The Technology Based Restaurant – Guest post by Giles Morgan

The low hum was faint at first, slowly getting louder the more you concentrated on the sound, until eventually the black object broke over the horizon at first looking like a Blackhawk helicopter from a Hollywood blockbuster movie, then as it moved in a regimented fashion up and down the vines, its identity was revealed as a drone. Creating wine used to be about experience, gut-instinct and soil to name a few things guaranteeing a successful crop. Now its sensors, data, software and of course drones. Fitted with multispectral and visual sensors, these Drones collect multitudes of data determining the health of the vineyard (e.g. Crop Vigor) whilst on the ground, other sensors monitor temperature and soil. When the process gets to the bottling stage, an NFC (near-field communication) label is produced and placed on the bottle to be read throughout the supply chain from producer to logistics through customs and then to wholesale and finally the restaurant.

The restauranteur checks her cloud-based online platform and sees a visual representation of her food and wine stock supply chain. Three days previous, she had ordered a resupply of exotic ingredients for her head chef and can see where those supplies are in real-time on her interactive map. A warning notification pops up on her SiteSage Energy & Asset Management system alerting her that the temperature in one of the freezers in the restaurant kitchen is decreasing and that she has three hours to move supplies to another unit. Given that Restaurants use up to three times more energy than traditional commercial enterprises, the restauranteur is pleased to see that she has saved 10% energy in the last quarter. Sensors in the fridges allow her to see that there is enough spare capacity in the remaining fridges and organises for the food to be moved.

The restaurant manager arrives and fires up his Microsoft MICROS mTablet. He views analytical data on the previous day’s trading through the EPOS system. He then checks out the real-time view of the restaurant bookings for the day and sees several tables available during the first cover, at the click of a button, he pushes a marketing campaign into the Open Table mobile application to drive bookings. He analyses the evening reservations and wait lists, as well as the sales and inventory data. He uses the insights from this data to automatically update his staff coming in for the lunchtime session, a notification is also autonomously pushed to a group of temporary waitresses via the restaurants mobile employee app offering a shift this evening. The manager receives an almost instant notification from Sarah (a temporary waitress registered on the employee app) and the shift is confirmed back to her.

All the servers in the restaurant are equipped with mobile devices that can send orders directly to the kitchen. The craft beer and wine bottles (including the wine bottles from the vineyard) arrive and are lined up in the bar. The restaurant uses SteadyServ iKeg for managing their array of beers. Sensors attached to each keg tracks the type and style of beer, when it was delivered to the restaurant, when it was opened and of course when it will run dry. Spirits in the restaurant use smart spouts from BarVision that helps provide data insight from each pour. Everything is precisely monitored and integrated with EPOS (Electronic Point of Sales) systems.

On arrival from the logistics courier, each box is scanned and the data is uploaded to the cloud. Instant personalised emails are sent to relevant customers booked in for today offering them the chance to pre-order their favourite beer or wine before arriving, the drink list is automatically produced for the bar tender so that a seamless customer experience is created. A further email will be automatically sent to the customer after their evening offering them the opportunity to purchase a case of the wine or craft beer they enjoyed.

The doors open for lunch; every day when the doors open a bot fires a tweet to all the restaurants followers on Twitter with a link to today’s menu and a few special offers targeted at filling unsold tables over the next 7 days.

Customers start to arrive and as usual, people change their mind around which tables to sit at, the waitress checks her mobile tablet and with the swipe of a finger moves the customer to another table automatically rearranging the tables which don’t already have customers.

The couple sit down and use their mobile phones and apps such as Secret DJ to request their favourite music during their meal, requests are queued on the restaurants sound system and played in order, falling back on a playlist should there be a lack of requests.

Their drinks arrive immediately as they have already pre-ordered. The waitress hands the customers their mini slim line tablets which act as their menu’s. With every order, the menu is automatically updated removing customer disappointment if a particular item has sold out, in fact they won’t even know as it is silently removed from the screen.

According to Gartner, 6.4 Billion connected devices will be in use in 2016 with a staggering 5.5 million devices connecting every day and this will reach 20.8 billion devices by 2020. The Internet of Things (IoT) will support total services spending of $235 billion in 2016. Finally, by 2020 Gartner believes more than half of Major New Business Processes and Systems will incorporate some element of the Internet of Things.

Exciting times lie ahead with the use of IoT in many industries, that’s for sure. However, not without its dangers especially around security, and with so many devices connected comes the opportunity for hackers to use these devices to launch DDoS attacks which we have already seen in 2016. In addition to this, it’s important to remember the importance of having a robust management platform to monitor and support these large scale connected networks.

As a technologist and innovator, I’m excited by this revolution, if it also removes the disappointment of a corked bottle of wine or helps me discover new foods then even better. Chin! Chin!


Giles Morgan futureproofGiles Morgan,
Global Digital Leader |
Global TAS at EY ‘Misfit & Innovator’ M&A

The Power Of The Internet Of Things – Guest post by Jim Hunter (@theiotguru)

The term Internet of Things (or IoT) was coined in 1999.  Just what does this super generic moniker mean?  Literally, it means that physical devices are beginning to connect to the Internet.  If you think about that for a few seconds, technically that is what the Internet is. Physical devices connected together through a common network. The physical devices or “things” of the internet have been servers, routers, switches and all forms of connected compute devices. From that perspective, IoT, is the redefinition of what an internet thing is. More specifically, IoT is a redefinition of what a connected compute device is. The vast majority of theses new IoT connected computer devices will be sensors. Sensors that read, measure, collect and digitize the world around us.

Creating context

The reason sensors are so important is because they provide context. Today the most important devices to create context are those we carry with us. These include our mobile devices and in some cases wearable devices, that are loaded with sensors local to us.

Soon the most important devices will be those around us. In the near future, thousands of sensors will be fixtures in our environment that emit contextual data messages. These sensors will broadcast their contextual identifiers available that answer the questions of who, where, what, when and why to applications that are personal to you.  Sensors will measure and broadcast information about position, health, energy, radio strength climate, traffic, vibration, stress, noise, light … basically anything that can be measured and has value to mankind will be measured.  That measured information will be broadcast over a short distance to mobile devices that are within range.  For any given moment in time, a detailed digital picture of you and your surroundings can be captured for your private applications to consider.

IoT privacy issues

The personal and private nature of your data and identity require this design, as opposed to your device broadcasting its presence to other devices. This also means that creating informational infrastructure that works hand in hand with applications on personal devices is the future of the IoT, and a massive opportunity. This is not new. Essentially, this is how GPS location works. The GPS satellites broadcast small information messages that include their identity and the time. It is up to the personalized location devices to make those messages usable for a consumer. This design is also appearing in shopping situations, where stores broadcast location-specific RFID (Radio Frequency ID) to tell listening apps where products are in a store, and the application then converts those messages into product location information and related purchase deals for the user.

It is important to understand that there are a variety of ways to maintain security and privacy, even for the broadcasting RFID.  For example, a given ID could actually be an abstracted hash.  To make sense of an abstracted hash, the application would have to pass the hash to a decoder.  This decoder may be in a cloud or fog service.  The decoder may require authentication to decode the hash to the actual information pertaining to the RFID. This authenticated lookup also allows a given RFID, to decode into different information, depending on the authentication level of a given user.  For example, a teenager may get different information from an RFID than a parent or head of household may from the same RFID with the same application.  Most importantly, a given RFID may return completely different information, if decoded by completely different services.  For example, consider RFID 0088776655AB.  This RFID may decode to a value that results in displaying a fire hydrant for an emergency fire fighters Heads Up Display (HUD).  As well, the same RFID may decode to a no parking zone in a traffic application.  It may also decode as an obstruction warning for a person who is sight challenged.  Different apps can process the same IoT surroundings differently, which will enable a massive new wave of value add applications.

The above example, is just one of many of the value propositions of IoT.  With IoT, we are giving a voice to an unprecedented number of things that can measure every aspect of our world.  These things will provide context like we have never known before.  They will answer the questions of who, where, what, when and why.

jim hunter futureproof IOTJim Hunter,
Chief Scientist & Technology Evangelist at Greenwave Systems Inc.,
@theiotguru on Twitter



The IOT Disruption – Guest post by Thomas Nicholls (@ThomasNicholls)

The Internet of Things (IoT) is the idea of connecting more physical devices to the Internet, or more precisely, connecting physical objects through sensors and actuators to learn more about what’s happening in the physical world. The IoT will provide new insights, that will have a huge impact on existing business models, in regards to optimization, but probably more importantly, the IoT will provide a means to disrupt existing businesses and even create new ones.

Examples of disruption in existing businesses:

– Product vendors will gain new insights in where their products are installed: by sending geo-location info, vendors will be able to perform geo-marketing even if they use complex distribution channels.

– Product vendors will be able to ensure correct functioning of their products: by knowing the battery status, configuration, etc., companies will be able to provide better support and maintenance for products such as set-top boxes, fire detectors, defibrillators, fire hydrants, television sets, etc.

– Product-oriented companies will become service oriented: by knowing how their products are used, companies will be able to provide predictive maintenance and provide services related to the products, such as on-demand washing detergent, coffee grains/capsules, air freshener, just-in-time dispenser refills, etc.

– Existing products will finally be democratized and thus enable new volumes and variants: tracking embedded in everyday objects such as schoolbags, bicycles, etc.

All industries will be impacted by the IoT. Companies who take advantage of it now, will gain huge competitive advantages. This could therefore be a huge advantage for those who get it, and a worrying threat for those who don’t.

How has Sigfox disrupted by its Blank Canvas approach…  ?

The three existing connectivity solutions (GSM, WiFi and Bluetooth) restrict what we can connect. By building a specific connectivity solution for the needs of the IoT sensors and actuators, SIGFOX is able to provide the missing 4th communications protocol, which enables years-to-decades of battery life, extremely low costs, and borderless and provisioning-less simple connectivity management. The invention of this 4th protocol, will enable a gigantic long tail and volume market for the IoT.

Thomas Nicholls Futureproof SigfoxThomas Nicholls
Executive Vice President Communications at Sigfox |

Find Thomas on Twitter @ThomasNicholls

The Disruption From China & The East – Guest post by Marco Gervasi

China has become an innovator

China is now shifting from an innovation receiver to an innovation leader. Between 2013 and 2015, I have travelled and researched four continents to interview successful technology CEOs and understand what is happening in the technology world and in particular in e-commerce and in the Internet of Things. I have realized that the major technological changes that people are talking about in Silicon Valley are actually happening in China on a much larger scale. It used to take innovation years to travel from Silicon Valley to China, but now it only takes 24 hours. Not only Silicon Valley, but now also China have become a source of inspiration. But this is just the beginning. China’s innovation is not confined to its market; it is now coming out of its borders and spreading into the developing and the developed world. I narrated the story of this journey in a book, which I have called: East-Commerce

It is now widely recognized that China e-commerce has become the biggest in the world. Few numbers will explain the dimension of it. The world has over 3 billion Internet users of which 25% are in China, 667 million against 279 in the U.S. China has now over 361 million web shoppers compared to 200 million in the U.S. and its e-commerce demand for 2015 will be around 566 billion USD while in the U.S. will be 437 billions USD.

When looking at these numbers, it is hard to understand how Chinese e-commerce has grown so big so quickly and most of all where it is heading. To answer these questions I use some of the teachings I have learnt at Singularity University. Based in Mountain View, the Internet’s epicentre, and funded, among others, by NASA, Google, Cisco and Genentech, Singularity University helps people understand how technology will change our lives and which ones have the potential to impact billions of people. I believe that Chinese e-commerce is definitely one of those. Going back to our questions, How did it grow so fast? for the majority of us, change occurs at the same rate that we have experienced it most recently. But technology’s growth does not follow this rule. In other words, it isn’t linear, but exponential. The difference between linear growth and exponential growth is the basis of how technology evolves. Exponential growth is based on the famous dictum called Moore’s Law, named for Intel co-founder Gordon E. Moore who described the trend in a 1965 paper. Moore’s Law observes that the number of transistors on integrated circuits doubles approximately every two years. This means that the power of your computer or mobile phone doubles every two years and explains why China e-commerce is growing faster than anywhere else.

To understand where it is heading we first need to look back at how this world of the Internet evolved. In his award-winning book The World is Flat, Thomas Friedman described the personal computer as the change agent enabling anyone in the connected world to join the Internet and in turn, create a unified world. That was 2005. The wide diffusion of PCs and of the Internet made geography irrelevant and suddenly, everyone became connected. This is when a new world started to unfold. However, while the world was becoming flat thanks to the PCs produced by China, China was still lagging behind. The real technological revolution arrived in China thanks to another device: the smartphone. This was the agent that enabled mass connectivity and became the tool to access the Internet. Thanks to this vast diffusion of smartphones, the Chinese are now moving one step past the rest of the world in creating a super connected world where the physical and virtual dimensions meet inside a mobile phone in the most seamless of ways. This is where China is innovating and where it is creating some of the most interesting business models in sectors such as retail, automotive, finance, healthcare and many others.

Even thought the Internet, e-commerce, and social networks are products of the West, the way Chinese are using them is innovative in itself and is allowing a mass diffusion of these technologies on a huge scale. So far, everyone is still looking to the West, thinking that innovation comes only in one form: inventing something unique which becomes revolutionary. However, something that at first might seem paradoxical is happening in China. The innovation brought about by China, an incremental innovation on a mass scale, is changing the emerging world and will soon influence the developed world as well. This will be a new type revolution, one that is brought about by evolution.

But e-commerce is not the only sector where China is planning to be ahead. It is likely to become leader in the Internet of Things as well. E-commerce has in fact created a super connected world, where the physical and digital dimensions are now coming together like nowhere else on the planet. Through the adoption of Cloud services and data centers, this world has the ability to collect and analyze information on a massive population, which, in turn, allows the development of a very sophisticated grid. When you add the power of the Internet of Things – with its ability to generate an exponential amount of data – to this sophisticated grid, it will give rise to the development of even more innovative models not only for e-commerce, but also for the Internet if Things world itself.

But this is not the end of the story.

In The Singularity Is Near, Ray Kurzweil describes an event called the Singularity, a future period during which technological change will be so rapid that it will irreversibly transform human life. The transformation will affect all the concepts that we rely on from business models to the cycle of human life. China e-commerce and the Internet of Things are the world’s biggest experiments connecting the physical to the digital world. They are connecting human beings and technology on an unprecedented scale. Thanks to this fast digitization process, China has decided to take the road of reforming and evolving its civilization through technology; the road of the Singularity. This is evident today with the mass adoption of smartphones and the increasing number of businesses moving online.

A society that was once based on a traditional industrial model is now quickly becoming technologically advanced; smart homes, self-driving bicycles, and cars will soon be part of the lives of millions. Of course, it will take time for China to fully transform itself into a society based on the future technological model. E-commerce and the Internet of Things show that China has decided to take that road and the first steps to bring its civilization into the future.

The world should take notice.


marco-gervasi-futureproofThis article is excerpted from “East-Commerce, A Journey Through China E-commerce and the Internet of Things” by Marco Gervasi, published by Wiley & Sons in April 2016. The ebook is also available on Amazon. To learn more about how technology is changing our lives and the global business models you can follow Marco Gervasi on his blog.