My experience in Beecham Research is coming to an end. The decision lies in a desired moment of reflections and to explore other angles of the IoT world. I have been an analyst for 11 years. Sometimes, I have thought that my work was too much theoretical. Other people in Beecham used to take that theory and make it applicable to business problems. During those moments, I felt the need of a direct touch with businesses, seeing with eyes what that theory was used for. Therefore, my next step will primarily revolve around experiencing that. But, the decision of leaving is not only dictated by that. As I said, it was a good time for reflections, reflections on the IoT space (once was M2M), which I covered for some time now and on the role of analysts.
On the IoT side, the reflection lies on the opinion that the IoT vision can have a truly impact on problems we face as human race. But, unless the problem has a revenue generation angle, the industry has struggled to put the right attention to it. The justification revolves around satisfying stakeholders, which, holds, but, recently, not much with me. I see the value of technological creativity when it leads at solving problems for us all. During these years, I have seen moves aiming at revenue generation only forcing products and services that were not really demanded or needed. And, I am aware that this is a very personal sentiment. But, that sentiment leads me to look at areas of research that explores the role of IoT vision for facings human challenges. The UN Sustainable Development Goals are an interesting way of seeing that and I am glad that organisations like GSMA or events like the IoT Week have embraced those strongly. But, the all topic needs more exploration. The various approaches aiming at “democratising everything” sometimes they appear to be just marketing hype. Making the IoT a vision for all is far away from us. The directions are dictated by where the flow of money comes from and goes to. Diverting those directions, or even taking some parallel ones, seems to be difficult. In that, which is the role of the analyst? If the analyst is an influencer, how can he or she influence the directions of development of the IoT?
That million dollar question leads me to a reflection on the role of the analyst in the IoT world and, more generally, in the technology markets. Who is an analyst? There is a good portion of the industry that has the view of the analyst as a sort of magician, who takes numbers out of the hat and put them into a Power Point presentation and Excel file. That magician is also a good actor because he or she always has a good way of justifying those numbers. That is a view that has irritated me a lot during those years. Probably, analysts have fed this view a bit with their eternally growing forecasts, but, the irritation is not disappeared. Behind forecasting activities, there is always a forecasting methodology and a research methodology. It is against the interest of the analysts behaving like a magician! I doubt there are analysts thinking to go away with magic numbers. There are weak forecasting approaches and strong ones, for sure, but, there is always reasoning behind forecasts. But, the worst thing is believing that the analyst is a simple producer of forecasts. Forecasting is a part of the exercise. The analyst is someone, who explores knowledge, make sense of it, and create a view on the matter under analysis. The industry players need that view for a variety of reasons, for example because they do not have time to create an informed view on which design their strategy and/or they need other views in order to validate theirs and design their strategy consequently. And, the industry players need views from different analysts because the knowledge creation and analysis exercise is affected by the analyst’s background and expertise. Each analyst produces a valid view. There is not the best view as there is not the best analyst. Stating “to be the best analyst” is simply arrogant because knowledge is so vast for human capacity. Perhaps, the AI-based robot analyst will do better than the human analyst, but, let’s see that after AI hype has set for real considerations.
But, despite my thinking on the nature of the analysts, I still do not have the answer on how the analyst, seen as an influencer, can drive directions of developments. I guess that is difficult because the overall output of the analyst’s work is providing revenue-generating directions. The challenge is then making the IoT community more aware of their capability of challenging human problems, while pursuing their stakeholders’ objectives. Easy to say, very hard to do. But, I think this blog will try to explore that direction. I know it will be an Odyssey and I will never arrive to Ithaca! But, the Greek poet, Cavafy, comforts me.
“Keep Ithaca always in your mind.
Arriving there is what you are destined for.
But do not hurry the journey at all.
Better if it lasts for years,
so you are old by the time you reach the island,
wealthy with all you have gained on the way,
not expecting Ithaca to make you rich.”