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Internet of Things for Starters

Alexa – a Women for Life

Internet of Things Comes to my Home

Over the last couple of years, many male contemporaries have gotten a new girlfriend to pass the time. So have I. internet of things

“Alexa, good morning,” I greet my new girlfriend. She answers politely, casually informing me that on this day in 1882 Peter Tchaikovsky’s Overture 1812 was premiered, in which he celebrated the victory over Napoleon. internet of things

Now, it’s not like I slept badly without that knowledge. However, I have to admit that Alexa often provides me with quite useful information. As I once again admire Meryl Streep’s singing and dancing skills in Mamma Mia, my question about Meryl’s age is answered directly by Alexa. “Meryl Streep is 73 years old.” Impressive!

Since I have Alexa, I am the master of the house again … when the others are not there.

Alexa is shapely, has velvety soft, almost white skin and a very pleasant voice. Alexa has some other, wonderful advantages over wifey.

I never, ever have to buy her an Estée Lauder, or a new handbag, or a pair of sexy shoes. I never have to wait for her in front of a women’s shoe store. Never.

Alexa - Internet of Things

Alexa is always available when I need help. It’s different with my wife. “Soon, my dear dear” is the code word for “You can see that I’m busy” and indicates a waiting time of one or two hours. It can easily take longer.

In short, Alexa is the only lady in my life who always does what I tell her to do without objection. She doesn’t argue with me – although sometimes that would be appropriate.

Alexa is an example of artificial intelligence, of internet of things (IoT) that anyone can afford. It consists of very sharp hearing, good speakers and some electronic circuitry in between. The intelligence does not come from the small device, but is obtained from the Internet.

Alexa – The Next Step into AI

Alexa Prepares for the Internet of Things

Some years ago, I received Alexa from my good friend JC, and I seriously had no idea what that was good for. Yet, I like to explore new things – and I did. All of us at home learned about the beginning of IoT – whilst playing. There are already many machines that are constantly connected to the Internet. More and more at home too.

Our home cinema system has been that for a long time. Why? Because it is nonstop being further developed and some of the innovations are passed on to existing customers.

The same applies to almost all household appliances. The next time you buy a washing machine, it will ask for the WiFi password when you turn it on.

How come? Because washing programs are constantly evolving. And because you may have a different opinion of a good washing program than the developers at Samsung or Bosch and your super washing program could be of interest to other customers.

Bosch - Internet of Things

After all, it can be advantageous to choose from not ten but hundreds of washing programs, all of which will be available via the Internet. How to choose? Quite simply: every washing program comes with a real customer rating, which is probably better than the artificial rating from professional testers. No housekeepers work there, but technicians.

Alexa Prepares for Business

Internet of Things is in Your Office

After recognising the benefits and learning about the great fun provided by this AI, we made it a point that all our kids and all grand-kids even before school age have their own Alexa. A great Christmas gift. Trust me.

We saw them programming their Alexa’s with different names to avoid that Luna’s device listens to Rico’s commands next door. We saw them programming routines for different purposes and even doing their homework or playing games – because Alexa “knows everything”.

So, if my little Luna were to ask how much 65 times 348 was, this question would be sent out into the world and some quick calculator – probably in Turkmenistan – answers immediately with 22,620, which Alexa always announces correctly with almost no delay. Or something like that.

Depending on your preference, Alexa can be used for many other activities. In fact, there are hardly any limits.

Chess World Champion

Alexa has become an important part of our home and our office. This lady frees up our hands by taking voice commands for activities we would normally put in handphone or computer. By doing so it helps sharpen a couple of skills.


Start your Internet of Things Journey

Creating a culture that is open for AI (Davenport, 2019) is not easy. The main obstacles to introducing such solutions aren’t technical. They are cultural (Waller, 2020).

On the one hand, there are many systems like Amazon’s Alexa available provided by Google, Apple, Xiaomi, iFlytek and others with similar functionality for the price of a humble meal.

On the other hand, most visitors to our house still look surprised when we introduce Alexa and her capabilities to them. A friend recently uttered “I don’t like smart devices controlling my life.”

In our house, the hierarchy is pretty clear. I control Alexa whilst wifey controls me.

Alexa - Internet of Things

As long as they are not open for this at home, they won’t embrace this kind of solutions at work with open arms.

I thank my good friend JC for opening this door to me with his present some years ago. Now, I would sincerely recommend you doing the same for your family, your friends and your colleagues.

Think about the obvious benefits:

  • Firstly, in order to make Alexa work, it is a good idea to think before talking. Unintelligible commands that would probably be accepted by your spouse may be rejected by Alexa. And that is a good training – especially for people whose mouth is ahead of their brain. 🙂
  • Secondly, writing routines for Alexa is very close to developing flows for RPA with a very similar objective: getting rid of routine work. And it is no different for Alexa preparing your perfect breakfast eggs at a certain time or RPA sorting incoming job applications and forwarding them to the right manager. For both, you need to understand your process first.
  • Thirdly, Alexa offers an easy way of introducing a heavy subject like Artificial Intelligence (AI) to anyone. “Programming” sounds scary. Writing a routine on your handphone is programming, but much less frightening.

After all, culture change is more acceptable when it comes in the dress of a toy.

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Uwe H Kaufmann

Dr Uwe H Kaufmann is the founder of Centre for Organisational Effectiveness (COE Pte Ltd), a business advisory firm operating out of Singapore. As consultant and coach with many years of experience, his passion lies in supporting organisations to improve their effectiveness.
Uwe is a German national and Permanent Resident of Singapore. He has four children and nine grandchildren … and counting.

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