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2015 Year in “PreReview” in Technology

The summer of 2015 marked the release of the blockbuster Sci-fi movie, tEREUy1vSfuSu8LzTop3_IMG_2538“Terminator Genisys,” which grossed a record $350 million at the box office and further popularized the notion of time travel. In addition to sequels and prequels, Hollywood has now adopted plots for movies in which the audience can choose among alternate storylines and follow them to their logical conclusion. The future, as we know it, is plural. This year in our PreReview of 2015, we once again present a few alternative scenarios for the future from our vantage point at the end of 2014.

New business models created by emerging technologies and unforeseen partnerships dominated the headlines in 2015.  Trending technologies such as the Internet of Things approached half the level of big data during 2015. Trending terms in the mainstream media such as drones and Bitcoin scored high in Google trends.

Here are three headlines from 2015 that caught our attention.

FedEx launches “parcelopter” service for 50-minute delivery 

This is a premium delivery service powered by drones launched in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles to deliver gifts for the 2015 holiday season. A TV ad campaign for Parcelopter shows a real-time broadcast of a recipient opening the package viewed by the sender on a smartphone a few thousand miles away. It also shows a logistics team at FedEx headquarters in Memphis, Tennessee, which includes 20 drone pilots coordinating deliveries. FedEx is expected to parlay its holiday season experience and associated data to gain competitive advantage in its logistics business.

Drone cameras that can capture images at resolution of 2 cm are widely projected to replace satellite imagery (with 30 cm resolution) as a source of geospatial data in the future. FedEx field-tested the operations of drone delivery in downtown Manhattan for emergency medical supplies for seven hospitals in October, soon after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) released a set of regulatory guidelines for the commercial use of drones. Most industry analysts had expected that the FAA would miss the congressional deadline to release commercial drone guidelines in September and were unprepared for the holiday season. Google Express, AmazonFresh and Starbucks are expected to release their version of Parcelopter in 2016.

50 million Apple Watches sold 

Sales of the Apple Watch have surpassed some of the most optimistic analyst forecasts for 2015. Critics had pronounced the product as unsuitable for both millennials, who do not use watches, as well as for baby boomers, who prefer a larger form factor. As it turns out, the killer app for the Apple Watch was not to tell time. Apple’s partnership with United HealthCare, Humana and Kaiser Permanente led to popularity of the Apple Watch as a health-monitoring device. Leading insurers are getting ready to announce a variable discount on premiums linked to physical activity.

In a related story, Apple denied that it approached Rolex to create a luxury brand of the Apple Watch. Earlier in 2015, luxury goods retailers that had stocked an 18K gold version of the Apple Watch have since dropped the product from their line. Meanwhile, speculation is rife about Apple buying a bitcoin company in 2016. Could this be the killer app for Apple Watch in 2016?

In-Stadium mobile ads for Super Bowl 50 will generate $20 million 

Levi’s stadium in Santa Clara will host the first Super Bowl with the largest digital footprint in the history of the event. Infrastructure at the stadium for this event is being designed to serve 5 TB of data over 1,200 Wi-Fi hubs to 70,000 fans in the stadium during the game on February 7, 2016. Peak bandwidth usage is expected to reach 5 Gbps.

Advertisers set a price of $100,000 for a 10-second mobile ad spot. A mobile app will also deliver the advertised products from the concessions stands to one of 70,000 seats in the stadium. PepsiCo is rumored to have allocated $1 million to in-stadium advertising for the event.

NFL authorities are also in active discussion with Google, Facebook, Twitter and Apple to crowdsource real-time sentiments about the game from sports fans through a series of mobile apps. Meanwhile, the most popular app for Levi’s stadium to date is Pnow. This app uses a predictive model to find the best time to use the restrooms based on real-time data feeds and historical data from the past 49 Super Bowl games.

(Originally published in


The Sand Hill IoT 50 Needle Movers

In this summer’s blockbuster movie “Edge of Tomorrow,” IOTa PR executive played by Tom Cruise goes through innumerable time loops to become a soldier by being reborn every time he is killed. In the context of software startups, successful products are built through repeated testing and improvement. Those that can do the most iterations without dying become the needle-movers.

The evolving Internet of Things (IoT) ecosystem presents opportunities for startups that can create sustainable solutions. Further to our article, “Internet of Things Needle-Mover Opportunities,” we looked at companies that will form the basic foundation of technologies that address the following five IoT challenges:

  • Privacy and security
  • The power barrier
  • Data analytics and management
  • Interoperability and integration
  • Governance

The SandHill IoT 50 Needle Movers list below excludes established companies and focuses only on early-stage companies expected to play a very critical role in building the base of IoT in the future.

1. AdhereTech — Smart wireless pill bottles to improve adherence to medications using sensors, cellular technology and real time analytics. Designed for specialty medications and clinical trials where adherence is critical.

2. Airware — Platform for commercial UAVs (drones) built with NASA. Applications for the “drone economy” cited include precision agriculture, infrastructure inspection, open-air mining and humanitarian campaigns in addition to law enforcement.

3. Apigee — Digital business platform for API technology combined with predictive Big Data analytics expertise. Simplifies delivery, management and analysis of APIs and applications. Customers include Walgreens, Bechtel, eBay and Pearson.

4. Apprity — Stealth-mode startup focused on security for cloud-based applications from BYOD and IOT. Directly addresses vulnerability from a large number of access points using expertise in data science and security.

5. Arrayent — IoT platform to connect household consumer electronics to mobile devices. Also provides an enterprise solution that enables brand owners to connect with their products. Used by Whirlpool, Mattel and Maytag.

6. Augmate Cloud-based platform for smart eyewear applications for “deskless” workers. Application areas include agriculture, automotive, aviation, construction, manufacturing, medical and pharmaceutical.

7. August — Encrypted lock technology for keyless entry that connects with existing physical infrastructure. Includes 24/7 management and virtual keys that can be distributed for use by mobile devices.

8. Ayla Networks — IoT-enablement platform to manage consumer devices in the cloud. Investment from Cisco and Chinese VC SAIF. Wide range of use cases targeted including individuals, smart homes, buildings and retailers.

9. Bastille Networks — Security of IoT devices for corporate campuses. Holistic risk-management approach entails scanning the environment and taking preemptive action to protect physical and human assets.

10. Buddy — Real-time monitoring of IoT devices to understand customer engagement. Integrates with enterprise platforms such as SAP, Salesforce and Tableau.

11. Building Robotics — Manages interaction between humans and their workspaces. Application called Comfy allows office workers to customize the temperature in their work area while reducing energy waste.

12. Econais — Embedded Wi-Fi systems solutions. High performance, ultra low power embeddable modules that are cloud ready. Focuses on minimizing time and cost in deployment.

13. Electric Imp — Imp is a chip that provides Internet connectivity to electrical devices using Wi-Fi. The platform includes integrated hardware, software, OS, API and cloud services.  Investors include the Foxconn Technology Group.

14. Enlighted — Commercial energy management solution. Extensively monitors environment using sensors and analyzes data to drive energy efficiency. Led by Joe Costello, former CEO of Cadence.

15. Evrythng — “Web of Things” company with an IoT platform to connect products to the Web and enable brands to have a relationship with their consumers. Customers include Unilever, Red Bull and LVMH.

16. EnOcean — Batteryless wireless technology using energy harvesting. Application for building and home automation, lighting, industrial, automated meter reading and environmental applications. 1,200 products based on EnOcean technology by 350 affiliated companies.

17. FogHorn Systems — Integrates information technology with operational technology. Enables the rollout of applications across legacy operational technology provided by multiple vendors.

18. GainSpan — Low-power embedded Wi-Fi solutions focused on IoT devices connecting wirelessly to the Internet. Markets include healthcare, smart energy, industrial controls, commercial buildings and consumers.

19. Helium Systems — Platform for smart machines based on simple device connectivity. Stresses security, low power, low cost and ease of development. Focus areas are healthcare, agriculture and oil & gas.

20. Humavox — Charges devices without using wires. Uses a platform called ETERNA to create a virtual power cord to charge small devices. Reduces engineering design cycles for “things” by providing an electronic circuit that enables devices with Humavox charging technology.

21. IFTTT — Acronym for “If this then that.”  A tool that helps end users make connections between apps and devices that they use every day. Potential to create an inventory of “recipes” for interaction between devices.

22. Impinj — ltra-high frequency RFID solutions for identifying and authenticating items. Application areas include retail, healthcare and consumer electronics.

23. IMRSV — Perceptive computing solution based on emotion recognition and face detection software. Creates a large volume of data for real-time analytics. Competes with the traditional approach to audience analytics.

24. — Solution targeted for optimizing commercial and industrial systems. Showcased by the UK government for achieving success at large infrastructures.

25. Intrinsic-ID — Solution to protect data across mobile devices, embedded systems and the cloud. Hardware Intrinsic SecurityTM  that uses device specific “fingerprints” for privacy. Spinout from Royal Philips Electronics.

26. Isorg — Organic printed electronics components that can be integrated into paper, plastic and fabric. Potential to add “smart” capabilities to objects such as chairs and tables. Applications include security, life sciences and buildings.

27. Jasper Technologies — Platform to launch, manage and monetize IoT services. Customers include ABB, Vivint and Garmin. Partners include VMware. Candidate to be one of the first IPOs in the IoT space.

28. Kaazing — High-performance Web communication platform. Has potential to be a key player in the living Web ecosystem that enables future uses of real-time and dynamic collaboration.

29. Kii — Mobile data synchronization and backup platform to connect devices and applications. Reaches 40 million end users through developer partners. Customers include DOCOMO and China Mobile.

30. Lhings — Cloud platform designed to create a “Social Cloud of Things” to manage, share and interact with devices. Provides APIs to build new services.

31. mCube — High-performance motion sensors based on MEMS to facilitate tracking the movement of IoT devices. Generates a large amount of motion data that can be analyzed for insights.

32. Mesh Systems — Deploys custom solutions for the IoT using their MeshVista(R) platform. Partners include Microsoft and Verizon.

33. Neura — Enables devices with context awareness and adaptive learning capabilities. Works with 40 devices including Fitbit and Jawbone.

34. Ninja Blocks — Smart home platform that learns from user behavior and manages IoT devices. Uses gesture interface and micro-location technology that accurately locates radios within the home.

35. OpenPicus — IOT tool kits for fast prototyping. Primarily operating with design partners in Europe and Asia to provide cloud services, hardware design and firmware development.

36. ParStream — Analytics platform designed to scale to the volume of data used by the IoT. Customers include Siemens, MPREIS (Australia) and Searchmetrics.

37. Peel — Smart home control using mobile devices. Metrics cited by the company are 90 million activated users in 200 countries and five billion monthly remote commands.

38. Pinnocio — Mesh networking for the IoT. Facilitates rapid prototyping of use cases by creating an end-to-end solution using tiny microcontrollers combined with a Web app.

39. PowerTags — Intelligent building solution for commercial facilities that includes monitoring and management of assets, workforce and energy. Use cases range from elderly care to smart buildings and industrial facilities.

40. PrismTech — Intelligent data-sharing platform for the IoT with support for real-time situational awareness, control and interoperability. Customers include Atlas Copco, NASA and Northrup Grumman.

41. PsiKick — Ultra-low-power wireless sensing devices to address the “power barrier” problem. Low power requirements allow energy to be harvested from vibration, thermal gradients, solar, RF or piezo actuation.

42. PubNub — Platform to build and scale real-time applications for connected IoT devices. Customers include Coca-Cola, McDonald’s and CBS Outdoor.

43. Qualtre — MEMS-based motion sensors targeted at industrial, consumer and automotive market segments. Has a partnership with Alps Electric, a global supplier of electronic components.

44. Revolv — Unified smart home solution that connects a very large variety of devices such as Nest thermostats, Philips Hue lights and Kwikset locks. Monitoring and control system controls all devices from a single hub.

45. SeeControl — Cloud-enabled platform to build IoT services without having to write code. Customers include Alaska Airlines, ABB and Fujitsu.

46. Sigfox — Global cellular network for IOT devices. Optimized for IOT requirements such as low throughput communication and extremely low power consumption deployed on a very large scale and a small carbon footprint. Wide range of applications including agriculture, healthcare and manufacturing.

47. TempoIQ — Platform for analyzing sensor data designed for the scale required for the IoT. Handles capture, storage, monitoring and analytics.

48. Theatro — IOT-based solution for in-store retail operations. Combines wearable devices with a cloud-based application that provides an integrated communication and analytics solution for retail stores. Potentially extendible to hospitality and manufacturing.

49. UniKey Technologies — “Touch-to-open” smart lock platform with electronic keys managed by mobile applications or in the cloud. OEM partner for market leaders Kwikset and Weiser under the brand name Kevo. Company reports having opened and closed smart locks tens of millions of times in over 65 countries around the world to date.

50. Withings — Quantified-self company offering a range of smart devices around health. Received six awards for design and engineering in the last four years.

Shirish Netke is president and CEO of Amberoon Inc., a provider of data-driven business perspective solutions. 

M.R. Rangaswami is co-founder and CEO of Sand Hill Group and publisher of

(Originally published in


The Internet of Things: Opportunities to Move the Needle

NetworkingThe automated vote-counting machine was designed by Thomas Edison in 1869 to replace roll call voting in the U.S. Congress and was never used. The motor scooter was designed in post-war Italy to be a motorcycle for women and became a revolutionary transport mechanism for a larger population. The Java programing language was originally designed in the 1990s for use by set-top boxes. And eBay was created to sell Pez dispensers. History has many examples of how original use case definitions became irrelevant in the face of market economics. Like any other new technology, the Internet of Things (IoT) will create an ecosystem with its share of winners, losers, survivors — and needle movers.

Today, use cases abound on how the IoT’s connected devices can create economic value. Some analysts talk about white spaces of solutions that span industrial, commercial and consumer applications. Others talk about fundamental challenges in delivering on the promise of IoT. While white space use cases will have hits and misses, IOT-enabling technologies represent a much larger opportunity for innovative value creation.

We believe that “needle-mover” startups in the IoT ecosystem will be those that do not search for use cases in the white spaces but rather those that search for barriers to adoption and innovate on eliminating them.  These companies will be the suppliers of pickaxes and blue jeans for the IOT gold rush.

Needle-mover companies will be driven by platform business models rather than by products and solutions. The success of the iPhone and the promise of Nest are examples of business platforms on which “killer” use cases can be built. Marshall Van Alstyne from Boston University describes platform business models as “3-D chess” compared to product business models.

Creating solutions within the IoT ecosystem requires addressing several challenges related to technology and operations governance. Let’s look at some of these challenges that create needle-mover opportunities.

Privacy and security exposure  

Billions of devices translate into billions of points of vulnerability in the network. In the current environment this is a $445 billion unsolved problem. In the IoT environment this problem has not even been defined. The exposure from hacking a pacemaker can be much higher than an unsecured application. Scoping out these vulnerabilities and mitigating security risk is on the critical path of IoT. The privacy-aware consumer base opens up technology innovation in areas such as personalized privacy settings among others.

The power barrier

Several innovative solutions in the last few decades have assumed unlimited power or availability of abundant battery power. Power is typically a top-line item in running today’s data center. Success of the future IoT environment means that power will have to be a consideration for the deployment of 26 billion devices and their infrastructure, especially if they have a $1.9 trillion impact by 2020 (Gartner estimates). The IoT presents a new economic imperative for technologies such as power scavenging.

Data analytics and management

Low-cost instrumentation from the IoT ecosystem provides a quantum increase in the data available for analytics. Solutions in this area that provide “line of sight” to ROI will evolve faster than those where benefits take a long time to be realized.

Big Data analytics use cases are widely under development and already have a head start in evaluating economically viable applications. The IoT opens up a new set of opportunities for platform businesses to optimize resources in industries such as manufacturing, transportation and healthcare.

Interoperability and integration

The sharing of data between a large number of devices poses a huge challenge in using this data. The lack of universally accepted standards for the interchange can make or break the deployment of effective IoT solutions.

Solution designers that create business platforms may have to make hard choices in choosing between unproven interoperability standards. Winning business platforms will provide solutions to assimilate data from multiple vendors and support open API interfaces across platforms.


The IoT will change the game and the new game will need a new set of rules, processes, decision-making procedures and even regulation. The EU defined five principles of good governance: openness, participation, accountability, effectiveness and coherence.

As much as industry abhors regulatory constraints, they will become important considerations in building the IoT environment of the future. Specific areas of innovation can come in areas such as business platforms that enable self-governance.

A few decades ago, these challenges were not essential design parameters in building the Internet economy. But in the age of the Internet of Things, these challenges will be center stage. The stakes are high enough to sponsor the growth of needle-moving new business platforms for the IoT. Let the innovation begin!

Shirish Netke is president and CEO of Amberoon Inc., a provider of data-driven business perspective solutions.

M.R. Rangaswami is co-founder and CEO of Sand Hill Group and publisher of

(Originally published in


Data Visualization, Discovery and Visual Analytics – Use Cases, Tools, CoE, Vendors

DataVisualizationScorecards, Dashboards, Heatmaps, Alerts, Management Reporting, Operations and Transactions Reporting are all enterprise example of data visualization outputs.

Some data visualization use cases include:

  • Data Scientist — uses QlikView to visualize and extend statistical models built in “R”, a programming language used for statistical modeling, to understand traffic flows and congestion patterns and advise on options to improve travel times for Local delivery drivers.
  • Pharmaceutical Sales Representative — uses QlikView on an iPad to access current industry sales trends and doctor prescription history while on a sales call with a busy physician.
  • Healthcare Chief Medical Officer — uses Tableau Software to analyze all aspects of hospital performance including population management, emergency room effectiveness and Affordable Care Act compliance.
  • Crime Analyst— uses Microstrategy to maintain a consolidated view of crime levels and optimize staffing allocations to dispatch police into high crime areas.
  • Retail Store Manager — uses QlikView to analyze which products are selling best which impacts store assortments and which products get featured vs which ones get discontinued.
  • Telecom Customer Service Agent — uses Spotfire to monitor call center statistics and how it translates into customer satisfaction and retention.

From these use cases you can see that there are many different ways of asking questions and telling a story. The story in the enterprise typically is around the these Use Cases:

  • Interactive Modeling – Speed-of-Thought Analysis, What-if Analysis and Forecasting, Rapid Scenario Planning
  • Scorecards – Personalized scorecards, Measure against goals, “At a Glance” information on Business Performance, Convey information in intuitive format
  • Dashboards – Support “what-if” scenarios, Drill down capabilities, Visualize Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)
  • Management Reporting – KPI monitoring, Briefing Books, Summarized views
  • Operations and Transaction Reporting –  Alerts, summarized views of day-to-day activities of the batch and raw data reporting

Dashboard example from Proctor & Gamble. mycockpit-pg Read more »


Apple’s HealthKit vs. Google Fit – Wellness Platforms for Digital Health?

mobile-applicationsGame on….I think we just witnessed a big next generation big data leap in Healthcare Wellness Data and Analytics.  Apple jumped into the health information business on June 2 2014, launching both a new health app (Health) and a cloud-based health information platform with IOS 8 (HealthKit). This was followed by the Watch launch in September 10, 2014, an intelligent health and fitness companion.

Google followed with Google Fit on June 25. Fit is a set of APIs that will allow developers to sync data across wearables and devices. Google Fit is the equivalent of Apple’s HealthKit.  Google didn’t announce an equivalent of Apple Health app.  It is expecting its ecosystem of Android partners to innovate with apps. Google also might be taking a different approach with Fit aligned with Android Wear SDK which extends the Android platform to a new generation of wearable devices.

Understanding Health, Wellness and HealthKit

What is the end game? First is that many healthcare companies are trying to change patients’ behavior to improve outcomes with data:

  • being more proactive and taking a preventative approach
  • trying to build relationships with patients and engage them more in their own care
  • trying to get them to adopt healthier behaviors and make better choices

The goal is collect real-time biometric data to feed EMR for clinical care management and CRM for outreach and engagement.

Apple’s mobile App, called “Health”, will collect an enormous of realtime data in the form of number of body metrics including blood pressure, heart rate, and stats on diet and exercise.  Data is collected about personalized daily fitness goals from either motion sensors in phones or next generation wearables like the Watch. Health will constantly monitor key health metrics (like blood sugar for diabetics or blood pressure), and if any of them begin to move outside the healthy range, the app can send a notification to the user or a surrogate like user’s doctor.  What Apple does well as usual is providing simple, easy-to-use dashboards consumed via mobile apps for health and fitness (see below).

The mobile Health app will share all its information with a new cloud platform called “HealthKit.” The new health cloud platform is designed to act as a global repository for all the user’s health information. It will accept data collected by a variety of third-party devices and apps. For instance Nike is now working to makes its health and fitness apps integrate with HealthKit.

HealthKit cloud-based platform is where the real heart of the operation is. It uses real-time and historical data, aggregating data from all the devices tracking vital statistics. HealthKit will allow consumers to know more about their body and track every step. HealthKit also allows consumers to share data with healthcare Providers and even Payors.  HealthKit also takes a big burden off developers who no longer have to build custom tools and various API interfaces to transfer, sync and collate health data.  This way the developers can focus on value add apps like visualization, interpretation/analysis rather than plumbing like data security, permission gathering.

So what’s the big deal? Apple’s iPhone 6, 6 Plus, and Watch are essentially migrating from part-time health stat monitor (Bluetooth heart rate monitors or step trackers) to full-time mobile preventative wellness monitoring platforms.


Patient-centered, consumer-driven, and value-based Business Models

Read more »


Cloud-based Healthcare Analytics and Decision Support Solutions

CostTransparencyThe old playbook no longer works. Everyone acknowledges that U.S healthcare is broken.

Technology (preventative apps like Apple Health and HealthKit; EHR, claims and reimbursement analytics; Physician Practice management etc.)  will reinvent healthcare as we know it.  I expect the  healthcare transformation to start incrementally and develop slowly in sophistication.  Though the early changes will appear clumsy and underwhelming, by 2030 they will seem obvious, inevitable and well beyond the changes we might envision today.

Why change? Consider this:

  • Honeywell, a Fortune 100 technology and manufacturing company, needed to manage the ever-escalating cost of insuring its 130,000 employees and their dependents. Honeywell has reported that health care costs were growing approximately 8-10% per year.
  • Self-insured employers like Wal-Mart want to make health care cost and quality information available to their 1.2 Million employees.  Useful information that can be used by employees to select physicians based on how their rank, or how much they cost, resulting in savings for both the employee and the employer. Decision support enabler.

Historically, employers like Honeywell, Wal-Mart and their employees have not had access to comprehensive  information about the cost and quality of care as they evaluate benefit designs across multiple health plans and treatment options.

In some cases, U.S health care providers and other market participants have actively resisted efforts by employers and others to obtain information about the costs and quality of health care services. Why? because opaqueness means money.  UCSF researchers uncovered an enormous discrepancy in what different hospitals charge for the same procedure, ranging from a low of $1,529 to a high of $183,000. The median hospital charge was $33,611. The startling cost variation illustrates an inefficient system.

Despite this resistance, the health care industry generates extensive data that is relevant to determining the cost and quality of health care services. These data reside in myriad formats and disparate databases, without a common infrastructure, and have therefore been of limited value to employers and employees in controlling costs and improving outcomes.

In many cases, information relating to health care services has restrictions on its use, such as contractual agreements that some health plans and providers have historically entered into to not disclose price information. These factors make it challenging for employers and employees to use these data for the purposes of measuring cost and quality and making informed decisions. Read more »


Consumerism, Health Exchanges, and Payor Big Data – A Primer

EmployerRequirementsHealthcare Benefits are the 2nd costliest line item for companies in the U.S. So, companies are taking aggressive steps to reduce this spend. Consider this:

  • IBM is moving to a private health exchange…Extend Health private exchange will be handling plan options for 110,000 IBM retirees
  • Walgreens is moving employees to a Corporate Health Exchange. Of the 180,000 Walgreen employees eligible for healthcare insurance, 120,000 opted for coverage for themselves and 40,000 family members. Another 60,000 employees, many of them working part-time, were not eligible for health insurance.
  • Trader Joe’s  — decided to send some employees to the new public exchanges. Trader Joe’s has left coverage for three-quarters of its work force untouched but is giving part-time workers a contribution of $500 to buy policies. Because of the employees’ low incomes, the company says it believes many will be eligible for federal subsidies to help them afford coverage.
  • Time Warner will direct retirees to an exchange to get health coverage

For the past year I have done strategy and implementation work in the employee Healthcare benefits and Private Exchange area.  I wanted to share my insights into the massive structural changes taking place in health insurance. The move to patient-centered, consumer-driven, and value-based models is real.

Employee Health insurance in the U.S. is at the cusp of a major transition from an employer-driven payor model to a model directly involving many more employees and consumers.  Private health insurance exchanges with a defined contribution approach represent a significant step in this journey. Also some clever risk shifting strategies are emerging where employers are moving part-time workers onto public exchanges.

The market size is enormous.  Healthcare spending is forecasted to be ~$3.1 trillion in 2014, with $620 Bln of this paid by U.S. employers.  In 2013, employers contributed 32% more in health care expenses than 2008.

Read more »


Guest Personalization and Wearable Computing: Disney MyMagic+

MagicBandA satisfying customer experience is the driver of any business’s revenue growth. Disney Theme Parks is no exception. Disney is executing a guest personalization strategy leveraging wearable computing (and analytics) to track, measure and improve the overall park experience. The ultimate goal is increase sales, return visits, word of mouth recommendations, loyalty and brand engagement across channels, activities, and time.

Wearable computing seems to be the next big thing.  Many believe a new crop of gadgets — mostly worn on the wrist or as eyewear — will become a “fifth screen,” after TVs, PCs, smartphones, and tablets.

Wearables are already being used to monitoring vital signs, wellness and health. Devices like Fitbit, UP, Fuelband, Gear2 track activity, sleep quality, steps taken during the day. Consumers of all sorts — fitness buffs, dieters, and the elderly — have come to rely on them to capture and aggregate data.

What most people don’t understand is how powerful wearables (coupled with  analytics) can be in designing new user experiences.  Businesses thrive when they engage customers by creating a longitudinal view of each customer’s behavior. To understand the wearables use cases and potential we did a deep dive into a real-world application at Disney Theme Parks.

Wearable Computing at Disney: MyMagic+

Disney has been rolling out a new guest experience called MyMagic+ to the 30 million guests per year at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando.

Realizing that guests were arriving with smartphones and tablets in hand and expecting access to more information, Disney started the MyMagic+ initiative to provide a next generation experience. The overarching goal of MyMagic+ is to provide a much more personalized friction-free vacation at various theme parks, even down to characters knowing your name.

Disney is following in the steps of Harrah’s (now Caesars Entertainment) Total Rewards program that provided an integrated experience for gamblers across nearly 40 resorts and casinos. Loyal spenders were rewarded with innumerable entertainment options, enticing special offers, free hotel rooms, and different ways to redeem credits.

How does MyMagic+ work?

A key element of MyMagic+ is MagicBand.  MagicBands is a ultra-personalization experience.  These brightly colored bands link with online profiles for each visiting family member, and can be scanned at park kiosks to access advance ride bookings, receive customer service, and pay for all the stuff your kids want to buy.

The key to a great experience is being predictive in terms of context. For instance, while wearing her MagicBand, a young lady who loves Disney princesses might be approached by her favorite of the park’s life-size characters and be greeted by name.

Disney extracts and integrates all the information about the guest from all the park siloed data systems. as well as from external sources. This allows them to create a longitudinal view of each guest’s behavior over channels, activities and time.

Sophisticated pattern-detection science is applied against the 360-degree view to extract each guest’s behavioral predictors – like early warning on guest/family fading, real-time park experience dynamics (via feedback), and each guest sensitivity to specific promotions. The objective is to turn these signals into individuated recommendations served via customer marketing systems.

Technology behind MagicBand

According to Disney, each waterproof MagicBand contains an HF Radio Frequency device and a transmitter which sends and receives RF signals through a small antenna inside the MagicBand and enables it to be detected at short-range touch points throughout Walt Disney World Resort. MagicBands can also be read by long-range readers and  used to deliver personalized experiences, as well as provide information that helps us improve the overall experience.

The next version of MagicBand might have much more computing built into it. If they go the Android route…Google has announced an SDK aimed at making Android, more palatable for small devices. Android apparently was consuming more battery. Samsung tried using Android for the Galaxy Gear, its smart watch, and the results were not so great. It couldn’t last very long without a recharge. For the Gear 2 Samsung dropped Android in favor of Tizen, its own operating system.  I won’t be surprised if Apple and Disney team up in a few years around this.

Read more »


Big Data Performance Anxiety and Data Grids

In Memory Data Grid (IMGD) is a data structure that is being increasingly The Gridcited as a solution to the problem of scaling big data applications. Unlike in-memory applications, IMGDs distribute only the data across RAM over multiple servers.  With memory prices continuing to fall and the volume of data for an application continuing to rise, solutions based on memory are looking more attractive to manage the performance bottlenecks of applications using Big Data. Should IMGD be on your radar screen for a Big Data application?

In order to understand this and other questions on IMGDs, Carpe Datum Rx spoke to Miko Matsumura, VP of Marketing and Developer Relations at Hazelcast, who has seen recent adoption of this technology in banks, telcos and technology companies. Here is an extract from our discussion.

Why is it so important to distribute data in a data grid? Why should it be In-memory?

Read more »


Security Analytics – Big Data Use Case

Another day, another data breach.  Just received another “We’re sorry you got hacked”…letter.  

This is the fifth letter I have received in the past 3 months:, Target, Neiman Marcus, credit card company and a previous employer.  What is going on?

Why aren’t firms investing in beefing up their predictive ability to spot the cyber-security intrusion threats? What’s taking them so long to identify?  Why is the attack signature – sophisticated, self-concealing  malware – so difficult to spot?   Do firms need to invest in NSA PRISM type threat monitoring capabilities?

The three impediments to discovering and following up on attacks are:

  • Volume, velocity and variety – Not collecting appropriate security data
  • Immaturity and not identifying relevent event context (event correlation)
  • lack of system awareness and vulnerability awareness

Obviously… where there is pain…there is opportunity for entrepreneurs see below – data from IBM).  There is a growing focus on big data use case for security analytics after all the breaches we are seeing.  General Electric announced it had completed a deal to buy Wurldtech, a Vancouver-based cyber-security firm that protects big industrial sites like refineries and power plants from cyber attacks.



Here are three recent examples that I was personally affected by – Forbes,  Target, Neiman Marcus.  

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