The future of workplace, life and business through AI lens

Below is my reflection of the AI related news from the past week. These are likely to be changes that’ll impact us in the long run.

mj5 /imagine prompt: puzzled humans listening to AI generated podcasts:: cartoon::1 rene magritte::1 –v 4

Does your favourite LLM/chatbot/machine know the topic to the extent it will not attempt to wing it in order to please you with its response? It’s not new for AI models to hallucinate, but with convincing enough content we wish that away. A case for future legal professionals to ponder over.

How would you value your favourite podcast being autogenerated? What content will be it based on? And what about the time when the original content creators stop producing input? Is it just a fad or something that can and will be monetised? Would you care how the script and delivery were by non-human actors if all you are after, is information + conversation? Or would you care for connection to the presenters? Who says AI can’t actively engage with the audience replicating the human host? I believe the generative AI can’t yet be creative enough to shift the tone (pun attended!) and topic half-way. Would we even want to develop such capabilities? Wired covers the topic here.

Would the game creators determine the end result or just set loose boundaries of how certain external factors might play out? And then leave it to the models to provide the (ever changing) story that provides customised experience to every player? Am I hallucinating? Nvidia’s recent announcement on autogenerated content.

3000 US workers were asked about their attitude towards AI in the workplace. You might guess that older generations are more concerned than younger and less likely to adopt to the AI driven tools. As it turns out, the response is very similar across all age groups and probably depends more on the personal circumstances like job role, awareness and financial position. I’d like to see something similar done in other economic drivers in EU as well. Full report is available here.

Meanwhile, according to Washington Post, many organisations are considering replacing their copywriters with ChatGPT. And those writing copy, according to the article, are trying their best to dissuade their employers by focusing on the poor output of the generative AI tools. Would it not be more persuasive to give the employer a comparison of output and point out how they would use the new tools to enhance their work and reduce their customer’s service cost? Perhaps the people interviewed were unhappy with their current choice and considered shifting to non-digital occupations already? Either way, the AI-driven world is not going to slow down and many white-collar jobs will be lost for good. The governments should consider mandating lowering the cost of goods and services for businesses that are replacing their workforce by AI tools and not filling the positions. A bit invasive capitalism, I know. But the machines are disrupting the world as we know it at the rate not seen before.

On with the journalism. If you’ve heard of Artifact app, or using it, you’ll appreciate its slick clean lines and … otherwise it’s as any other modern news aggregator. The team has now built capacity for rewriting the clickbaity headlines using GPT4. The next step is to train the algorithm to recognise noise and alter it’s headline automagically. The problem? Well funded apps can provide good, free aggregated content. Everyone else wants to sell more ad space. I wonder how long will it take for others to follow the suit. And how little for the content mills (that are already using ChatGPT and other generative AI tools) to tweak their output to install multiple clickbaits into one story? Seems like an opportunity for all involved to win more consumer screen time.

Security is necessary, but oftentimes inconvenience. The response is… biometrics, isn’t it? This Babbage podcast episode from The Economist explores the opportunities and threats associated with generative AI and biometrics. A simple reminder – a secret (=password) is something you know, feature (=biometrics) something you have. The former can be changed at ease, and the impact of a lost password can in most cases be stopped or even reversed. Your biometric data is public – I can recognise your face and voice. When your biometric metadata becomes public though (knowledge what is looks and sounds like plus knowledge on how to easily replicate it), the sky becomes slightly cloudier – it’s very hard if not impossible to change your biometrics. Listen to the episode here, it’s rather thought provoking.

I have to agree with Andrew Ng on this one – AI should be seen as a solution, not the problem. However, it’s worthwhile setting the safe boundaries to avoid a large-scale mishaps should it connect to the critical infrastructure and start acting as a chaos monkey. Generating stories to match its suggestions is not too inhuman activity, so probably its creators have tweaked ChatGPT to find evidence where is none. You believe it? Well, we told you, they may be bonkers.

Ukrainian Diia app is starting to make waves. It was inspired by Estonian governmental systems experience, and now our mRiik is taking inspiration from it. When the state digital services are accessible to you when you need them regardless of your location, they will be used. Axios covers the Diia story.

Microsoft is trying to get you to use Teams for business and personal use alike. Detractors noise aside, ability to easily set up online communities is never a bad thing. Even better, if this comes sans near compulsory advertising stream, seen in every commercially minded ‘free’ platform. As Teams is baked into Windows 11 and many people are actively using it, I’d like Microsoft product teams agreeing on timeline for culling Skype and a tool for easily migrating the content history. This has so far been seen as too laborious and hence the steam has gone to push for Teams. Old habits die hard and many will find no compelling reasons to learn to use another messaging platform. I think Microsoft needs to rethink what are the customers getting? Integrated version of AI-supported Microsoft Designer may be it, but not necessarily. In other minor note, as Windows Copilot enters the user realm, Microsoft is quietly pushing Cortana out of it. Did you ever use it? And how was it compared to Siri and Alexa?

WSJ writes about two types of CxO’s – ones who are gung ho about the AI enabled software development and others, who’s perspective also includes risk. The latter camp is very critical about the amount of code being churned out by human-machine combo, that eventually makes it to enterprise catalogue and needs to be maintained. I think Paulo Rosado, the Chief Executive of company called OutSystems is spot on with his caution.

Technical debt and orphan code have long been challenges that have plagued CIOs. As more and more code is built, there’s naturally confusion that comes with understanding what certain code does and how it was created, he said. As developers leave companies, that confusion intensifies and as time goes on a growing pile of code becomes more and more difficult to keep up to date. I do expect these issues to be aggravated by generative AI coding tools. 

WSJ “AI Is Writing Code Now. For Companies, That Is Good and Bad.”

More companies expect workers to return to the offices for at least three days a week. Meta is one of the tech giants to mandate that from September. One could wager that corporate real estate needs to be used, or that we are in general more effective and productive when we have the human connection, i.e. working together in a physical space. My take is that it really depends on the needs set by the role and individual circumstances. And preferences. What’s your take?

Amazon has started rolling out AI based tools to enhance its logistics operations. You could see it in two ways – either to raise customer satisfaction or reduce reliance on human workers. Or both. The statements are interesting to read. Jeremy Wyatt, director of applied science at Amazon Robotics, said of detecting a faulty item “That’s cognitively demanding because obviously you’re looking for something that’s rare and it’s not your primary job”. It might feel as an assumption on the warehouse worker not being the smartest. But their metrics are not set on quality, but on the throughput per hour. I don’t think we should design systems, where the humans do lower cognitive jobs than machines. IMHO the human should be collaborating with the machine working on their optimum mental capacity. Yes, in the future it means less jobs in logistics sector that feeds our collective desire for more stuff ASAP. This raises again a question for the governments – what are the effective policies shaping the future and preparing the workforce for it?

To wrap up, Telly is going to start shipping free 55″ 4K TV’s for those who signed up for the service. Yes, service, not a freebie. I’d love to understand the business model and ROI calculations a bit more. Extending these into hotels is also clever move, but then you’ll need to figure out how to partner with the hotels who currently hold the monopoly for the visitors free time at screen. Who knew, advertisers are willing to pay that much for the attention!

How do chatbots work and how we teach them to reason?

The Decoder, AI focussed news outlet, has a weekly dose of good stories. One of them covers “Why GPT-4 learns how we think?“. As I read it, it became clear that the headline should be how, rather than why! The article suggests that LLM’s learn by absorbing content which contains a lot of folk psychology from its training data, e.g. literature, essays and opinion pieces. Well, that’s quite fascinating! Wired also published an excellent article on the basics of LLM and how they function.

To test out the capabilities of davici model, I ran a little experiment, describing a hypothetical situation and asking ChatGPT to voice its opinion. The exchange is below:

Prompt: Tom has a successful software development company that he expands every year through m&a with up to two companies. He's looking to ease his workload and decided to hire a junior m&a analyst at median market rate. He interviewed a few candidates. One candidate asked fundamental questions about business strategy, the value he is expected to deliver and success metrics of the role. After that interview Tom decided to pause hiring for the role. Why do you think he did that?

Based on the information provided, it appears that the candidate who asked fundamental questions about business strategy, the value they are expected to deliver, and success metrics of the role showed a higher level of critical thinking and strategic insight than the other candidates. This may have led Tom to realize that he needs to revisit the job description and the overall strategy of his company’s M&A activities before hiring someone for this role.

Image: Lexica prompt “chatbot providing legal advice and opinion on management”

Alternatively, Tom may have realized that the candidate’s questions revealed a misalignment between his expectations and the role he was looking to fill. In that case, he may need to reconsider the responsibilities and expectations for the M&A analyst role or explore other solutions for easing his workload.

Prompt: Tom doesn't believe in setting clear goals and strict expectations for the role. Would that change your opinion?

If Tom doesn’t believe in setting clear goals and strict expectations for the M&A analyst role, it might explain why he paused hiring after the candidate asked fundamental questions about business strategy, the value they are expected to deliver, and success metrics of the role. Tom may have realized that he needs to define clearer objectives and expectations for the role and that the candidate’s questions highlighted this need.

However, if Tom still doesn’t see the value in setting clear goals and expectations for the M&A analyst role, it could be a cause for concern. Without clear objectives and success metrics, it would be challenging for the M&A analyst to understand what they need to achieve and how their work will contribute to the company’s overall growth. This lack of clarity could lead to confusion, misaligned expectations, and a less productive work environment.

Therefore, if Tom doesn’t believe in setting clear goals and expectations for the M&A analyst role, it may be challenging to find a candidate who can effectively contribute to the company’s growth strategy without that guidance. In that case, it may be worthwhile for Tom to reconsider his approach to goal-setting and expectations, or explore other ways of managing his workload.

When you see such capability, what are your thoughts? How about legal industry, which has many word on digital paper? This Wisebot AI is a starting point, but when do we get to the point in time where all legal cases being publicly available, chatbot will provide credible legal advice and reasoning behind its opinions?

Future of tech, workplace and us in news – May 15

An interesting peek into the future of content generation and publishing. At which point will the customers of the ‘content mills’ stop caring about the human touch? Is it when they can’t distinguish between human and machine created content or when the deluge of AI-generated stuff always beats theirs for the attention? AI is already writing books, websites and online recipes – The Washington Post

DALL-E prompt “chatbot in the style of dali”

Regulation is all the rage this spring. And for a good reason, as race to the bottom gains momentum. And what about the US-China rivalry in the space as the roadblock to regulation? Will the US be driven by the FOMA or by the prospects of angry out-of-job mobs on streets? AI Regulation Fever Sweeps EU, US, and China (

Fear not, the future is bright and we must embrace, rather than try to avert it. Then again, herr Schmidhuber saying these words is on UAE payroll and their views may differ from that of EU and the US. Rise of artificial intelligence is inevitable but should not be feared, ‘father of AI’ says | Artificial intelligence (AI) | The Guardian

New technology needs new tools and approaches to managing data. This is done using Vector db. Vector database startups raise over $350M to build generative AI infrastructure – CB Insights Research

As I search for this, Bing retrieves information and I won’t bother looking any further. Is that good or bad?

Being frightened when you’re successfully flogged your firm to Google and ready to retire is OK. Yann LeCun counterargument doesn’t fill anyone with pure joy either “I completely disagree with the idea that machines will dominate humans simply because they are smarter, let alone destroy humans.” “Even within the human species, the smartest among us are not the ones who are the most dominating,” says LeCun. “And the most dominating are definitely not the smartest. We have numerous examples of that in politics and business.” Geoffrey Hinton tells us why he’s now scared of the tech he helped build | MIT Technology Review

When you start tackling the question that may frighten few influential, you’ll focus on what matters to many – restoring sight instead of altering reality as we know it. The Bionic Eye That Could Restore Vision (and Put Humans in the Matrix) – CNET

Happy with the position of tech firms with regards to your data and privacy? Gideon Lichfield from Wired interviews Signal’s Meredith Whittaker in a “Have a nice future” podcast episode “Can we get a little privacy?“. Recommended listening.

Google has taken a bit more cautious approach compared to Microsoft gong-ho about the AI search. Now the search giant is rushing out the announcements left and right. Google drops waitlist for AI chatbot Bard and announces oodles of new features – The Verge, Join the waitlist for Google’s generative AI tools, including search, Project Tailwind, & MusicLM ( All of the developments can be filed under two categories – competition (with Microsoft) and user lock-in. The latter means giving its user base free built-in tools that tie them more tightly onto Google’s ecosystem.

And so does Meta with its newly launched tools for advertisers. Enticing your users to remain on the platform is the key as with others. Meta announces generative AI features for advertisers | TechCrunch

Accuracy high % is good for the business and not so for the (frontline) workers. As LLM developers are packaging their services as PaaS, developing yours will be even easier. Wendy’s to Test Groundbreaking AI at the Drive-Thru | QSR magazine

Interesting use case for a chatbot, and a bit worrying. As an experiment, try asking these chatbots for an opinion on a PM of a not so friendly neighbouring country. Push it a bit and read the responses. People, whose main connection with the wider world is their smartphone, are especially susceptible to the messages the machine tells them. ChatGPT is spawning religious chatbots in India – Rest of World

An excellent NewYorker essay byTed Chiang exploring the bleak aspects of capitalism and how the AI race feeds the aspirations of said systems owners. “Today, we find ourselves in a situation in which technology has become conflated with capitalism, which has in turn become conflated with the very notion of progress. If you try to criticize capitalism, you are accused of opposing both technology and progress. But what does progress even mean, if it doesn’t include better lives for people who work? What is the point of greater efficiency, if the money being saved isn’t going anywhere except into shareholders’ bank accounts? We should all strive to be Luddites, because we should all be more concerned with economic justice than with increasing the private accumulation of capital. We need to be able to criticize harmful uses of technology—and those include uses that benefit shareholders over workers—without being described as opponents of technology.” Agree or not? Will A.I. Become the New McKinsey? | The New Yorker

Sinu organisatiooni IT tulevikuvaade

Aasta alguses paluti mul kirjeldada ühe riigisektori asutuse IT lähitulevikuvaade. Asutuse nime ma siin ei maini, kuid sisu ühtib paljude asutuste hetkeseisuga. Kui tunned, et saad seda kasutada, siis palun.

Sinu asutuse infotehnoloogia valdkonna ja osakonna põhilised väljakutsed ja fookusteemad lähiaastatel.

IT ei ole enam ammu lihtsalt abivahend töö tegemisel. See on muutunud peamiseks tööülesannete ja vabaaja sisustamise platvormiks, mis on endaga kaasa toonud nii jõudluse kasvu kui ka piiri hägustumise töö ja vaba aja vahel. V.a. piiratud teabega tehtavad ülesanded, on tänapäeval töötajal võimalik suuremat osa oma tööst teha seal, kus ta parasjagu aegruumis asub. Asutuse IT ning töökeskkonna struktuur ja eripära seavad terve hulga piire modernsete töökohateenuste ning koostöövahendite kasutuselevõtuks. Kui esimesed puudutavad peamiselt meie oma töötajaid ning kliente, siis teine hõlmab lisaks eelnimetatule veel väliseid partereid. Sõltumata teenustest on kõigil osapooltel sarnased ootused – pakutav peab olema kasutajasõbralik, modernne ja turvaline. Tuleviku vaates on märksõnadeks kindlasti küberturvalisuse tõstmine, koostöö riigi kesksete IT asutustega ning efektiivne arenduste ja raha juhtimine.

Mida see tegelikkuses tähendab?

Töökoha teenuste üksus peab valima seadmed ja teenused, mis tagavad kasutajatele parima võimaliku kasutajakogemuse sõltuvalt nende töö ja IT profiilist. Kasutajaseadmed peavad ’lihtsalt toimima’ nagu aastaid on Apple seadmete kohta öeldud ning tänased äriklassi arvutid koos Windows 11 ja eduka juurutusega suudavad pakkuda. Mobiilsed seadmed peavad tekitama kasutajates tunde, et see on parim nende töö tarbeks ning kasutajad ei hakka otsima alternatiivseid lahendusi. Kõike seda peab tegema eelarve piirides ning hankekorrast ja infoturbe nõuetest lähtudes. Kasutajaid tuleb pidevalt harida parimaid praktikaid rakendama ning kasutama teenuskataloogis pakutavat. Baastarkvara jt lõppkasutajale suuantud rakenduste ajakohastamine koostöös keskse teenuspakkuja kasutajatoe üksusega aitab töövõidud kiiremini koju tuua. Kindlasti peab kaaluma ühtselt juhitud 24/7 tugiteenuse sisseseadmist hiljemalt 2024 aastal. Me ei tohi unustada, et meid hinnatakse peamiselt kasutajakogemuse järgi võrreldes kasutaja eelmise kogemusega.

Fookuses parim võimalik kasutajakogemus meie tingimustes, olemasolevate süsteemide kaasajastamine ja kasutaja teadlikkuse tõstmine. Esimene eesmärk on fookuses 2023-24, teine ja kolmas on püsitegevused.

Infrastruktuuride üksus peab tagama alustaristu toimimise selliselt, et ühendused oleksid kiired, turvalised ja tagaksid kasutajatele võrreldava kogemuse sõltumata asukohast. Samuti peab tagama alustaristu toimimise ning turvalisuse ja vastavuse arendatavate ärirakendustega. Hea koostöö infoturbe, alustaristu ja kasutajatoe inimeste vahel on kriitilise tähtsusega tagamaks parimat võimalikku kasutajakogemust meile kõigile. Samuti peab hästi toimima koostöö väliste partneritega. Nendega koostöös peaks keskenduma ka infoturbe nõuetele ning vastavate lahenduste, sh keskse logihalduse juurutamisele. Peame kõigis arendustes silmas pidama ka keskse teenusepakkuja poolt pakutavaid lahendusi ja teenuseid ning koostöös nende ekspertidega juurutama lahendused, mille saaks neile üle anda vastavalt tänasele migratsioonikavale.

Fookuses robustne ja toimiv alustaristu nii peamajas kui välisesindustes, mis on arendatud koostöös kesksete IT asutuste ning väliste ekspertidega, infoturve ja automaatika. Kõik kolm on püsitegevused; infoturbe nõuetele vastavus, alustaristu värskendamine ja pilvekõlbulikuks muutmine ning logimine/infoturve on fookuses 2023-25;

Arenduste üksuse peamine fookus peab olema infosüsteemide ja ärirakenduste arendusportfelli efektiivsel juhtimisel. Koostöös keskse IT teenuste pakkujaga ning oma IT kolleegide ja riskihaldusega tuleb üle vaadata ning vajadusel muuta mittefunktsionaalseid nõuded. Kuna need puudutavad peamiselt arendatavaid ärirakendusi, peaks just arenduste üksuse arhitektid nende ajakohastamise eest seisma. Moraalselt ja tehnoloogiliselt vananenud süsteemid tuleb uuendada, et tagada nende toimimine, kasutatavus ja turvalisus. Uute süsteemide kavandamisel tuleb kindlasti arvestada agiilsete arenduspõhimõtetega – kasutajakesksus, tagasiside, kiired arendustsüklid ja etapiviisiline lähenemine. Need tagavad tunnetatava väärtuse kõige kiirema realiseerimise. Samuti tuleb koostöös infrastruktuuri üksuse ja keskse teenusepakkujaga juurutada vajalik keskkond tagamaks ärirakenduste tehnoloogilise pilvekõlbulikkuse – see aitab meil lihtsustada haldust ning valmistada rakendusi ette migratsiooniks hübriidpilve taristule. Tarneahelat on alati võimalik optimeerida ning koostööd parandada. Efektiivne kommunikatsioon aitab tagada rollide selguse, protsessidest arusaamise ja ootuste juhtimise nii asutuses, kui majast väljas.

Fookuses äriteenuste ja infosüsteemide ajakohastamine ja jätkusuutlik arendamine, tehnoloogilise võla vähendamine ja protsesside automatiseerimine. Esimene prioriteet (2023) on selge IT nõudluse ülevaate koondamine ja hindamine. Sellele järgneb äriteenuste ja rakenduste teekaarti koostamine (2023) ja planeeritud kava elluviimine (2024-27)

Tooksin välja mõned võtmesõnad, mis on kriitilise tähtsusega kõigi üksuste vaates:

  • Tehnoloogilise võla vähendamine. MKMi digiarengu asekantsleri hinnangul on riigisektori IT tehnoloogiline võlg sel aastal €100m+. Iga värskendamata süsteem ja kasutaja seade on turvanõrkus, mis suurendavad asutuse riske ning vähendavad usaldusväärsust. Meie eesmärk on kasutada meile pakutavaid vahendeid (RES ja SF) tagamaks tehnoloogiline ajakohastatus.
  • IT nõudluse keskne juhtimine. Meie kasutajad ei pruugi olla teadlikud, mida nende poolt esitatud pöördumine endaga kaasa toob. Kindlasti ei ole mõistlik, kui kogu nõudlus ilmneb vahetult enne eelarvestamise perioodi. Olen oma eelnevatel positsioonidel julgustanud kolleege varakult oma vajadused välja tooma. IT otsustab siis oma ressurssidele ja oskustele toetudes, kuidas neid vajadusi hallata ning millises mahus infot on tarvis otsuste tegemiseks. See eeldab IT analüütiku olemasolu, kes on suuteline suhtlema nii kasutajatega ja nende soovid/vajadused vormistama ühtsesse IT keelde kui ka arhitektidega ja lahenduskäigu kirjeldama. Koostöös keskse teenusepakkujaga saame luua turvalisi keskkondi (PaaS), kus ka vähese IT oskusega töötajad saavad oma töö tarbeks mikrolahendusi luua. Teeme seda aga nii, et andmed on turvatud, varundatud ja IT neist arengutest teadlik. Head näited on tuua RMK’st ja Tervisekassast, kus mittetundlike andmetega rakendused on viidud Microsoft PowerPlatform’ile hoides kokku kümneid tuhandeid eurosid ja kuude kaupa arendusaega. Lisaväärtuseks on lihtne jätkuarenduste tegemine.
  • Efektiivne suhtlus ja koostöö asutuse sees ja väliste partneritega – ratta (taas)leiutamine ei ole mõistlik, kui teistel on see juba olemas. Valime parimat võimalikku väärtust pakkuvad teenused ja teostaja – kõiki teenuseid ei pea ise osutama ning tulevikus peaks koostöö keskse teenusepakkujaga ainult kasvama.
  • Avalikud ja hübriidpilved. Pilveplatvormid on meiega ja võimaldavad meil turvaliselt ning kuluefektiivselt pakkuda teenuseid oma töötajatele ning klientidele. EITS võimaldab erinevalt ISKE’st pilveteenuste kasutuselevõtu ning 2024 algul eeldatavalt jõustuv pilvemäärus seab sellele raamid. Andmete turvalisuse ning pilveteenuste sobivuse hindamine lasub jätkuvalt andmete omanikul, kuid ka siin tuleb keskne teenusepakkuja pädeva asutusena appi.
  • Küberturbe riskide tuvastamine ja haldus. Küberrünnakud Eesti riigiasutuste vastu on viimasel 12 kuul jõudsalt kasvanud. Meie kohus on tagada oma andmete ja kasutajate turvalisus töökohal.

IT juhi fookuses on oma valdkonna efektiivne juhtimine ning teenuste toimimise tagamine. See toetub neljale sambale – inimeste arendamine, suhtekorraldus, efektiivne raha juhtimine ja ministeeriumi huvide eest seismine oma vastutusala raames. Harutan neid valdkondi pisut lahti:

  • Inimesed. Tehisintellekti (AI) areng viimasel kahel aastal on olnud muljetavaldav. Palju valdkondi, kus varem pidi palkama tippspetsialiste, on saanud endale täiendust AI ja masinõppe vallas. See ei tähenda inimeste töö kadumist, vaid osakaalude muutumist – inimene peab keskenduma masina treenimisele ning reeglite loomisele. Tootjate pingutused tähendavad aga seda, et suuresti tuleb valida juba loodud poliitikate vahelt ning rakendada neid, mis asutuse infoturbe poliitikat ellu viia aitavad. Inimesed peaksid saama rohkem aega, et oma teadmisi täiendada ja muutustele reageerida suutma. Palju tuge pakutakse meile juba täna parterite, nt. Microsofti poolt. Uudishimulik ja õppimisvõimeline töötaja tähendab keskses perspektiivis ka IT pöördumiste muutumist väärtusahelas kõrgemale. Muutuv IT roll eeldab inimesi, kes on suutelised kavandama tulevikku ning hoidma olemasolevaid süsteeme töös ja turvalisena. Juhi roll on leppida üksuste juhtidega kokku nende valdkondade arengusuunad ning leida vajalikud vahendid nende inimeste arendamiseks. Samuti toetada üksuste juhte värbamisel ja valikul ning nende endi arengul.
  • Suhtekorraldus. Seondud tihedalt esimese punktiga nii osakonna sees, kui majas ja väljaspool. Meil on hankijad, partnerid, kliendid ja teised üksused asutuse sees inimestega, kel on oma ootused ja eelarvamused. Juhi roll on tagada harmoonia oma meeskonnas ning toetada neid oma meeskondade juhtimisel. Samuti on tema hea seista väliste suhete hea toimimise eest.
  • Raha. Paar elementi, mis on vääramatud on kommertstarkvara hinnatõus, palgatõus ning arenduste ja halduskulude kasv. Tänase eelarve kohaselt rahastatakse enamusi arendusi RES’ist. Ootaksin kindlasti suuremat SF kasutust, kuni see võimalus on meil kasutada. Juhi roll on tagada IT nõudluse efektiivne juhtimine ning vajalikele ressurssidele toetuse leidmine juhtkonnas ja MKM’s.
  • Ministeeriumi huvid. See punkt seondub kolme eeltooduga. RIT’i, RIA jt. riigi IT majade ning väliste partneritega saame koostööd parandada ja koos veelgi paremat digiriiki luua. Juhi roll on leida võimalused pakutava ja ministeeriumi vajaduste ning ootuste vahel. Samuti otsustada, mida teha ise ja mida sisse osta.

Books on work

I have been checwing through a list of books on work and workspace. Read, thought about, considered and discussed with other like-mind individuals:

Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us

The Smarter Working Manifesto

The Joy of Work?: Jobs, Happiness and You

Business Reimagined: Why work isn’t working and what you can do about it

First book on the list was kind starting point thinking about the work and workplace/workspace as such. What really motivates us to do what we do and how we do those activities. Finding flow as Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi describes here is a truly rewarding feeling, however can be exhaustive after long periods.

Smarter Working Manifesto is discussion about the finding the most appropriate place for tasks we perform – office, home, caffe shop, library, etc. This also lists good amount of food for thought for those planning to offer flexible working to their workforce.

The Joy of Work discusses our relationship with work – why we prefer to work rather than sit idle. Loads of references and long list of suggested reading. Best to read it and conclude whether applicable to your situation or not – Amazon reviews help.

And still to go through:

Planning Office Spaces: A Practical Guide for Managers and Designers

Workplace by Design: Mapping the High-Performance Workscape

Sound Business: How to Use Sound to Grow Profits and Brand Value

The Human Fabric

A Brief History of Tomorrow: The Future Past and Present

Leading from the Emerging Future: From Ego-System to Eco-System Economies

Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness

The Future of Management

The Shift

Weekly reading list – social, cloud and brains

Alongside meetings and events I have come across a number of interesting articles.

Here’s the list:

Mobile is The New Face of engagement – an executive summary by Forrester research (

Why Amazon and Salesforce are pulling away from the cloud pack – good article and follow-up discussion on #cloud, #saas, #paas and disruptive technologies (

Three Ways to Think Deeply at Work – how to use short disruptive tasks to focus on larger problems and working in four hour blocks uninterrupted to achieve result. (

5 Ways To Transform Meetings With Tablets – some disruptive ideas for the enterprise. However I still favour one screen and NO laptops nor tablets in an engaging meeting. Big screen – yes, digital whiteboard – even better! That’s at least what we use for internal development meetings. (

EC sets out strategy for EU cloud data and standards – more centralised thinking coming form the #EC. Good if this is to set out ONE framework and member states need to abolish their own #cloud legislation. However there’s one massive flaw here (as well as in #EU in general) – none of the member states are usually forced to follow this framework and larger players don’t want to let go of their own. Good initiative anyway. (

Flexible approach to working

Going through my weekly news feeds I came across some thoughts by Guy Horton on dissolving office space as we know it. In article “The Indicator: My Head is in the Cloud Office” he discusses flexible approach to work, one that should be embraced by architects. I would extend it to majority of professions where work does not need to happen at work, i.e. people not in front-line services. There are some good reasons for this phenomena, some are described in rather amusing way by Jason Fried in his presentation that can be found at TED web page.

Quite understandably people are more creative and even effective in environments that suite them best. Some are more concentrated and effective at the office, some anywhere, but the office. This is due to distractions in the office. I used to take Friday as my admin day that I spent working from home just to wrap up the week and concentrate on the tasks from that week. On the flip side, managers (and not only those micro-managing their workforce) are afraid of lost productivity.

Guy offered a solution by ‘Cloud Office’ where people actually get together in to office when actually required of when just stopping by. Using the up-to-date toolkit – mobile broadband, Skype, Google Apps, Microsoft Live Meeting, Citrix, Webex, etc. – mobile workforce does not really need the office in its traditional form. What Guy described is actually in existence already – well, at least as a term. It is ‘virtual office’ as defined here and offered by various service providers.

I believe this is the only way in the future for the small and medium size firms. There are yet many team leaders and line managers though who believe that good results can be only achieved by attending the office 9-5 with overtime allowed where required… Instead they should look into offering flexible working to their workforce. At the end of the day, what difference it makes if I my day starts at 11:00 and I finish around 20:00? If I am not a morning person, there is no way I am going to be active and effective before lunchtime.

There are a few factors that may make generation X managers to embrace the approach which generation Y wants to follow:

  • Higher rents in dense urban areas (read: cities) drive people further out to suburbs, smaller towns and countryside.
  • Finding talent from ‘your’ area is getting more difficult.
  • Cost of running the office.
  • Flexibility – contract staff can be hired for when the need is higher, again at lower cost.
  • Weather – no explanation needed here. Just look outside your window, dear UK reader! How is the work supposed to get don in these circumstances when people can’t get out of their homes!?
  • Travel – cost again in many cases. Working in virtual functional or project teams where team members do/can not have in the same location.
  • Time – this is what we usually don’t have. Time spent on travel for average londoner is getting near 2 hours each day.

The cost is only one factor, but a great one. To run an office in a city centre is luxury for many smaller firms. Hence some start-ups rent phones and mailboxes in the City and space (if at all) in less reputable areas.

Those who follow more traditional approach face costs around £2000 for a new office workplace. This takes account all the IT kit, licensing and furniture and is rather moderate.

There are some variations though as many companies only work effectively when there is a number of contributors around the table. Having worked in IT department where the four people dealt with infrastructure and application support sitting opposite to one another, this approach was a necessity to meet the SLA’s. I came across this solution in London advertising agency Mother. They built a long table where everyone sits. Or actually, the staff moves around not to get too comfortable and start nesting in their corner. Being an established, successful agency and part of a larger group one may be able to afford to lease / buy / rent large office space and turn it into creative powerhouse with enough room to think. This is unfortunately a no-go for small start-up’s.

Image courtesy of Mothers Who Work.

In my view there are way more professions than just creative industry that can do without the traditional office. Designers, software houses, roaming engineers, accountants – this list could be quite long. All that businesses need to do is think and plan ahead before making any long term commitments.

We do not need fancy offices to get Britain economy moving again, we need more innovation, creative ideas, less traditional approach and government support.

Smart, smarter and even smarter…

I have been following industry news for smart systems for years. Starting with smart phones back in 2000 (see my first not very smart phone) the communication industry has turned into IT and many traditional electronic companies are where nobody expected them even 15 years ago. Good examples are Siemens, IBM and Nokia whereas some of their competitors (read: Samsung, Sharp, etc.) are desperately trying to tap into every part of the consumer and corporate ICT market. I am slightly puzzled what direction some energy companies are driving – they seem to want to do anything that looks forward-thinking, intelligent and progressive, but seem to go for world domination. Remember ENRON? All the big promises and very little innovation. Nevertheless, we consumers are getting more gadgets to play with, have smarter cars and home appliances and occasional deja-vu feeling when ordering goods or reading news targeted specifically to us.

In my view we can split the smart systems into two broad categories – IT systems that provide rich content by manipulating data (collect via sensors, mine and report) and utility services that have IT attached to them to provide the users all sorts of outputs.

Let’s take a look at some of the components that form ‘smart systems’. Please bear in mind this is a very simplified take.

First – the data. Data is all around us. Over past 20 or so years we have seen more and more sensors popping up that gather data about our behavioural patterns. The way we go about our everyday business, where, how and what do we spend our (occasionally not disposable) income. In order to make sense of that data, it needs to be structured and then manipulated. Once past data structuring we get to information layer. This is where some intelligence is applied which results in customer-based suggestions like Amazon and many other on-line retailers do.
Any business that wants to stay on top of and exceed their customer expectations need to gather and manipulate data, and action on it. This is becoming true for the other service providers as well. Take utilities for example. Here in the UK we are very good at switching the suppliers like socks. There are even specialised services that keep us all informed of the best offers. Good magazine came up with an infograph about the world of data. Looking at sources, I have a rough guess it amounts for the data generated by non-corporate users.

Second – devices. Smartphones, laptops, netbooks, tablets, wireless appliances, home electronics – the list is endless. Those are all must-haves today. At least it seems to be true for the western society. All these gizmos and gadgets are here to enhance our on-line experience. Which does not mean these devices always improve our productivity. Turning on location sensor on our smartphone lets our Facebook friends know that we are in Liverpool this weekend, not in London. This can be positive, as your friends will know they can’t land in your flat after night out. Similarly there are cases where people have been burglared due to over-eager tweeting while on holiday. Moving away from the devices that we carry along to more integrated systems takes us… home. Smart homes are the next big thing when the technology becomes available to the majority of public. Currently it is too expensive to sway average Joe over from his more traditional systems. Another side to the ‘smart’ problem is fear of losing control over one’s home appliances. Or even worse – giving it to the energy companies who can then decide how and when to tell your washing machine to start to save you more. Energy companies should do a bit more to persuade their customers to be more trusting if they want to succeed. as you leave home by car, you’ll meet even more smart systems hidden in your vehicle (well, at least the newer ones). BMW and Audi are taking it a step further working towards Smart Cities which have energy flowing and cars take care of driving. Which nicely ties into IBM Smarter Systems for Smarter Planet programme. IBM has taken its intelligence gathered over the years and plugged it into the project to make this world a better place. Or so I hope. Another similar programme is launched by Sony – Open Planet Ideas. I can’t help, but some of it looks like a greenwash to me as a large number of companies are trying to boost their credibility by being green. I mean – literally redesigning their products and websites from black (equals luxury) to green (equals err… environmentally positive?).
Back in April Intel was announcing its ever growing interest in energy sector. Their approach is again customer centric. PCWorld article “Intel’s experimental sensor analyzes appliance power consumption from single outlet” describes this as something wanting to be your best friend. What many customers do not get is this – what’s in this for the utilities supplier? What value is generated to the shareholders by ensuring your customers consume more efficiently and pay lower bills. There are more unsolved mysteries out there…

Third – consumerisation. Consumerisation ties closely in with previous component – devices. This term came into use in 2009 when major players started to talk about need for flexibility among corporate workforce. Let people decide what devices they want to use (latest technology vs. corporate tool-set) and improve their productivity this way. What many are not talking about is supportability. Apple mobile products are very smart, but those are targeted for the consumer market. Large corporations CIO’s are not simply wiling to take on supporting unsupportable user hardware. Good luck fighting the Y-generation!

Fourth – optimisation. When it comes to re-engineering business or any other processes, the first step should be optimisation. Having meaningful information make optimisation way easier. IBM worked with City of Stockholm to optimise its traffic system. They set out to collect toll charges electronically, predict traffic flows/patterns and provide live information to the commuters. The strategy was to use workload optimised systems, virtualisation and flexible delivery models. Result?
* City traffic is down by 18%
* CO2 emissions have been cut by between 14-18%
* Ridership on public transport has increased by 60,000 passengers per day

I would call this an optimisation and progress. There are many cities in Europe that should try to catch up and exceed these results (hint: London).

To pull all these aspects together, we have loads of sensor-rich devices all around us, that generate a load of data of which to some extent can be used to drive our behavioural patterns at home and at work. Do we like it? Well… we don’t actively fight it.
I plan to continue discussion on this topic, watch this space.

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