Today’s headline steal from Trump is that he contemplates buying Greenland from Denmark. Maybe he is playing the long game after all? Or maybe he just likes the photo opportunity when he invites world leaders from fossil fuel economies to play golf with him in front of a melting glacier.
I visited Birka a few weeks ago, “the first city in Sweden”. For a few hundred years, it was a trading hub bringing people together near and far. Objects from today’s India, Egypt and Ireland have been found in or near the area. The city was abandoned by the end of the 10th century, some two hundred years before Stockholm was founded. In between, Sigtuna prospered.
One possible reason that Birka was abandoned is the change of coast line as the land rose following the melting of the ice from the last ice age. In this part of the world, near Stockholm, the land has risen 5 meters in the last 1000 years. When you compare it to the sea rise predictions from the melting of the inland ice on Greenland, it’s quite significant.
So anyway, back to Trump and Greenland, if you put your money on that we will fail to reduce the impact of the climate change, buying property in Greenland is a long term bet. It fits into a narrative to delay the burst of the carbon bubble.
200 years ago, people thought buying prisoners of war, sailing them across the Atlantic Ocean and selling them into slavery was a perfectly fine thing to do. 40 years ago, people thought drinking 10 beers and driving a car home was ok. Two years ago people thought burning fossil fuel to fly around the planet for pleasure was ok. Times are changing. Will Trump be on the winning side of history?
I made my claim to say “I told you so” with my 2012 story game Plus 3.0 when it all goes up in smoke and tears.
One of the companies that I’d love to join is DeLaval in Tumba. Not just because of the short commute (I still miss my daily bike commute from when I was living in Copenhagen), but also because of the challenge they are addressing: Optimizing dairy farming using IT.
Humans have kept cows for 5,000 years and dairy farming has been optimized quite a lot already.
DeLaval is one of a handful companies who produce and sell milking robots — or voluntary milking systems. I’ve seen these in action at different sites in Denmark — the milking process is fully automated, the robot places the suction cups and milks the cow while the cow chews away on some power grain. Key figures like milk temperature, time since last milking, and quantum milked per udder are shown on a nearby display.
Milking robots have been around long enough for the technology to mature. When you have 500 cows not being milked while your system is down, reliability and availability are not just about money but also animal welfare. Once the system is in production, it needs to be in operation 24/7. Cows don’t go on weekend or take time off for Christmas.
Dairy stables are hostile environments for computers, they need to be protected from moisture, heat, and being stepped on by animals weighing nearly a ton.
Robots have moving parts that needs maintenance. Hence, one challenge is to service the robots. So far this has involved a service technician visiting the farm and measuring the machines with handheld devices to help decide which parts to replace. As farms often are located in remote areas, having the right spare part at the right place and time is a problem to be optimized. Replacing a component too soon because you are not sure it will last until the next scheduled maintenance visit costs money. Having a wide selection of spare parts in the service car just in case they may be needed costs money. Scheduling an extra service trip to replace a broken part costs money – and a lot of money if it has to be done express due to a production stop.
Enter the cloud: What if diagnostic data from the milking robots is collected automatically 24/7 and uploaded into a database in the cloud? Service technicians and the farmer can then monitor and analyse the data remotely to plan service visits and be sure to have exactly the spare parts needed.
This is what DeLaval is working on right now. In itself a desirable goal. But the implications down the line can be huge as it allows changing the business model:
What if a farmer does not invest in a milking robot but buys milking as a service? The operational risk will be on the milking service provider, not the farmer. Financing dairy production will move from CAPEX (farmer investing in machines financed by a bank loan) to OPEX (farmer paying for a service). The farmer needs to know less about operating milking robots and can speciliase in other areas like breeding cows, optimizing fodder, stable facilities, product development or doing marketing events like kosläpp.
Just like the Cloud has lowered the threshold for new companies to put a new product or service on the market, the Cloud can disrupt the business models around dairy farming. The bank may become less of a gatekeeper for young farmers to enter the business. Independent service technicians will have fewer opportunities to improvise fixes to mechanical problems and upsell while they are visiting.
Times are changing and it would be cool to help create optimal outcomes for the involved stakeholders.
The cows will probably not notice though.
I have actually worked with dairy farming previously: Back in my university days, I had a part time job to optimize scientific calculations to run on super computers. One of the programs did breeding planning for dairy farms.
So I ended up on garden leave just before the summer after a series of management changes. No big drama, no panic. I got a fair deal and have time to find the next step in my career.
Joining Itiviti in Stockholm was a great if somewhat chaotic experience compared to SimCorp. Insight into sell side trading, working with smart people across the planet, and taking ownership of goals, process, and results in the post merger void.
So what is next? I’ve spent some time over the summer playing with my kids – and reflecting on what I want to do next. I’ve enjoyed leading development projects, bridging the gaps between business and technology, managers and specialists, vision and reality. Looking at the job market here in Stockholm, there is still something called project managers out there.
I’ve also enjoyed doing business intelligence, analysing and visualising performance in dashboards. This could lead to business process modelling or a role as Data Scientist. I enjoy coaching and training peers. So far I’ve stayed away from people management, but I’ve come to a point in my life, where I can also see myself picking up that (1).
Structured processes like Scrum and Kanban make a lot of sense to me, and I’ve done lots of agile processes with iterative planning, refinement and delivery. I use a personal kanban to juggle work-life priorities. So I could also pick up a scrum master or agile coach role.
So what is next? Time will tell. Short term it’s an opportunity to discover and learn about new topics – companies, technologies, tools. It’s what I have always enjoyed.
I will be sharing thoughts and reflections on this blog. You are welcome to join my journey. And do get in touch if you know of an opportunity.
(1) Being a parent does that to you: While I have preferred participating in groups on equal authority level, with kids that simply doesn’t fly. Sometimes you are right and they are wrong and the best way forward is not a Socratic dialogue. As a manager, you need to master multiple styles of leadership.
Two and a half years ago, my wife and I decided to move from Malmö near Copenhagen to Stockholm, about 600 km to the north east. New job, new house, new city, new friends. Only the family stayed the same.
As my FaceBook feed were strangely full of people I hadn’t seen for a long time talking about stuff in a far away city, it wasn’t a big step to delete my FaceBook account following the Cambridge Analytica scandal.
Then Google+ died. While mostly lurking, I did enjoy following posts about RPG game design and US politics.
Still needing to fill a morning commute with the odd reading, I started subscribing to The Guardian and to follow blogs in the WordPress community. Plus of course chatting with my wife and a few close friends about daily trivia and global events (Trump, Brexit, Climate Crisis etc).
Now, after finishing the last major home improvement project on the backlog — and as I’ve found myself on garden leave after a series of changes to management at my previous company — I have time at hand to engage with a larger audience.
I expect I will mostly blog about game design, software development, and politics, with the occasional reflection on how it is to be a Dane in the Capital of Scandinavia (1).
I hope you will enjoy reading and leave a comment or two once in a while. Let me know if there are topics you are curious about.
Obviously, Danes and Swedes do not agree on which city is the capital of Scandinavia.