Tagged: Software

Agile Software in a Hardware World


“The world of IoT and connected devices is expanding rapidly. We all carry super computers in our pockets and interact with everything from home automation, cars, consumer electronics, and healthcare devices.”

“In this complex hardware + software environment the product development cycle can be tricky. For example, you can’t just follow agile software practices by the book when you’re building a connected pace maker. So how do we approach product development when the stakes are high and the moving parts are many? During this discussion we’ll be tackling topics such as:”

“How do you roadmap a product which includes both hardware and software components? How does agile development fit in? How does the regulatory landscape affect how we approach development and iteration? How do you build teams around these integrated products? And how do you keep them in sync and working together?”


I’d first like to thank the team at DevMynd for their kind invitation. I am looking forward to joining the panel discussion in Chicago this coming Thursday, February 22. In the meantime, I will welcome any comments and insights as I gear up for this discussion.

I’m working on outlining some of the myths, dilemmas and trade-offs that I have encounter as an Industrial Designer and in Product Management.

From a design perspective, there are two topics worth looking at: Design Thinking as a Human-Centered methodology and its outcomes in terms of: (a) utility, (b) usability, (c) consumability, (d) affectivity and (e) the composite and differential value of the resulting digital experiences that involve software and hardware.

This “new brave world” equips us with the freedom to explore new form factors, cognitive models and, most impoartantly, the development human x technology networks. Some of the specifics come down to design semantics re-defining HMS, Human-Machine-Systems, in the context of multi-modal user interfaces and innovative interactions where Machine Learning and new visualization paradigms happen to surface.

From a Product Management viewpoint, there is a need for also pondering about how to best leverage Design Thinking beyond Industrial Design and Software Development to talkle product and service strategy. Here my focus gravitates toward addressing: (a) success factors and (b) limiting factors under control, as well as (d) other determining factors beyond our area of influence that can impact the difussion of innovations either possitively or negatively. Moreover, I like to couple business model innovation with behavioral economics and information network effects.

This construct really boils down to capturing the essence behind (e) stakeholders’ acceptance criteria and (f) the users’ engagement, adoption and growth rates. This means defining capability and maturity levels and how to best factor for the fact that they adapt and evolve over time. Obviously, this leads to taking a close look at how to best intersect Lean and Agile practies, but not only, so that we can lead and navigate constantly changing environments in “digital time.”

Let’s get down to a more tactical level: end-to-end system design entails a mix of loosely and tightly coupled elements, and a platform approach to operate at speed, scale and wider scope that what black boxes can match. A reality check unveils a hybrid world where decisions on capacity and performance levels, as well as serviceability and dependency levels drive decisions toward optimizing for distributed systems and, therefore, the rising value of end-to-end solutions vs. point solutions only.

In that context, inter-disciplinary teams involving creative technologists and domain experts make our organizations effectively diverse, smarter and innovative. Otherwise, self-defeating arrogance, conflicting silos and technical myopia can make pre-production and production be costlier by promoting unncessary friction and getting everyone to work harder and harder rather than smarter. Typically, that negates productivity, forces a number corrective actions, and significantly shifts and/or downsizex sought after results.

The beauty of the Studio’s human-experience-centered practice is a healthy obssession for delivering “meaning.” The definition of “meaningful outcomes” (rather than churning outputs) makes these organizations behave based on value and impact. We strive to foster not just customer satisfaction and net promoter scores, but measurable customer delight and network effects (superior and service-level performance indicators) which, in turn, set and streamline technical requirements.

Long story short, the Studio’s mindset (critical thinking / wonder & discovery / problem solving) and workstyle (collaborative / experiential / iterative / adaptive) help explain why creative technologysts are instrumental and serial innovation engines for the digital age.


Footnote: the term “team of creative technologysts” was first coined by Nokia Bell Labs back in the 1940s to single out the differentiated value of inter-disciplinary undertakings. In the late forties, Bell Labs’ Clauded Shannon pioneered Information Theory and John Karlin set up the first Human Factors Engineering in industry. That HFE team was formed by a pyschologist, a statistician (the father of quality control visualization,) an engineer, and a physicist.

Nokia’s First Prize for Product Innovation goes to LeanOps

“Inventing the Future with a focus on groundbreaking innovation, Nokia has been a catalyst for the world’s most powerful, game-changing technology shifts. We are committed to innovating for people and developing new technologies and solutions for the world we live in. With our Technology Vision 2020, we are helping operators deal with extreme traffic growth, simplify network operations and provide the ultimate personal gigabyte experience.”  https://networks.nokia.com/innovation


Last month I joined the Chicago’s Science Fair as a judge in the Computer Science category. I am glad to share that received a plaque for my fifth year of service. Then, just a month later, I found myself on the other side of things as a contestant at Nokia’s Innovation Event in Espoo, Finland.

This year’s competition registered about 500 submissions worldwide. LeanOps qualified among the Top 3 Finalists in the Product & Solution Innovation Category. Ted East and I made the trip from Chicago to present on behalf of the team. We all were happy enough with LeanOps’ Finalist position. Moreover, any of the other finalist and shortlisted projects deserved being recipients of the first prize anyway. That speaks to Nokia’s renewed ingenuity and technical prowess.

But, those of us scheduled to be on stage could also feel the kind of mounting pressure that comes from making the most of this sort of high visibility opportunity. So, Ted and I spent a considerable amount of effort crafting and improving our delivery until the very last minute. We had the benefit of invaluable coaching and genuine advice while gearing up for this event. That should not be taken for granted and, therefore, we are humble and grateful for it. The fact is that Barry’s, Fabian’s, Kelvin’s, Corinna’s and Tuuli’s consideration and words of wisdom paid off. We came back home with the First Prize and our gratitude should be extended to everyone making this year’s event happen. My apologies for not having listed everyone’s names here.

Communicating science and technology is a challenge: any of us can risk alienating audiences willing to listen and individuals who would otherwise be excited about what our project entails. Information overload, convoluted jargon and failing to convey what the actual impact would be can jeopardize anyone’s good work due to lack of clarity. Moreover, it can compromise funding opportunities and drive collaboration and talented people away. So, it shouldn’t be hard to concur with Alan Alda, founder of the Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University, when he states that “science communication” is as important as science itself (watch min 01:20 onward):

On my own note’s cover page I always scribble a couple of Einstein’s quotes: “if you cannot explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough” and “everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.” The former reminds me about the negative effect of self-defeating complexity. The later cautions about the diminishing returns of over-simplification and nonsense. Audiences can spot either issue right away, which negatively impacts speakers’ credibility and reputation. Recovering from that bad impression becomes an uphill battle and, unfortunately, bridges can be also burned for no good reason.

Communicating science and technology works best when striking an equilibrium point with (a) a well structured flow populated with (b) meaningful and engaging information of interest that is (c) purposely abstracted at the right level for each audience. Admittedly, by being in Human Factors Engineering, I cannot help but thinking that Information and Cognition Theory principles which serve us well when addressing the design of UI, User Interfaces, also become of the essence in any activity where we happen to be the medium to disseminate concepts, achievements, possibilities, constrains and what’s needed to move forward with a given project.


There also is a need for working with visual communication that can effectively deliver far more information than what words alone would be able to. We created backdrops of infographic quality that helped set the stage at each step. Half way of the talk we played a short video clip that illustrated a key and differentiated project element.

Our discussion flow followed a basic creative brief breakdown, which covered: what, why, how, who and when and the Q&A section helped us provide the next level of detail. Long story short, relevant content of substance remains “conditio sine qua non” – which means distilling indispensable items down to need-to-know, anything you-cannot-do-without.


We also had an impactful demo station at the so-called bazaar area, which had been unveiled and praised by experts at Mobile World Congress 2017 back in March. Last but not least, full credit for this award goes to one of the best teams in our industry. These are craftpeople who put their diverse talent to work by solving new and hard problems and, most importantly, making stuff work in no time.


NOKIA LeanOps @ Mobile World Congress 2017

“Cloud technologies virtualize your network to allow intelligent automation that instantly reacts to fluctuating demand and accelerates new services. Cloud is the foundation for IoT and 5G. But to realize the potential of a software-defined network, you need to operate a software-defined business – with the integrated performance you can depend on. Our cloud solutions and services featured at Mobile World Congress will demonstrate how you can transform your network, operations and business for agility, automation, security and instant service innovation.”Realizing the agility of software defined business through the Cloud. Nokia, February 2017.



LeanOps was showcased in the booth’s private area. We had a good show and our team was involved in a number of discussions with network operators, ecosystem partners, industry analysts and public officials.

LeanOps’ mission is to “Make Sophisticated Operations Effortless.” Our team assembles end-to-end solutions to deliver the greater value of the whole. This is a systems integration job that takes advantage of Nokia’s portfolio depth, our ecosystem and open source tools. LeanOps interlaces (a) analytics, (b) automation, (c) programmability and (d) human factors engineering: our solution’s DNA.

We unveiled our new Decision Support System (DSS). This is a “solution level” single pane of glass, a metaphorical and multi-modal user interface purposely optimized for inter-disciplinary teamwork. LeanOps’ DSS renders complex systems and delivers multi-dimensional data visualization following the project’s “operations friendly” design directive.

From a Goal Directive Engineering standpoint, we have set a “4I Framework” that entails (1) Intuitive use (2) Immersive and (3) Interactive maneuverability delivering (4) Insightful experiences rather than just data. Moreover, all the magic is fully abstracted and, therefore, the underlying sophistication is completely transparent to the users. LeanOps’ SAIL, Smart Abstraction and Integration Layer, takes care of that under the hood. DSS and SAIL are both intertwined and integral to LeanOps’ end-to-end solutions are not sold independently as standalone products.

I would also like to share that LeanOps’ DSS transcends conventional HCI, Human-Computer-Interaction, to bring about CNI, Collaborative-Network-Intelligence, instead. I personally believe that switching gears from HCI to CNI makes all the difference given the value of human networks and machine networks, where collective intelligence becomes the outcome.

Taking into consideration LeanOps’ next-gen positioning, our MWC demo station was located in the “Cloud Zone,” though it is worth highlighting that LeanOps’ mission entails “operational transformation” with end-to-end solutions addressing hybrid environments and bridging legacy, current and emerging technologies, physical and virtual assets. “Lean” is a holistic undertaking involving practices, processes, technologies, tools and human factors, and so is Nokia LeanOps.


This year’s video is not publicly available. So, if you happen to be a network operator, an enterprise wrestling with complex environments, or a partner interested in LeanOps, please send me a message over LinkedIn to set up a call.

By the way, since I keep getting questions about Nokia’s new phones… I need to refer you to our peers at HMD Global, the independent Finnish company behind the Nokia branded phones. Nokia Corporation focuses on technologies zeroing in on network systems, analytics, applications, and services at the time of writing this. LeanOps is part of Nokia Corporation and our team, Solutions & Partners, is in the Applications & Analytics Group.


Back from Mobile World Congress 2016

“Visitors from 204 countries attended the mobile industry’s premier event in Barcelona (…) Mobile World Congress featured more than 2,200 exhibiting companies showcasing cutting-edge products and services across 110,000 net square meters of exhibition and hospitality space. More than 3,600 international media and industry analysts attended the event (…) visitors surpassed 100,000 for the first time (…) over 55 per cent of this year’s attendees hold C-level positions, including more than 5,000 CEOs and 21 per cent of attendees for the 2016 show were women.”

Source: 2016 GSMA Mobile World Congress Surpasses Record 100,000 Visitors.


Top row: Nokia’s MWC booth panoramic: left wing, central area, right wing. Bottom pic: central area.

Lean Ops turned out to be a popular NFV (Network Functions Virtualization) demonstration, though by invitation only. Our team ran 160 sessions: the new Lean Ops’ live demonstration system can be declared battle tested.

Those of you making MWC’s annual pilgrimage know how intensive this four day event happens to be. It literally takes months of preparation and working long hours. By the way, the show’s survival kit should include: comfortable insoles, mints galore and plenty of tea or lemon water mixed with honey to soothe sore throats : ) 


Left: Bhaskar Gorti. Right: Ted East, Carlos Manzanares, Jose de Francisco.

On MWC16’s first day, Bhaskar Gorti, President of Nokia’s Applications & Analytics Business, ran the Lean Ops demo during NFV Implementation: Beyond Cost Savings. That executive panel discussion was moderated by Heavy Reading’s Gabriel Brown. The network operators were represented by John Donovan, AT&T’s CSO & Group President leading Technology and Operations. That session took place at Hall 4 Auditorium 2, a 600 seat room. Full house and plenty of people in the audience were taking pictures and recording videos throughout Bhaskar’s demonstration, whose tablet connected to our tech room back in the booth. Afterwards, Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg delivered his keynote next door, in Auditorium 1.

Early on Ted, Carlos and I had planned to take turns at the booth’s demo station. However, the three of us ended up there together talking to different groups at the very same time on numerous occasions. As outlined in this short introductory video, we discussed (a) the value of end-to-end solutions coupled with (b) service level orchestration. Bhaskar’s impressive stage demonstration generated interest and visits to our booth to see more.


Experiencing Lean Ops at MWC16. From left to right: Auditorium, demo station at Nokia’s booth, VR (Virtual Reality) and video recording.

Lean Ops’ state of the art is based on products and technologies that exist today. That involves a broad cross section of our product and services portfolio, and partners from the ecosystem program. We also address what’s next by discussing near future capabilities and the path forward. Moreover, we share forward looking concepts illustrating the art of the possible and, therefore, how to future proof investments in cloud computing.

Our conversation was centered on virtualized networks and cloud technologies specifically designed for the telecommunications industry. We shared Nokia’s know-how on running highly efficient systems and effortless operations, “lean ops” in short. Being this “Mobile” World Congress, we purposely focused on environments as sophisticated as today’s 4G networks and ran live multimedia calls while conducting a wide range of operations and full lifecycle use cases.

We addressed the role of analytics, programmability, automation and human factors engineering in that context, which become only more preeminent when IoT (Internet of Things) and 5G come to fruition. I would like to stress the fact that it pays to embrace elegant sophistication by first acknowledging the fact that global telecommunication networks happen to be complex. We don’t shy away from reality checks and that is why “Lean” becomes a guiding principle to start small and nimble and, equally important, to remain agile when scaling.

If interested, here is a link to our Lean Ops Manifesto. This document is a year old already. Please stay tuned as I am working on the next version. In the meantime, here is “Communications Networks Reloaded,” a companion presentation whose three versions have registered 2,144 online views at the time of writing this. Those of you already familiar with proven Lean practices in other industries will notice that I adopted, evolved and re-defined what “lean” means to best address the needs of Network Functions Virtualization (NFV.) Long story short, Lean Ops is defined and lives at the intersection between “effective” service delivery and highly “efficient” operations at any scale.


Left: Barcelona’s MWC crew. Right: Cloud Innovation Center – Chicago team.

This year’s Lean Ops program benefits from a wealth of insights captured in discussions with 1,500+ experts (network operators, analysts and public officials) during our 2015 roadshow. I would also like to highlight our team’s tireless dedication, work ethic and ingenuity as well as invaluable support provided by a number of people across our business worldwide.


Left: Nokia Networks tweet. Right: Nokia Global Careers tweet.

One more thing: MWC might have prompted our very first major industry appearance as “one team” since Nokia’s acquisition of Alcatel-Lucent in January of this year. It is worth sharing that many customers were impressed by the speed of the integration.

Nokia’s successful MWC16 doubles as a catalyst: everyone’s professionalism and workmanship took teamwork to new levels in Barcelona. I’m glad I had the chance to be part of that effort by experiencing what we can accomplish together first hand.


Lean Ops’ MWC photo album.

I made it back to Chicago’s winter wonderland this past Monday… after spending my weekend in Barcelona’s warmer climate and decompressing a bit over there : )

See you at NFV World Congress in April.

Lean NFV Ops @ Carrier Network Virtualization 2015


This turned out to be another intensive year (more on that in my next post) and the above pictures capture our team’s presence at Carrier Network Virtualization, the last public event on the Lean NFV Ops program for 2015. I like to thank Christie Rice for her invitation to present at Intel Network Builders Summit in Palo Alto, and couldn’t be happier to hear that my presentation, Communication Networks Reloaded, was well received (see slides below) by the workshop participants. I would also like to thank Sue Morehouse with our Events Team and Andy Mast at the Cloud Innovation Center for all the work that went into getting our team organized for CNV15.


Photo album: https://flic.kr/s/aHskptDZXC

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