Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Digital exhaust royalty payment: will it solve some of Facebook and Google’s personal data usage travails?

Has the time come now for users to be paid royalty for use of their “digital exhaust” by corporations like Facebook and Google? Will a digital exhaust royalty framework be win-win for both: the corporations whose business model is based on the monetizing of this exhaust; and the individuals who are increasingly wary of this exhaust being put to wrong use without their knowledge or permission?

I like to make beginning of the year predictions about what technological innovations will come to play in the New Year. Some I get right, but yes, some I do get wrong. One such prediction which did not come to fruition was the one I made in 2015:
‘Pay me or else stay away’
Some capabilities for monetizing the digital exhaust created by individuals will emerge so that they can track and receive "royalties" for use of the same by corporations; and some of their privacy concerns can be mitigated ("pay me if you want to use my location data or online purchase history”)
But now as the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal plays out and with GDPR looming on the near horizon, I think it may finally be time for the idea to come to life.
Users have gotten used to the “free” services which Facebook, Google et al provide. But everyone knows at the back of their mind that given the multi-billion-dollar revenues these companies are generating, nothing is actually free. The users’ data is being bundled and sold to marketers and the like so that they can do targeted messaging. The data is as likely to be used by a product marketer for targeted ad placement as it is by a political party for focused political messaging.
The core item at play is our “digital exhaust”. McKinsey in 2013 had talked about organizations mining “exhaust data” (Competing in a digital world: Four lessons from the software industry):
In addition to creating new revenue streams by amping up traditional product and service offerings, organizations have been mining “exhaust data”—information that is a by-product of normal business operations—for use in developing new products. Such by-products, for instance, allow credit-card companies to monetize transactional data from cardholders by analyzing and selling these data to merchants.
But since then the exhaust has amplified. All our actions are generating “digital exhaust”: every credit card swipe, every click of a smart television remote, every google search, highway cameras, phone records, medical history, social media likes, every purchase transaction etc. All these are available for companies to bundle and market to the highest bidder.
In fact, I would say companies like Facebook and Google are in the business of monetizing digital exhaust. And that’s not a bad business to be in per se. They figured out a way of monetizing something and providing something of value to us in return (say search or socialization or navigation) and in the process generating even more digital exhaust for them to monetize.
The business model as it exists now allows these companies unlimited liberties to use the exhaust and may have become increasingly lopsided in their favor as their burgeoning revenues indicate. Is it time now for the pendulum to swing back a bit now towards the users who are generating the digital exhaust in the first place. This brings me back full circle to my original premise – Has the time finally come now:
“for monetizing the digital exhaust created by individuals so that they can track and receive ‘royalties’ for use of the same by corporations.”
Having a well-defined royalty framework can help alleviate privacy concerns. People will be compensated for use of their information and they can track who or what it is being used for. A user can choose what kinds of uses his/her data can be used for: viz. will accept royalty for use by marketing companies but will opt-out for usage by political targeting.
A royalty framework already exists for music, entertainment and publishing industry. Royalty accrues to recording artistes or performers every time their music is played on the radio or show airs on the television. Now I am talking about evolving that framework for the digital era where every person is an artiste, their digital exhaust is their music creation and use by another party is akin to the song being played on radio.
Pipedream or reality?
I think technology and public opinion is evolving to make such a model feasible:


Blockchain could emerge as a way of tracking the use of a person’s digital exhaust.
This will be an extension of a trend that is already emerging in the entertainment industry: Is Blockchain The Answer To Better Royalty Accounting and Payments? What this article proposes for music royalty can very well apply to digital exhaust royalty too:
Put simply, the blockchain format can embed all the necessary accounting, usage rights, and creator credit information right into the song file itself. That means wherever that file goes, the information needed to know who to pay, how it can be used, and more travels along with it.
All digital exhaust “transactions” for a person can be tracked in a blockchain ledger and royalty revenues accrue in a crypto-currency like bitcoin.

Public Opinion

That may sound controversial right now but public opinion seems to be shifting (see LA Times: “Conservatives, liberals, techies, and social activists all love universal basic income: Has its time come?”).
Let’s take the Universal Basic Income premise a bit further. What if in a robotic era, the digital exhaust which we now consider a byproduct becomes the actual product which most humans create. If producing digital exhaust is the “job” then shouldn’t humans be paid for doing that? Could the Universal Basic Income rather than being a dole, be a fair wage for the job being performed- creation of digital exhaust?  
Much needs to happen before a Digital Exhaust Royalty framework becomes a reality. But the question is not about why or how but when. What was a pipedream in 2015 may very well become a reality by 2020. What do you think? Stay tuned and join the conversation.
Originally published on ((Read this and other posts at SETHspeak)

Friday, January 5, 2018

Thank You and Happy New Year 2018 - Friends, "Followers" and Contacts!

2017 has come to a close, like any year it brought its share of joys/sorrows, successes/failures et al. 
But I am sure we emerged wiser and stronger, hopefully none the worse for being through the wringer called 2017.
2018 - awaits over the horizon with a shining glow!
Wanted to end 2017 with a warm and sincere THANK YOU! Thanks for reading my blogposts, commenting on them and sharing them with your own networks.
I am humbled by your feedback and feel privileged to be part of this virtual community of ours.
Many of you I know personally as our paths have crossed on our life and career journeys and some of you I have met via LinkedIn only. Wish all of you and yours the very best for 2018!
What a journey we went on in 2017 - Innovation, Data, Driverless Cars, APIs, Talking Toasters and Listening Copiers et al. Hope you found these useful and enjoyed reading them as much as I did writing them: 

CIOs, listen up: voice recognition meets the printer!


Why CXOs need to jump off a plane

The CIO's data dilemma: The paradox of plenty?

Cloud vs. clouds: A CIO’s conundrum

The CIO and the driverless car: Are you ready for the Transportation as a Service (TaaS) revolution?

5 Leadership Lessons from the Indian Meltdown (ICC Champions Trophy Final- Cricket)

My Copier/Toaster Knows I Am Angry!: Building Emotion AI in Devices.

Healthcare Sector and the API Economy

3 Disrupters* for the Copy/Print Industry

Let's stay engaged in 2018. You can also read my blog: SETHspeak, follow me on Twitter: @setdeep and enjoy my daily quotation share in your LinkedIn feed: #DeepaksDailyQuote.
Thanks again - you are a big part of what makes each and every day an exciting and interesting one for me.
Stay Safe, Stay Positive, Keep Dreamin' .......and be ready to greet and live 2018 with the gusto it deserves!

Thursday, December 21, 2017

CIOs, listen up: voice recognition meets the printer!

First published on SETHspeak (
Voice/speech recognition is increasingly a part of the new technology paradigm the CIO is confronted with. The sector is rapidly evolving and what was hitherto considered a home-fad is rapidly making inroads in the office environment. Google, Siri, Alexa, Cortana, et al, are all very much upping the ante to bring voice control to the office of the future.

AWS:reinvent 2017, held November 27 to December 1, 2017, lived up to its promise as “AWS kept the announcements coming at a frenetic pace this week.”
Amongst the ones that interested me a lot was “Amazon is putting Alexa in the office.” The reason that it piqued my curiosity was that amongst the first custom skill use cases that Alexa for Business touts as part of its Alexa Skills Kit is related to printers in an office environment (full disclosure: I work at Xerox):
“For example, you could build a skill that lets a user report a printer problem to IT, and the skill could use the device location so that IT knows which printer is broken.”
Reminds me of how Andy Slawetsky described what he saw at a Xerox new product launch event earlier in the year:
Donna Davis of Vision-e showed us an app they built that adds these new Xerox copiers into the Amazon Alexa ecosystem. Walk up to the machine and tell it to color copy 50 pages, two-sided and stapled and watch it go. I saw it work. Those of you that have an Alexa get how powerful this is. Those of you that don’t, can’t appreciate it properly until you try it. While it may look like a gimmick or just cool “thing,” it’s much more. It’s a true time-saver around the house, adding things to grocery lists without interrupting what you’re doing, playing music, giving you the news and weather, looking things up for your, etc.
Take that mentality to the office and ask yourself how much easier would it be for customers to walk up to the MFP, drop the documents in the feeder and say “email these to Andy,” and it just does it. “File these invoices” and they wind up in the system. There’s some real opportunity here. Or authenticate with voice instead of a card you need to swipe every time. And guess what. Xerox didn’t think of it. Xerox enabled it. This came from a dealer’s development company.
Not only has Xerox created a platform that enables their channel partners to customize the products while building net new recurring revenue streams, they’ve gone further by allowing customers to develop their own apps. And this is what could put the MFP at another level.
Check out the cool video of Alexa voice recognition interacting with the Xerox Multifunction printer.
Gets even more interesting even more interesting when in addition to executing direct commands like "print copies" the voice agent uses its net connectivity and AI to actually find and deliver output "Alexa, can you print me the outstanding task list for my project" or "Alexa, print me a list of all vendors providing XYZ services." And then in the next incarnation both the voice agent and the printer become part of a seamless AI driven office workflow.
Voice assistants have moved over from being just a fad to a legitimate office efficiency enhancement tool with the voice-recognition market estimated to be over half-a-billion-dollar industry by 2019.
GoogleSiriAlexaCortana are all very much upping the ante to bring voice control to the office of the future.
Alexa getting into the office is not a great stretch of the imagination since starting from the home she had already made her way to our cars (You'll soon be able to start a Ford via Amazon Echo) and so it was just a small little hop, skip and jump to get into our offices.
What does all this mean for you as the CIO or a technology leader:
Be ready! Alexa, Siri et al may be in your workplace soon.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017


First published on SETHspeak (

SD-WAN offers multi-cloud enablement, improved network performance, centralized control and cost rationalization opportunities for the forward-thinking CIO. The sector is in a state of flux and the ‘Goliaths’ (Cisco, VMware) with Gen-1 SD-WAN products are being severely challenged by the ‘Davids’ (CloudGenix, et al) with transformative Gen-2 SD-WAN solutions.

If you are a CIO wondering what the SD-WAN buzz is all about, don’t worry, you are in good company. The remote office network connectivity market is a huge one: 25 million offices; $25Bn market opportunity. However, less than 5% of the market has adopted SD-WAN - metered as it were by the limitations of first generation SD-WAN products. Coming up to speed is imperative because the pundits predict 50% of customers will be using SD-WAN within the next 36 months driven by compelling Gen-2 SD-WAN offers such as those by CloudGenix.


What SD-WAN (Software Defined – Wide Area Network) does is provide remote office locations seamless, secure connectivity across multiple communications channels and across the entire corporate application portfolio from a single centrally managed operational console.
I first wrote about SD-WAN about a year ago, after I had met some start-ups in the space ("Corporate IT meets startup innovators").
One year is a very long time in this space, and a lot has happened in the space since then. as when I met him today, he had some exciting news to share. SD-WAN has grown explosively over the last year: some of the biggest customers in the Fortune 500 across manufacturing, banking, retail, healthcare etc., retailers with thousands of locations, global manufacturers with international locations, banks that form the financial back-bone of the industry – all use SD-WAN today for their remote office connectivity needs.

Market consolidation and flux

The network connectivity market in a state of major flux and consolidation. The most recent examples being market leader Cisco's $610 million acquisition of SD-WAN vendor vIPtela and another leader VMware announcing plans to purchase VeloCloud.

Evolving technology spectrum

The first Generation (Gen-1) SD-WAN players (CiscoVMware et al) have focused on delivering communications cost savings by enabling customers to integrate broad-band connectivity through existing carriers.
On the other hand, Gen-2 players (CloudGenix et al) have not only enabled this baseline of connectivity across diverse transports, but also enabled the application-centricity needed in a cloud-first world. CIOs need WAN solutions that align with a multi-cloud strategy – this is at the core of the Gen-2 SD-WAN value proposition.
Here are some questions which you as CIO grapple with when evaluating network connectivity options.

I am locked in with my existing legacy hardware (routers, etc.) which are not yet fully depreciated. How will the financial model work?

SD-WAN can coexist with existing infrastructure and you can continue to get depreciation on existing hardware. You can put SD-WAN software to work in tandem with existing routers which can be removed once they are fully depreciated. It also gives you the financial leeway to move from a Capex model to a subscription based Opex model.
However, knowing that IT organizations operate at different points on the Capex-Opex continuum, SD-WAN vendors offer several alternatives:
  • Fully capex model: Customer buys an appliance (Intel Server) preloaded and optimized for CloudGenix software
  • Customer buys the software and installs on own in-house infrastructure.
  • Fully OpEx model: A subscription based cloud hosted solution.
Also in terms of the sales cycle model SD-WAN vendors can respond directly to RFPs, working through an integration partner or with a Channel Partner.

Why should I not stick to bundled offerings from my existing telecom service provider (AT&T, Verizon, et al)?

That is an option, but one often ends up with limited operational freedom to drive costs down leveraging different telecom rates at different sites. Also, one is stuck with a plethora of hardware at different sites and burdened by response times and finger pointing when problems arise. Lots of money spent on change control.
SD-WAN solutions allow inter-operability across many communication modalities. Network traffic can be driven based on cost or performance policy considerations which can be consistently defined and applied for all sites from a single centralized operational console.

Do I get locked in with a specific cloud services provider?

Check if your SD-WAN vendor is agnostic to the CSP choice. They should have strong technology partnerships with all the major players- AWS, Microsoft Azure et al. They should be able to work with any of them and having them deployed should simplify the process of migration between providers.

My applications are not all deployed via cloud. Also, many are legacy in-house custom applications. Can they be accessed effectively at all my remote sites with a SD-WAN solution?

The vendor should realize that applications are amongst the most important technology assets a company can have. Lots of emphasis should be placed on understanding applications at a very deep level. This is irrespective of whether it is CRM, ERP, Database, off-the-shelf, homegrown in-house et al.
The focus of any SD-WAN solution should be on delivering applications effectively to the remote office whether they are hosted on-premises in a datacenter, in the cloud, or from a SaaS provider.
Look for a vendor that has a powerful application identification engine that looks beyond simple packet details (like IP addresses and ports) and examines actual application transactions. As soon as a new application is identified and “learned” the new learning should propagate to all remote nodes. So there should be no time lag in deploying application capabilities to remote sites. All these benefits should be there even for home grown applications. 

What about security?

This is a very important question. The SD-WAN solution should complement and supplement the existing security environment and protocols by providing the ability to centrally define, monitor and enforce network policies. Firewalls should easily be enabled and configured within the SD-WAN software. They should also have strong integration with cloud security solutions from vendors like Palo AltoZScaler and Symantec to ensure a consistent security perimeter for all sites.

What does a Gen2 SD-WAN bring to the table that Gen1 SD-WAN does not?

Gen-1 SD-WAN products from Cisco and VMware are architecturally limited to being packet-routing or Layer 3 devices. This means they can help with broadband integration but often force carrier dependencies. That’s the reason they were unable to move the market beyond less than 5% adoption.
A Gen-2 product delivers Application Networking for multi-cloud – meaning they are “Layer 3-7” solutions. They understand applications, sub-applications and metrics from their transactions and sessions, and coupled with those same networking metrics, allow for more fine-grained policy and enforcement based on how the apps are actually performing. It’s a top-down view that centers around user experience rather than packets. This allows people to create policies for actual applications like Google Docs or Microsoft Lync and even sub-apps rather than just having policies for “Internet HTTP” and “Enterprise HTTP” and ensure the best user experience possible. It’s the second generation of SD-WAN and is crucial for any customer that wants to make sure that they have a Cloud-ready strategy rather than generically sending Internet HTTP traffic out via broadband and Enterprise HTTP out via MPLS.

What comes next? Where is the technology environment headed?

This space intersects with data science, machine learning and AI. Think of self-driving cars and how those same principles apply to networking to create self-healing and self-governing networks. With legacy solutions, there is massive manual intervention in the network to keep it operating. With Gen2 SD-WAN solutions, the network learns based on past cost and performance data and then reacts automatically to emergent situations. Check if your vendor is heavily invested in this space.
The Internet of Things (IoT) is another interesting play albeit in its early stages. Network connectivity for millions of embedded Point of Sales (PoS) and inventory tracking devices at thousands of remote retail locations is a use-case model SD-WAN vendors should be actively engaged with.
In conclusion, if you are looking to a multi-cloud strategy, deliver great user experience, automate your network and reduce WAN costs, Gen-2 SD-WAN makes now the perfect time to evaluate your SD-WAN options.
First published on SETHspeak (

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