EnStream is a joint venture of Canada’s three largest wireless companies, created to help build the mobile commerce ecosystem in Canada. As COO of EnStream, Almis Ledas is helping to create a secure credential management hub for Canada. A wireless industry veteran with more than 25 years’ experience, Almis shares his insights about adding online smartness and how connected living is changing our lives.
What is the leading trend in IoT for 2017?
Smartphones are becoming our keys to the IoT. Over two-thirds of Canadians and Americans have IoT devices, and from the applications we are seeing, the mobile phone is increasingly becoming the “remote control” for life. There are now not only homes and cars, but connected shower heads and hair brushes, that users can control with their smartphones.
While we undoubtedly will continue to use a variety of devices, our personal smartphones are emerging as the tools with which we identify ourselves, make transactions, interact with our homes and cars, and control connected devices, regardless of where we are, or what we are doing. This makes sense, as more and more of us have our smartphones with us. Moreover, mobile network operators have proven that they can securely manage their customer connections, and that security can be leveraged to validate the identity of anyone transacting over a smartphone.
What do you think one of the greatest misconceptions is about IoT/next generation technologies?
In his book The Inevitable, Kevin Kelly writes:
“Three generations ago, many a tinkerer struck it rich by taking a tool and making an electric version. Take a manual pump; electrify it. Find a hand-wringer washer; electrify it. The entrepreneurs didn’t need to generate the electricity; they bought it from the grid and used it to automate the previously manual. Now everything that we formerly electrified we will “cognify.“ There is almost nothing we can think of that cannot be made new, different, or more valuable by infusing it with some extra IQ. In fact, the business plans of the next 10,000 startups are easy to forecast: Take X and add AI. Find something that can be made better by adding online smartness to it.”
While I believe that Kevin Kelly is right, the great misconception embedded in this view of IoT/next generation technologies is that the addition of online smartness will only make what we do better, easier or more efficient. While this may drive the evolution, the effects will be more pervasive and unpredictable. Once we have online smartness, we will no longer be doing the same things. We will discover and embrace new functionality we cannot today imagine.
Back when cellular phones were car phones, I helped a real estate company with its business case for enabling field agents with mobile phones. They were looking for improvement in customer service or agent productivity to justify the expense of the car-phones. While these improvements were realized, they also found that many agents were only going into regional offices to pick up their phone messages. Once agents were equipped with mobile phones, fewer regional offices were required, driving additional benefits. Now connected devices are appearing all around us. Mobile banking is reducing the need for bank machines and bank branches. Connected living will change our lives in profound ways.
What’s on your reading list for 2017?
The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds, by Michael Lewis. It’s the story of Israeli psychologists Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, who created behavioral economics and showed us that people are not the rational decision makers that economists, and others, take us to be.
The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future, by Martin Ford. This book explores the impact of automation on the balance between capital and labour in the economy. How will we adjust to a world in which automation accelerates reliance on capital, and opportunities for labour increasingly depend on creative and technical skills that don’t lend themselves to automation?