How Endpoint Computing Could Dehumanize Communication

Where does the signal to pull your hand away from heat originate? If your answer is the brain, you’ve already been burned. Instinctively, we pull our hand back without conscious thought, because the response to the stimulus takes a short cut and originates in the spinal cord because the need for quick action.

According to venture capitalist Peter Levine the need for this same type of short cut may be happening soon with computing. Mr. Levine said thathe saw a shift in computing coming from the cloud (centralized) to the return of edge computing (decentralized) because the wave of innovations from IoT, and AI, are driving the need to have decisions made in milliseconds.

As Mr. Levine points out, a connected car is basically a data center on wheels “it has 200 plus central processing units…doing all of it’s computations at the endpoint and only pass back to the cloud.” Just like you hand doesn’t have time to send a signal to the brain, autonomous vehicles need to react instantaneously to the situation.

Data, insight, and now action, will be moving to the point of engagement in this future view. Now think about the potential challenges that present marketers in staying on brand, and controlling the message with thousands, or even millions, of touchpoints acting independently. Today, the best messaging and value proposition work can (and usually does) go off the track the moment it makes its way to sales and service reps.

Marketers live with the daily issue of cross channel attribution, add cross channel communication to the mix and we better have really good tracking tools! Sure, we can pre-set the messages, designed algorithms to present them at the right moment in the buying cycle, but controlling and tracking the delivery of each message in the context of an overall brand story will be the challenge.

And keep in mind, machines aren’t the only things that learn. As research has shown, the buying process is a highly emotional roller coaster. With machines entering that process we risk driving efficiency at the expense of dehumanizing the experience. As machines learn, we also begin to sense whether we are dealing with a human or a machine.

For example, do you really get the “warm fuzzies” from all those “HBD” messages on Facebook, or the “Congrats on the New Job” on LinkedIn? Machines have been great at helping us be more informed, but they have also have made it easy to turn highly personalized interactions into transactional tasks, void of any emotional connection.

The first wave of machine learning has been about improved efficiencies, productivity and predictability. As Jeff Bezos stated in his brilliant letter to shareholders,  “Machine learning drives our algorithms for demand forecasting, product search ranking, product and deal recommendations…much of the impact of learning will be of this type – quietly, but meaningfully, improving core operation.”

As the next wave approaches, we should be cautious on how it is applied to the buying process. The focus should be on making humans more human, becoming more instinctive, so potential customers don’t getting burned.

11 Things To Do in Your 40’s

I posted this on LInkedIn last month. Surprised by the response, so I thought I’d share it here.

One day you wake up and you’re 50. You’re the old guy you used make fun of because of his lack of fashion sense, various hair issues/challenges, and “dad bod” …before it became cool. What you may have lost in physical prowess you can more than make up with life experiences (the reason I’m given 11 not 10 tips, old guys can do that). Now that I’m that “guy,” here’s a list of the things I wish someone would of told me when I was in my 40’s. I’m no expert, just the guy with the dad bod who has learned some important lessons after the fact.

  1. Focus on your fitness – fat and happy, you betcha! Men, the years of feeling like you have to eat what’s left over on the kid’s plate are over. Your job, lifestyle, and offspring have helped you pack on an extra 10-20 pounds (or more) over the last decade. Hit the gym, or the road with your feet or bike. Ladies, it’s time to put the focus back on you. You gave your time, energy and focus to the little ones, but now they’re in school…reserve some time for yourself. Head to the gym, outdoors or both.
  2. Reconnect with your significant other – kids can suck the energy out of a relationship, and as good parents, you’re willing let them. You went from “us” to “them” in a flash; make an effort to bring sexy back. Put some intimacy back in the relationship by finding time to reignite the flames that drew you together. Yes, the kids will get in the way, but that can be exciting, find ways to sneak in your “special time.” Think back to your teenage days when Mom and Dad were upstairs.
  3. Be who you are – Men, you know who you are now so it’s time to accept it. Embrace your “suckiness” be comfortable with being uncomfortable. Ladies – we love you for who you are, and not who you think we want you to be. Be comfortable in your skin, it’s a turn on.
  4. Be completely honest – you’re a grown ass man/woman now, if you have bad news to deliver don’t sugar coat it, get to it. In business, stop telling clients what you thing they want to hear, and tell them the truth. By this point, you’re established in your career and should have the confidence to stop caring about how others feel about you. You might just find that they like you better when you’re giving it to them straight. This is the same on the home front, stop BS’ing and get to the point. It may get uncomfortable, but you’re old enough to handle it the truth.
  5. Grow something – it’s time to work the soil. Get out in the yard and put down roots. Use the same nurturing instinct that you’ve developed to bear fruit, literally. Try eating something that you grow everyday in the summer. The satisfaction you’ll feel is well worth the fights you have with deer, chipmunks, and bugs of every variety.
  6. See the world – spend your money on travel, and not “things.” There is a diaper load of research that proves the pleasure and satisfaction you’ll get out of travel trumps that of physical things, and it grows in value over the years. Expose your children to the world. You’ll plant the seeds of discovery and exploration that will grow as they do.
  7. Eat dinner together as a family – teach your children how to cook, and the art of the conversation. They will understand the value of togetherness, if you make the time. Explore new food, cuisines and culture. If they only want to eat pizza and chicken nuggets – it’s not just because they like it, it’s because you let them.
  8. Plan for college now! – even though they may still be in diapers they grow up extremely fast, but not as fast as the cost of tuition. Save now, and plan on saving more than you ever expected. College comes quickly and it doesn’t come cheap.
  9. Live beneath your means – the thirties to mid-forties you are typically the “golden years” of income acceleration. As you climb the career ladder, the number of high paying jobs gets smaller, and the pool of available candidates grows. Keep the pace of spending below the pay percentage increase. As your children get older, they become more expensive…travel sports, camps, private schools, etc. Save, save, save…
  10. Stay connected – you had college friends, single friends, couple friends, and now friends with kids. Each phase of your life brings with it new friends and a struggle to keep connected with the old ones. Making things more complicated, your work and family schedules will never be busier which means keeping in touch even with family members will be a challenge. You’ve been warned, social media is a nice surrogate, but it’s not a substitute for a phone call…as your Mom will tell you.
  11. Teach your child to sell – it could be Girl Scout cookies, a raffle for school or a donation for the fun run, kids need to know that Mom and Dad aren’t going to do everything for them. It helps them learn self-confidence, determination and that rejection is a part of life. Don’t shelter them from hearing “no” it’s an important opportunity to teach them resilience

I’d love to hear what you would add, especially any advice for a guy with hair issues on what to do when he hits the 50’s.