Archive for category Work
“… no clear strategy, nor commitment to whatever shortlived ‘strategies’; making decent products is clearly not the top priority.”
Ask 10 Smart Energy guys what Virtual Power Plant is about, you will probably end up having 10 answers – all could be different but correct at the same time, seriously, legitimately, genuinely, correct.
To take the literal meaning of its name, VPP is just about having the power plants virtually displayed online (I am not a IT guy, I would guess there is nothing fancy about it). But that’s only the start of an entirely new evolution. What you do with the “digital copies” of the plants with all the “Big” data collected afterwards is in fact what defines virtual power plant. All kinds of the VPP derivatives, such as Asset Management, Demand Response, Micro-grid Management, Load Shedding, just to name a few, are the results coming out of this process. In here, Data Analytics and Optimization are the 2 most commonly referred to methods.
“Data Analytics” is less of a trouble to explain – anyone can bullshit in any direction and still manage to be right, it is simply too big a target to miss. Optimization, on the other hand, can be quite confusing. It is often to be either underestimated in its complexity, or mixed up with the concept of Data Analytics. Don’t get me wrong: optimization is probably part of Data Science in academic terms thus shares the same umbrella with Data Analytics. But if we are to look at it in the perspectives of business use cases and project deliverables, I would rather distinguish these 2 terminologies right from the beginning.
It is fairly challenging to do the explanation in pure text, so I took a comparison table here to help.
其实我是个工程师背景读金融现做物联网的伪财务，真正“被逼”做财务工作一共不到一年，当时负责某跨国制造公司代工业务 Finance & Accounting 部门的财务报告。
道理很简单，you can’t improve something that you don’t measure. 而财务就是这个 measurement.
在有报表之前，sourcing manager 牛逼能吹上天，“代工事业为公司每月节省成本几百千欧元”，我的报表显示最多几十千，于是高层一面给 sourcing 施压，一面重新考虑把一些产能带回自家工厂。
需要声明的事，后来离职和以上的好坏都没关系。其实我还是比较喜欢讲究创造性的工作，而财务恰恰是不允许 creative accounting 的。
Everybody in the manufacturing industry knows how big the company Assobot is. It literally monopolises the assembly robotics business around the world. Yet, not many knew that Assobot has been secretly working on the Artificial Intelligence in the humanoid form factor since the beginning of this century. In fact, there have been at least 2 prototypes released in recent years. Why haven’t you seen any, you ask? Well, because they look just like the normal human beings.
All working in the AI industry, except the Marketing and Sales who don’t really know what AI means, would tell you that it is easy to make something looks like human, but almost impossible make it to think like one. Assobot knew it too (after 3 billions investment over more than half a decade). In the year of 2010, the head of Assobot Strategic R&D finally accepted the fact that it wouldn’t be possible to develop humanoid robot for all job functions. Instead, they would consider it a success if their robot is able to perform the easiest job without being spotted.
Yes, Assobot decided to make the robotic manager.
According to an insider who knows the product, Assobot has been partnering with some big MNCs to slowly replace their middle management with Assobot AI robot. “It’s really hard to notice the difference, but I know that they were code named Type-D and Type-M.”
As far as AI algorithm is concerned, the easiest way to impersonate a manager is to avoid any job, thus making the robot “immune to any business mistakes”. The design of Type-D (stands for “Dodger”) followed this principle. Its embedded intelligence focuses solely on generating excuses for a “No” answer. Unfortunately, the market didn’t really like it. Feedbacks from customers often described that “the presence of Type-D in the workplace gradually demotivates the team it manages.” Assobot urgently needed to improve its product.
The idea of enhancement came shortly from a senior manager within Assobot’s own HQ, during his regular toilet visit in a Wednesday afternoon. He didn’t suggest a radically different design. “Good manager empowers subordinates,” he rationalized, “why don’t we designed our robot in such a way that it always throw the questions back to its team members? We motivates the team while still taking no risk!” The board members, after spent a few seconds reflecting their own management style, quickly approved the proposal to make the Type-M (“Motivator”).
Type-M was an immediate success. Partly because the AI requirement is actually simpler than Type-D (how hard can it be to find different ways of saying “I honestly expect you to give me a solution”? or “I think you are fully capable of solving this problem alone”?), and partly because many human managers in fact act in exactly the same way!
The Business Leader Association Handbook (BLAH) famously divided employees of the entire world into 2 types – those who can talk comfortably about things they have no idea about (the talker) and those who can’t (the doer). According to the Association, talkers are generally better for the managerial positions because “the unlimited supply of the seemingly useless speech is, in some rare cases, able to disorient the minds of their customers, and even more likely, able to trick the minds of their own management.”
Interestingly, due to their intrinsic inability to listen and observe, talkers are more likely to be attracted to their own kind, thus gradually and inevitably turning the whole management into a tons of colorful PowerPoints. “The expansion of talkers in the management positions around the globe”, as the Handbook pointed out in its 2011 Edition, “drastically expedited the development of Voice of Internet Protocol, which in turn made it financially even more possible to convert more talkers into managers”. (trivia of the day: the 2011 Edition is probably the second most sought-after copy throughout the history of BLAH publication, second only to the 2014 Edition which featured Sam Nablah as the new Macrosoft CEO on its cover)
While most of the inspired talker-to-be have to spend many years of their professional career perfecting their skills, some are simply born with it. The best talker I’ve personally worked with was so good at it that when he talks, his words form an invisible bubble which shelled him not only from the outside world but also from himself. He only needed 1 or 2 minutes to warm himself up before becoming completely free from any technical, commercial, physical and mathematical constraints to do business with. The only time I needed to wake him up was when we’re about to commit to things illegal.
With him, it had been extremely efficient for the company to pin-point to that 1% of the “target customer”, who are almost certainly another group of talkers and, with whom we could easily secure at least 20 more conference calls in the next 3 months without actually doing anything. That’s when I started to believe the Handbook, the VoIP technology that many of us take for granted nowadays, had been indeed fostered by the unsung talkers.
It was quite sad that 2 years later he chose to leave us to join a bigger MNC after realising that our company plans only to do business on Earth. I can’t imagine how disappointing he must have felt.