This week I had the privilege of attending the Wipro analyst day in Boston. A large number of industry analysts and influencers were in attendance – it is always good to see old friends at these events. The day had the usual rhythm: general presentations in the morning followed by the speed dating process of meeting with individual members of the Wipro leadership team. One of these sessions that piqued my interest was a 1 on 1 with KR Sanjiv, Wipro’s Chief Technology Officer out of Bangalore. We discussed the emerging technologies he is focusing on for the next 2-5 years. Always a fun topic.
He gave us 5 key categories:
- Smart Machines
- Man – Machine interface
- Next Generation Architecture
What struck me the most were the middle three. Why? From my perspective these are part of a wave of digital disruption that is beginning to form in our supply chains – whether it be retail, CPG, industrial, life sciences, aerospace to name a few.
Smart Machines is really about the movement towards greater intelligence and analytics within machines. In particular wearables. I wrote a post recently that looked at this trend in supply chain management. Click here for post. There is an increasing segment of companies like Unvired from the software side and Motorola from the hardware side that are tackling the need for greater intelligence in wearable technologies that reduce friction in the supply chain. Think enhanced capabilities for pick packers in the warehouse or more decision making power for floor managers on the manufacturing floor. Wipro was showing off a device that is used to for personal health monitoring – think about how much flexibility and reach this gives health care providers. As well as the data it provides to ensure better monitoring and anticipating needs (similar to a retailer anticipating a consumers’ demand for a product).
Man – Machine interface – think of this as how we have evolved in our interactions with machines. The example we discussed was how Tom Cruise manipulates files in the movie “Minority Report.” Of course that was a movie, but the work done in this space will have a deep impact. Currently our interaction with machines, and the information they contain, is via a keyboard. More recently we have added touch screens. But this is still a flat method of interactions. When it comes to the real world…items have three dimensions. In addition to the ever growing mountains of data and information we produce and look to leverage to run our businesses and supply chains. As Mr Sanjiv stated “The new generation wants more intuitive and ‘human’ interfaces rather than the click and touch.” The amount of data that is needed to manage today’s supply chains only continues to expand – and seeing the information on a traditional screen isn’t optimized for the needs of today’s users.
Robotics is just what it sounds like. Using machines to fill in some needs gaps that humans are not capable or are not as efficient at doing as a robot. KR spoke at length about the usage of drones or even smarter robots to do jobs such as clearing sludge out of hard to reach pipes. Of course these are not ideas that other companies are not already exploring – think iRobot or Amazon with their drone project. Even DHL has announced using drones to deliver medicine to hard to reach islands in the North Sea – click here for story. Right now much of the talk of robotics is constrained to such areas test drones for delivery, using robots in utilities to fix infrastructure or companies like Kiva that are building robots to manage part of warehouses. However there is not question that robotics will have a important role to play in reducing the friction that is encountered in commerce and supply chain.
Overall a good day spent with some sharp folks from Wipro. The discussion of the pillars of emerging technology parallel much of what we are observing when it comes to addressing new disruptions and reducing friction points that are in Matrix Commerce. I will be interested to observe how Wipro’s work in these spaces come to fruition.