Are We Too Old To Be Creative?

Are We Too Old To Be Creative?

Are we too old to be creative? I don’t even know you, but I know the answer.


When I reached 30, I was really bummed. Over the hill. No great mathematician, so they said, ever had a significant discovery after age 30.

But then, I was no mathematician. But still, was life over?

Be Creative

Actually I have never been more creative and productive than over the past 20 years. And I’m way past 30, now. And The New York Times this month ran an article with some proof that creativity does not necessarily end at 30. It leads with a 94-year-old inventor.

It states, “There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that late blooming is no anomaly. A 2016 Information Technology and Innovation Foundation study found that inventors peak in their late 40s and tend to be highly productive in the last half of their careers. Similarly, professors at the Georgia Institute of Technology and Hitotsubashi University in Japan, who studied data about patent holders, found that, in the United States, the average inventor sends in his or her application to the patent office at age 47, and that the highest-value patents often come from the oldest inventors — those over the age of 55.

Keep reading. Try new things. Learn a different language. Go for new experiences. Ask questions.



Speaking of geniuses. Did you hear about the TV advertisement that instructed your Google Home (OK Google) to search for ingredients of its sandwich? There is another reason not to have one of those devices that is always listening to you. The other being Amazon Echo (Alexa, buy a book…). I do not have one installed. There is one disconnected in my closet. Here’s a New York Times article on the ad and one from TechCrunch.

The question is how obnoxious do you need to be to be an effective marketer?

I hate, Hate, I say, those pop-ups on Websites. And all the other tricks I see to get you to click. Ever seen those things at the bottom of the WeatherBug app? Even the marketers know that most clicks are due to error. People are frantically trying to click the vanishing X that makes the ugly thing go away. Then they click the ad and get carried off to some place they don’t want to go.

But Website owners need money. Marketers will pay well even for obnoxious, accidental click ads. The poor users, well, we just get a degraded experience. No wonder we don’t go to the Web like we once did.

Digital Thread

Can HMI/SCADA Software Be the On Ramp to the IIoT Digital Thread?

Craig Resnick, vp at ARC Advisory Group wrote a provocative article on the role of HMI/SCADA and the IioT.

These are interesting comments about the state of manufacturing software, “The Digital Thread often combines manufacturing software that provides real-time, role-based HMI dashboards with Ethernet networking technology, using Big Data, HMI/SCADA and analytics software, sensors, controllers, and robotics to help optimize industrial asset performance and availability in an edge to cloud world. This enables end users and OEMs to collect and analyze asset performance and operational data in the network, often from connecting disparate systems, from the factory floor to ERP, providing an ‘industrial-strength’ data analytics solution that combines role-based manufacturing HMI dashboards with real-time manufacturing KPIs for decision support.”

“The Digital Thread has, for example, driven the convergence of HMI/SCADA and MES platforms. Increasingly, these converged HMI/SCADA and MES platforms help users visualize both key automation and business metrics and KPIs, such as overall equipment effectiveness (OEE) and energy savings, to help maximize the productivity and profitability of their businesses.”

This idea of things converging around MES is intriguing. There are so many applications gaining traction, along with interesting standards for data transfer, databases, analytics, visualization. All this, and I’m not sure where the money-making places are right now. Maybe writing smaller communication apps and mobile apps that can be sold to big companies?

Business Startup Accelerator for Internet of Things

Business Startup Accelerator for Internet of Things

TechRIoTFollowing yesterday’s news about support for start-ups doing crowd funding, today we have news of an accelerator for start-ups in the Internet of Things space. Only a couple are specifically industrial, but there are interesting ideas.

These technology accelerators were big in Silicon Valley, of course, but then there’s Beta Works in New York City. This one I have written about before settled in Colorado. The business accelerator is TechrIoT (pronounced “Tech Riot” ). Colorado’s first Internet of Things (IoT) entrepreneurial collaborative, announced the 11 finalists for its inaugural IoT‐focused business accelerator called TechrIoT XLR8 (pronounced “Tech Riot Accelerate” ).

The 11 companies were selected from more than 100 applicants by TechrIoT’s advisory board comprised of technology industry veterans, entrepreneurial visionaries and Colorado business leaders.

Internet of Things Era

“The IoT era will reshape the way technology is integrated into our daily lives,” explained Suzy Gutierrez, Co‐Founder, TechrIoT. “The inaugural XLR8 cohort of 11 companies is front and center in that revolution and will have the TechrIoT advisory network behind them as they take the next steps in their business development.”

Five Colorado companies will be part of XLR8’s inaugural contingency: GoFire LLC , LockState, Place Global, QB Labs, and U Grok It . “As a leading IoT smart lock provider to the vacation rental and Airbnb markets, LockState is excited to be partnering with Arrow, Denver South EDP, and Innovation Pavilion as part of this TechrIoT program to pioneer and promote new disruptive IoT applications” said Nolan Mondrow, CEO of LockState.

Companies participating outside of Colorado include: Envivo Systems (Calgary, Alberta,Canada) Knocki (Houston, TX), MyOrbii (Houston, TX), Ombitron (Kansas City, MO), Smart Office Energy Solutions (Chapel Hill, NC), Tailio (San Diego, CA).

Check out all of them, but pay especial attention to Ombitron. It is the one specific industrial startup.  It provides Business Intelligence for the Industrial Internet of Things enabling business intelligence for the real world in real time. The Ombitron Intelligence Engine Platform enables operational efficiency applications that were heretofore cost and complexity prohibitive. Knocki also has an interesting concept.

Internationally recognized IoT pioneer, Matthew Bailey adds, “TechRiot XLR8 is a bleeding edge

IoT innovation framework that helps IoT businesses to optimise their proposition for success and activate their leadership to the fullest potential. XLR8 levers best in class strengths from the Colorado tech eco‐systems which combined with its visionary IoT innovation framework makes it a world‐class initiative.”

XLR8 applicant organizations submitted business plans that were reviewed by a team of judges who rated their inventive business solutions through an online scoring rubric. Executive advisors then selected the finalist XLR8 companies based on a set of criteria addressing market validation, hardware design and groundbreaking IoT innovation.

Jennifer Maskrey, Co‐Founder at QB Labs, “We are thrilled to be a part of this IoT accelerator and look forward to polishing our company’s vision and products over the next few months”.

XLR8 companies will collaborate in a fast‐paced, business accelerator‐type environment without the usual fees, investor equity expectations or relocation restrictions. “As a start‐up, being included in such a prestigious program with validation and assistance from businesses and experts will be invaluable to our success.” Alan Johnson, CEO Place Global.

Each company will receive supply chain financing from Arrow Electronics and introductions to anchor customers and channel partners. The IoT accelerator will culminate with two investor pitch opportunities, one in Denver and one in Silicon Valley in late Summer 2016.

TechrIoT is a community of Internet of Things (IoT) entrepreneurs, executives, manufacturers, investors, engineers, suppliers and academics that aims to accelerate the adoption and growth of the IoT economy in Colorado‐‐establishing Colorado as a global hub for innovation in one of the fastest growing segments of the technology industry.

Launched in June 2015 by Innovation Pavilion, Arrow Electronics and the Denver South Economic Development Partnership, the TechrIoT community includes more than 1,500 members from the Denver Metro area and across the U.S. TechrIoT is based in the Innovation Pavilion in Centennial, CO.

Support for Crowdfunded Product Development

Support for Crowdfunded Product Development

KrowdsterLet’s take a look at a product development process today. My pool of things to write about has shrunk recently. I’m stretching out a little.

I will be at the ARC Forum next week. If any of you are going, look me up. Or stop me in the hallway to chat.

Have you ever participated in one of the crowd-sourcing investment projects? I invested in a Kickstarter project one time. Got the product eventually. Don’t use it now. But that’s OK. Have you ever thought about funding a new project through Kickstarter or something? These companies are proliferating.

A notice recently came through about a service for people crowdfunding. Krowdster is a big data powered web app for crowdfunding campaign optimization and promotion. It recently announced the addition of two new features to make it easier for crowdfunders to find targeted influencers and trending content in their industries.

In the past, crowdfunders may have hired expensive marketing or PR firms to do the job for them, but thanks to technology and big data, there are now tools that do the heavy lifting for you and make information accessible that has previously been impossible to access.

Influencer Search is a keyword search to discover influencers, journalists and bloggers in any niche, who have a following and who can help to get exposure for your crowdfunding campaign.

Trending Content is an easy way to discover blogs and news sites with trending content in any crowdfunding niche. Input search terms relevant to your campaign and discover content that is going viral on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Google. This information can be used to build targeted media lists of the blogs and news sites that are writing about similar topics.

Both of the new tools work for all donations or rewards crowdfunding campaigns as well as the newly approved equity crowdfunding types “Regulation A+” and “Title III” of the JOBS Act.

Optimize & promote crowdfunding product development

Other features:

  • Find Backers and Super Backers on Kickstarter and Indiegogo
  • Build a highly targeted and engaged following on Twitter
  • Get a professional Press Release written and distributed
  • Reach influencers, journalists, and bloggers in your niche
  • Discover viral content in your niche
  • Optimize your campaign page setup
New Media Equation

Industrial Products – Do You Buy Good Enough Or Best?

One of my new favorite tech news sites is The Information. It’s a subscription email newsletter/Website founded by Jessica Lessin. (Interestingly my other favorite is Pando, also founded by a woman–Sarah Lacy.)

Jessica’s husband, Sam, wrote a post with a provocative thought this week, The Good Enough Stuff Revolution.

He asks, “Are Harry’s or Dollar Shave Club razors better than Gillette? What about Honest Co. soap versus Dial soap? I have no idea, and I don’t have any interest in figuring it out. They are good enough and generally easier to buy, and so they win.

“There is, in my mind, a major revolution underway in most consumer hard and soft goods which I call the Good Enough Stuff revolution. As a result, most traditional brands sold through traditional retail avenues are going to struggle to find a foothold in this new world.”

This leads to the provocative idea, “The thing to understand is that Good Enough products aren’t purely commodities racing to the bottom. They are a class of products where the end-to-end experience of selection, purchasing and customer service is more important than the product itself.”

Good enough Industrial Products?

What do you buy? Of course there are many classes of industrial products. Large assets, smaller assets, control components, MRO.

Which of these do you buy because of the end-to-end customer experience rather than diligently searching out best-in-class or merely price?

There are lots of PLCs available, for instance. You could get a smaller one and buy on price. You could go to AutomationDirect and buy direct over the Web (not unlike Amazon). You could buy where there is a strong distributor relationship. You could go with the “new kid on the block”–Bedrock Automation–and go for the added feature of built-in security.

Have you changed buying habits over the past 10 years or so? Do you think you could change buying habits? Where would you draw the line on size of equipment??

More important, perhaps, would be the question–should I be considering how I purchase and re-evaluate the entire process.

Thoughts welcome.

Media Landscape For Engineers

Media Landscape For Engineers

My new boss was chatting with me in his office. He turned to a shelf with notebooks and pulled one off the shelf. Opening it to a tab, he removed a section and told me to copy it and start my own notebook.

The contents were articles clipped and copied from trade press, B2B, magazines. He had given me a new position as program manager in product development. These were articles on project management and program management. This was my introduction to the trade press.

I subscribed and read a variety of publications over the course of the next 20 years collecting useful articles. Some of the magazines were quick reads. Articles were by people whose titles were “marketing manager” with the contents reflecting that point of view. Some were written by engineers or other practitioners with useful information.

When I became a trade press editor at Control Engineering in 1998, the media landscape was unchanged. It consisted of magazines delivered by the US Postal Service on a more or less regular basis.

Wow, but do we have so many ways of getting information these days. There remains the inevitable tension within the trade press of writing what advertisers want to see in print versus focusing on useful information for readers. Information availability moved rapidly from print to Web to email to Twitter to LInkedIn and Facebook.

Advantages and deficiencies

Web–I always had trouble “bookmarking” Websites to return to and read. Or to develop a regular system to go to my Websites to read what was new. It was usually impossible to see what was new, anyway. On the other hand, the Web is a great place to store large amounts of information whether for media companies or for technology suppliers. What I have always desired is a push notification telling me not only that something changed, but also directing me to what changed.

Pop-up ads and enticements, pop-overs, cluttered pages, proliferation of ads all serve to destroy my motivation to go to media Websites to read articles. The race to create as much ad revenue as possible has reached the point for me that I hate to visit to try to read an article.

You also have to beware the “listicle” article. Many devices are designed to get you to click–top 10, view three ways, here are 6 things you didn’t know about. Sometimes they even make you click each one individually. Know why? The publisher needs to improve page views and therefore ad impressions. I have mostly quit getting suckered in.

What I will do is go to an “advertiser” site for a good technical or business white paper or other such information. Today you are more likely to get the kind of information there that I used to copy into my notebook. Oh, and today, my notebook is Evernote.

Twitter–Initially a great conversation tool, now there is so much noise that I seldom look at the stream. The tools I used to sort through the flood often were killed by Twitter. This killed much of my enthusiasm. I still Tweet. Some people actually find them.

Email–Believe it or not, emails remain the best way of notifying people with reasons to visit a Website or otherwise send information. Maybe someday there will be a ubiquitous chat app (Messenger or Snapchat or Slack?) that would take the place of email–but wouldn’t it just be another form of email? In the meantime, it’s not email but the misuse of email that is annoying.

General media–I’m seeing many more articles in Forbes, The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and other such general media publications that once would be seen only in trade press. Coverage of the Internet of Things, for instance, may be stronger there, as well as coverage of safety and security.

The Future

For the curious, check out the recent Notifications Summit put on by a couple of technology luminaries John Borthwick of Betaworks and Steve Gillmor who is a long-time reporter and analyst of technology. Many hours of video were recorded. They were great presentations and conversations about the developing technologies and uses of notifications.

Start with John Borthwick.

Or go to TechCrunch and search for Steve Gillmor.

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