Carleton University establishes research chair dedicated to Internet of Things

OTTAWA – Carleton University and Cisco Canada have announced a $1.8-million grant over the next nine years to establish a research chair in sensor technology for the Internet of Things, and appointed Dr. Mohamed Ibnkahla to the position.

Dr. Ibnkahla, who joins Carleton from Kingston ON’s Queen’s University, will be working as a professor in the department of systems and computer engineering. The focus of his research is to develop new, innovative sensor networks and technologies for the Internet of Things (IoT).

The IoT sensor solutions could apply to many areas, including protecting species at risk, patient monitoring, water quality monitoring, intelligent transportation systems, smart homes and buildings, advanced manufacturing and food traceability. They will help companies and industries improve bottom-line value by reducing costs while increasing efficiency and reliability, reads the announcement.

“With this chair, Carleton and Cisco confirm a strong partnership dedicated to bringing the technology of the future to the service of society”, said Carleton University president Roseann O’Reilly Runte, in the announcement.  “With the work of Dr. Ibnkahla and his colleagues, we will contribute to Ottawa’s well-deserved reputation as a smart city.”

“Cisco is building collaborative partnerships with universities, governments and organizations across Canada to foster innovation, drive digitization and support economic development”, added Cisco Canada president Bernadette Wightman.  “This Research Chair underscores our longstanding relationship with Carleton University and together we recognize the countless opportunities the Internet of Things and sensor-based technologies hold for broadscale innovation in this digital age. We look forward to Dr. Ibnkahla and his team joining our Cisco innovation community.”


Why Waterloo, Ont., is set to dominate the Internet of Things market

Everything from restaurant kitchens to sailboats will be connected

By Andrea Bellemare, CBC News Posted: May 04, 2015 12:20 PM ETLast Updated: May 05, 2015 7:13 AM ET

Imagine being able to check your sailboat’s humidity levels from your office, find out the grain levels in a silo in a back pasture, or even order a beer at a hockey game from the comfort of your seat and have it delivered to you.

These scenarios are all already reality, or close to it, thanks to a collection of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., companies working to bring the Internet of Things to daily life, and move the region ahead from its BlackBerry-dominated past.

The companies are at the forefront of an emerging market of technologies that are likely to be widely adopted and change the way we live. The Internet of Things (IoT) market could:

  • Be worth more than $6.5 billion in the next three years in Canada alone, according to industry research group IDC.
  • Make daily life easier, and save you money on everything from insurance to heating costs to money spent on EpiPens.
  • Better track everything from food-borne illnesses to municipal water supply leaks.

“There was a time when everyone wanted to be connected, whether it’s Facebook, Twitter or what have you, and now what we’re discovering is that everything, similarly, wants to be connected,” said Ric Asselstine, CEO of Terepac.

The Waterloo company has entered into a deal with the Port Credit Yacht Club in Mississauga to put sensors on sailboats that monitor everything from humidity to whether the boat is listing, and send notifications to the boat owner as well as the marina.

More about…

Revisiting Theodore Levitt and “Marketing Myopia”

Some business “fundamentals” change over time.  Others don’t, and the lessons of “Marketing Myopia” continue to apply fifty-four years after publication.

Theodore Levitt was born in 1925 in Germany, and in 1935, with his family, fled Nazi Germany for the US.  He earned a PhD in Economics from Ohio State University, began teaching at North Dakota State, and joined the faculty at the Harvard Business School in 1959.  He retired from there in 1990, having served as the editor of the Harvard Business Review from 1985 until his retirement.  He wrote eight books and 25 articles published in HBR.  In 1983, he created the term “globalization” as a strategic phenomenon. One of his singular accomplishments with the publication of “Marketing Myopia” was to vault marketing to a primary role in business; prior to that, it was a “corporate stepchild” (his words).  []

In 1960, Levitt published “Marketing Myopia” in the July-August issue of the Harvard Business Review.  It has become one of the most widely read and quoted papers in strategy. The lessons were valuable then, and remain so now.

The opening paragraph of the paper is gripping:

“Every major industry was once a growth industry. But some that are now riding a wave of growth enthusiasm are very much in the shadow of decline. Others that are thought of as seasoned growth industries have actually stopped growing. In every case, the reason growth is threatened, slowed, or stopped, is not because the market is saturated. It is because there has been a failure of management.”

He then uses the railroads as an example of how management failed:

“The railroads did not stop growing because the need for passenger and freight transportation declined.  That grew.  The railroads are in trouble today not because that need was filled by other (cars, trucks, airplanes, and even telephones) but because it was not filled by the railroads themselves.  They let others take customers away from them because they assumed themselves to be in the railroad business rather than in the transportation business.  The reason they defined their industry incorrectly was that they were railway oriented, not transportation oriented; they were product oriented instead of customer oriented.”

He calls this an “error of analysis” – defining an industry, product or “cluster of know-how” so narrowly that loss of competitive advantage is assured.

Looking at the company logos in Figure 1, we can see some companies that clearly have their best days behind them, some that have reinvented themselves, and some whose best days are probably still in the future.

Growth companies past present and future

Figure 1:  Growth Companies:  Past, Present, and Future?

Applying Levitt’s thinking, what business was Kodak in?  Memories?  Photography?  Image capture?  Wet chemistry?

What about Google?  Search?  Advertising? Data management/organization?

The story arc of “Marketing Myopia” starts with that epic description of management failure along with some rather compelling examples.  Not shying away from controversy, he continues to develop the reasons why this happens:

“The history of every dead and dying ‘growth’ industry shows a self-deceiving cycle of bountiful expansion and undetected decay. There are four conditions that usually guarantee this cycle:

    1. The belief that growth is assured by an expanding and ever more affluent population;
    2. The belief that there is no competitive substitute for the industry’s major product;
    3. Too much faith in mass production and the advantages of rapidly declining unit costs as output rises;
    4. Preoccupation with a product that lends itself to carefully controlled scientific experimentation, improvement, and manufacturing cost reduction.

 The Population Myth

Levitt argues that the old “rising tide lifts all boats” mentality leads to lazy managerial behavior.  “An expanding market,” he writes, “keeps the manufacturer from having to think very hard or imaginatively.  If thinking is an intellectual response to a problem, then the absence of a problem leads to an absence of thinking. If your product has an automatically expanding market, then you will not give much thought to how to expand it.”  In essence, companies practice active ignorance of the adoption lifecycle.  The nature of competition is principally around adding incremental features and improvements to an established product.

Rising Tide

Figure 2:  The Rising Tide Requires Suspension of Belief

The Indispensability Myth

The belief that there is no competitive substitute for what an industry offers is caused by a very narrow definition of the product:  railroads, not transportation; gasoline, not energy; PCs, not productivity. There are two effects of this type of thinking: first, like in the population myth, resources within a firm will be directed to making improvements in the core product.  The second effect is more profound:  no resources will be directed to displacing the core product.  “If a company’s own research does not make a product obsolete, another’s will,” wrote Levitt.  (It’s amazing that this advice still falls on deaf ears!) These effects lead to complacent behavior, which will immediately turn defensive when disruptive products arrive from (unforeseen) competitors.

Production Solves Everything Myth

The previous two conditions cause a drive to increase production to lower unit costs and higher profits.  Research efforts are (once again) focused on how to improve the current product, which leads to a massive investment in the status quo.

It also leads to a lot of inventory, which drives the need for a great deal of selling.  Levitt is quick to point out that selling is not marketing; in fact, in the drive to unload all this production as quickly as possible, marketing gets neglected.  Selling is a company-centric activity, he maintains, whereas marketing is a customer-focused activity.

The net result of all this focus on production and selling is that “the product fails to adapt to the constantly changing patterns of consumer needs and tastes, to new and modified marketing institutions and practices, or to product developments in competing of complementary industries.  The industry has its eyes so firmly on its own specific product that it does not see how it is being made obsolete.”

R&D Breeds Success Myth

It is natural, and is actually at the root of the “fundamental challenge of strategy”, that a company that becomes successful by selling a technically superior product, will try and make it more technical, and thus more superior.  It gets management close to “Field of Dreams” thinking:  If we build it, buyers will come. “…[G]rowth is a matter of continued product innovation and improvement.”

Somewhat predictably, this also leads to massive investments in status quo, incremental improvements in product, and very defensive behavior with respect to competition.

What is the missing element from all these conditions?


Technology-based firms tend to have technology-based management, and technology-based management often would rather not deal with customers.  To them (using Levitt’s words, and one of the great phrases of business writing), “customers are unpredictable, varied, fickle, stupid, shortsighted, stubborn and generally bothersome.

But, he concludes: “An industry begins with the customer and his or her needs, not with a patent, a raw material, or a selling skill.”

Levitt primarily used the petroleum industry to demonstrate how these myths led to flawed decision-making; I would suggest that using the PC industry (and particularly Microsoft’s behavior in the 2000’s) make an equally compelling case.

PC and Microsoft sales

Figure 3:  PC Sales as Category Matures

Both are examples of product-centric industries; shortly after the iPad was introduced, Steve Jobs proclaimed it the “post-PC era”.  Steve Ballmer of Microsoft countered that it was the “PC-Plus” era.  Whichever it was, more people wanted to consume digital content on tablets than they did on PCs, regardless of how fast the PC was, how big the hard drive was, how much RAM it had, the resolution of it’s display, or the version of the operating system.


Summarizing the lessons from “Marketing Myopia” in four simple bullets:

  • Success derives from continually developing value for customers
  • Customers don’t buy products, they buy solutions (Levitt was an early proponent of the “jobs to be done” school of thought.  He often said that “people don’t want a quarter inch drill, they want a quarter-inch hole”.)
  • Staying in touch with the market is essential for survival, but survival is not a lofty goal
  • Great leaders “…feel the surging success of commercial mastery…have the visceral feel of entrepreneurial greatness.”


101 Innovations in Scholarly Communication – the Changing Research Workflow

09.01.2015, 11:14 (GMT) by Bianca KramerJeroen Bosman

Poster presented at Force 2015


In the fast developing world of scholarly communication it is good to take a step back and look at the patterns and processes of innovation in this field. To this end, we have selected 101 innovations (in the form of tools & sites) and graphically displayed them by year and also according to 6 phases of the research workflow: collection of data & literature, analysis, writing, publishing & archiving, outreach and assessment. This overview facilitates discussion on processes of innovation, disruption, diffusion, consolidation, competition and success, but also of failure and stagnation, over the last 3 decades. We describe some of the trends, expectations, uncertainties, opportunities and challenges within each of the workflow phases. Also, based on the graphical overview we present a juxtaposition of typical traditional, innovative and experimental workflows.

Accompanying material (see links below)

1) Survey on real-world tool usage (open until Feb 2016)

2) Database of 400+ tools (Google Spreadsheet)

3) Database of 101 tools + workflows


Original source:

Who was Amyr Klink?

Amyr Klink (born September 25, 1955 in São Paulo, Brazil) is an explorer and sailor. His project “Antarctica 360” was circumnavigating the Antarctic continent on his own, in 79 days in 1998.
Klink has written seven books about his voyages, including Between Two Poles about his trip from Antarctica to the Arctic Pole, starting in 1989 and taking 642 days. Klink helped in the construction of the polar vessel used in this trip, named Paratii after the town of Paraty in the state of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
His chronicles 100 Days Between Sea and Sky reports on how he crossed the Atlantic Ocean in 100 days on his own by rowing a small boat with his arms in 1984 from Africa to the state of Bahia in Brazil. The food portions in this trip were compacted into packages of lyophilized food, especially designed for him by a food processing company in Brazil.
In 2002, Klink has completed an experimental phase of one of his project “A Trip to China” – a trip around the world through a maritime path that had never been explored before: the Arctic Circle. The project’s first phase was successfully accomplished between January 30 and April 6, 2002: Klink and crew left the Antarctic Circle, visiting Margarida Bay in the Bellingshausen Sea (in the extreme south of the Antarctic Peninsula). From there, the ship stopped in South Georgia before returning to Brazil.
Amyr was born to a Lebanese father and a Swedish mother. He moved to Paraty when he was two. Klink is a member of the Royal Geographic Society. He married Marina Bandeira in 1996 and has three daughters.


Intel developer kit focuses on IoT market

By Agam Shah (IDG News Service) – Oct 1, 2014 1:10 PM

Intel has released a developer kit so that programmers can write and deploy JavaScript applications for “Internet of things” and sensor devices.

The APIs (application programming interfaces) in the XDK IoT Edition software development kit will help collect sensor information and link devices to Web services. Developers can also write companion HTML5 applications for mobile devices and PCs that work in conjunction with IoT apps to remotely control devices.

Intel is looking to put its chips in power-constrained devices, and IoT represents a growth opportunity for the chip maker. Past estimates have pegged the number of IoT devices to reach between 30 billion and 50 billion by 2020.

Developers can test IoT applications on Intel’s Edison or Galileo developer boards before deployment, Intel said. The boards are based on Intel’s low-power Quark processor and also support scripts written with the popular Arduino hardware and SDK.

The developer kit is an offshoot of Intel’s XDK, a cross-platform programming tool for mobile devices, PCs and embedded devices. The XDK programming tool supports more APIs and has similar features for remote control of devices through HTML5 applications. For example, developers can write applications so users can control robots through mobile devices.

The IoT variant of the SDK could also be used for wearables, which are equipped with sensors to gather information. Intel considers wearables a key part of the IoT market and last month showed clothing, helmets, watches and other electronics with sensors. Some of the wearables were developed using the Edison board.

Intel announced the XDK IoT Edition on the same day ARM announced an operating system called mbed for IoT at the TechCon conference in Santa Clara, California.

Microsoft’s Visual Studio writes and debugs applications for low-power IoT devices. The company has also slimmed down Windows 8 to work on Intel’s Galileo board.

Class of 2013: Your Careers Will Be Volatile and Risky. Learn to Love It

Written by  - Chairman and CEO at GE

Earlier this month, I delivered the commencement address at the University of Connecticut’s Graduate School. I also received an honorary degree – which really wasn’t fair. The graduates worked their butts off. Me? I just had to show up and voila: Dr. Immelt.

Still, it was a tremendous privilege. UConn is a great school and its graduates are poised to do great things. Here is part of what I told them.


Thomas Edison said that he looked at what the world needed and then proceeded to invent it. He was always on the lookout… the lookout for what was next… the lookout for ways in which we could make the world better.

That spirit still drives us. At GE, we consider constant learning a cultural cornerstone. It defines not just our founding but also our future.

I hope the same is true for today’s graduates.

The world is volatile, uncertain, global and complicated. Growth is slow. But that should not be discouraging. Instead, it’s a challenge. I want to summon determination. Graduates should be optimistic; believe in better. The world awaits your leadership.

Success in the 21 century will come to those that that can get in front of the trends, move quickly, innovate, and work together to deliver results. And our ability to contribute to the century in which we live will come down to our willingness and ability to do five things.

Change, Learn, Risk, Persist and Lead.

First, accept and lead change

We can’t wait for the economy to stabilize. We can’t wait for a time when there is more certainty. It used to be that you only had to manage momentum. Today, you have to create your own future. And that means change.

Just a few years ago, I never thought GE would be a software company. That was the domain of startups and “cool companies,” not 19th century companies like GE. Today, we see analytics and software as an imperative. We can connect big iron and big data to create brilliant machines. Think cleaner and more efficient jet engines, power plants, and hospital systems.

We are hiring the next generation of leaders to help us. But the “old dogs” – people like me – really are learning new tricks. And we have to.

Continuously innovate in your lifetime, regardless of your profession and regardless of past performance. You must choose change.

But to change, you need to learn

Somebody once asked Edison about a failure. He famously replied: “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

That perspective remains a great lesson in constant learning. While I wouldn’t recommend making a habit out of failure, we can never allow ourselves to become paralyzed by the fear of not reaching our intended outcome. If anything, perfection only tells us our goals aren’t bold enough.

So, be humbled by what you don’t know.

In 1989, I led GE’s Appliance Service business. We had a catastrophic failure of our refrigerators and had to replace over three million compressors – one of the major components in the appliance that keep things cold. To understand what went wrong, I knew I had to get my hands dirty.

So I did. I went into people’s homes to fix the refrigerators. And let me tell you, there’s no better way to learn from failure or to be humbled than for a math major to sit on someone’s kitchen floor while the ice cream melts.

Every failure only brings you that much closer to truth. To invention. To success. To an outcome that matters.

Learning builds confidence. If you are confident, you will take risks. The best leaders I have ever met are risk takers

Today, GE is the country’s second largest exporter behind Boeing. I can tell you firsthand – it’s a big risk starting businesses around the world.

You have to overcome both the cultural and trust challenges that often exist abroad and the resistance and fear at home.

I understand the fear, especially at a time when unemployment remains higher than any of us would like. But we can’t close our eyes and pretend the rest of the world doesn’t exist or can’t compete. We can’t assume today’s solutions will work tomorrow. And we can never afford to say: “It’s too risky; I’m afraid to fail.”

For inspiration, look to entrepreneurs, look at start-ups. They often put everything on the line for one idea, something they pursue with passion and focus.

In your lifetime, you will learn that sitting still is failure. We must move forward … we must drive change. So be comfortable with risk.

If you accept the ideas of risk and change you must also be resilient

When you take a risk, you might not succeed. Get up, dust yourself off and keep going. American manufacturing is a great example.

For too long, our country bought into a notion that said we could more or less abandon manufacturing and become a services only economy, and we could do that without second-thought or any consequences. We learned an important lesson: manufacturing – our ability and willingness to make things — is critical to our competitiveness.

Today, we are seeing confidence and competitiveness in much of our workforce. American workers are flexible, and most of them love to compete. We can win anywhere. But only because we persist. Only because of resiliency.

Expect obstacles. Prepare for setbacks. Your determination will make you better.

But getting better takes leadership

Today, in the era of 24-hour news and social media, it is easy to blame everyone for everything. But leadership is not about blame, it is about optimism and creating the way forward.

In tough times, people don’t want someone who will say: “We’re doomed. Might as well give up.” Instead, they want someone who can draw a play in the dirt and say, “Let’s go do it.” Someone willing to make a bold decision even and especially in the face of uncertainty.

Understand that leadership is not a chore; it’s a choice. It’s an honor. It’s about bringing people together and getting the job done. It’s about getting in the arena, getting your hands dirty. It’s about being true to yourself and lifting up others. It’s about being authentic and transparent.

I have not had a perfect career. Rather, my life has been about self-renewal, learning from failure, and a powerful optimism that the future will be better than the past.

We could all look around and accept today’s challenges as insurmountable. Or we can use them to inspire action. See the word “lookout” not as a warning but as an invitation to make a difference on something that matters. Be on the lookout for the opportunity to change. To learn. To take risk. To persist. And to lead.

Always strive to be better… that way, I know, you will make the world better.