A Ninja Sneak Attack: Strength in Numbers with Intelligent Systems

Posted By The Embedded Ninja

During a recent trip, I had an unassuming conversation with someone where they asked – why do ninjas always travel alone? It was a great question, one that stimulated some wondrous thought. Contrary to popular belief, ninjas never travel alone, but rather always together with their clan. The magic is in the fact that you’ll never see the other ninja(s) – just the one you’re face to face with. In that secrecy is power. One is a powerful number in and of itself. But the other numbers that surround the “one” can be more powerful, especially when they’re unknown and unexpected.

We are faced with known numbers on a daily basis, using them to convey all kinds of information. You can calculate wealth and financial success of a company. You can use numbers to show the amount of time remaining on the clock of a soccer match. You can arm your argument with statistics. You can even speak the truth and dispel myth and hype with numbers – such as the question I was asked.

Often when we discuss technology the conversation steers towards devices like PCs, tablets and phones. This makes sense – they’re devices we use every day for calling our moms (ninja moms require a once a week call), updating Facebook, buying movie tickets, or reminding us to practice our ninjastics (ninja gymnastics).

Think about how much time, effort, and money is spent on making technology decisions that cover those device categories. Those decisions include the types of hardware investments to make, securing information, how to promote the mobile or work-from-anywhere workforce, regulatory compliance, among others.

Technology companies drive solutions to solve these challenges through engineering, marketing, advertising, research and development. These are all known numbers – things we’ve been experiencing in industry for years. But what about those numbers you don’t know about or you don’t see?

When I ask customers about their plans around Intelligent Systems it’s no surprise when they look at me as if they’ve seen a ghost and note they’re spending their time on more impactful projects. Interesting. Let’s see what the other numbers – the lesser known numbers – tell us.

Research from multiple organizations such as IDC and Harbor Research reveals some unique details. They project that by 2020there will be 50 billion connected devices such as those found in your car, home, work, hospital, manufacturing plant or even rockets destined for space. Let that sink in for a moment – 50 billion is a very, very, very large number.

Comparatively, the same research notes that the current market for devices like PCs, laptops and tablets is 2 billion, and for smartphones it is 5 billion. Doing a quick sanity check, we know that Microsoft sold over 650 million copies of Windows 7 since its launch. We also know that other dominant technologies like XP have been in market for quite some time, making that 2 billion number sound reasonable. Applying a similar sanity check we know that both the countries of India and China have over a billion people in each, with China having smartphones for over half its population. Applying similar logic to other countries we can easily march toward a 5 billion smartphone device count.

Interestingly, those two numbers when summed, total the approximate population of Earth – 7 Billion.

There’s little surprise in the numbers 2, 5, and 7 to most customers. And honestly, it shouldn’t be. There’s been a tremendous focus for years on making sure these markets are targeted, analyzed, understood, implemented, and part of the larger consciousness of our day-to-day activities when we think of productive work. The number 50 normally catches most people off guard. The first gut reaction is disbelief – “you’re kidding me, really?”, “that can’t be right”, “did you say billion?”. After a few moments of further analysis, the series of questions sound like the following:

  • “We need to learn more, can you help?”
  • “How does this impact us? Are we doing things here?”
  • “What are our competitors doing here?”
  • “What is Microsoft’s story here?”
  • “Do you have good examples to share here?”

These are great questions and the thesis for The Embedded Ninja and this blog – to share the answers to all of those questions. Intelligent Systems are out in the world today, can positively impact your business, and will evolve the face of computing from where we have been focusing in the past. Surprise! How’s that for a ninja sneak attack?

Watch for more from The Embedded Ninja on the burgeoning market of Intelligent Systems.

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