The Next Tech Boom

I-Robot's New Remote Dr. Robot

I-Robot’s New Remote Dr. Robot

Not only has the tech sector been relatively recession proof, but the next monster tech wave is on its way. There are a number of trends coinciding that should give the tech sector, yet, another boost. While this is good for Silicon Valley and the other tech hubs, it doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a signal of health in the economy but rather a shifting of efficiencies. The next boom will continue to sharpen the stark contrasts between unskilled and highly specialized elements of the labor force.

I-Robot’s  Remote Dr. Robot
health care costs,  higher tax rates, reductions in across-the-board government spending, expanded oversight and federal regulation all create fertile ground for squeezing even more efficiencies out of every corner of the economy. And those efficiencies are going to come from productivity gains from the tech sector. At the root of it is tech’s deeper reach into automation and ability to cut overhead by getting more humans out of the loop or multiply the efforts of humans who are in short supply, such as Long Island Jewish Medical’s Center’s use of a mobile tele-robot to make doctor visits when the doctor is away from the hospital. More hospitals are turning to advanced robotics for pharmaceutical inventory control and data management, as well as basic functions for monitoring patient care. Mobile apps connected to telematics applications are eliminating city parking meters and allowing remote monitoring of parking spaces. Small satellite imaging from space is creating mountains of data that can now be used for monitoring crops, writing home insurance policies, and monitoring pipelines. As the economy bumps along into 2014, the next wave of worker automation is likely going to build momentum. As technology keeps reaching down and eating more layers of the workforce, it becomes apparent that the workforce will be sharply divided between no tech and high-tech. Workers with only rudimentary technical skill sets are a target for automation. Technologies that have been in the pipeline and not quite ready for prime time will be dressed up and sent to market. Think PRODUCTIVITY. The next tech boom will be enabled by expansion of enhanced broadband and smart sensor applications with back end “big data” functionality. Both Silicon Valley and retail got a boost from automation in the 90’s by inventory control tagging and software. Next generation advanced will draw the product and consumer even closer and reduce even more humans and middlemen. RFID and Near Field communication (NFC) have had mixed results in bringing drive through check-out to carts full of groceries in the U.S. But next generation automation has a stronger wave behind it, as more earnings pressures befall major industries. Improvement in security, sensitivity, and performance of short range radio frequency chips, like Near Field and RFID will usher in another mass adoption, as wireless broadband expands and M2M (machine to machine) proliferates. Retail, healthcare, automotive, banking, and energy are examples of a few sectors that will be pressured by deeper automation due to cost and regulatory impacts.
Here‘s a list of just a few of the technologies that we believe will help heat up the next tech boom.
There are a lot more companies that will benefit from the coming wave. For a more detailed analysis, contact us at: TD

Copyright Trends Digest 2016

Who’s Most Likely to Win the Public Safety LTE Jackpot? You May be Surprised…

Courtesy LTE/3GppCourtesy JS.ITWhile Congress has passed legislation to devote 700 MHz D block spectrum to public safety and build out a nationwide LTE (Long Term Evolution) network, few have yet to realize the massive disruptions this technological direction will have. Most public safety organizations today use land mobile radio – a basic two way radio technology based on Project 25 (P25) digital standards that involve antenna base stations dependent upon “line of sight” for moving radio waves around. The players in this market today have had a relatively unfettered marketplace for many reasons. Land Mobile Radio is a unique niche. It’s highly specialized. It’s the law enforcement and public safety culture. And, last but not least, two- way radio is an old technology and evokes about as much enthusiasm in today’s tech world as Dixie cups and string. LTE is another animal altogether. It’s like the cellular world has just taken over the radio world, but as long as the radios are still chirping, nothing seems to have changed.
Disruptive Trends Repeat Themselves – Shaking Down the LMR Supply Chain
As a long time telecom pundits, we’ve seen it before, and history is such a great prognosticator of the future. It was 2000, as our team sat in front of a CEO of a major utility company showing him the charts and graphs of our research indicating demand was going to fall far short of supply in the great fiber build out because of compression, software apps, and end users preferences. We agreed with this fortune 500 CEO to disagree, and his company is no longer in business. They were one of America’s oldest utility companies. Many people, even industry veterans and experts, can’t see the subtle changes in their market because they are too close to it. Land Mobile Radio, as we know it, is going away, and in its place will be a new supply chain of technology tagging along behind LTE. As with the telecom bust of the early 2000’s, the entire industry is going to change, including the manufacturers, the integrators, the engineers, the installers, the antennae, base stations, and all of the peripheral industries that make money off of public safety today. Those include advertisers, media outlets, consultants, lawyers, politicians, PR firms, training organizations, and other suppliers. The public safety media better develop a new business model in a hurry because their advertising base is going to change. It is likely that they will be overcome by new entrants who approach the market through broadband and mobile wireless media rather than public safety. This is a mirror of the LTE market which now plays to the supply chain of big network carriers not the boutique marketplace. If you doubt this, just flip through the advertisements in the public safety magazines. You don’t need the same towers, radios, backhaul providers, and base station equipment in creating an LTE network as you do in LMR. Additionally, print media is already getting ransacked by the move to Kindle and online only publications. When the telecom market went bust in the early 2000’s, it took with it magazines, lawyers, private equity, venture capital, and PR firms. The editors we worked with at Business Week and major publications of the day like, ran for cover in other markets.
Like All Markets, the Herd Stampedes through the Gate – then the culling occurs

As a 3GPP consortium standard, adopted by mobile wireless carriers globally, LTE brings with it the carrier grade network players like Nokia Siemens, Ericsson, Alcatel Lucent, and players in the broadband public safety space like Motorola Solutions, and other providers. Because public safety will need very specific solutions end to end, there will be a lot of room for many players initially. There are challenges in integrating handsets, radios, backhaul, security, and multiple protocols like LTE to WIMAX, WiFI, and satellite. New demands for integrating new data nodes into broadband, like UAV data for public safety, and sensor data, will bring military like challenges learned from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, giving the defense boys a shot at the big prize. Specific solution sets by the likes of Raytheon, Thales, Harris, General Dynamics, and EADs/Cassidian, to name a few, will be sprinting forth with lessons learned from military combat and Joint Tactical Radio System (JTRS). These defense guys are also in a pretty good position to roll out the red carpet to public safety on the UAS/UAV utilization in public safety and emergency response. They also will bring the best of “big data” analysis that will transform today’s public safety organizations into super sleuths, armed with acoustic sensors and precision technology used for finding Osama Bin Laden, for  ferreting out the common criminal.
Winners and Losers
As LTE subsumes the older Land Mobile Radio networks, the picture gets ugly for traditional providers of two way radio infrastructure. Microwave backhaul carriers might get to live another day if other alternatives cannot be found as infrastructure planning gets underway. Eventually, we think, the big winner here will be Chinese manufacturers. Oh, you’re thinking “..Chinese companies are banned from public safety, right?” Yes. And to you Gentle Reader, our reply is, “So What?” When it comes to LTE, all roads lead to China. Chinese manufacturers pretty much own the LTE standard and the supply chain. Even though Huawei, China’s largest manufacturer is presumably banned by the U.S. Department of Commerce from participating in the public safety build-out, there are just too many ways make the argument or to work the cracks in the system, via grey labeling, joint ventures, and creative corporate formations. So, whether the part is grey labeled, relabeled by another manufacturer, or sold by a reseller, it’s nearly impossible to build an LTE network without Chinese gear. And, soon, there might be only one supplier of some core network components. Despite recent Congressional hearings lambasting both ZTE and Huawei over their potential as a “security threat”, Huawei is the market leader in key network components and will continue to acquire network segments that allow the company and its Chinese counterparts to dominate the LTE supply chain as it usurps market share from weaker players globally. Ok, you’re probably saying “You’re crazy, how is that going to happen?” For starters –it already has happened. The Broadband Stimulus that recently plowed federal funds into public safety projects created a number of public private partnerships. The networks they intended to build included broadband supporting “public safety”, particularly in rural areas and along the SW border. The equipment specified included Chinese manufacturers. Furthermore, these products are showing up a rural telcos nationwide. Secondly, LTE was well supported by China, who has one of the world’s largest telecom markets. Huawei is a dominant player on the 3GPP standards board dominating the Security Committee and pioneering new standards for M2M (machine to machine) – you know, the ability for your phone to talk to your computer and do downloads and software updates without you knowing it or the ability for your smart phone to talk to the airline kiosk. LTE is a standard that completely favors Chinese telecom manufacturers like Huawei, who will have significant influence over the identified modifications to the standard required for the public safety community’s new network, FirstNet.
Over the last five years, this supply chain has become almost end to end dominated (core processors, security, routers, switches) by Chinese companies. Since it hasn’t happened in our history, it is difficult to comprehend the buying and investment power of a nation the size of China when it focuses its power on a single market. Below market pricing and cheap financing arrangements for selling products into Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe have rapidly taken business away from competitors Alcatel Lucent, Nokia Siemens, and Ericsson – all of which had one of the most poorly performing 2nd quarters ever in 2012. These companies were hammered by the global downturn in 2009, currency devaluations, and crisis in the Eurozone. Now they are piling up losses and looking for ways to cut costs. As if that is not enough, most American and European companies already manufacture many subcomponents in China. So, crack open a router and let the pieces come rolling out and see for yourself where they’re made. Lastly, the public safety community is very price sensitive, and it’s unlikely that there will be a move toward custom manufacturing for this marketplace. Huawei has denied interest recently in a public offering, but should it do so, it would be a hot commodity. If you’re an institutional investor, like Blackrock or Morgan Stanley, where are you going to place your bets?

Copyright Trends Digest™

The Future of Telecom – Eaten by Mobile Computing

googleglassTime is a wondrous thing. There is nothing we can do to stop it. Seconds, days, years go by with little tribute until cataclysmic events change the course of history.

First of all technology advances mixed with telecom deregulation unleashed a market place that has gone wild with personal communications and a remaking of the telecom industry as a whole. The Trends Digest™ team of experts has been performing research in this market for more than fifteen years and has captured, through hundreds of studies and analyses, trends foreshadowing the future. While we will give you a glimpse of the future right here in Trends Digest™ online, you can always find more data in our in-depth research studies.

An Increasingly Wireless World — Nearly Two Thirds of the World’s Population has access to a Mobile Phone! And in 2013 nearly two thirds of the world’s population was connected to the internet!

If only Alexander Graham Bell could be alive to see the telecom market today. Bell obtained the patent for the first telephone in 1876. Grown from his invention have been thousands of companies and tens of thousands of communications devices. Ok, you saw it coming, and we, at Trends Digest™, saw it coming about ten years ago. But the 2009 numbers spell the death of the landline as the economy pulled the final plug on wire-line services particularly in the U.S. where the “Baby Bells” are now practically giving away service. A lot of alternatives have been fighting for this market including cable, wireless, and satellite. For now, in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia, mobile wireless is winning as hard wired communications become a thing of the past. In North America, 2010 saw the demise of Canadian company Nortel, the continued remaking of AT&T, and cable operators advance in packaged offerings for voice, data, and video services. In 2013, mobile computing eats everything including the mobile phone which finally brings reality to video calling (thank goodness you can turn those pesky cameras off if you want to).

The U.S. has actually been somewhat late to the party in full mobile wireless adoption, partly because of the rivalry between standards, incompatibility issues between coverage areas, handsets challenges, and regulatory issues. This tumult has created a lot of unknowns for the consumer. But, with competition, volume, and cheap handsets, the balance has finally been tipped. Many of the contributing factors included the 1996 Telecom Act’s provisions for permanent number portability (keeping your number if you switch carriers), escalation of email, text messaging, and a cultural shift in “being connected”. As North America has been playing tug-of-war with regulations and the old Bell operating companies, the rest of the world skipped wires, went straight to cell phones, and is now plunging full throttle into wireless banking from cell phones. Even though thatch houses in Kenya might not have many of today’s western conveniences, cell phones rule. Mobile computing is now reaching product maturation globally. So, now what? Devices are going to get even smaller as the computer and human begin to merge. Augmented reality by Google in the form of glasses is only the beginning. TD
Copyright Trends Digest™ All rights reserved. 2013

Light Radio – A Disruptive Lightning Strike for the Telecom Industry

Light CubeFinally, we can welcome a disruptive event in telecom industry –the arrival of a tiny two inch cube that threatens to topple thousands of tacky old telecom towers. The proud creators are Alcatel Lucent and Bell Labs. It’s a welcomed event, particularly since these little cubes can be cobbled together to create the right infrastructure and bandwidth at a shockingly enormous power and cost savings, according to Alcatel Lucent. This is one of the more disruptive trends that we’ve spotted for awhile in the telecom industry. First of all, carriers are wrestling with significant issues, such as having operated at low or below cost for many consecutive years. They’re now forced to make a profit while simultaneously upgrading networks to 3G-4G/LTE. Not to mention, standards globally are still shaking out, and networks are in various forms of evolutionary adoption from 2G to 4G via WiMax, Cellular, satellite, and everything in between. Furthermore, phone companies are staring down the dark abyss of some key trends, such as market saturation and must develop novel ways to increase growth, while maintaining enormous capital costs for upgrading technologies. Particularly in the U.S., baby boomers may be high tech but, like we told you ten years ago, older boomers are not necessarily taking advantage of all of the features. In fact, 80% of older boomers are only using 20% of the features. For cellular providers growth is always a bit of a good news/bad news story. The good news is that as mobile users make their mobile device their primary computing device, unlimited applications continue to grow. The bad news is that mobile providers, already in a state of price sensitivity, are constantly dealing with the proposition of diminishing returns. Alca-Lu’s adorable little cubes, if they work as planned, are a global market disruptor of gargantuan proportions. Not only do they offer a huge power savings as well as a configurable capability to extrapolate the right bandwidth configuration, but they offer the potential for a broad array of new business models. What business models you might ask? Let’s think creatively for a moment. Maybe the wireless companies should focus on customer service and let a business partner expand operations and pick up the more nominal capital costs of testing and deployment. In fact, in terms of creativity, we have a long ways to go in the telecom market. Doing away with those cumbersome, awful looking towers eliminates a range of problems including environmental issues, OSHA issues, property leasing, and some more complicated aspects of power supplies. Now let’s talk about disruptions to the rest of the market if these cute little cubes manage to take off. First of all, the tower market will be tripping over its guy wires to survive. Line of sight technologies might remain tethered to a tower for awhile until bandwidth, spectrum, handset, and meshed networks can be resolved in the public safety arena. Do you really want to haul a tower around the Grand Canyon when you could just drop a cube in your backpack? There are some definite winners and losers in this space if light radio takes off. Tower manufacturers and O&M providers could be the big losers in this disruptive swing unless they can adapt to other segments. Also, this raises an important question about the roles that carriers want to have in the longer term. In the U.S. market where Uncle Sam has been footing the bill for getting broadband out to the boonies, lower cost of ownership and ease of access might offer new franchising opportunities or opportunities for smaller companies to make more localized investments. As long as the carriers ultimately get subscribership and can guarantee quality of service, who cares?

As a general trend, companies often don’t recognize disruptive trends outside of their own markets because they are too caught up in an industry-specific myopic vision of the future. Don’t worry, this happens to every industry. But as new models take hold, convergence offers significant multi-market advantages that will bring about new business models as service providers look outside of their own industries for opportunities and advantages to gain economies of scale. TD

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