Pervasive Computing 101

In a recent MIT Sloan Management Review article, Dr. Albert H. Segars from University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler Business School outlined seven core technologies that are altering nearly every dimension of our lives and their implications for commerce, health care, learning, the environment and more.  According to Dr. Segars, pervasive computing is one of the core technologies that every business leader should become familiar with as the digital revolution rages on.

Pervasive computing, also called ubiquitous computing, is a concept where information, media, context, and processing power are delivered conveniently to us in all kinds of things. The Apple Watch’s ability to alert users of incoming phone calls and to allow users to complete calls through the watch, is an example of pervasive computing. The large network of connected microprocessors embedded in everyday objects allows access to information from virtually anywhere and at any time.

First pioneered in the late 1980s at the Olivetti Research Laboratory in Cambridge England, the development of the “Active Badge“, a small clip-on microcomputer employee ID card, enabled the company to track employee movement. This spurred articles by the The New York Times, ComputerWorld and other publications about George Orwell’s Big Brother prediction coming true.

Mark Weiser, considered to be the father of ubiquitous computing, soon began building early ubiquitous computing devices with his colleagues at Xerox PARC and popularized the term “pervasive computing” with the creation of IBM’s Pervasive Computing division.
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Today, pervasive computing generally involves wireless communications and networking technologies, mobile devices, embedded systems, wearables, wireless sensors, voice recognition, AI and more. According to a recent study report published by Market Research Future, the global market of pervasive computing technology is booming and expected to gain prominence. Technology advancements and the increased demand for Internet of Things (IoT) continue to drive the growth.
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Application of Pervasive Computing Technology:
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  • Communications
  • Logistics
  • Transportation (by air, land and sea)
  • Energy
  • Learning
  • Military
  • Banking/Finance
  • Production
  • Smart Homes
  • E-commerce
  • Security & Safety
  • Healthcare/Medical Technology
  • Media
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To learn more, read:
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Blockchain Simplified

Croixstone‘s CXO Patti Weber recently participated in Skookum‘s largest Tech Talks to date. Josh Miller, Senior Software Engineer at Skookum, provided insight into blockchain technology and the uses beyond Bitcoin and cryptocurrency. The original blockchain was described in a 2008 bitcoin paper by Satashi Nakamoto, just 2 months after the collapse of Lehman Brothers in 2008. What makes blockchain so attractive is that it provides a level of trust that is interwoven in business transactions. People can now make transactions without middlemen which translates to greater control of funds and lower fees.

So, what is a blockchain? A blockchain is a digital encrypted ledger in which transactions are recorded chronologically and publicly. Like the name indicates, a blockchain is a chain of blocks containing information. Each block contains data, the hash (i.e., digital fingerprint that uniquely identifies the block and all the contents), and the hash of the previous block. When a block is created, a copy of the block is distributed on a peer-to-peer (P2P) network. Each member of the P2P network gets a copy of the block, and a consensus is obtained to ensure that the chain has not been tampered with.
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The way the blocks are chained together using hashes, along with a “proof of work” mechanism and distribution through a P2P network, makes blockchains secure and trustworthy. The term immutability – its resistance to tampering or other changes – is often used when describing blockchain.
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Blockchains eliminate the need for middlemen (e.g., banks) making it more efficient than legacy systems. They exist within communities, and participants that operate within an industry can all operate on the same chain, and therefore, have a copy of the distributed ledger.
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Applications of Blockchain
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As a result of the tamper-proof and hack-proof nature of blockchain, it is one of the most promising technologies with far-reaching applications. Here are just a few of the industries that are/will be impacted..
For a more detailed explanation of blockchain, see CNET’s recent article titled Blockchain explained: It builds trust when you need it most.
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For more information about industries impacted, check out: Banking Is Only The Beginning: 36 Big Industries Blockchain Could Transform

Consulting Industry Outlook 2018

It’s a good time to be in the consulting world!  According to the recently released Consulting Magazine’s 2018 Executive Outlook report, the theme for the consulting industry this year is “Let the Good Times Roll.”

The positive economic momentum + recent corporate tax cuts equal an “upbeat and bullish forecast” for the consulting industry. As result, the industry remains strong and firms are in the “midst of a hiring frenzy” to get the work done. Below is a high-level overview of the results in the report:

  • 97% of leading consulting firms surveyed experienced real revenue growth over the last 12 months.
  • 98% of executives are forecasting growth in 2018, and 94% are saying that growth will exceed 6%.
  • 95% of firm leaders anticipate net profits will improve, and 62% of the firms predict net profits will be up more than 10% in 2018.

The survey was conducted in the latter part of 2017 with more than 130 Managing Directors, Partners and Vice Presidents participating. To read the full 2018 Executive Outlook, click here.


Freelancing in America
Did you know that 36% of the U.S. workforce are freelance workers?  This equates to 57.3 million workers earning an estimated $1.4 trillion annually. By 2027, the majority of the U.S. workforce will freelance, according to findings in the “Freelancing in America Study: 2017” released in mid-October. The study conducted by Upwork and Freelancers Union defined freelancers as “individuals who have engaged in supplemental, temporary, project- or contract-based work.”
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To learn more about freelancing in America, check out the following:
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  • Click here for a complete guide from entrepreneur.com to the highest-paying jobs, companies, freelance jobs and more.
  • Prepare for the future as a freelancer by following these 3 tips here.
  • Want to quit your job to go freelance?  Here is a list of 10 skills that are in hot demand now.
  • Are we all fated to become “solopreneurs”?  Read here about the four key criteria needed to stay competitive and successful as freelancers.

Re-Envisioning the Future with Generative Design
Could the current manufacturing, distribution, assembly and maintenance processes become obsolete in the not too distant future?  Today, we take a look at generative design as an innovative approach to thinking outside the box when it comes to design and its implications to manufacturing.
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At Croixstone we are inspired by mavericks…those unconventional thinkers who can see past conformity and who can accomplish what others say can’t be done.  Generative design has the ability to generate unconventional design options that go beyond our imagination alone and can be used to create everything from running shoes, earbuds and airplane partitions, to a revolutionary approach to designing the office space and buildings of the future.
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So what is generative design? According to Autodesk, a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software, “Generative design is a technology that mimics nature’s evolutionary approach to design. It starts with your design goals and then explores all of the possible permutations of a solution to find the best option. Using cloud computing, generative design software quickly cycles through thousands—or even millions—of design choices, testing configurations and learning from each iteration what works and what doesn’t. The process lets designers generate brand new options, beyond what a human alone could create, to arrive at the most effective design.”  To better understand what generative design is all about, click here for a short video.
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  • Learn how generative design and additive manufacturing (i.e., 3-D printing) is changing the manufacturing world here.
  • Check out how generative design could radically transform the look of our world here.
  • Delve into a new world of highly efficient products made by generative design here.
  • Take a sneak peak into the first large-scale generative designed office here.

Gaining a Competitive Advantage Through Predictive Analytics
Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to predict the future? According to a recent Harvard Business Review webinar, companies, governments, law enforcement agencies, hospitals, and universities are using the power of big data, new technologies, and analytics to predict whether we’re going to “click, buy, lie, or die.”
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So, what is the difference between forecasting and predictive analytics? Forecasting provides an estimate to anticipate trends for a large group over time, while predictive analytics goes much further and is focused on predicting the behavior of a single individual. For example, forecasting might provide an estimate of the total sales for a particular product line next quarter, while predictive analytics tells which customer will likely buy the product. Major industries such as Banking and Finance, Retail, Healthcare, Manufacturing, Oil and Gas Utilities, Government, E-commerce and Travel and Hospitality embrace predictive analytics to boost sales, improve operations, reduce risks, and gain a competitive advantage.
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  • What is Predictive Analytics? Learn the about the process, applications, software and more here.
  • Read how to convert analytics into action here.

Trends Shaping the Consulting Industry
In the 2017 Management Consulting Outlook report prepared by Greentarget, a strategic public relations firm focused exclusively on business-to-business organizations, the global management consulting market has been growing revenue approximately 4 percent annually over the past few years. As the most mature market, the U.S. market grew 7.7 percent in 2015 to reach $54.7 billion, up from $50.8 billion in 2014. The global management consulting industry is now delivering an estimated $150 billion in revenue, and the growth trend is expected to continue, with the U.S. accounting for nearly half (44 percent) of the global market.
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We at Croixstone know it is important to keep abreast of the many forces and trends shaping the consulting industry. Demand for change as result of disruptive technologies and competition from new market competitors continues to drive investment in consulting.  What else is new in the consulting industry?
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  • Learn more about the who’s who of the consulting world in 2017 here.
  • What makes a great consultant?  Here are 10 attributes required for long term success as a consultant.
  • Read here about five consulting technology trends in 2017 that are more than buzzwords.

Sustainability in Business
On September 7th, the results of the annual 2017 Dow Jones Sustainability Index for North America were announced, and both Duke Energy Corp. and Bank of America Corp. made the list for their focus on environmental, social and governance issues. Like Duke Energy and Bank of America, companies continue to change their business models as a result of sustainability opportunities.

Sustainability is all about meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability to meet the needs of future generations. Instead of today’s linear ‘take, make, depose’ economic model, companies like Hewlett-Packard, who recently unveiled the world’s first printer with closed-loop recycled plastic, and Procter & Gamble, with its ongoing focus on creating a new method to recycle plastic for reuse, are helping to drive the circular economy concept of ‘return and renew’ as part of their approach to sustainability in business.

  • Is it time to tie executive compensation to sustainability?  Learn more here.
  • Learn more sustainability in today’s business world here.
  • Read about the circular economy concept here.

Agile For Business

Back in 2001, seventeen people at The Lodge at Snowbird met to talk, ski, and relax, and what emerged was the Agile ‘Software Development’ Manifesto.  Those seventeen individuals may not have predicted that the agile methodology would now go well beyond IT and impact all areas of business.

As agile becomes more and more popular, business teams across a broad range of industries and functions are continuing to adopt an agile approach as a wide-ranging global business strategy.  And, big businesses aren’t the only places where agile is flourishing.  Small businesses and startups are also benefiting from embracing agile strategies and mindsets.

  • Learn about the secret history of agile innovation here.
  • Read how to make agile work for the C-suite here.
  • When it comes to scaling agile, learn how the devil is in the details here.
  • Finally, read about changes required to make your organization truly agile here.

Keeping Up With Digital Transformation

Digital transformation has by now made its way to nearly all industries, and therefore, it comes up in Croixstone’s conversations almost daily. Why is digital transformation so important? Quite simply, if organizations don’t modernize and become fully digitalized then they will be left behind and the threat of disruption becomes very real. With companies investing millions to digitalize their businesses, they are hoping for outcomes that will increase revenue, reduce cost, create more products and services, improve customer satisfaction, enhance differentiation, and ultimately mitigate the risk of digital disruption.

Regardless of your area of expertise, digital transformation will impact everyone. Companies are looking for change drivers to help them weed through the digital transformation myths, create a culture that makes data-based decisions, and sift through an avalanche of digital initiatives to reshape their organizations.

Read about a new practical guide to a successful digital transformation here.

Learn some insights into helping your C-suite understand digital transformation here.

See how three companies are thriving with digital transformation here.