The days of Hewlett, Packard, Jobs and Wozniak are long gone. The days when technology was pretty simple and all you needed was some tech know-how; a few transistors, a soldering iron and a garage. This was a time of amazing opportunity.
Hardware became so sophisticated that it got to the point where you could not do much without a multimillion dollar facility. Hackers were forced to move to software and the internet relocated them out of garages and into their bedrooms. The possibilities were endless with just a laptop and a little bit of coding knowledge.
These days hardware and software have both become incredibly advanced. It is so rare to find an expert in artificial intelligence; that when found, they are being paid like sports stars. Ironically; in this day and age, tech giants such as: Microsoft, Amazon, IBM and Google are making resources available to anyone who desires to access some of the world’s most advanced technology.
A Plumber’s Dream
If you own a building; you may share a common fear with other building owners that can cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars in repairs. The fear of an undetected water leak. It can, at times, be difficult to detect the exact source of water leaks by plumbers.
AquaSeca is a startup that believes it has found a solution to this problem by creating a small “wearable for pipes” that can monitor water flow within a building. When there is any sort of abnormal water flow it can identify the problem and notify the owner of the building. This in turn can save the building owner a lot of money through early detection and identification.
This of course involves sophisticated technology. Once scaled, it will monitor thousands of sensors, connect them to customer’s devices and integrate complex analytics and machine learning algorithms. Something that just 10 years back would have been impossible for even major tech companies. Today a startup like AquaSeca can get all the resources it needs to make this possible from the library of machine learning tools that Google has outsourced.
Any Car Can Be A Smart Car
Smart Cars: Automobiles and the internet have assisted fleet managers in lowering costs and improving service. Artificial intelligence including GPS’ have given dispatchers the capability of accessing a “vehicle health report” if drivers on the road run into problems and give them the ability to send help if necessary.
ActiveScaler is a startup that transforms everyday cars into smart cars. Their technology includes voice recognition, video analytics and even facial recognition. They presently support more than 20,000 cars on four continents. It runs on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform as well as its CNTK library of machine learning tools and HDInsight, its advanced cloud analytical package.
Google Glass For Factories
In January 2015 Google stopped production of its “Google Glass” which was announced in April, 2012. Google glass would have given individuals the ability to walk around recognizing people through facial recognition; pull up data on them, then take pictures and video without being noticed. This raised serious concerns.
Although Google stopped production; the potential of the technology for specialized uses is still intriguing. For example: In an industrial environment a field service employee may use the product to recognize a specific model of machine to be repaired, pull up a service manual and be guided through a service call with graphics.
The startup SeToOS has built a prototype. They did not disclose specifically how their technology was built. It is obvious; however, there are many resources to draw from. Visual recognition, the Internet of Things and advanced analytics are all easily accessible to just about anybody with an idea for an application.
The New Competitive Advantage
AquaSeca, ActiveScaler and SeToOS are all early stage startups which are still in their “garage mode” days, so to speak. Although they do not have billion dollar research budgets or industrial labs they are still able to access technology that would have been impossible to access just ten years ago. Tech giants like Microsoft and IBM would have never shared their proprietary assets in such a manner back in the day. Ironically, today IBM and Microsoft freely share their intellectual property with anyone who has an idea and so do newer companies such as Google and Facebook.
Mendix is a company that offers a platform to help mid-size and large enterprises, (who would otherwise not have had the ability to do so) connect to resources like these. The platform is so user friendly that even marketing managers can participate in developing applications. As a result Mendix is growing at a rate of 100% annually.
You may wonder why the tech giants are so generously sharing their technology. It was not that long ago that they would have made it impossible for anyone to access this information and would have sought to destroy anyone trying to compete with them. Yet now they are allowing everyone to see what their best minds produce. Why?
The answer lies in the fact that collaboration is the new competitive advantage. They earn huge revenues by offering their technology as a service in addition to offering it as a product. Their technology improves the wider it is used. The bottom line is that now a days; power resides in the center of networks rather than the top of value chains.