Robots Will Soon Be Parking Your Car

JP Gownder

During our research for the Forrester Big Idea report The Future of Jobs, 2025: Working Side-by-Side with Robots, we spoke with not one, but two different vendors that automate parking garages, Boomerang and Serva Transport Systems. Rather than explain, I'd invite you to watch a few seconds of the following video, which depicts how Serva TS robots park cars -- all cars -- at the Dusseldorf airport in Germany:

Looks a bit like sci-fi, right? But it's happening right now. Two vendors, one in the US, one in Europe, take somewhat different approaches to robotic parking:

  • Boomerang positions its offering as RoboticValet, a service that serves two customers. For property owners (developers, real estate investment trusts), Boomering solves a key problem: The high price of real estate in places like Miami, Chicago, or San Francisco. Robotic valets can save significant space, allowing developers to build more profitable buildings. And for consumers -- that is, buyers of the condominimums -- Boomerang's service is a luxury amenity: A 24/7 valet service that drops their car off to the same spot every time.
  • Serva TS can retrofit existing garages to 'expand' usable space. Serva TS reports gaining 40% capacity in an existing garage space, making it a less disruptive and expensive solution for garage expansion. For customers, there's a smartphone app: As soon as your flight lands, you can summon your car, which a robot will bring to the designated spot.
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Differentiate Your Digital Business With A Device Innovation Lab

JP Gownder

I've just released a significant new report, How To Build The Device Innovation Lab That Differentiates Your Digital Business. Innovation is a huge topic – just ask my colleague Martin Gill, who leads Forrester's digital business transformation research. But I&O leaders have their own role to play in innovation: Specifically, the use of devices and similar technologies to drive business results.

I interviewed companies from a variety of verticals – travel, retail, energy, clothing, financial services – and spoke to thought leaders in innovation theory to help I&O leaders solve a series of problems: How can we innovate using customer-facing interaction technologies such as mobile devices, robotics, digital signage, and virtual reality (VR)? How can we establish a device innovation lab (DIL) to help technology and business leaders at our company develop technology-infused, customer-obsessed strategies? And what are the success factors for DILs – from mission statement to staffing to key performance indicators?

In the context of my report, a device innovation lab is an a in-house space for designing, experimenting, piloting, and deploying device-based innovation projects. Done right, a DIL can differentiate your business's digital business efforts in impressive ways. Take, for example, Lowes' robotic retail associate, OSHBot.

Lowes' OSHBot Redefines Retail Customer Service

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Robots Won't Steal All The Jobs -- But They'll Transform The Way We Work

JP Gownder

This morning, WIRED published an article about my new Forrester Big Idea report, The Future of Jobs, 2025: Working Side-By-Side With Robots. You're probably familiar by now with the panic-stricken books (like Martin Ford's Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of a Jobless Future) and headlines (HBR's What Happens When Robots Replace Workers?) proclaiming that the future of employment is bleak because of the rise of automation technologies. In other words, the meme goes, robots are taking all the jobs.

By "robots," we mean all forms of automation technologies, including those that conduct physical tasks, intellectual tasks, or customer service tasks (which mix elements of both physical and intellectual activities, but which constitute a distinct category in the age of the customer). Indeed, some impressive new technologies are becoming incredibly useful in a variety of organizational settings. Take, for example, Rethink Robotics' Baxter robot, seen in the video below. Unlike traditional industrial robots, it's safe for workers to be around Baxter -- and it's imperative, too. Because software engineers don't program Baxter; human colleagues simply move the robot's arm to teach it new actions, and it learns in real time.

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Augmented And Virtual Reality Are Ready For Prime Time

JP Gownder

I've just released a major new report on Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented And Virtual Reality Should Be Part Of The Innovator's Toolkit. My research finds that it's time to give AR and VR their due consideration when solving business problems involving either workers or for customer interactions.

AR and VR technologies aren't new. Virtual reality first experienced a boom of interest in the early 1990s, spurred by the 1991 book Virtual Reality by Howard Rheingold. In 1995, Angelina Jolie starred in the movie Hackers, which introduced mass audiences to head-mounted VR display technology. But the early promise of the technology fell apart due to underperforming graphics, attention-jarring lag times, outlandish hardware requirements, and the lack of an application ecosystem. No VR market emerged (outside of niche categories like military usage) until Facebook acquired the Kickstarter startup Oculus for $2 billion in March, 2014.

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The Quantified Workforce Drives Improved Productivity And Safety

JP Gownder

You've probably heard about the Quantified Self (QS), a movement that aims to capture, analyze, and act upon data from the human body in the interest of better health, fitter athletes, and sharper minds. Today, QS is giving way to QW -- Quantified Workforce. A variety of technologies -- devices, software, services -- can quantify the health, fitness, mental acuity, timeliness, and collaboration of workers. Many of these services are ready for prime time, but present some challenges in implementing. These challenges aren't primarily technological; they're related to privacy, workers' rights, and human resources policies. Done right, though, quantifying the workforce can drive both top- and bottom- line growth in your company's business.

I've analyzed this trend in a new report, Smart Body, Smarter Workforce. Here are just a couple of examples of how quantifying the workforce can drive better business outcomes:

  • Lower the company's insurance rates. In January, 2014, Forrester predicted that insurance companies would offer lower rates to individuals who donned wearables -- and we are now seeing that response. In April, 2015, John Hancock announced an opportunity for buyers of its term and life insurance policies to earn up to 15% discount on their insurance rates by wearing a Fitbit, sharing the data with the company, and meeting certain activity levels.  
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Microsoft HoloLens Is A World-Changing Mixed Reality Product

JP Gownder

It’s not often that a new product release has the potential to reshape the way people work and play. The PC, the browser, the smartphone – all of these products fell into that category.

Microsoft’s new HoloLens has the potential to do the same. (Check out some photos from Gizmodo here -- they don't live up to the actual experience even a little bit -- and this video, which doesn't do it justice, either).

 

Yes, that’s a big claim. But I’m here to challenge your thinking with this assertion: Over the next few years, HoloLens will set the bar for a new type of computing experience that suffuses our jobs, our shopping experiences, our methods for learning, and how we experience media, among other life vectors. And other vendors will have to respond to this innovation in holographic, mixed reality computing. 

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What I&O Leaders Should Look For At CES

JP Gownder

This weekend, I’ll be heading off to Las Vegas for the 2015 Consumer Electronics Show (CES). Infrastructure & Operations leaders should – and do – keep tabs on the news coming out of CES. In this era of consumerization, bring-your-own (BYO) technology, and Shadow IT, CES announcements affect the I&O role more than ever before. I have three tips for how to think about CES 2015:

  • Look at consumer technologies through a workforce lens. So many smart, connected products quickly migrate to the workforce. Sometimes these technologies enter via BYO and segue into company-owned, as tablets have done over the past few years. In other cases, vendors that target consumers immediately see the value their products can bring to workforce scenarios. For example, I recently spoke with Jonathan Palley, CEO of Spire, a wearable device that tracks not just activity but also state of mind (tension versus calm, focus versus distraction, and related states). While the product was launched to the consumer market just about a week ago, Jonathan made clear that “workforce is a huge part of our strategy as well.” Imagine helping workers remain in a more productive, less stressed state of mind via wearables.
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Smart, Connected Devices Reshape Customer Experiences in Healthcare and Insurance

JP Gownder

We're living in a time when smart, connected devices -- tablets, smartphones, wearable devices, Internet of Things (IoT) devices, and the like -- are being woven into the Business Technology (BT) Agenda of most companies. Nowhere is this trend more intimately applied to the customer experience than in healthcare, where devices near our bodies, on our bodies, or even inside our bodies are changing the way doctors, insurers, and other healthcare players think about patient care.

In a a major new report, Four Ways Connected Devices Improve Patient Care, we've researched how mobile, cloud, and connected devices come together to reshape the patient care experience. Technology innovations on the device and services side are creating new treatment options. And systemic changes to the healthcare system are creating both challenges and opportunities, which these emerging technologies can help address. For instance:

  • Busy doctors spend too much time on electronic health record (EHR) data entry. And when they use a traditional PC in the room with a patient, it's not always a great experience; one doctor told us he felt his "back was to the patient" too often. The solution? Moving to a Surface Pro 3 tablet, armed with better software, which allows the clinician to face the patient directly while still saving time -- and gaining accuracy -- on EHR data entry.
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The Data Digest: Five Urgent Truths About Wearables

JP Gownder

In 2015, wearables will hit mass market: With Apple’s much-anticipated Apple Watch slated for release early next year, the already hype-heavy conversation will reach new heights. My colleague Anjali Lai wrote a report analyzing the true addressable market of Apple Watch from a quantitative and qualitative data perspective – covered right here on the Data Digest – to interject some strong data-driven analysis into the conversation.

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HP's 3D Printing and Computing Products Bridge Digital And Physical Worlds

JP Gownder

My colleagues Sophia Vargas, Michael Yamnitsky, and I have just published a new Quick Take report, "HP Announces Innovative Tools That Will Bridge Physical And Digital Worlds." Sophia and Michael have written about 3D printing for CIOs previously, and all three of us are interested in how computing and printing technologies can inform the BT Agenda of technology managers.

Fresh off of the announcement that HP will split into two publicly owned companies, one of those new entities -- HP Inc, the personal computing and printing business -- announced its vision for the future with two new products that help users cross the divide between physical and digital. The Multi-Jet Fusion 3D printer represents HP's long-awaited entry into 3D printing, with disruptively improved speed and quality compared to existing market entries. The sprout desktop PC combines a 3D scanner with a touchscreen monitor, touchscreen display mat, and specialized software that allows users to scan real objects, then manipulate them easily in digital format.

In both cases, a video demonstration helps you to really grok what the product is about.

CNET posted a video tour of the Multi-Jet Fusion 3D printer on Youtube:

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