarks, copyrights and reverse engineering of equipment parts.

Paradoxically, while one side of us humans yearn to settle down, another side wishes to travel further and gain new experiences. Technology in the aerodynamic shape of the XB-1 Supersonic jet can take us at a breathtaking speed of 2,333 kph, for work or leisure, from one continent to the next. Travelers will be able to zoom from London and New York in as little as three and a half hours. The XB-1 envisages making commercial travel cost-effective. So forget about virtual reality as we now have an opportunity to get up and personal even across great distances. The XB-1 is brimming with innovation and Boom Technology Inc. will likely be investing extensively to protect their IP.

Thanks to Bill Gates wanting to tax them, robots have recently been at the heart of many heated discussions. This, even as their interaction with humans get more inextricable. Robots have moved beyond just being industrial arms to offering intelligent support. They could soon be the primary makers of food. No, I'm not referring to their role in farming, but in the kitchen. A robotic chef is slated to be commissioned shortly this year and its 129 sensors and 20 motors promise to cook 2,000 mouthwatering recipes. Imagine a cruise liner, a music festival or a refugee camp and the role of a robotic chef becomes invaluable. As the field of robotics gets more sophisticated and we humans begin to increasingly rely on them, manufacturers of robots and companies engaged in advanced robotics will need IP regulations to protect their interests.

The most recent innovation improving lives is machine learning. Here, technology is ensuring access to products, simplifying delivery and introducing convenience. IP is playing a central role in all AI-related innovation, and the graph below published by ClearViewIP in Feb. 2017 indicates that companies are protecting their innovation by filing AI-related patents.

Patent-image.jpg

Innovation through automation and AI has the potential to release humans from the drudgery of repetitive effort and channelize their creativity and skills to create something new. The driving goal of technology is to amplify the human spirit and potential. But the IP question is still hotly debated - Since the algorithm is self-learning, who should apply for the patent, the engineer or the algorithm? If the AI algorithm is aware and being creative why should rights not be accorded to it? And so on.

This years' theme of World Intellectual Property Day, 'Innovation - Improving Lives' ties into Infosys' belief in letting a 'thousand flowers bloom'. We believe that ideas should be freely available to be used and built upon to solve problems faced by humanity. Innovation is not an intrinsic skill that one is born with, but rather one that can be taught, trained in, and honed. Our Design Thinking (a technique that nurtures innovation) and Zero Distance (an organization-wide movement to enable innovation at all levels) initiatives, progressively strengthen each other, and are outcomes of this core belief.

Every employee in the company has the opportunity to attend a Design Thinking workshop. The objective is to empower employees to proactively empathize with end users, be it our clients or our client's client, and address even their tiniest pain-point. Imagine when 200,000 employees are empowered to identify such innovation possibilities. The intellectual property movement no longer remains isolated to a few, but becomes a mass movement. The benefit to Infosys' clients is smarter solutions that can save thousands if not millions of dollars. For end users, it reduces effort, improves UX and sometimes even cost.

April 24, 2017

What's 'Next-gen' About Next-gen Services

Posted by Srikantan Moorthy (View Profile | View All Posts) at 1:52 AM

What's 'Next-gen' About Next-gen Services

Recently, Infosys was acknowledged for its application services leadership in NelsonHall's Vendor Evaluation & Assessment Tool (NEAT). While the rating, at one level, is a reflection of our ability to deliver compelling immediate benefits to clients, what's equally relevant is that it's an indicator of our preparedness to fulfil their future needs. Although the report itself acknowledges this, it's my conversations with clients from across the world that strengthens my conviction. It is clear that leaders at the helm of every kind of business are grappling with the same dual agenda - to make problem-solving of well-defined, current challenges more efficient, and simultaneously to also focus on problem-finding and explorations to uncover new avenues of value creation that can serve the enterprise's future. Next-generation services - like the ones referenced in NelsonHall's Evaluation of Infosys - power this duality. And here's how.

These services rely on automation to bring breakthrough productivity to problem-solving endeavors. In fact, the very core of next-gen IT services is based on automation and a people+software delivery model with efficiency benefits that can then be shared with the businesses that commission these services. From bringing automation to IT operations, building process automation, scripting test automation and frameworks for automated knowledge curation, the point then is to focus on doing more, with less for more. Using agile and DevOps capabilities to deliver modern applications in a shorter timeframe is integral to the game plan. Artificial Intelligence (AI) can also be harnessed to bring productivity improvements to work. Advanced AI technologies, when combined with in-depth understanding of the business and the IT landscape, can give businesses the edge of automation while also using critical knowledge locked inside source code, application silos, maintenance logs, exception tickets, and even individual employees, to solve tough business challenges. It can enable systems to predict problems and automate the solving of these problems otherwise requiring skilled people to invest time and effort.

With problem-solving in the domain of automated systems, thanks to advanced technology and new-age services, fresh bandwidth is created for people to devote themselves to problem-finding, to spot new opportunities and build the unprecedented solutions that can bring home the value of these opportunities. An increased focus in product engineering services on IoT and areas such as predictive maintenance, machine learning, and intelligent and adaptive systems is making it easier to bring brave new ideas to life. In addition, when Design Thinking services are also included as part of the services package, it can help client businesses internalize the ways of problem-finding, as repeatable and practical methods to explore new avenues of value-creation and bring innovation into their context.

And yet, it's not unusual for a discomfiting tension, between problem-solving and problem-finding, to make things far from simple for businesses. And the solution often lies in nurturing an organizational fabric that supports the harmonious co-existence of both these mandates. An ethos where people are continuously learning to harness machines that are growing every day in their ability to solve problems, and also to measure people-success in terms of the breadth and expanse of their purposeful problem-finding. So, in addition to automating what can be automated, and innovating to find new problems ahead of new solutions with techniques such as Design Thinking, there is in the next-gen services repertoire something that nudges the thinking of the client organization to not let focus on the 90-day rhythms of enterprise life distract them entirely from long-ranging pursuits of real progress. Something of an inspiration to wait for fruits to be borne over longer lifecycles.

This coming together of automation and innovation in a culture of purposefulness, this catalyzing of the natural cycles of business, tempered with longer-term priorities and perseverance, in my view, separates the 'next-gen' services from the more easily contracted set of next services.

(Read the NelsonHall Vendor Evaluation & Assessment Tool (NEAT) Report)

April 19, 2017

This Earth Day, Putting the Spotlight on Environmental and Climate Literacy

Posted by Aruna C. Newton (View Profile | View All Posts) at 4:41 PM

This Earth Day, Putting the Spotlight on Environmental and Climate Literacy
Volunteers taking pictures of spots located behind the whale sharks' gills

22nd April is World Earth Day, and each year on this widely commemorated day, millions of us pause to review the state of our fragile earth and what more can be done to protect it. Even with the recent Paris Agreement - the treaty to cut back on greenhouse gas emissions- action on conservation and protection is still wanting. Thus I feel that this year's theme, 'Environmental and Climate Literacy', calls on citizens, corporations and governments to continue efforts to build awareness and protect the planet in quantifiable ways.

A study by scientists of the UK-based Centre for Ecology & Hydrology (CEH) and the Natural History Museum, London found that there is a significant increase in citizen science around the world. In 1970, there were just 20 ecological and environmental projects that were undertaken by citizens. By 2014 that number had shot off to 509. It seems there has been a year-on-year increase of 10 percent during the 1990s and 2000s, in the number of citizen science projects that were undertaken. What is even more heartening is that technology powered this citizen's intervention in ecology. More specifically, the increasing availability and innovative use of online databases, digital cameras and smartphones spurred this spike.

The whale shark is an endangered species, and the 'Wildbook for Whale Sharks' project set up by Jason Holmberg put this little studied mammal on the 'protected' list. While diving, he noticed that whale sharks have a unique set of spots located behind their gills, equivalent to an individual's finger print. By collecting photographs of these spots, and feeding them into a computer, one can identify each unique whale shark. He set up a 'citizen science' protocol, where volunteers could take pictures of the spots located behind the whale sharks' gills and upload them to a web-based photo identification library. This has made tracking and recognizing whale sharks much easier and the technology has since been used in conservation efforts for cheetahs and manta rays as well.

Another environmental concern that has attracted much attention the world over is water. Its pollution, depletion and growing scarcity. In 2016, the Global Risk Report by the World Economic Forum identified the water crisis as the greatest societal and economic risk facing the world in terms of impact through 2025.

We see this predicted scenario playing out in Bangalore. The population of this metropolis, has grown from 5.1 million in 2001 to 11.5 million in 2016. This is an increase of 125 percent in 15 years. And as a landlocked city, its biggest concern is water. Without a perennial source of water, Bangalore depends on the Krishna Raja Sagar (KRS) dam about 144 kilometers away. However, this is a needless dependence, as the city abounds with 262 lakes. These have historically been the natural catchment for the 859 mm freshwater that comes down as rain each year.

Unfortunately the city has lost 79% of its water bodies and 98% of its lakes have been encroached upon. There has been an increase in concretization by 925%, notes a study by the Indian Institute of Science (IISc). It also reveals that 75% of the city is paved and rainwater harvesting has taken a backseat. 1.4 lakh consumers should have installed a rainwater harvesting system, but as of March 2017, only 62,000 had done so.

Before becoming the silicon valley of India, Bangalore was famed as the garden city. Can the citizens and companies of this metropolis play a proactive role on water conservation and take Bangalore back to its days of plenty? I believe they can, by recycling grey water for gardening, practicing rainwater harvesting and stringently monitoring the use of water so as to reduce consumption. Part of the answer lies in continuously educating the citizenry on water being a depleting resource, the need to engage in ground water recharge and the need to clean and optimize the use of the city's water bodies. With tools such as interactive apps, websites and online forums this is doable.

Infosys recognized early the need to conserve water. Our water strategy is based on the 3R's, Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. This has enabled us to reduce water consumption at all our campuses by 41% between 2007 and 2016. We managed this significant achievement through a number of methods. Our new buildings are constructed to be super-efficient, and have water-efficient fixtures and pressure compensating aerators to optimize water consumption. While older building are retrofitted for water harvesting.

We have also adopted a 'zero-waste water discharge' policy. This means that all grey water on the campus is treated at our onsite sewage treatment plant, and reused in toilets, cooling towers and landscaping. This has enabled us to create an 85 acres green area that complements our architecture and allows local fauna to flourish.

We have also implemented rooftop rainwater harvesting and surface runoff harvesting, and have over 50 recharge wells on our Bangalore campus, with a capacity of approximately 2.5 million liters/day for groundwater recharge.

Through our pro-environment initiatives, not just on water but on energy too, we seek to influence our 2, 00,000 employees to be responsible citizens, take the message of conservation not just to their home, but their community as well and become conscious catalysts of change.

April 17, 2017

Blockchain: What's In It For Your Industry?

Posted by InfyTalk (View Profile | View All Posts) at 10:28 AM

Blockchain: What's In It For Your Industry?

Blockchain is set to disrupt almost every industry, and the possibilities it offers are not about to diminish anytime soon. A report titled 'Blockchain Distributed Ledger Market by Type and End User: Global Opportunity Analysis and Industry Forecast, 2017-2023,' noted that the Global Blockchain Distributed Ledger Market accounted for $228 million in 2016, and this figure is expected to more than double to $5,430 million by 2023. This is an impressive compound annual growth rate of 57.6% from 2017 to 2023.

In this blog post, we illuminate on the potential this trust-based technology offers various stakeholders in different industries.

Retail, Consumer Packaged Goods

Did you know, the global food industry alone is worth $ 1.5 trillion? Consumers today are becoming conscious about what they consume, where it comes from, and how much they are paying for it. Let's take the example of a product that is widely consumed across the world, and is the second most traded commodity after petroleum, coffee. Approximately 125 million people make a living growing this bitter bean. Most of them are small-scale farmers and live on less than $2 a day. Ultimately, a consumer must know where their coffee comes from, down to the last bean, and how much the farmer was paid, says Daniel Jones, CEO, Stellar, a platform that connects, banks, payments and people. Watch this Vblog and listen to Aniket Maindarkar, Vice President - Retail, Consumer Packaged Goods, Logistics, Infosys, elaborate upon how blockchain can make the supply chain transparent, ensure food traceability and facilitate micro payments.



Manufacturing

With the tightening of border controls owing to political conflicts, terrorism, and displaced populations, international trade, especially with relation to the manufacturing industry, is beginning to feel the pressure. A shipment of roses from Kenya to Netherlands now results in a pile of paperwork 10 inches thick. Imagine the complexity involved if a manufacturer is shipping defense, aircraft or industrial equipment instead, says Nitesh Bansal, Senior Vice President and Head of Manufacturing Practice - Americas and Europe, Infosys. "Blockchain can better manage the documentation that accompanies the many equipment parts, simplify the movement of equipment and its maintenance and repair," he says.

The documentation of equipment often spans geographies and is multi-lingual. Watch this Vblog to get Nitesh Bansal's perspective on how blockchain simplifies the process with its immutable ledger, data security, and need-based access of information.



Cards and Payments

"Payments will have many new form factors, such as wearables, mobile devices, (and) new methods for authentication," says Randy Vanderhoof, Executive Director of the Secure Technology Alliance, a solutions provider for critical security challenges. As these form factors increase and become more complex, blockchain will be the technology that ensures transparency and traceability of payments.

"Many other solutions such as e-sign, documentation and identity can be layered on top of blockchain," says Narayan Sivaram, Vice President and Global Head, Cards and Payments, Infosys.

Listen to Narayan Sivaram as he explains why financial institutions need to invest in innovation or join consortiums as part of their collaborative journey to make blockchain a robust technology for consumers and merchants.



Communication, Media and Entertainment

The media, communication and entertainment industry is being increasingly powered by the internet. A growing amount of data is being downloaded and streamed, and blockchain is set to power digital rights management to better guide this data consumption. Blockchain can simplify processes through smart contracts, digital records of transactions, and multi-party records.

Watch this video and listen to Avi Kulshrestha, Industry Head - Communications, Media, Entertainment Europe and OEM Global, explain the uses of blockchain in the telecom industry in clearance for roaming, billing, over-the-air activation of services and transactions.



Watch this video to get an interesting perspective from Anurag Vardhan Sinha, Senior Vice President and Industry Head Americas - Communications Service Providers, and Media & Entertainment, Infosys on the role blockchain can play in software defined networks, by delivering bandwidth on demand, with flexibility and security. As billions of devices are slated to be on the network in the next few years, blockchain can have wide applicability in IoT service management as well.



April 4, 2017

How Food Scanners, Talking Vegetables And Blockchain Are Set To Transform An Industry

Posted by Ezhil Mani (View Profile | View All Posts) at 11:57 AM

How food scanners, talking vegetables and blockchain are set to transform an industry

The food industry is in a sweet spot. Consumers are gravitating towards a food culture influenced by quality produce, health awareness and regulations. The demand for sustainable and ethical produce is compelling the industry to go back to basics. Science is replacing low-quality calories with nutritious alternatives, and creating cheese, seafood and meats from plant-based extracts. As technology disrupts food production, distributors need self-diagnostic quality control systems to ensure quality and safety.

In 2015, the European Commission instituted The Horizon Prize for a portable food scanner. The winning non-invasive food scanner will use innovative technologies to analyze and disclose food composition, nutritional, and allergen information. It will encourage healthy eating by empowering people to exercise discretion at the point of purchase or consumption. Prototypes of shortlisted solutions are being developed. Once commercialized, this food safety device may upend the food industry.

On the one hand, food and beverage enterprises should expand product categories to serve more segments of shoppers. On the other, they need to validate that fresh / ready-to-eat, cooked food is safe for consumption. Supply chain traceability solutions identify the source during outbreaks of food-borne diseases, but do not prevent contamination. A barcode that reveals the backstory of food does not offer complete traceability and transparency. Perhaps, the solution is in 'Talkable Vegetables' developed by Hakuhodo's Suda Lab and HACKist, a digital creative lab. On fetching a vegetable from the shelf, customers hear an audio message about the produce from the farmer who grew it. Insight into the field and farming procedures will inspire confidence among consumers and enhance reliability of perishable products.

A digital ecosystem boosts distribution of fresh produce, which is intrinsically burdened by high variability as well as environmental and socio-economic costs. For example, sourcing managers procuring tea should ensure that the leaves were not plucked by children or dried using firewood. Blockchain technology can come to the rescue. The day is not far when blockchain will be leveraged to address concerns of traceability in the supply chain. Imagine having all the stakeholders in the supply chain right from the farm to the end consumer participate in exchanging information using technologies like blockchain, Alexa, Google Home, Siri, Cortana and others. This goes way beyond the information consumers can get from the Talkable Vegetables in their kitchen or dining table.

The future of the food industry will be shaped by a sustainable and traceable supply chain. Consumption of food will no longer be determined by fragrance, taste or appearance alone. Speaking of which, does the label on that cheese brand suggest that the goats, cows, buffaloes, or sheep were raised on a diet of organic fodder?

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