CTO Straight Talk - Issue 2 - 13

conservatively at GE. If we've been asked for a five-year
warranty, we design for a ten-year life so the customer

A Deluge of Data

is highly satisfied," says Freeman. "But that increases
the cost of the products." As the company collects field
data on actual product performance, it can feed that
data into design models to align future development
more closely with customer expectations. The data
can also be used to perform predictive maintenance
on lights before they fail and better understand
the performance of GE's wireless networks. "As we
consume that data, it will help us drive new releases

The amount of data an intelligent product throws
off will be a growing issue. Boeing's 787 jumbo jet
generates 40 terabytes of data every hour. A smart
Rio Tinto mining operation produces 2.4 terabytes
a minute. The Internet of Things will generate 400
zettabytes-that's 400 trillion gigabytes-per year by
2018, according to Cisco.

of our software and think about other technology that
might be valuable to our customers in the future,"
Freeman says. "It's another stream of information
to help drive our thinking about new-product
development. Customers may not feel it in the first
release, but they'll feel it big time throughout the life of

"The amount of data that gets churned out is
enormous," says Lavanya Rammohan of Compass
Intelligence. "The question is how to generate value
from that data. Companies need to be smart about
what data to keep and what to throw away."

the product."
That intelligence also helps create a balance in the
product development process. "The relationship
between product management and the CTO often
involves a lot of tug and pull. The product manager
only wants features that generate revenue, and the CTO
wants to build a reliable product that lasts a long time,"
says Freeman. "When this data enters the conversation,
uncertainty becomes more certain."
At Keen Home, smart product development has been
an iterative process. "It's such a new field. There are
very few things we do that don't send us back to the

But that's going to take some time. GE Lighting
is taking "the Google approach" initially with its
intelligent LightGrid system, according to Rick
Freeman, CEO of GE's Intelligent Cities. "We know
what data we'd like to collect, and we have a
hypothesis about how frequently we should collect it
to be valuable," he says. "But it's not so much data
that it's cost prohibitive to collect it all for now. We're
just going to archive it. With customers' permission,
we have the option to analyze it for correlations. We'd
rather collect everything now and be glad we have it."

drawing board," says McLeod. "The vents create a lot of
data, and our approach has been to run some analytics
on it to see what's possible." That means starting with
the most robust version of the product-spending more
per unit initially-until the company figures out what's
most meaningful to customers.
At Babolat, changes to product design as a result of
this new stream of product intelligence first happened
during the pilot stages. The company had been
convinced for years about the racket's sweet spot,
but the data from extensive testing showed that that
was not actually the location where most players hit
the ball. Babolat launched a new product this year

CTOs will eventually have to get more conservative
in that approach, though, says Tim Ensor, associate
director and head of connected devices at product
development and engineering consultancy
Cambridge Consultants. "There's a lot of hype about
the potential services you could offer by extracting
all this data. But if you take a fishing trip approach,
collect all the data, and hope to find value in it, that
will eventually cause a storage problem. CTOs will
have to make a call about what the ROI is on this
data."

CTO Straight Talk | 13



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CTO Straight Talk - Issue 2

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