Autonomous Trucking

When I wrote earlier about autonomous vehicles and mentioned trucking and truckers I hadn’t even considered the idea that someone could move faster if they didn’t try to solve the problem of the ‘last mile’ and instead just focused on autonomous driving of trucks on the highways and interstates. Have the vehicle drive itself 95% of the way there, but then have a ‘real driver’ meet the truck for the last leg of the delivery. Use real drivers out and into cities and complicated areas.

Brillant.

See a write up about it here.

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Priorities

A really great post about priorities and how we really don’t work on the things we ‘say’ are our priorities. We don’t want to do the work or pay the price to do that which we say is a priority.

We spend lots of time talking about our priorities, but not nearly enough time actually working on them.

I shared this with a friend who works on a college campus and she said she is reading this to everyone who enters her office.

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Real Customer Relationship Management

Yesterday at exactly 5:59 PM I received an email from the car dealer where I bought my car before the current one. I bought it probably 6-7 years ago and traded it in 1.5 years ago for a different car at a different dealer. The email was from a person I don’t know there complete with their picture letting me know that they were thinking about me on my birthday (today) and were wanting me to have a fantastic birthday complete with an exclamation point.

Two minutes later, I received an email from the dealer of my current car saying they were thinking of me and they were hoping my birthday would be amazing. This was from someone I didn’t know either.

Two minutes later, and four minutes after the first message, I got an email from the dealer where we bought my wife’s car 4 years ago, wishing me a VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY.

Emails at 5:59 PM, 6:01 PM and 6:03 PM.

I’m really touched that these people were having coffee at the end of the day and looking through the list of their prior customers and thought they’d drop me a note wishing me a happy birthday.

What are the odds that these three separate car dealers owned by different auto groups happened to be thinking about me all at the same time and wanted to drop me a note wishing me a happy birthday?

Organizations try to automate parts of their customer relationship management and more times than not they fail completely. I’d rather get nothing about my birthday than get an automated message trying to look personal. But I do think less of them when they have automated the whole process to a 3rd party and at an appointed time a cron job runs and I get fake personal email from them.


Mark,bday

We wanted to wish you a
VERY HAPPY BIRTHDAY
from all of us here at XXX
Hope you have a great one and
Drive safe!

Push for Electronic Payments

I went in Chick-fil-A today while traveling and noticed they accept Apple Pay. Walgreens, McDonald’s, and Panera Bread are sites I visit regularly and now they accept Apple Pay. I try to use it everywhere it is available.

The point of this post is to say that we need to use this wherever it is available. We’ve got to get the balance to tip towards electronic payments, with their higher security levels, and away from sliding plastic cards through primitive readers.

Do your part. If you’ve not set up electronic payments on your phone (whatever kind) get it setup and start using it everywhere that it is accepted.

Apple Pay can be used at these sites. Samsung Pay here.

Learning to Drive

I missed this thought.

Tesla is rebooting their autonomous driving vehicles and re-teaching them how to drive. Wired has this great article about the changes.

They’ve rolled out a new architecture which uses a very different sensor strategy,” says Tim Dawkins, an autonomous car specialist at automotive tech research company, SBD. “They needed to spend a little time building up their base data before they were able to release the same level of functionally as they had with hardware version 1.0.”

The first iteration of Autopilot relied on a single camera made by Israeli supplier Mobileye. The new setup uses eight cameras, dotted all around the car, feeding an in-house Tesla Vision system. The 12 ultrasonic sensors have been upgraded, the radar is improved. A new on-board Nvidia computer is 40 times more powerful than its predecessor, and runs the necessary artificial intelligence software.

and here is the money quote:

Where a conventional automaker might do that training with qualified drivers in controlled environments, or on private tracks, Tesla used its customers. It pushed fresh software to 1,000 cars on December 31, then to everybody in early January. That code ran in what Tesla calls Shadow Mode, collecting data and comparing the human driver’s actions to what the computer would have done. That fleet learning is Tesla’s advantage when it comes to educating and updating its AI computers.

“This is the uniquely Tesla approach, in the way that they have their consumers build up that rich data set, from which they can train up their AI,” says Dawkins.

Of course. Why didn’t I think of that. I mean, I didn’t have to go do it, but just consider the idea. The car is full of sensors and why not let the car shadow read drivers for a season and learn how real drivers deal with real situations that appear on the road?

Better than rules based. Learn from those who already know how to drive.

You need cars with the sensors. You need a connected car back to Tesla/cloud. And you need lots of drivers driving through all different conditions. Rain, snow, fog, fast, slow, city, suburb, rural, interstate, toll roads, bridges, tunnels, parking garages, etc.

Brillant.

Financial Understanding

In 2013 I wrote a series of posts about what to do as new CIO. My thinking continues to evolve on this topic, but I’ve come to rethink the need to understand the financial model for IT in your organization and to put greater urgency on that understanding.

In an enterprise, an IT organization and associated investments are made to facilitate the operations of the enterprise and to protect the enterprise. We don’t make investments just because they are fun or just because we want to do them. There is a driving force behind these investments.  Those forces are things like: operational improvements (reduce waste, speed, reduced friction, etc.), financial control, collaboration improvement, security, etc.  The benefits of these investments are mostly outside of IT. Yes, some investments benefit IT, but most of what we do benefits other organizations. Saying it differently, the costs might reside in IT but the benefits reside elsewhere.

That is the central problem/opportunity to understand. How does your organization account for this fact of life? This simply must be understood by all parties and it must be clearly highlighted to all parties and that takes a lot of help from Finance. This is probably one of my biggest failures. I should have done more in this area.

Projects in IT can save tens of millions of dollars in operations or across the supply chain yet cost millions in IT to make that happen.

M&A activity are particularly dangerous to IT in that unless the costs of integration are budgeted and called out and planned for as part of the go/nogo decision on the acquisition, IT can appear to spending a lot of money to integrate that that is not really an IT cost, it is an acquisition cost. I read a while back that the two biggest risks in M&A efforts is merging cultures and IT complexity/integration risks. A company board might decide to spend $600M on an acquisition but that decision should upfront account for the cost to integrate the companies together.

IT spend is a cost to do business. Probably, the best answer to this problem is to work out a clearly understood, above board way to charge costs back to business units that are driving the investments. That chargeback would include the startup costs for sure, but also might include the sustaining costs to run or support the capabilities. In any case, the costs need to be clearly visible and either chargeback or shown back to the business and across the business. Tools like Apptio might greatly help in these conversations too.

 

 

Turn it Off

Just finished reading the book The Seventh Sense: Power, Fortune, and Survival in the Age of Networks by Little, Brown and Company. Lots of great content about networks and their impact and implications on everything. There is this great quote about how to really, really secure your computer:

Robert Morris Sr., a cryptographic and security genius who towered over NSA code-breaking programs for decades in the last century, compressed his lifetime of experience cracking machines into three golden rules of computer security:

RULE ONE: Do not own a computer.

RULE TWO: Do not power it on.

RULE THREE: Do not use it.

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This is hilarious but it goes with my prior post. The footnote indicates that he might not have actually said this, but it is attributed to him by multiple sources.

The book is about how connections are having significant and unstoppable changes to everything: government, military, commerce, social, etc. Everything is changing and we don’t understand this fully yet. Consider the following:

This new set of forces, invisible to many, is now applying a merciless and grinding pressure to the familiar structures of an older age. The struggles of our cherished institutions—the U.S. Congress, the military, the news media, our universities, our once-inclusive capitalism—to achieve the very aims that they once elegantly and efficiently met is visible evidence of this shift. Repeated government shutdowns. Years of unwinnable war. No news source we feel we can rely upon. Expensive, debt-funded degrees that don’t fit our modern economy. An ever-more-skewed distribution of profits. Pull your focus wider to encompass Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, and you find similarly vexing struggles as nations try to dig their economies out from financial landslides or resist nationalism and unrest. Power is now passing with a rippling, ripping energy from old, once-useful people and institutions. If this passage has so far wiped out only encyclopedias, telephone companies, and taxi medallions, it is merely because it is just beginning. Buried underneath these failures and the impending collapse of many institutions is a common force.

The title of the book about the seventh sense, is really then, “the ability to look at any object and see the way in which it is changed by connection.”

Also some great material on AI and what that really might mean.  Not AI as we traditionally think about it but really just fast access to lots and lots of data and the associated correlations.

Really good ideas. Recommended.