Sunday, 20 December 2009

Seeing is believing

Well it’s nearly Christmas and everyone is winding down for the festive break – whether they celebrate Christian holidays or not – so I thought I’d look away from mainframe things and turn my focus of attention to video eyeware!

I must admit that I watch less-and-less television in the lounge with others while the programmes are transmitted live, and more-and-more using iplayer or one of the other second-chance-to-see services offered by TV channels and others. Now rather than be solitary in my viewing habits, I thought it would be a good idea to invest in some video glasses with built-in speakers, so that at least I could sit in the same room as other members of my family, while catching up with those missed programmes.

In case you’re unfamiliar with the concept, what I wanted was something small – not too much bigger than a normal pair of glasses (and certainly not something that started life as 1990s virtual reality headgear). Instead of lenses there would be two flat screens, which would be so close to my eyes that it would look like I was watching a cinema-screen-sized TV picture. I also wanted to have earphones attached, so I could hear what was being said, etc.

I also wanted to test them out – to see whether they worked with my laptop. In addition, I wanted to see how long I could wear them for before they started to feel too heavy or make my eyes go blurry. And I wanted to see what quality the sound was and whether there was much sound leakage – which would have irritated anyone sitting next to me.

Sadly, I have as yet been unable to get review copies of any makes. So, I can’t include any recommendations with this blog. Also, it seems that there are only a few makes and models available in the UK (where I’m based) – certainly fewer than in the USA. offers MyVu’s Solo Plus for £49.99, Vizix AV920 for £195.00, CTA’s Digital Mobile Home Theater for £104.98, QL’s Theatre for £149.99, and ezGear’s ezVision Video Eye Wear for £140.00, amongst other models. adds UNKN’s iDesign Digital Video Glasses $199.95 and Syba’s RCG RC-VIS62005 for $222.53, KJB’s C6000CL color video glasses with clear lenses for $364.12, eDimensional’s Wired eDimensional 3D gaming glasses for $69.95, i-Theater XY Video Glasses for $145.00, I-O Display’s i-glasses VIDEO for $779.00, and TheaView’s LV-QB02 Video Glasses for $259.00, amongst others.

It’s always nice to have choice, but it would be good to be able to compare these and see how well they work for my requirements. I don’t want to connect them to an iPhone, I don’t want to play games wearing them – on a Wii or anywhere else.

Having said that. They do seem to be an ideal solution to the problem of an antisocial TV viewer (me) being able to rejoin the rest of the family. They also seemed like they could be useful in so many other situations too. So, with Christmas coming up, if you’re stuck for what others can give you, try video eyeware – and let me know how well they work!

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Merry Christmas

Sunday, 13 December 2009

IBM launches London Analytics Solution Centre – part 2

Last week I was talking about the launch of IBM's London-based Analytics Solution Centre and the fact that it joined six others across the globe. This week I want to tell you a little more.

Part of the documentation given to guests at the launch included some survey results of 225 business leaders worldwide. The survey found that enterprises are operating with bigger blind spots, and that they are making important decisions without access to the right information. Respondents recognize that new analytics, coupled with advanced business process management capabilities, signal a major opportunity to close gaps and create new business advantage. The documentation goes on to assure us that those who have the vision to apply new approaches are building intelligent enterprises and will be ready to outperform their peers.

Elsewhere it suggests that: “By embracing advanced analytics across the enterprise, intelligent enterprises will optimize three interdependent business dimensions:

  • Intelligent profitable growth: intelligent enterprises have more opportunities for growing customers, improving relationships, identifying new markets, and developing new products and services.
  • Cost take-out and efficiency: intelligent enterprises optimize the allocation and deployment of resources and capital to create more efficiency and manage costs in a way that aligns to their business strategies and objectives.
  • Proactive risk management: intelligent enterprises have less vulnerability and greater certainty in outcomes as a result of their enhanced ability to predict and identify risk events, coupled with their ability to prepare and respond to them.
“Each of these dimensions is a critical part of optimization – the impact of a decision or action along any one of them will have repercussions for the others.”

Those, in a nutshell, are the compelling reasons that IBM sees for organizations to embrace the advanced analytic they are providing.

They also suggested some quick questions an enterprise could ask themselves to determine whether advanced analytics could help them. The questions were:

  1. Is your view of customer data and customer profitability limited?
  2. Are you unaware of how your reputation is being shaped by social networks and consumer blogs?
  3. Are you incurring losses due to unmanaged risk or high rates of fraud?
  4. Do you have blind spots related to customer and partner credit risk?
  5. Are you operating in an environment of increased regulatory oversight and require better transparency to reduce risk?
  6. Do you have duplicated or siloed data with multiple versions of the truth?
  7. Are you unable to use information as a platform for growth and cost reduction?
Not surprisingly, IBM concludes that an answer of “yes” to any of these questions means it is time for an enterprise to think hard about business analytics and optimization.

So, let's just conclude by recapping what IBM says Business Analytics and Optimization can do. IBM asserts that it helps your organization run smarter by bringing together foundational business intelligence, performance management, and advanced analytics with proven models that accelerate your time-to-value, and predictive modelling. It concludes by suggesting that you get all this by utilizing IBM's “unparalleled research capability”.

I was convinced that analytics has an important future, what about you?

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Sunday, 6 December 2009

IBM launches London Analytics Solution Centre

I was invited to Southbank for IBM’s launch of its London-based Analytics Solution Centre – joining six other similar centres across the globe. The morning session included an introduction by Carolyn Taylor, and presentations by Brendan Riley (IBM’s head honcho in the UK), Lord Peter Mandelson (who spoke very well), and Cambridge University’s Professor Andy Neely. After a short Q&A we were shown some very interesting demos.

So what are these Analytics Solution Centres? We were told that the centres will help IBM apply its advanced analytics expertise to the complex business challenges facing its clients. You’re perhaps no clearer after I’ve just given the official answer. So let me try to explain in another way...

They were suggesting that there are lots of little bits of information floating around that could be tied together because this bigger picture would then help organizations make better decisions. An example we saw on video was of traffic flow. How it would theoretically be possible to measure the movement made by people’s mobile phones to measure the actual flow of traffic along busy streets. Using this information, faster alternative routing information could then be sent to, perhaps, the sat navs in the cars. That way, everyone would arrive at their destinations faster.

Another example that was demo’d was about flooding in Galway Bay. Previously, the local harbour master might have decided that a particular combination of rainy weather, winds, and high tides put the town at risk of flooding. Now, sensors in buoys are linked to other information to come up with a much better picture of when flooding might occur. It also links into other systems measuring water quality. And further system links local fish restaurants with local fisherman, who can say what fish they are catching, and the restaurant can put those fish on their menu for that evening!

We also saw the ORX (Operational Riskdata eXchange Association) system – which is used to help members quantify risk exposure. It was something banks needed following the Basel II accord. The banks’ risk information is securely and anonymously exchanged, and the banks are from 18 different countries. The consequence of this initiative is that banks now have a much better understanding of their exposure to potentially damaging operational risk.

Andy Neely stressed the need for getting the organization architecture right. He suggested that getting IT right saw an 8% improvement, and getting the organization right also saw an 8% improvement. However, getting them both right at the same time led to a 34% improvement!

The motto of the presentation, if I might call it that, was “predict and act”. The suggestion was that currently organizations tended to sense something was going on and then respond.

The Analytics Solution Centre in London will comprise around 400 consultants, software specialists, and mathematicians, and will include recent graduates. This number will increase as business increases.

Other Analytics Solution Centres can be found in Berlin, Beijing, Dallas, Tokyo, New York, and Washington DC.

The whole thing looks very exciting and an area destined to grow.

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