Interview With Cto Of Motorola Solutions (Dec. 2011)
Business: CTO Offers Insight Into the Potential of Wireless« Roger Crockett | Business. Leadership. Diversity.http://rocrockett.com/2011/12/business-bringing-out-the-full-potential-of-w ireless-technology/ December 21, 2011Paul Steinberg is Chief Technology Officer at Motorola Solutions Inc., which broke away from theformer Motorola Inc to sell mobile systems and solutions to government agencies and enterprises.Steinberg is one of Motorola’s most accomplished executives, widely recognized as an expert inplatform technologies, IP networking, operating systems and vertical applications. He is a memberof the Federal Communications Commission’s Technical Advisory Council, and holds several USpatents. In addition to Steinberg’s technical prowess, he is also admired for his ability to speak inplain English, with humor and empathy.On Dec. 1, Steinberg joined me onstage for a “fireside chat” at the luxurious Grand Del Mar resort inSan Diego. Steinberg was the luncheon keynote (and I the moderator) at M3 Mobility Exchange, a new, and frankly, impressively innovative event designed to help executives in the health, retailand financial services industries bring the full potential of wireless technology—the most pervasiveand important technology of the day—to bear in their respective enterprise environments. Most ofthe 150-odd executives in attendance were CIOs or some flavor of mobile practitioner at the theirorganizations. So they were believers. They simply needed help applying the promise of mobiletechnology to the realities of their specific workplaces. Amid a barrage of competing technologiesand the pressures of a still-soft global economy, that’s no small feat. Steinberg’s insight, passionand vision helped. Here are edited excerpts from five of the chat’s segments:“Technology will do some of the thinking for users in the future.”1. Crockett: Smartphones and tablets have redefined consumer activity. What does “nextgeneration enterprise mobility” mean in your mind?Steinberg: The next generation of enterprise mobility means having all the associates in anenterprise enabled with the right technology to get the right information at the right time. No more. Itlets them do whatever they need to, whenever and wherever they want.As more data is available to factor into workers’ decisions and actions — including telemetry, voice,video and data — technology will need to do some of the “thinking” for users, and the enterprise. Sothings like analytics understand what is important to a user at a given time. RFID technology allowsa worker to do a simple inventory scan. Video lets people recognize what they need to stock ontheir retail shelves, or who is loitering in the back alley. Innovation is occurring in key areas such as
hands-free operation and adaptive networking that introduces devices that pick the right network atthe right time—whether that’s a Wi-Fi network or a carrier network. The result is that the mobileworker is empowered.“Every technology and product, across almost any industry, will be disrupted.”2. Crockett: You mentioned innovation. Motorola has had its hits and misses over the years. Whatis the secret to successful innovation?Steinberg: I’m a fan of the book the The Innovator’s Dilemma by Clayton Christensen, and it drivessome of our thinking at Motorola Solutions. The basic idea here is that it is almost inevitable thatevery technology and product position, across almost any industry, will be disrupted at some pointby a different technology or approach. Motorola itself has been victim of this during the transitionfrom Analog to Digital cellular technology. There is the old adage that one has to keep “eating yourown young,” meaning disrupting oneself. At Motorola Solutions, we use a concept that we call theEBO (Emerging Business Office) to internally incubate ideas that don’t follow a logical progression.In other words, for product development that doesn’t follow a typical roadmap. It’s not so easy tolook outside of that roadmap. But it’s useful. It’s essential to allow yourself to learn where thedisruptions might come in.Crockett: Does this require a lot of resources?The investment is pretty modest. It comes down to an optional bet on the future. It is essentially asmall internal VC-like entity that manages a funnel with some discrete funding. The ideas runthrough hurdles or milestones in order to move forward. The key is that you have to be ruthlessabout pruning back. Some ideas, no matter how good they seem, just won’t make it. So it’simportant to move these out of the way quickly and move on to new ones. If you’re not careful youcan get attached to a few ideas and zap the funding.“We are a media centric society. Every minute, 48 hours of content is uploaded.”3. Crockett: The 1990s was all about personal productivity. Now the focus has shifting to what youcall “collective intelligence.” What is that and what is critical about it for businesses?Steinberg: First, It’s important to address some of the industry shifts and technology disruptionstaking place today. Smart devices are taking over. Smartphones have surpassed personalcomputers in units shipped. We are a media centric society now. Every minute, 48 hours of contentis uploaded to YouTube – that’s 8 years of content uploaded every day. Social networks are on therise. Facebook has more than 800 million active users and more than 350 million users accessingthe site through their mobile devices. This is the way people collaborate now. Especially when youthink of the workforce of the future. The Internet is accessible everywhere. So, collective intelligenceis about distributed learning and collaboration via the deployment of mobile enterprise devices andsocial software. The model is no longer a hub-spoke design. In the past mobile data was designedto flow from one point to me at the other end. Now, everybody is a contributor now matter where theyare in the wheel. In real time.Crockett: How does that change the enterprise?For today’s enterprise, it means every worker is connected and collaborating – enabling the true“mobile worker.” Today’s mobile workers expect instant information and communications. Workersare from a younger generation, raised on mobile and social media. Email and texting istransitioning to social communication. So workplaces have to provide smart, task-appropriatedevices that offer instant access to rich-media information and communications.”Government agencies and others are experimenting with devices with dualpersonalities.”4. Crockett: Companies are understandably nervous about security. What can you say to putpeople at ease? How should they approach security?
Steinberg: Putting people at ease is no easy task. There is no single solution capable ofeliminating all threats, particularly when it comes to securing endpoints, which is what each mobiledevice represents. The most practical approach to reducing anxiety around security is to take stepsto reduce risks associated with the use of shared networks. When it comes to security, the bestapproach is to be proactive. Architect your network to ensure a level of security based onsegmentation, use a private network for sensitive applications and a public network for generalaccess.. Obviously, establish policies governing network access and monitor the networks toensure compliance. And deploy a wireless intrusion prevention system (WIPS) to protect wirelessenterprise networks against intrusions by unauthorized, what we call “rogue” devices.Crockett: Speaking of rogue devices, IT departments sometimes consider employee-owned-devices rogue, which is frustrating to workers that want to use one device. What’s the answer?Steinberg: We call this scenario BYOD or Bring Your Own Device. We are looking at ways tofoster BYOD by allowing secure applications to exist with integrity within an otherwise untrustedphysical platform—the workers personal device. One solution that government agencies and othersare experimenting with is a device with a dual personality. Meaning that I can be me at home usingmy personal email, Facebook, etc. But I am Paul the employee when I enter the work area usingenterprise networks. It’s important to secure the two personalities and separate them from eachother. Think of Sybil. You don’t want the two personalities to cross. You don’t want retail pricing, forexample, to be visible on a personal or untrusted part of the device. Ideally you want as muchinformation as possible to be stored in the enterprise cloud. But managing BYOD is hard to do.That’s why a lot of enterprises don’t support employees’ personal devices. “We are re-imagining technology with wearable computing and augmented reality.” 5. Crockett: Give readers a glimpse of the future. What cool technology is coming down the pike? Steinberg: Well, we are re-imagining the way our end-users engage with technology and access information. We’re looking at innovation through the lens of our customers. For example, we’re focusing on “wearable computing” and “augmented reality.” We’ve partnered with a company called Kopin todevelop a voice-activated head mounted computer that features a small display mounted on an armjust below the right eye, so that the user can gather information relevant to the task at hand, or lookaround it to focus on a different task. It can be applied to many different markets. In public safety, forexample, an officer must always have a clear focus on the scene ahead – knowing that a seeminglyinnocuous circumstance can go bad in an instant. We are looking at how we augment the officer’sawareness of his environment. We’re developing intelligent goggles with graphical displays in thelenses. They project information directly into the field of vision, overlaying what the user is looking atwith relevant callouts or alerts So whether you’re in a warehouse operating a forklift or on a retailfloor, when you look at something a palate of boxes or a shelf full of beverages you see a display fullof information we get only on our tablets or smartphones now.
Author: Roger O. CrockettRoger Crockett is a veteran business writer, thought leader and speaker. He is the former Chicagodeputy bureau manager for BusinessWeek magazine.