Wednesday, October 31, 2018

The Haiku of Finance for 10/31/18

Super hype machine
Massive sector trade show news
Roll out the big tech

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Friday, August 31, 2018

The Haiku of Finance for 08/31/18

Lemonade stand math
Price per cup must cover cost
Taste the capital

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Friday, June 29, 2018

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Monday, March 12, 2018

The Haiku of Finance for 03/12/18

Protecting the tech
Develop and defend all
Keep China away

Alfidi Capital at REUSE 2017 Semiconductor IP

I could not close out my 2017 adventures without attending the REUSE 2017 Semiconductor IP conference in Santa Clara. I am a regular down at this convention center and nothing big in tech escapes my notice. I also rarely escape the tech sector's notice, which is why techies invite me to events. Gaze upon my badge selfie below so we can get to work.

Alfidi Capital at REUSE 2017.

The first keynote on IP theft should have opened the eyes of anyone in Silicon Valley who still thinks that authoritarian countries can still be friends of the United States. Just look at the People's Republic of China, for crying out loud, and see how their Communist government causes us problems. The US Commission on the Theft of American Intellectual Property (aka the IP Commission) reported that China has stolen up to $600B worth of IP from the US economy, including information critical to our defense industrial base. I started to see the potential for this kind of disaster years ago when I first started following the rare earth element sector. China's stated strategic desire to attract high value manufacturing to its territory is a long-term threat to democracy.

Our REUSE keynote speaker had solid recommendations for defenses against foreign IP theft, with the caveat that litigation after the fact is far more expensive than erecting cyberdefenses (like encryption) before it happens. I would add that any US company considering a high-tech joint venture with a Chinese company needs to abandon such a project immediately, before the inevitable ripoff happens.

Automobile IP will be a hot topic as automakers deploy autonomous vehicles. Get to know the Single Edge Nibble Transmission (SENT) protocol for sensors. The CAN in Automation folks hold their plugfests to see what kind of automotive tech will work as we move into self-driving cars. The proliferation of sensor tech in IoT and cars means there will be more pure-play IT possibilities for startup business models.

The Arm folks made their presence known once again. Their Arm Compute Library for developers now includes ML and AI enablement. The next step in architecture evolution is integrated encryption capability. Expect to see ambient energy harvesting for IoT devices via radio frequency (RF) or solar attachments. Arm's DesignStart program offers no-cost licensing up front for development based on Arm's core systems. I look forward to watching startups build hardware-infused encryption and energy processors onto Arm platforms. The bottom line for developers is that partner IP built on platform IP like Arm enables faster hardware product time-to-market.

I will offer a warning to US developers based on what we already know about Chinese IP theft. Many partners in some foundry support ecosystems have Chinese-sounding names, so they deserve a thorough review for any US partner concerned about IP protection or economic dependence. In case of a trade war, US companies would be cut off from Chinese supply chains, and I doubt they will have access to the WTO or other avenues for recourse in the event of IP theft.

I learned a few things from a keynote on how IP ecosystems evolve. Springer's "Security Assurance Guidance for Third-Party IP" is a start for developers who must verify their vendors' trustworthiness. Vendors must use a formalized ticketing system to track IP knowledge sharing. I get that there will be new opportunities for developers in subsystems, chiplets, and services. I also foresee new threats as inexperienced tech developers launch those startups without IP tracking or vendor vetting on day one.

I never pass up a chance to hear about anything from open sources, so of course I went to the panel on open innovation. I was very impressed with one business model empowering fabless product generation, and it may be very useful for one concept I have in development. Any FPGA circuit, programmed input/output (PIO) device, or electronic design automation (EDA) tool can now be developed from open sources. Microsoft's Project Catapult created a white paper "A Cloud-Scale Acceleration Architecture" that provides a decent road map for FPGA development. Google search results for "open source prototyping" show that open sourcing is harder and costlier for hardware than for software.

The closing keynote on semiconductor industry trends gave me some new food for thought on AI impacts. If you have not heard of those things yet, they are coming to a startup pitchfest near you after the wheels fall off this crypto ICO craze. Cheap open source development will become more prevalent now that only the largest semiconductor companies can afford to survive the long lead times between major nodes in tech shifts. Smaller design rules are part of the push against Moore's Law, and they increase the cost of conventional semicon development. Extreme ultraviolet lithography (EUV) is the next step in small measurement process development. The sector's drive for Design-Technology Co-Optimization (DTCO) pushes the simultaneous development of every step in the semicon value chain, including the foundry.

REUSE is an informal showcase for smaller companies. I got my trade show passport stamped at every expo vendor booth because I'm just that thorough. I will now offer some wrap-up wisdom for any techies considering a hardware startup. Secure your foundation IP, encrypt your data, investigate your vendors, and track your workflows if they connect outside your enterprise. Deny any potential Chinese partners access to any and all American tech, including napkin sketches, and erect impenetrable digital barriers to Chinese cyber intrusions. I would be happy to share these observations and more if REUSE offers me a speaking slot net year.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

The Haiku of Finance for 02/28/18

Build blockchain network
Rising energy cost curve
Nonviable point

Alfidi Capital Visits IoT - AI - Blockchain Expo North America 2017

I ventured down to Silicon Valley towards the end of 2017 for something I have never experienced before. I sought the combined excitement of IoT Expo, AI Expo, and Blockchain Expo North America 2017 because everyone is talking about all the money they can make from this stuff. I have always been willing to buy the arguments for IoT and AI, but I have been skeptical about the blockchain's utility. I am more skeptical than ever after this combined conference.

It's the Alfidi Capital badge on a program booklet for AI, blockchain, and IoT in 2017.

The first speaker I encountered compared ICO tokens to 19th Century railroad investment certificates, when America was developing its frontier and banks issued multiple competing currencies. Yeah, it's the Wild West all over again in ICO land. There were plenty of stagecoach robberies back then as adventurers moved out west to seek their fortunes, and there are new stagecoach robberies happening today with each ICO. A rundown of all the buzzwords needed to understand this space, like "smart contracts" and "off-chain computing," deserves a separate blog article.

Blockchain probably cannot be valued as an asset using traditional financial metrics like DCF valuation, unless we draw an analogy with monetized API calls. It also probably cannot be valued as a currency; it has no comparable factors like GDP or current accounts in national trade. The best valuation method will have to adapt data valuation (remember, it's the new sun, not the new oil) by measuring a blockchain network's ability to process such data. I am certain that such processing ability reaches an inflection point when the energy cost of adding new hashes to the chain exceeds the marginal revenue collected from each additional data input. You heard it here first at Alfidi Capital.

I have a hard time accepting the blockchain concept of "gas," the amount of resources needed to execute a smart contract. If it has a dollar value attached, it can form a basis for valuation. I believe a network that calculates its remaining gas amount will eventually see it turn negative once they compute the energy cost needed to build smart contracts past some critical point.

I initially thought the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA) is emerging as the governing body for the more integrated parts of the IoT / AI / blockchain sector. Their "about" page describes a research and advisory firm, so now I have no idea whether they represent a sector or themselves. They also track the cloud sector (of course). The confusion is typical of a growth sector pushing brand new networked business models, so in fairness I don't think the microcomputer revolution of the 1960s-70s was any more organized.

The venture capitalists' perspective at this conference offered further confusion. They claimed to invest in quality tech, but never specified any criteria. How would they know if a blockchain has quality if they have never compared its processing logs to those of a conventional cloud PaaS provider? The VCs' claim that ICOs will push more venture investment into early-stage blockchain startups must be a symptom of FOMO (fear of missing out), because experienced VCs should know that the SEC is taking a hard look at ICOs. Risking legal trouble just to jump into an ICO shows desperation. I still cannot understand how ICO tokens can be distributed to both investors and early tech adopters without the startup's cap table turning into a mess. A messed-up cap table is a recipe for securities fraud litigation.

I had to LOL at VC investors who thought tokens enabled network effects that give a startup some competitive advantage. One investor finally made sense by admitting that tokens are not as advantageous for investors as equity (LOL, no kidding). I do not understand how an ICO evolves into a publicly traded stock so early investors have a liquidity exit. None of the investors appearing at this conference ever made that clear. All of these people are trying to change the definition of success to "funding the network" where tech adopters participate, whatever that means. It is totally unclear how token buyers will ever see an ROI. Maybe that's the whole point; maybe ICO promoters just want to abscond with money from excited people. It's time for scam alerts!

One presenter from a data company made a very interesting point about equity in data itself rather than the distributed network. If we owned the data we generate, and companies had to pay us fees or licenses to use it, it would create universal basic income (UBI). He did not mention the fact that not all data is equally valuable. Data for an ultra-high net worth (UHNW) investor would presumably be worth more than data for a low-income person, if data value is influenced by a target's projected consumer spending.

I perused the expo floor for some ray of hope that startups can make a honest business case for a blockchain. A brochure for some online VC portal claimed to tokenize startup investing, whatever that means. There's a scam alert right there. I picked up other brochures touting tokens as loyalty rewards that doubled as investments. That concept makes no sense, but scams are never intended to make sense.

The panel on AI investing made a lot more sense. Venture investors now use AI to assess startup teams based on their public domain background info, along with the tech's strength. The traditional metrics of team, tech, and traction (that means sales!) still matter, and some investor wanted to see two of those out of the three at the seed stage. One VC admitted to subjectively evaluating teams, which I have long suspected is the norm. Hey folks, just so we're clear, these VC firms that hire analysts to do busy work while they default to favoritism in their investment choices are fooling their institutional investors. They are not fooling me. Bringing AI into the process removes the subjectivity and leaves an audit trail for fund investors to inspect. My caveat is that AI used to identify winning startups may be susceptible to survivorship bias.

The "VC in AI" panel dragged on and I was disappointed to discover zero discipline or consistency to anything those so-called VCs said. The best VCs (like Vinod Khosla) have well-developed pattern recognition abilities. Their brains are biochemically different from those of most VCs. The final observation that bad product/market fit and running out of cash were still the leading causes of startup failure shows how little things have changed in startup land after all these years.

It was good to see ARM showing its Mbed cloud for IoT device connectivity, a.k.a. the open source Mbed OS. I think I've seen the LoRA Alliance before at these types of shows, bringing the wisdom of low-power wireless to one and all. I want the vendors pushing low-power devices to be more well-versed in their use cases. One presentation did not thrill me and I cannot imagine the vendor's PaaS partners would be thrilled that a sales rep doing a new product demo cannot demonstrate the economic value of a use case.

I sat on the notes I took and handouts I collected at this conference for some time, wondering what to make of the bizarre business models I encountered. The IoT and AI potential is there and people are certainly using that tech to transform enterprise computing. That's the good news, and now here's the bad news. I am now resigned to the likelihood that much of the blockchain ecosystem is a waste of computing power and investment capital. Many of the brochures I picked up touting blockchain businesses had weak use cases but were nonetheless raising money through ICOs. I stay far away from ICOs and their nonsensical tokens. The coming blowups in blockchain will be painful. Watch the headlines in 2018 for fraudsters getting sued and prosecuted for ICOs. I will keep attending these conferences, with a watchful eye out for bad ideas to expose.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Haiku of Finance for 12/31/17

Ending one more year
Measuring progress so far
Still some way to go

Alfidi Capital at Dreamforce 2017

Salesforce held its annual Dreamforce convention for 2017. I missed attending in 2016 so I definitely had to catch up. This is by far the most complex, high-profile, and costly corporate event I have ever experienced. The spectacle is always impressive. There's a ton of stuff going on all over the city, including affiliated events for people who want the Dreamforce experience but don't need to attend certification sessions. Here come several badge selfies, with summaries of some very rewarding events.

Alfidi Capital at Trailhead, Dreamforce 2017.

The Dreamforce designers had wood carvings and other outdoors decorations all over the ground floor of Moscone West, where the Trailhead exhibits dominated the event space. The chainsaw-made wood sculpture at the front door was such a nice touch. I was a Boy Scout once and I never was very skilled at woodcarving. People who complete Salesforce training modules earn badges that look like Scouting merit badges. It's all so positive and benign, you'd almost think no one is making a buck off people. Dreamforce is an amusement park for techies.

Alfidi Capital at Customer Success Expo, Dreamforce 2017.

The Customer Success Expo was festooned with the latest tech tricks, and a whole floor of exhibitors giving away free coffee and T-shirts. I scored enough coffee and candy to fuel my entire week. It takes a lot to get me excited sometimes, but free goodies never hurt. I got some hands-on time with several AR/VR displays, which are becoming very common at major tech shows.

Fake rock cliff on Howard Street, Dreamforce 2017.

The Trailhead logos and mascots were front and center in many ways. I don't know whether the real Albert Einstein ever went to the woods, but Salesforce has him climbing fake rock cliffs with fake animals. Pop music tribute bands played on the outdoor stage. I wonder which Dreamforce attendees came just to goof off on Howard Street and not tell their head office back home. I only had time for the free coffee and snacks at various places on Howard Street, because that's how I totally score in between events at Dreamforce.

Radius B2B Champions Club, Dreamforce 2017.

I attended the Radius B2B Champions Club affiliated event to get a fresh perspective on, what else, B2B sales. The new B2B buzzwords are revenue operations (RevOps), Chief Revenue Officer, Chief Product Officer, and Account-Based Marketing (ABM). The CEO's span of control is expanding as executive suites decide they need more complex teams enabling their work. Marketing ops people can join MOCCA for the full flavor of sales tech buzzwords. Remember ABM because vendors are building services around the concept.

I believe DevOps teams have become a mechanism for discovering new revenue sources via ABM, using IT systems to establish links between sales (account managers) and marketing (product development). They find data to demonstrate new sales opportunities. DevOps generally means integration of different functional silos' contributions to the enterprise's strategic plan. It matters because goals are now aligned and validated by data rather than assumptions.

Here's new math: sales + marketing = revenue ops. Hmmm . . . DevOps + RevOps = Bonanza! I cannot claim to have coined the term "RevOps" because revenue operations is already in action at firms doing ABM.

Listening to sports marketers talk about how they use tech made me smack my head. I can't believe that old-school pro sports talent scouts still refuse to use Moneyball metrics. Sometimes adoption of new techniques unequivocal management support to either use the new method or be fired. Jeff Bezos did this at Amazon to make development products compatible with public interfaces, thus paving the way for Amazon Web Services and the cloud.

Executive Briefing Center, Dreamforce 2017.

The Dreamforce Keynote with CEO Marc Benioff was more low-key than I recall from years past. It's always cool to hear Mr. Benioff talk about love, family, and magical mahalo stuff. People love the guy when he does that. Giving props to Salesforce's big corporate clients enhances his persona as the noble bringer of light and wisdom. My goodness, no wonder Dreamforce is such a costly spectacle, because it costs a fortune to buy such an image of generosity. I trust the guy, and I understand the need for a spectacle to convince everyone else that doing the right thing is worthwhile. Using relatable people as expert examples of Salesforce power users in the keynote's vignettes is a very effective way to make emotional connections in marketing. I have to hand it to Mr. Benioff and his image consultants for pulling off this masterstroke of sincerity.

The keynote rolled out the Trailhead learning platform as some white label solution, much like their Einstein AI predictive analytics solution. Co-Founder Parker Harris did not wear a costume this year. I was disappointed that he had no skit to play. The good news is that Salesforce is now attached to some Google platforms. I'm sure I'll know more about that once I complete some of Google's free training modules. I tried not to LOL that their vignette touting a mobile sales platform used the same scenario (shopping for customized athletic shoes tied to a celebrity's brand) that Oracle OpenWorld 2017 used in a major product keynote. I can't make this stuff up.

Ops-Stars, Dreamforce 2017.

I spent some time at the Ops-Stars affiliated event. I really wanted to hear what a VC had to say about his investment criteria, and he surprised me by emphasizing a "go-to-market architecture." The cloud sector's declining costs and increasing quality must make it easier than ever for startups to immediately have world-class IT architecture. The VC guy clearly used the term "RevOps," so my chance to claim ownership of the term vanished into thin air. Oh well, my genius is sufficiently expansive to pioneer other concepts. Any ops team is the CEO's direct strategic presence within a functional silo, so the innovation of RevOps removes the thinking and planning function from sales and aligns marketing with sales in a fusion cell. If you can follow my paraphrasing of that VC's wisdom, then congratulations, you may be qualified to work in RevOps.

It sounds like integrating DevOps and RevOps into an enterprise's strategic plan requires a knowledge management officer (KMO) to synch them. An integrated approach to participating in different functions' working groups is definitely under a KMO's purview. RevOps still uses recognizable KPIs like LTV and CAC, so we don't need a completely new vocabulary.

Alfidi Capital at Sales Enablement Soiree, Dreamforce 2017.

The Sales Enablement Soiree was another affiliated event that I found intriguing. I had never heard of the "sales enablement" discipline. I worked in sales once and we had "sales support" people who programmed product training. The sales systems have obviously evolved. The Salesforce people were on hand talking up Trailhead for employee on-boarding. It is hard to believe that business leaders still need to "buy in" to enablement, or maybe that imaginary obstacle is just more rationale for an upsell into Trailhead. I cannot find an industry standard definition of sales enablement, so I'll offer my own. Sales enablement is an internal function ensuring sales teams are trained on product knowledge, certifying them on the corporate message, and collaborating on content production.

Other Salesforce keynotes back at the main Dreamforce event clarified a few things. A "Trailblazer" is someone who uses the Trailhead platform. Customer service systems can now instantly perform multifactor ID authentication (i.e., facial and voice recognition) on mobile. The Einstein AI auto-generates graphs produced from the user's data priorities. It's all so pretty to watch from the audience. It must be even more fun up close for users.

Mascots dance at Equality Keynote, Dreamforce 2017.

The Dreamforce Equality Keynote had something to do with art and activism. Expect professionally unqualified cultural icons to assume leadership roles when political leaders' inaction leaves a vacuum. Americans follow celebrity leadership anyway, so most people won't notice the change. One of the celebrity panelists argued that setting political speech to music gives it mass appeal, moving the media and politics. We saw in 2016 and 2017 how extremists can use the same techniques to promote bigotry and hatred. Look no further than the foreign bots pushing derogatory memes on social media to divide Americans. If artists are fighting back in the name of freedom and equality, then they're doing the right thing for America.

Einstein AI solution, Dreamforce 2017.

The Compassion in Action Keynote was difficult for me to witness. I have experienced that building compassion into organizations denies human nature; productive people are grasping, vicious, and cutthroat because our species evolved to favor those qualities. Even advocates for compassion recognize how humans respond to transactional initiatives, because generosity must have some self-interest payoff to be sustainable. Allow me to set aside my skepticism for once and recognize some truly good things in this keynote. It's good that we now have evidence that people want to work for companies that offer compassion, meaningful work, and support during adversity. It's classic Stoicism to identify one's own emotional triggers and rehearse a controlled response that is productive and maintains emotional equilibrium. These Dreamforce keynotes do offer good life advice. Marc Benioff brought out a surprise guest at the keynote's end: Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich. Mr. Benioff convinced Metallica on short notice to headline a relief concert for the Santa Rosa wildfire victims. I totally agree with Mr. Ulrich's stated formula for enduring success: look forward, be open to inspiration, and have empathy when working with others.

Dreamforce 2017 was a winner. It is the place to be for ginormous amounts of free wisdom. The outside world gets to see San Francisco and Silicon Valley at their best when sales and marketing types converge at Dreamforce. Sometimes getting people to do good is as simple as cajoling them into a decent mindset.

Alfidi Capital at Cloud and IoT Expo 2017

There is an endless parade of cloud computing action in Silicon Valley. I attended Sys-Con's Cloud Expo and IoT Expo 2017 down in Santa Clara to check out the latest action. They also had some Big Data and DevOps stuff going on at this show. It's easy to get all of these cloud conferences mixed up if we don't identify the primary organizers. It's even easier to understand cloud action once you read my Alfidi Capital blog articles. I do in fact have a badge selfie, as you can see below.

Alfidi Capital at Cloud and IoT Expo 2017.

The major cloud providers all publish global maps of their service availability zones. Their data center locations may be proprietary information, so I will let interested readers peruse those maps on their own. Cloud users should know how a cloud provider will support their data classification and workload types. AI processing of enormous data volumes will drive cloud growth, and so will blockchain adoption. "Serverless" is a new cloud buzzword often appearing with "containerization" in a buzzword combo.

One speaker took the stage in an inflatable dinosaur costume to tell us about microservices. It was a cute stunt. Microservices decompose a tech's scope into single-function modules, reducing a system's complexity by minimizing communications between people. Expect to see this "microservices" buzzword to join "containers" because it sounds so cool. Kubernetes fans can use the Istio open source framework along with whatever toolchain they need; someone will likely be impressed.

All of this talk about microservices made me ponder how I would use them in a real project. API governance is a new challenge for microservices frameworks. A bigger challenge is to model workflows that cross different microservice architectures. I searched the Web for examples of these models; there are quite a few. Code Project may have something useful. The Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies 2017 identifies machine learning (ML) very close to the peak of the current cycle. I need an open source ML process or AI engine I can use to improve an app or bot, provided I could control the input of proprietary data. The process needs to handle classification, clustering, and regression without problems. Alternatively, I could use open source training data sets, similar to the business data I need to process. Perhaps Uncle Sam's has both training and real data that would suit my analytical goals.

Ask yourselves what "serverless" truly means, given the chronic underutilization of on-premise data centers. Serverless is not just another cloud function. It should remove developers from routine things and given them true DevOps freedom. Seek the cloud's wisdom if you speak the correct language. I will not take a serverless expert seriously if they think ICO "digital credit" as a virtual asset is something the cloud can leverage.

Cloud operators are talking more about the EU's GDPR and the need to do a gap analysis to become compliant. It's a healthy development for anyone who respects data privacy. Outsourcing GDPR compliance services is now a growing cottage industry in the cloud sector. Operators also need cool metrics like "idea to cash" and mean time to repair (MTTR) to impress their financial auditors.

The cloud cannot exist separately from the real-world IoT systems it will manage. Manufacturing plants are info-synched to adjust operations in real time, so the physical plant must be designed to incorporate software and sensors for data capture. I foresee massive security vulnerabilities if manufacturers allow their supply chain vendors to have real time visibility into their live factory operations. Such easy access allows hackers and viruses easy penetration to an entire vertical. The cloud can make ordinary ICS/SCADA vulnerabilities even worse.

Cloud success increasingly means using AI. Imagine AI governing BRMS with the ability to adjust principal rules. A human designer must be in the loop to ensure the AI does not get out of control. If the Singularity happens, the most likely origin will be some AI governing a major cloud provider that has access to the AIs of enterprise clients running their own BRMS through public clouds. The self-aware computer apocalypse is the worst-case scenario of AIs leveraging other AIs. The Standard Performance Evaluation Corporation (SPEC) should codify standards that will prevent this AI nightmare.

Choosing a cloud provider has strategic implications for a business. All configurations (data center, container, serverless) lead to "vendor lock" where a customer is permanently tied to one cloud provider. This is the exact definition of a switching cost in a sector where the biggest players have a durable competitive advantage. It's why data centers are becoming just like railroads and pipelines. Cloud vendor lock is a switching cost for the customer and a competitive advantage for the provider. Spell my name correctly when you quote me on that point.

DevOps people belong in the cloud. Read the Puppet and DORA State of DevOps Report 2017 for assessments of where DevOps is going. There are also plenty of DevOps handbooks and white papers on the Web for additional guidance. I know how to solve the tech culture problem of which developer cult is best for the cloud sector. Design a "Project X" and have different teams (DevOps, agile/lean, waterfall) work to solve it on a fixed budget. Ready, set, go. May the best team win. There will always be some expert who thinks forcing teams to compete is bad, and who can cite research on development teams to support that conclusion. My point is that they don't need to compete internally, so the competition should be confined to conferences and hackathons where teams can demonstrate their skills.

Containerization is the future of the cloud. Composable infrastructures should theoretically lead to the elimination of data junkyards. We will see how fast this elimination occurs if the cloud continues to trend away from virtualization and towards containerization. Latency is the single most important business criteria determining resources directed to containerization. Power management is the single most important limiting factor in data center optimization.

The app development ecosystem has massively diversified and has become dependent upon object assembly from multiple open source code bases. Optimizing apps with AIs will be a big thing. Open source APIs must be flexible enough to accommodate microservices designed for either containers or virtual machines. Each microservice must perform one function only, and must only communicate with other functions via well-developed APIs; otherwise the microservice will not work well with containers.

Plan out cloud use thoroughly. Assess the opportunity cost of not using cloud for some project. The cost avoidance is justification for cloud adoption. Any business decision in a large enterprise that's not justified with data will come down to politics. Design thinking is useful in enterprise architecture, with every potential choice having its own cost estimate.

Scrum is one variation of the Agile Manifesto. Making agile work in verticals with declining economics means firing a lot of senior people who stand in the way of a pivot that will keep the organization alive. The dinosaurs won't take risks. The old 80/20 rule applies, so the worst 20% of employees just won't grok agile. Once they find less demanding jobs at less pay, they may have an epiphany that they need to acquire new skills and attitudes. The cloud will disintermediate servers from their users.

I am very impressed with emerging attempts to determine the economic value of data (EVD). The accounting approach to EVD is wrong because accounting uses historical cost only. Economics uses a future value for EVD because data value persists into the future as its multiplier effect cascades throughout a network. I like a quote I heard at the conference from a data science practitioner working on EVD: "Data is the new sun, not the new oil." Petroleum is a deleting asset. The sun never wears out, just like data persists. That one metaphor made my entire conference attendance worthwhile. Upon reflection, I will add that EVD models must account for incorrect or obsolete data that must eliminated and no longer adds value. Data's persistence does not make it immune from depreciation.

Edge computing makes IoT smarter. The MQTT protocol is multi-cloud connective tissue where more than one cloud overlaps with remote devices. Edge analytics turns BI into behavioral understanding; expect it to use data lake dumping (heads up, Hadoop fans). Common cloud architecture uses MQTT to push data from analytics engines (assigned to collect from IoT device categories) into the cloud. The whole point of edge computing is to reduce the volume of data going to the cloud. It economizes on traffic by sending only analytics (a compression of data) or patterns (even further compression).

I covered a lot of intellectual ground at this Cloud / IoT Expo. The tech expertise routinely concentrated into the Santa Clara Convention Center is one of the wonders of Silicon Valley. The conference gave me even more inspiration for some tech ideas that I really need to execute. I may even showcase my concepts at next year's Cloud / IoT Expo. The sky is truly the limit in the cloud.