SteadyServ’s iKeg™ Solution: Leveraging The Third Computing Platform

SteadyServ iKegThe collection of IoT (Internet of Things), Mobile, Cloud, Social, and Data Analytics trends are enabling a whole new era of intelligent solutions for businesses of all sizes.   IDC calls this the Third Platform and Gartner calls it the Nexus of Forces.  Whatever you want to call it, we are experiencing a historical transformation in the computing platform for businesses.  Solution providers must accelerate their ability to develop solutions that leverage these collection of trends.

For an example of a Solution Provider leveraging this new computing platform, have a look at SteadyServ Technologies.  SteadyServ has just launched the iKeg™, a mobile SaaS-based (software as a service) inventory management solution, for the beer industry.   According to  SteadyServ CEO and co-founder Steve Hershberger, “beer sold in retail establishments accounts for a $21bn industry, yet the industry still relies on the inaccurate process of ‘shaking the keg’ – the same method used since the inception of the product.”  SteadyServ has set out to automate beer inventory management.

At the heart of their new solution is a sensor that easily attaches to the bottom of a beer keg.  That sensor can tell a beer distributor or a tavern owner, in real time, exactly how many kegs are in the cooler and how much beer is left in each keg. 

The iKeg™ system actually consists of three parts – the hardware, software and a mobile app.  The hardware combines the aforementioned removable sensor ring and a RFID tag.  Once the RFID tag is scanned, the cloud-based software receives the data from the sensor, tracking how much beer remains, type of beer, age and when it was delivered.  Analytics in the iKeg™ solution measures and reports the real-time inventory of draft kegs, which is all accessible via a mobile app. 

The iKeg™ mobile app allows you to send customizable automatic social alerts to Facebook and Twitter every time a new beer goes on tap. It also provides a number of fully-integrated tools to help promote your establishment, special event or a unique beer that you might want to highlight. Have a look at the mobile app in the video below.

SteadyServ’s new iKeg Mobile App

Pretty neat, isn’t it?

The iKeg™ solution also automates the order and fulfillment process for the entire inventory of draft, bottled and canned beers.   All this information is then tallied with the stock, the next delivery date, previous order information, event information, and past and future beer consumption trends.  In addition, the iKeg™ solution uses advanced machine-to-machine communication technologies to ensure that the system is secure, reliable and highly scalable.  

It seems to me SteadyServ has a bright future ahead.  It’s a perfect example of an innovative solution provider leveraging the IoT (Internet of Things), Mobile, Cloud, Social, and Data Analytics trends.   I see the a whole new era of similar cloud-based solutions that will be developed and implemented as part of this new computing platform.

For more on iKeg™ or SteadyServ, check out their website at http://www.steadyserv.com.  You can also follow SteadyServ on Twitter at @steadyserv or via the hashtag #ikeg.

IDC Insights: 2010 Predictions for Manufacturing Supply Chains

IDC Today I attended the IDC Manufacturing Insights conference call where IDC outlined its 2010 Predictions for Manufacturing Supply Chains.  On the call Simon Ellis, IDC Mfg Insights Practice Director, Supply Chain and Kimberly Knickle, IDC Mfg Insights Practice Director, Emerging Agenda outlined the firm’s recommendations for manufacturer supply chains in 2010

The call started with a overall look at economic trends affecting supply chains disciplines such as procurement, planning, manufacturing and logistics and then moved into the top 10 predictions.  The overall theme from IDC is that manufacturing companies need to rethink their supply chain structures and begin to evolve to a variable-cost-driven value network.

Here is a summary of the top ten trends.

  1. Optimization Focus: “Dynamic Optimization” dominates Capability Investment to Support Redefining of the Supply Chain
  2. Sales & Operation Planning:  S&OP Will Re-emerge as the Synchronizing Process for Reconciling Supply and Demand
  3. Redesigning Supply Chains:  Balancing Supply and Demand Across the Value Chain Will Prompt a Strategic Redesign of the Supply Network
  4. SCM and PLM Convergence:  Supply Chain and Product Life-Cycle Management Applications Will Increasingly Converge as Manufacturing Companies Focus on Innovation Delivery
  5. Intelligent Supply Chains:  Intelligent Supply Chains Will Put Broader Visibility Burden on Supply Chain Organizations, Both Owned and Outsourced
  6. Globalization:   Supply Chain Organizations Will Invest in Capabilities That Facilitate Global Operations
  7. Rethinking Fulfillment:  Transportation Capacity Will Tighten, Causing Supply Chain Organizations to Rethink Fulfillment Strategies
  8. Risk Management:  The Increasing Pace of Supply Chain Outsourcing/Offshoring Will Keep Risk Management High on the Strategic Agenda, But Investment Will Remain Focused on Building Risk Awareness
  9. Time to Get Smarter?  Smart Services and the Need for Persistent Assets Create the Inflection Point for RFID, Sensors, and M2M
  10. Metrics Drive Intelligence:  Armed with Metrics, Manufacturers Move from Sustainability Reporting to Intelligence

As the IDC team summarized the call, it was stated that 2010 will be the year of the intelligent supply chain.  There will be a focus on developing smarter processes, products, plants, people, and partners.   This thought confirms IBM’s Smarter Planet campaign.

You can register for access to the conference call webinar and slides by going to IDC Insights Predictions 2010: Manufacturing Supply Chain.  There is also a detailed research report on the topic:  Worldwide Supply Chain 2010 Top 10 Predictions

For more information…

IDC Insights: Retail Industry Predictions for 2010

IDC Retail 2010 Predictions IDC held its "IDC Insights Predictions 2010: Retail" web briefing last Wednesday, January 13, 2010.  Leading the call were IDC Retail Insights analysts Leslie Hand, Ivano Ortis, and Group Vice President Bob Parker.

The conference call provided insights into current driving forces impacting retailers (including Sustainability, POS systems and RFID, and customer experience) and important IT investment trends for 2010 in the area of supply chain, demand planning, merchandising, and point-of-sale (POS) business initiatives.

Certainly, the economy had a big impact on retail in 2009 and that trend is expected to continue in 2010.  However, retail will begin emerging in 2010 with new business models and perhaps new industry leaders.

Here’s a summary of the 10 predictions IDC provided on the conference call.

  1. Growth Strategies:  IDC says that in 2010, retailers will seek growth strategies based on “Same Shopper” sales and first time buyers.
  2. New IT Investment Strategies:  IDC predicts retailers will launch aggressive technology investment programs to support new business models while reducing traditional IT costs.
  3. Getting More Value From Supply Chains:  Retailers will extract more value from their supply chains, responding adeptly to customer, supplier, and regulatory influences.
  4. Devil is in the Details:  IDC says that retailers reach nirvana where PLM information informs intelligent automation
  5. Customer Experience:  Retailers will focus on customer experience solutions convergence. CRM, SCM, and BI applications on a single source of demand information.
  6. Mobile Shopping:  IDC expects retailers will drive mobile consumer interaction and this will usher in the open shopping era.
  7. Demand Information To Drive Customer Loyalty:  Retailers will work on building customer intimacy and loyalty while improving brand performance.
  8. Harvesting Intelligence:  IDC says that in 2010, retail investment in demand intelligence and BI will be driven by a need to lower inventory costs and be more customer centric.
  9. Sustainability Initiatives:  IDC predicts retailers will build sustainable lean enterprises
  10. Social Commerce:  IDC cleverly states that traditional retailers are on the Titanic and the approaching iceberg is online social commerce.

The formal part of the call ended with the IDC team reviewing their four pillars of investment for retailers.  Here’s a summary of the four pillars.

  • Drive IT Infrastructure savings
  • Harvest Demand Intelligence
  • Drive Improved Customer Experience
  • Improve The Supply Network

The four pillars seem pretty obvious when I look at them…and you could make the case that those pillars have been important for decades and will still be important for many more decades to come.

For more information

IDC Insights: 10 Manufacturing Industry Predictions for 2010

IDC Mfg Predictions For the last hour I listened in on the IDC Insights Predictions 2010: Manufacturing annual conference call where Bob Parker, Group Vice President at IDC, and a group of IDC analysts provided their predictions on what’s in store for the Manufacturing Industry in 2010.

I spent the first 8 years of my career (back in the 80’s) focused on the Manufacturing industry (anyone remember MAPICS?) and since then, my focus shifted to strategy, marketing and market intelligence disciplines.   So much has changed since I was deep into manufacturing.  Back then we were just happy to get small and mid manufactures up on automated front office and back office systems.  The manufacturer of today has so much more to think about when they employ IT systems across their business.  

The IDC analysts started the call with a review of the environment facing Manufacturers.  To summarize their comments…all the factors look to be in place for a major transformation of the manufacturing industry.  IT and related smart technology can enable this transformation.

The call then turned to the top 10 predictions, which focused on how trends in Manufacturing will impact spending on information technology and improvements.   The analysts covered predictions in supply chain, demand management, product lifecycle management, operations technology, smart technology, and sustainability.

Here’s my summary of the predictions presented on the conference call

  1. Business Model Transformation:  Companies will transform business models to better meet the needs of increasingly demanding customers
  2. Variable Cost Structures:  IT Organizations Will Look for Costs Structures that are more variable as they assist in making technology a focal point of business strategies.
  3. Variable Cost Driven Supply Chains:   Manufacturing companies will begin the process of fundamentally rethinking their supply chain structures, evolving from a fixed-cost-driven supply network to a variable-cost-driven value network.
  4. Dynamic Supply Chain Optimization:   Dynamic optimization dominates capability investment to support redefining of the Supply Chain.
  5. Product Innovation Aligned with Business Strategy:  Manufacturers will look to better align product lifecycle innovations with the overall business strategy.
  6. PLM Usage Matures:   Manufacturing companies will become more mature in their use of enterprise PLM applications.
  7. Fulfillment Networks:  Manufacturing companies will increasingly see factory assets as part of the larger fulfillment network.
  8. Intelligent Factory Networks:  Firms will create intelligent factory networks.
  9. Smart Services:  Smart services and the need for persistent assets create the inflection point for RFID, Sensors, and M2M.
  10. Sustainability:  Armed with metrics, manufacturers move from sustainability reporting to intelligence.

For more information

NMC: 2009 Horizon Report for Higher Education

The 2009 Horizon Report was recently released at the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) Annual Meeting in Orlando, Florida.  The annual Horizon Report is a collaborative effort between the New Media Consortium (NMC) and the ELI.   Each year, the report identifies six emerging technologies that are likely to have a significant impact on higher education in the next one to five years.  In addition, the report presents an overview accompanied by examples and suggested readings for each technology. 

The areas of emerging technology cited for 2009 are:

Timeframe:  The Next 12 months…

  • Mobiles (i.e., mobile devices).   New interfaces, the ability to run third-party applications, and location-awareness have all come to the mobile device in the past year, making it an ever more versatile tool that can be easily adapted to a host of tasks for learning, productivity, and social networking.
  • Cloud computing.  Inexpensive, simple solutions to offsite storage, multi-user application scaling, hosting, and multi-processor computing are opening the door to wholly different ways of thinking about computers, software, and files. 

Timeframe:  Next 1-3 years….

  • Geo-everything (i.e., geo-tagging).  Many devices can automatically determine and record their own precise location and can save that data along with captured media (like photographs) or can transmit it to web-based applications for a host of uses.  The full implications of geo-tagging are still unfolding.
  • The personal web.  Using a growing set of free and simple tools and applications, it is easy to create a customized, personal web-based environment — a personal web — that explicitly supports one’s social, professional, learning, and other activities. 

Timeframe:  4-5 years…

  • Semantic-aware applications.  New applications are emerging that are bringing the promise of the semantic web into practice without the need to add additional layers of tags, identifiers, or other top-down methods of defining context.
  • Smart objects.  While the underlying technologies that make this possible — RFID, QR codes, smartcards, touch and motion sensors, and the like — are not new, we are now seeing new forms of sensors, identifiers, and applications with a much more generalizable set of functionalities. 

For more information, you can download the 2009 Horizon Report or view the Web version.