CIO Straight Talk - Issue 4 - 56
The book provides a vivid portrait of Scoble as networked
Robert Scoble was the 107th person to receive a
Google Glass prototype. He put them on and started
posting short notes on his social networks about his
experience. He took them with him as he bopped
over to Europe delivering speeches at tech conferences and letting hundreds of people give his Glass a
After two weeks, he posted his first review to
Google+, the default social network for Google Glass
users: "I'm never going to live another day without a
wearable computer on my face," he declared.
To illustrate his point, his wife photographed
him in the shower wearing the device.
In the first two weeks, Scoble also produced over
a thousand photos taken with Glass, as well as six
Scoble is a noted lover of shiny objects. His
career is built on meeting with developers of innovative technologies. He is known for both his candor
and his enthusiasm.
Google Glass will be a flagship for contextual
wearables. They will know when we are walking,
skydiving, running, skiing, surfing, sleeping or
watching TV. They will give us data and alerts in the
context of what we are doing. They will understand
our words and gestures, as well as our little taps and
In between Scoble's flights and filming and blogging
and interviewing, CIO Straight Talk Editor Paul Hemp
caught up with him and turned the tables on the
Scobleizer, getting him to answer a few questions, in
Which of the ﬁve forces has the most pointed impact
on a for-proﬁt business?
Every business is going to have more and more sensors
every year for the next ten years. That means you are
going to have more and more data coming in, and you
need to keep up with that data and see the patterns so
that you can beat your competitor and thrill your
Union Pacific is putting sensors on its rails so it can
tell about a month beforehand which car needs to be
maintained. General Electric calls this the "industrial
Internet," and it is exactly what we are talking about here
- contextual computing, sensors, big data. Beyond the
industrial infrastructure, sensors have a big impact on
agriculture, for example. Farmers are putting sensors in
the ground to measure fertilizer and water levels. They
are using GPS-driven tractors to plant and big data
analytics to optimize crops.
Given the rapid digitization of health care, you would
think that's another sector where sensors will play a
You are going to be wearing a tattoo on you pretty soon
that will tell all sorts of stuff about your health, even
60 CIO Straight Talk
whether you have cancer. I have seen prototypes of
sensors that are going to study whether a person has
cancer or not, and give the health system an early warning, which means the cost of treating the patient is going
to be far less than waiting another year until the disease
shows up as a symptom.
How much of the health care system is even using
electronic records right now? It is still a paper-based
industry. It is really struggling to come into the future. If
I were a health care CIO, I would be looking at these new
techniques of trying to get people to lose weight and stop
smoking. In other words, if I can change that by a couple
percentage points, that is a huge cost savings. If I can get
people to go to the hospital before they really are in
trouble, that is a huge cost savings. If there is a new
sensor that comes along that detects blood sugar levels, it
can greatly affect the efficiency and effectiveness of
health care. Somebody just showed me a way to take a
picture of yourself every day, and that senses whether
you have skin cancer or not by looking at your face for
mole growth. The faster you can sense that, the cheaper it
is to treat and the better the outcome is.
What other force of the ﬁve you discuss in the book
will have a profound impact on businesses?
Data from social networks. You are going to know your
customers in far deeper detail than you know them
today. For instance, the Ritz is right by my house. I have
been there 220 times, according to Foursquare, but they
still have no clue who I am. Even the social media team
that gets paid to watch this has no clue. You can tell by
how they write back to me. They have no clue who I am.
They do not know that I buy Oban whisky when I go
there, that I smoke cigars, that I go swimming there, that
I bring friends there, and that I live nearby. They have
absolutely no clue.
In ten years, that is not going to be the case. They are
going to know me in a very deep way; so, when they talk
to me on Twitter, they are going to know exactly how to
talk to me. When I walk in the front door, they are going
to know exactly what I am there for.
Why don't they have this comprehensive view of the
There are multiple systems collecting data about customers, but the data is not shared. I have never stayed in a
room there, so they do not know who I am. I have never
gotten into the official, companywide database. They
care about hotel room nights. They do not really have an
idea of anyone else who is coming through the property.
If you go to their Navio restaurant, you may use Open
Table. If you go to their spa, you may use SpaFinder.
These are separate IT systems that are not talking to each
other and not sharing data with each other. One of the
companies that collects data on the people using the Ritz
facilities eventually will sell the Ritz a combined system
that will make their customer service much better.