Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence Has The Ability to Search Photos by Content

The term artificial intelligence was coined 60 year ago. But now its starting to deliver. Lumos’s computer vision platform was initially used to improve the experience for visually impaired members of the Facebook community. Lumos is now powering image content search for all users. What does this means to you? You can now search for images on Facebook with key words that describe the contents of a photo, rather than being limited by tags and captions.

How does this work? It starts with the huge task of computational training. For the object recognition used in Facebook’s image search, the artificial intelligence (AI) system started with a small set of 130,000 public photos shared on Facebook. Using the annotated photos the system could learn which pixel patterns correspond to particular subjects. It then went on to use the tens of millions of photos on Facebook. So what this means is that the caption-reading technology trained a deep neural network though public photos shared on Facebook. The model essentially matches search descriptors to features pulled from photos with some degree of probability. You can now search for photos based on Facebook AI’s assessment of their content, not just based on how humans happened to describe the photos with text when they posted them.

How could this be used? Say you were searching on a dress you really liked in a video. Using the search it could be related back to something on Marketplace or even connect you directly with an ad-partner to improve customer experiences while keeping revenue growth afloat. So it seems it can help both customers, customer experience and companies selling things as well as ad partners.

What else is new? Facebook released the text-to-speech tool last April for visually impaired users so they could use the tools to understand the contents of photos. Then, the system could tell you that a photo involved a stage and lights, but it wasn’t very good at relating actions to objects. But now the Facebook team has improved that painstakingly labeling 130,000 photos pulled from the platform. Facebook trained a computer vision model to identify 12 actions happening in the photos. So for instance, instead of just hearing it was “a stage,” the blind person would hear “people playing instruments” or “people dancing on a stage” or “people walking” or “people riding horses.” This provides contextually relevancy that was before not possible.

You could imagine one day being able to upload a photo of your morning bagel and this technology could identify the nutritional value of that bagel because we were able to detect, segment, and identify what was in the picture.

So it seems the race is on for services not just for image recognition, but speech recognition, machine-driven translation, natural language understanding, and more. What’s your favorite AI vendor?

@Drnatalie, VP, Program Executive, Salesforce ITC

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The Smart Home Race: Who Will Win?

Here are three main smart home contenders:

  • Apple’s HomeKit
  • Amazon’s Echo, Tap and Dot and
  • Google’s Home.

The main issues? Consumer confusion, which adoption follows. There is, unfortunately, technological fragmentation within the connected home ecosystem. Currently, there are many networks, standards, and devices being used to connect the smart home, creating interoperability problems (the ability of a system or a product to work with other systems or products without special effort on the part of the customer) and this makes it confusing for the consumer to set up and control multiple devices.

Until interoperability is solved, consumers will have difficulty choosing smart home devices and systems. So here’s how different companies are approaching the market place. Some make it really easy for the customer, while others require a more technical approach.

Apple’s HomeKit

Tim Cook demonstrated how he uses Apple’s HomeKit in his personal life to give potential or current users some ideas on how they can apply it. During Cook’s quarterly earnings conference call he talked about how he has integrated HomeKit products, and the iOS 10 Home app, into his home routine. There are about 100 HomeKit-compatible products available.

Ways to use Apple’s homeKit? When you wake up and say good morning to Siri, your house lights can be programmed to come on and the coffee machine can be started! Though there don’t seem to be any coffee makers on the market with integrated HomeKit support, it’s likely he may be using  smart plug. There are plenty of HomeKit smart plug options on the market— AppleInsider has reviewed both the Elgato Eve Energy and iHome iPS5 SmartPlug. There are two options For HomeKit lighting: bulbs and switches. Philips Hue is a popular option bulb option. It  comes in a starter pack with three bulbs and a HomeKit-enabled hub for ~$199.99.

As far as switches go, the Lutron Caseta Wireless in-wall dimmer kit is HomeKit compatible. Like Philips Hue, it needs a hub to be connected to a home router for HomeKit support— the hub is included in the ~$190 bundle. Smart plugs are only useful with appliances that automatically turn on and operate when they are connected to an outlet. If the connected device requires any sort of manual input, HomeKit and Siri integration don’t work. Cook also mentioned that when he relaxes in the evening, he asks Siri to adjust the lighting and turn on the fireplace. And upon leaving the house, Cooks says by simply tapping on his iPhone, the lights turn off, the thermostat turns down and the doors lock.

Using HomeKit to turn down the thermostat, a common device is the Ecobee3 second-generation model, ~$250. When it comes to door locks, you could consider the $215 Schlage Sense and $230 Kwikset Premis. These both have numeric keypad entry. The $230 August Smart Lock integrates with many existing door locks and makes for simpler installation. When Cook talks about the simple tap” on his iPhone, in “Apple language” he is creating a “Scene” with the Home app in iOS 10.

What is a “scene?” An example is when Cook says his “Hey Siri, good morning” greeting, it turns on the lights and a smart plug to brew coffee. How does that work? You’d open the Home app in iOS 10, tap the plus button in the top right, and simply choose “Add Scene.” Then you’d create a custom scene name and choose which accessories are powered on or off. For more on this, check out the AppleInsider.

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 10.18.48 AM Source: AppleInsider

Amazon’s Echo, Tap and Dot and Amazon Prime Services

Amazon’s Echo offers tiered-speaker in three heights – large, medium and small. Using Alexa, Echo is your personal, cloud-based assistant. Alexa has finely tuned automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language understanding (NLU) engines that recognize and respond to voice requests to add intelligent voice control to any connected product that has a microphone and speaker. In addition to Echo, Amazon offers Amazon Tap and Amazon Dot (which has been updated.)

Screen Shot 2017-02-04 at 10.21.00 AM                                     Echo                      Tap                      Dot

Source: Pocket-link

Echo

Why is Amazon considered by some to be at the helm of the smart home arena? Not only is Amazon cleverly locking customers into its wider Prime ecosystem, but Alexa adds additional value. It’s easy to set-up, on average about a minute or so. You just plug Echo it into a wall outlet using the included power adapter, wait for the spinning light ring on top to go from blue to orange and then Alexa will greet you. Amazon Echo is great if you just want to have a stationary speaker that doubles as an always-on personal assistant. It provides room-filling audio that’s good for casual listening. When it’s connected to Wi-Fi, you can ask it all sorts of questions and control your devices.

Echo works with devices such as lights, switches, thermostats, and more from WeMo, Philips Hue, SmartThings, Insteon, Nest, ecobee, and Wink. Here’s where you can learn about how to set-up your smart home devices. Some products that work directly with Alexa and other smart home ecosystems require a compatible hub. If you are still confused, you can book an appointment with an Alexa expert. It’s free and you get:

  • Personalized smart home solution recommendations from a trained Amazon employee 
  • Home WiFi assessment to identify and troubleshoot any issues 
  • In-home demo of popular smart home products 
  • Appointment typically lasts 45 minutes 
  • But installation, troubleshooting, and setup of devices not included.

Tap

Amazon Tap provides a similar sound experience, but uses a charging cradle in order to be portable (there’s no cord.) Because it’s not always plugged into power, always-on Alexa isn’t available though. You have to push a mic button to access the service. Tap is great if you’re going to the beach or are always on the go.

Dot

Amazon Dot is basically the top section of Amazon Echo. Dot supports always-on Alexa, connects to the cloud to stream music, controls your smart home devices, and does all the same stuff as Echo. The main difference between Dot and Echo is that the full-size speaker is gone. Instead, customers would hook Dot up to their own audio setup (via out jack or Bluetooth), so they can use Alexa with their existing speakers. That tiny speaker doesn’t output much audio; it’s only for Alexa voice feedback (which requires Wi-Fi.)

Amazon Prime and Alexa

Amazon’s Echo products are designed to be an access point to the Amazon Prime network. The monetization strategy is not really on the hardware of the Echo devices. Instead it’s really focusing on connecting users directly to the Prime network without having to go through an iPhone or Google search engine. And Alexa is the brain behind Echo. It’s smart because the more you use Echo, the more it adapts to your speech patterns, vocabulary, and personal preferences. And because Echo is always connected, updates are delivered automatically.

What can Alexa do? Alexa has skills. While I’ve given a list, you will find over 4,000 here. Alexa can help you find things on yelp, give you movie showtimes, order a pizza from Domino’s, request a song from Spotify or Pandora, request a ride from Lyft, open your garage with Garageio, provide Samsung SmartThings support, play Jeopardy, update your Google Calendar, read you Audible audiobooks, convert text-to-speech for Kindle eBooks…

Alexa gives you a guide on great things to do in some of your favorite cities like New York, London, Boston, act as a travel guide, be your vacation rental virtual concierge, give you the next arrival for the route and stop you specify in a city like San Francisco, tells you door buster hours and sale hours for Black Friday for major retailers like Walmart, Target, Best Buy, Old Navy, Staples, Bed Bath and Beyond, Costco, Gamestop, Home Depot, Lowe’s…

Alexa gives you interesting relevant health and nutrition information, ask beer snob to look up a specific beer, get information like a price, rating, location, or a short description from a Wine Sommelier, quickly review your task lists, find out what is due, and add tasks, give you an inspiration quote or provide a mediation…

Alexa also gives you based on the weather of the location you request it will recommend what to wear so that you don’t feel too cold or too hot, switch on the lamp before getting out of bed, turn on the fan or space heater while reading in your favorite chair, or dim the lights from the couch to watch a movie and order the right products that work with Alexa.

With the free Alexa App on Fire OS, Android, iOS, and desktop browsers, you can easily set-up and manage your Echo. With the app, you can view shopping and to-do lists while on the go as well as control your timers and set custom tones for your alarms…

Google’s Home

Google Home is a voice-activated speaker powered by the Google Assistant. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. It’s your own Google, always ready to help. Just start with, “Ok Google.”

The Google Home is centered on targeting users with ads. Google is one of the largest companies in the world to rely on ads as its primary stream of revenue. They garnered $79.4 billion from its AdSense division on its earnings, with the overwhelming majority of the Alphabet parent’s total revenue. While Alphabet bought the device makers Nest and Dropcam, Google Home doesn’t have the built-in user base that Apple has with iPhone.

What does Google Home do? A simple voice request triggers Google Home to play music, podcasts or radio from services like Google Play Music, Spotify, YouTube Music, Pandora and TuneIn. Thanks to Google’s rich history in search, Google Home is ready for your questions. Get real-time answers including the latest on weather, traffic, finance, sports, local businesses – you can enjoy entertainment, manage tasks, plan your day, control your home, get information like nutrition information for ingredients or food or ask about current individual stock prices or current points of an index, like the NASDAQ or ask for scores, live updates, or next game date, location and time for your favorite sports teams.

Their compatible smart home partners include nest, Phillips, IFTTT, WEMO, Honeywell and SmartThings. Streaming devices include: Google Chromecast, VIZIO, TOSHIBA, PHILLIPS, Sony, Bang and Olufsen, BO & Play, Grundig, polk, RUAMFELD. You can watch videos and photos on youtube, NETFLIX, and Google Photos.

If you want to learn more about how to use Google Home, click here. Essentially there are three main steps:

  1. Plug power cable into your Google Home device
  2. Plug the cable into a wall socket
  3. Download and run the Google Home app on a phone or tablet.

The newly-designed Google Home app is your one-stop destination to discover all of Google Home’s content and features. DayDream is Google’s VR headset and controller that lets you explore new worlds, kick back in your personal VR cinema, and play games that put you at the center of action. When your phone’s screen becomes your big screen, you can get fully immersed in your favorite shows, movies, VR videos…

It will be interesting to see who wins in the smart home race! What’s your choice? And why?

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP, Program Executive, Salesforce ITC

 

 

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Has The Age of George Jetson IoT Time Come? Alex Was the Star of CES

Alexa Voice Service (AVS) is the software that allows owners to control compatible devices with their voice. From the various  reports it was estimated there were 700–1,100 Alexa-controllable products at CES. And the Amazon / Alexa logo was everywhere at CES.

Is the Age of George Jetson here? In a smart home, everything from the the HVAC to the TV to window shades can be controlled. However it’s not easy to really have a whole house of Artificial Intelligence (AI) controlled devices. Why? Many of the IoT-enabled devices don’t talk to other devices if they are made by different manufacturers. Opps! The IoT world awaits THE killer app, like Apple Homekit or Google Home. We are still waiting for them to provide all encompassing, unified smart “home.”

The Amazon Echo is a hands-free speaker controlled with your voice. It connects to the Alexa Voice Service to provide information, news, play music, report on sports scores, deliver weather reports… The uses for AVS and Alexa are limited only by your imagination.

When something is connected to Alexa, the device instantly becomes pseudo-interoperable. Interoperable technology is not an evolutionarily stable strategy for most IoT manufacturers. Interoperability is the ability of different information technology systems and software applications to communicate, exchange data, and use the information that has been exchanged to do something.

What CES showed us is that voice control seems to be the unifying app for IoT. And Alexa is the biggest name in voice control. Smart devices are generally controlled with apps. If there is an app to control the smart device, the app allows AVS to directly control the smart device. So you could say, “Alexa, tell Crestron I’d like to turn the lights on in the bedroom” (for your Crestron) or “Alexa, I would like to turn the heat on the downstairs thermostat to 70 degrees” (for your Iris Smart Home System). It’s easy to see the value of voice control in so many ordinary situations. What’s interesting about AVS is that even though Crestron and Iris have nothing to do with one another, you can control them both with your voice.

Alexa has finely tuned automatic speech recognition (ASR) and natural language understanding (NLU) engines that recognize and respond to voice requests instantly. Alexa is always getting smarter with new capabilities and services through machine learning, regular API updates, feature launches, and custom skills from the Alexa Skills Kit (ASK.) The AVS API  is a programming language agnostic service that makes it easy to integrate Alexa into your devices, services, and applications. And it’s free.

And you can create meaningful user experiences for an endless variety of use cases with Alexa Voice Service (AVS); Amazon’s intelligent voice recognition and natural language understanding service. AVS includes a full range of features, including smart home control, streaming music content, news, timers… and can be added to any connected device that has a microphone and speaker.

But while Alexa has a head start, Google Home, an Echo competitor, is very likely to quickly catch up. Google Home though, works with a completely different set of protocols and has different “awake” words. These are command words that make it pay attention and carry out the request. It seems that we may need to learn to speak to different systems in different ways – perhaps we’ll need lessons in Alexa speak and Google speak as well as and Siri and Cortana speak!

So is the Age of George Jetson here yet? Sort of. What will be interesting is to see if there is a start-up that will pull all of this together so that us regular humans don’t need to become AI experts to connect and use the technology.

Dr. Natalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering customer-facing applications

 

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Amazon Go – A Retailer Using AI, ML and Vision Technology

The idea of Amazon Go is to weave into the shopping experience the capabilities of deep learning algorithms, Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine Learning (ML) and sensor vision. A practical application of AI and ML is Amazon Go via advanced shopping experiences. The ability to walk into a store, grab what you want and walk out, never having to wait in-line: no checkout lanes, no registers. For many customers, especially after work when they are tired and just want to get home or during the holidays could be a much better customer experience.

So how does this work? A customer opens up the Amazon Go app on their smart phone and scans their personalized bar code as they walk into a store. The phone goes into your pocket or purse and the customer begins their shopping. As the customer picks up a product, it’s added to their total. If a customer decides they don’t want an item, replacing back on the shelf removes it from their total.  Amazon Go calls it “just walk out technology” for the modern shopper. Once you are done shopping and leave the store, the total is calculated and charged to the customer’s amazon.com card.

From the customer’s point of view, while on-line shopping has increased, some customers still like the idea of going to a store and touching / seeing the merchandise. To help ensure that brick and mortar stores don’t turn into showrooms (where customers go to look at merchandise and then search on their phones for a better online deal (from that or other retailers) and buy it online while standing in their store, technologies like Amazon Go provide convenience. Perhaps the thought and the hope is that the convenience will be more important than searching for a cheaper price and buying it online.

Showrooming can be very frustrating for brick and mortar stores and put some of them out of business. It’s interesting that the online and offline shopping worlds are colliding. Fresh goods have a short shelf-life and often thought of as poor candidates for online shopping because of their perishable nature. However, it’s a high margin area that Amazon wants to tackle by using brick and mortar stores and the convenience of shop and go. Younger generals don’t have the tolerance for standing in line.

The future of shopping is just getting more and more interesting as the new technologies get implemented.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, www.Constellationr.com

Covering Customer-Facing Applications

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#OOW16 – #IOT Is Really Asking Your Business What Outcomes Are You Looking For?

Many companies approach the internet of things by starting with a device, make it connectable and then are in search of a business use case. This is a typical process that happens when there is a new area of technology area. If a company uses that as a strategy, it can be the long road to #IoT innovation. What businesses need to ask themselves are, “What business outcomes are they looking for and what innovations could be possible to shift their business model?”

We heard from the @OracleIOT group several business scenarios:

  • Break / Fix it – which drives a predictive prescriptive business process
  • Static Analytics – which drives the use of real-time, big-data analytics
  • Ownership – which drives as-a-service business models and
  • Central Service– which drives self-service as well as self-guided service.

new-business-modesl-for-iot

What they are finding is that there are various phases a business often goes through when deploying IOT. It can start with the devices or assets (trucks, phones, factories, etc…) which are then connected to a platform which are connected to a network. For a business to actually make use of IOT, the first phase, Phase 1 can be about Connecting Assets for situations like remote monitoring and asset tracking. Phase 2 is can be using Predictive Analytics which means designing predictive algorithms to transform decisions into proactive instead of reactive decisions and improving products and processes. Phase 3 can be about Service Excellence. This is where the customer or employee experience is affected. It is where IOT is being used to transform business processes by blending IOT into enterprise applications like ERP, SCM, Customer Support, CRM, HCM…

phases-of-development-of-business-maturity-use-of-iot

Some of Oracle’s IOT applications are in the areas of:

  • Asset monitoring for the utilization, availability and data from connected sensors
  • Production monitoring and prognostics of the equipment on the manufacturing factory floor
  • Fleet Management for business who have fleets of trucks, buses, delivery and maintenance vehicles
  • Connected worker for the tracking of employees, for instance in the mining, engineering construction industries.oracle-iot-application-to-business

Here are some examples of clients applying IOT to their businesses:

oracle-example-clients-using-iot

VINCI is building the next generation sensor-driven building automation to reduce the number of “truck rolls” which has a huge ROI. They are doing this with the integration or Oracle Service Cloud and SAP. Lochbridge is creating connected fleets where IOT and big data is being used for predictive maintenance in monitoring fleet / cargo to reduce the response time. GEMU is using real-time filtering and processing of valve events and proactive parts replacement with the integration of CRM, IOT and a service ticketing system. And SoftBank is using IOT to deliver mobility-as-a-service where they are monitoring vehicle location for billing and geo-fencing.

As the world of IOT expands and more and more companies start to see the value in connecting enterprise applications, with devices, and networks, we will see the transformation of workers, employees and customer experiences. When those experiences are transformed, the real value and ROI of the connected enterprise will come to life.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst

Constellation Research, Covering Customer Facing Applications and IOT

 

 

 

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Local Motor’s Self-Driving Vehicle Taps the Power of IBM Watson

There’s been a lot of talk around self-driving cars and Local Motors, a leading vehicle technology integrator and creator of the world’s first 3D-printed cars, introduced the first self-driving vehicle to integrate the advanced cognitive computing capabilities of IBM Watson. Local Motors is a technology company that designs, builds and sells vehicles. The Local Motors platform is a combination of a global co-creation with local micro-manufacturing to bring hardware innovations quickly to market. Local Motors in National Harbor, Maryland is a public place where co-creation is the focus for advancement of vehicle technologies.

What can you see if you visit the Maryland facility? On display are 3D-printed cars and a large-scale 3D printer. There visitors can have an interactive co-creative experience that showcases what the future of 3D printing, sustainability, autonomous technology will be. Visitors can get involved with Local Motors engineers and the company’s co-creation community.

The automobile has a name and it’s called “Olli.” At its debut it was carrying the CEO of Local Motors and co-founder John B. Rogers, Jr. and vehicle designer Edgar Sarmiento. The vehicle took them from the Local Motors co-creation community into the new facility. While there are already self-driving action in Washington, DC, soon there will be vehicles on the road in Miami-Dade County and Las Vegas. The cars can carry up to 12 people. More details can be seen in this video:

Source: IBM Watson

What’s the Big Innovation? The electric vehicle is equipped with some of the world’s most advanced vehicle technology, including IBM Watson Internet of Things (IoT) for Automotive. Passengers can interact conversationally with Olli and ask about:

  • Destinations, for example, “Olli, can you take me downtown?”
  • Specific vehicle functions  like: “How does this feature work?”
  • Time related questions like, “Are we there yet?”

In addition, Olli can make recommendations on local restaurants or historical sites. Olli is essentially designed to deliver interesting, entertaining, intuitive and interactive experiences for riders. How is IBM Watson is being used to improve the passenger experience? It is enabling the natural interaction with the vehicle via the cloud-based cognitive computing capability of IBM Watson IoT to analyze and learn from high volumes of transportation data produced by more than 30 sensors embedded throughout the vehicle. As the vehicle gets used, Local Motors plans to install more sensors and adjust them continuously as passenger needs and local preferences are identified.

The platform leverages four Watson developer APIs:

  • Speech to Text
  • Natural Language Classifier
  • Entity Extraction and
  • Text to Speech.

Harriet Green, General Manager, IBM Watson Internet of Things, Commerce & Education commented that, “Cognitive computing provides incredible opportunities to create unparalleled, customized experiences for customers, taking advantage of the massive amounts of streaming data from all devices connected to the Internet of Things, including an automobile’s myriad sensors and systems. IBM is excited to work with Local Motors to infuse IBM Watson IoT cognitive computing capabilities into Olli, exploring the art of what’s possible in a world of self-driving vehicles and providing a unique, personalized experience for every passenger while helping to revolutionize the future of transportation for years to come.”

Having worked in the automotive industry in Detroit, it’s exciting to see new develops like this. It’s also exciting to see the application of cognitive computing in a real world situation. Using it for something like empowering self-driving vehicle is probably the best way to advance not only the self-driving cars but also the ability to deploy cognitive computing in a real world application. This looks to be the start of something very interesting that other brands in this space should be taking note of. Competition in the automotive is rapidly changing, from the provision of Cars-As-A-Service, with GM investing $500M in Lyft to cars that drive themselves. The Future is here.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering customer-facing applications that create amazing customer experiences.

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From the Field: Capgemini Analyst Conference #capgemniAD16

Old Dogs Can Learn New Tricks: It’s never too late to transform yourself. Having been a system’s integrator many years ago, I found the transformations happening at Capgemni very inspiring. There was a period where many system’s integrators avoided the conversation about going to cloud and for good reason. Their business and revenue model was not shaped for the cloud. They were based for on-premise installations. Enter the cloud and everything changed. With the integration of IGATE and Capgemini, outstanding changes are definitely clear. Replacing McKinsey and Accenture in many digital transformation projects, they are looking to lead the digital transformation. Net new customers are over 200 and a 35% increase in the client base in North America. Though under NDA, the brands were very impressive.

What did Capgemini learn from IGATE? And I have to say I really appreciated all of the executives transparency and honesty in their process of becoming a digital transformation system’s integrator – including but not limited to Fernando Alvarez, Paul Hermelin, Srikanth Iyengar, Bill Ruh, Lanny Cohen, Tim Bridges, John Mullen, Dee Burger, Todd Rovak, Jean Pierre Petit, Frank Greverie, Doug Mills, Mathieu Colas and Andre Cichowlas. IGATE was known for the great client relationship capabilities. A client’s CIO had said, “I’ve never had a company pay more attention to my culture and my people and company that what we have experienced with IGATE.” IGATE is a new breed of company infusing it’s culture into Capgemini, with the key themes of speed, agility and imagination. And Capgemini vowed to learn from IGATE.

Capgemni’s Digital Business Model: It includes not only the “what” but the “how” of customer experience, including digital customer experience, digital organizational and people and digital operations. In terms of the “how”–  what digital seems to mean are areas like social & mobile, data, IoT, cyber security and cloud. There was a large focus on cyber security, as more and more customers are putting their data in the cloud. There is a focus on digital innovation as well as a digital ecosystem of partners and start-ups in the mix. There key digital capabilities include: innovation, digital customer experience, digital manufacturing and insights and data.

Fahrenheit212 Innovation Strategy and Design Company: They believe that innovation can be inherently reliable and have spent the last decade designing the method, building the model, and assembling the minds to make innovation a predictable driver of growth for our clients’ businesses. They believe most great innovations don’t come from consultants—they come from entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial organizations. Entrepreneurs are driven by a powerful force that counter-balances their challenger mentality. Namely, they have skin in the game. They don’t obsess over the process of innovation; they care only about the outcomes. And it’s why they make a good addition to Capgemini.

Since their inception, Fahrenheit 212 has harnessed this entrepreneurial approach through a performance-based compensation model that aligns our risk and reward with that of our clients. They offer their clients the option of putting a significant portion of our potential compensation at risk, contingent on their solutions hitting pre-determined success milestones. This means their ideas can’t just be interesting; they actually have to deliver actual business results.

Digital Manufacturing Is Hot: The digital manufacturing value proposition includes a comprehensive enterprise offer of smart product and plants, Capgemni IP and an extended ecosystem of subject matter experts and highly skilled resources. With a 180,000 Capgemini employees, they are looking not only to re-skill some folks as well as hiring new people.

Cloud Is the New Normal: Their cloud value proposition is that cloud first is the new normal. Of their North American clients, 80% want their applications in the cloud in some way- some pure cloud, others a hybrid model.

Competitive Roadmap For Capgemini: Capgemini’s competitive roadmap is one of quality of service  where they want to work with some of the most demanding clients on the most challenging projects with the most talented people in the world. Capgemini’s entry into the world of IoT, though under NDA, was very impressive and spot on. I look forward to see what comes of their partnerships and their vision.

@drnatalie petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer Facing Applications, including the customer experience of IOT

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Capgemini Collaborates with Celaton on Artificial Intelligence in the Cloud

What’s the Partnership Between Capgemini And Celaton Mean to Your Company? Capgemini, consulting, technology and outsourcing services, has announced a new global collaboration with Celaton, a specialist Artificial Intelligence (AI) company, to license and use its inSTREAM, cognitive learning technology. The 3 year contract, signed between Capgemini and Celaton, will extend Capgemini’s already strong automation capabilities, help to drive further efficiencies and add Artificial Intelligence to Capgemini’s Business Services solution portfolio.

What Does Celaton’s inSTREAM Software Do? It streamlines the handling of unstructured unpredictable (and structured) content such as correspondence, claims, complaints and invoices that organizations receive by email, social media, fax and paper. This minimizes the need for human intervention and ensures that only accurate, relevant and structured data enters business systems. Unique to inSTREAM is its ability to learn through the natural consequence of processing information and collaborating with people. Capgemini’s extensive knowledge and experience in business process services will also enable Celaton to accelerate and improve inSTREAM’s capabilities.

What Will The Partnership Provide For Clients? The cooperation will enable Capgemini to increase efficiency, shorten turnaround times and enhance quality in areas where incoming documents and queries need to be processed, improving overall customer satisfaction. At a time when more and more customers expect the use of AI and modern automation tools, the alliance will help Capgemini’s Business Services advance their market leading use of automation and AI for its core business. Earlier this year, Capgemini introduced an Autonomic Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) offering founded on best of breed technologies to deliver intelligent automation solutions on-demand for enterprises. The Autonomic PaaS aims to improve the predictability of organizations’ operations across their infrastructure, applications and business processes. The Celaton agreement is a further commitment from Capgemini to develop advanced client solutions using intelligent automation, cognitive and AI technologies.

Is This Offered in a SaaS or Cloud Mode? The addition of Celaton inSTREAM expands Capgemini’s Business Services’ extensive Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) portfolio with an artificial intelligence-based processing solution for incoming unstructured content –which is driven by its global automation Centers of Excellence. It is an important element in ensuring the delivery of maximum value to its customers.

Notes From The Executives: Lee Beardmore, VP and Capgemini’s Business Services Chief Technology Officer said, “There is significant industry debate on how cognitive computing and artificial intelligence will impact the BPO market. We are taking our delivery from debate to global implementation and are proud to partner with Celaton as a leading vendor in the business process AI space. Building on the introduction of Capgemini’s Autonomic Platform-as-a-Service, Celaton’s technology extends the penetration of cognitive computing into our delivery of business process services.”

Andrew Anderson, CEO of Celaton said, “I am delighted that Celaton and Capgemini have committed to this global partnership. The transformational impact of AI has been proven with many organizations and yet this emerging technology is often greeted with scepticism. Capgemini’s global reach and credibility will have an impact on the perception and adoption of AI and I’m very excited that Capgemini’s customers will soon be able to realize its significant benefits.”

My POV: AI is very important to the emerging capabilities of company’s to add cognitive computing into the delivery of business processes of discerning unstructured content. And with social and digital content abounding, there is no storage of unstructured content. And there is unlimited potential in the value of this unstructured content if it can be harnessed. This duo will give brands that opportunity.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer-facing Applications That Drive Better Business Results
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The Year of On-demand, Personalized Shopping: The Cloud and IOT Abound

What’s Happening in the World of Shopping and Customer Experiences? At the National Retail Federation Annual Convention in New York City, Microsoft made announcements with GameStop, Hardee’s, TGI Fridays, Panasonic, HP and FreedomPay, and NCR on efforts to modernize shopping experiences.

How Does IoT, The Cloud and Customer Experience Come Together? Microsoft believes this will be the year when modern shopping experiences come to life. Where retailers create instant, personalized experiences for shoppers on their smartphone, online and in stores. It will be the year that customers return to stores because technology is engaging them in new ways, making them want to buy more and come back. Microsoft shared for the first time several retail innovations using its technology, including a smart shelf and a tablet-enabled shopping cart, and showed how retailers can gather better store analytics. Microsoft also announced how Pandora and Ashley Furniture are working with technology to create more engaging experiences for employees, helping them be more collaborative and support faster product innovation.

Engaging Customers During the Shopping Experience is Essential for Today’s Retailers. GameStop announced it is working with Microsoft to create an interactive, informative and entertaining shopping experience in an immersive environment. In the near future, when customers walk into one of the GameStop pilot stores, they will be connected to the services enabled by the Microsoft Cloud, allowing them to browse product choices, share their shopping cart with salesperson’s tablet running an assisted selling application, and even browse products interactively on a big screen Ultra High Definition TV where they can view video game trailers with pristine clarity. When a customer downloads and opts into the GameStop app on their smartphone, they will be able to interact in a whole new way with GameStop marketplace through the use of Azure. Ultimately, the customer and the salesperson can push the desired products to the point of sale (POS) system for order processing and payment.

What’s Another Great Example of How Microsoft is Working With Retailers to Improve Customer Engagement and Customer Experience? One example is Hardee’s new way to make ordering a meal fast and fun. Hardee’s is currently deploying self-ordering kiosks for ordering meals, using Windows 8 devices. These in-store kiosks are being tested currently in 30 restaurants with plans to extend that test to additional restaurants soon. Each kiosk allows customers to review the menu and order food and lets managers run sales and shift reports, while dramatically reducing wait times. Check out the video and read more here.

Another Example is TGI Fridays Who Has Plans to Transform the Way People Order Food by Equipping Servers with 8-inch Tablets Armed with Payment Sleeves. With the Fridays’ Service Style technology the customer’s order is processed right at the table, the device also helps manage the waiting list and queue. The solution helps ensure orders are correct, reduces training time, and streamlines waitlists.

Modern Points of Sale Connect Retailers and Customers in New Ways.  As the shopping experience becomes more modern, so does the POS. Modern POS devices are allowing retailers to better understand their customers, provide more customized service, and help them achieve compliance with new security measures being implemented in 2015.  In partnership with Panasonic, HP and FreedomPay Microsoft is demonstrating how the modern POS can create personalized retail experiences, in real-time, through smart and secure devices. With new security regulations on the horizon, retailers need to upgrade their POS devices, not only to ensure their customer data is safe, but to also be able to provide a more personalized and seamless experience at check-out. Read more about modern POS devices here.

Innovation that helps retailers understand buying behavior and customers make informed decisions.  One of the challenges in retail is to create an in-store experience that engages customers in unique ways, entices them to come in to stores, and keep them coming back. Creating those connections creates better experiences and ultimately increases sales. With the help of a Kinect sensor, AVAretail’s SmartShelf technology allows every interaction of a shelf in a store to be monitored and recorded in real-time, providing insight into which products are most selected and picked up by customers. Another form of technology, Path Tracker, gives retailers real-time detection and analysis of a customer’s shopping path.  This provides counts of people in the store, areas visited, dwell time and shopping path, acting as a heat map of where customers are spending the most time in the store.

The NEC Biometric interface with Kinect Camera System Provides Demographic and Face Recognition Services to a Kinectically Enabled Application. Retailers can use this information for analysis and for providing the customer with a more personal selling experience. MediaCart will change the shopping cart as we know it. Adding a location-aware tablet to the cart allows a retailer to present a personal and relevant shopping experience to its customer.  This allows context sensitive ads and promotions when in front of various products along with a barcode scanning capability for price lookups and basket totals.

Retailers Are Predicting Consumer Behavior With Machine Learning. As technology advances, consumers have more tools at their disposal during the buying process. This trend seems to be growing exponentially, especially as the Internet of Things (IoT) matures. This is both an opportunity and a challenge for retailers looking to capitalize on a whole new base of consumers. Competitive pressure, combined with ubiquitous connectivity, smart devices and an intelligent cloud platform is causing a shift to a new retail reality. Food delivery company JJ Food Service uses machine learning to make product recommendations as customers are shopping for food. This provides insights, saves on costs, and ensures their customers have the food they need, when they need it.

Customer Behavior Can Be Predicted. Auckland, New Zealand-based VMob runs a mobile engagement platform on Microsoft Azure which predicts likely customer behavior based on historic and live data streams. The platform currently delivers personalized content to millions of consumers around the world, including customers of McDonald’s across several European markets. The VMob platform collects real time data from multiple sources including mobile devices, wearables, location temperature sensors, WiFi transmitters, beacons, digital signage, and POS systems to personalize engagement with the customer. The VMob platform uses Azure Machine Learning to harness the Internet of Things to predict future customer behavior – transforming live and historical data streams into actionable insights McDonald’s can employ to individualize its marketing efforts. See more information about VMob’s work here.

You Want to Reach Your Customers Where They Are. For retailers to succeed, they need to reach their customers where they are.  Because of this, we are pleased to be announcing Sitecore Commerce, powered by Microsoft Dynamics. This solution integrates the experience management capabilities of the Sitecore Experience Platform with the omni-channel commerce capabilities of Microsoft Dynamics AX for Retail. The result is a product that allows enterprises to bridge the gap between in-store and digital experiences. We are also announcing a combined effort with Toshiba to form the Toshiba Global Commerce Solutions with Microsoft Dynamics to help retailers deliver leading customer experiences through true omni-channel customer engagements. This effort includes Toshiba delivering software and implementation services on the Dynamics platform as well as plans for the global availability of a combined solution – TCxGravity powered by Microsoft Dynamics – specifically tailored to deliver omni-channel transformation on the customer’s terms, helping it provide seamless brand experiences to build lasting loyalty.

What’s The Future of Retail? Retailers are changing the game through connected stores, empowered employees, digital engagement and ambient intelligence all geared toward delighting the modern shopper. By gathering and ingesting insight from myriad data sources, retailers can create a comprehensive understanding of each customer, its store’s inventory and the capabilities of its business to seamlessly match people with the products and services they desire.

The end result of these technologies and services, and of Microsoft’s work with retailers, is an increased focus on solutions that help grow sales and profits, increase customer satisfaction and loyalty, bring products to market faster, and create a more effective business.

If you want more information, visit the Retail NewsroomThe Windows for Your Business Blog, and The Dynamics Blog.

MyPOV: I Love to shop and I love technology. So this is gonna be a great year! I can’t wait to see how cloud computing, IoT and customer experience emerge as the top competitive advantage to lead conversion rates, higher revenues and awesome customer experiences!

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research
Covering Cloud and IoT That Drive Better Business Results and Awesome Customer Experiences in Retail Environments
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