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About this episode

In this episode, we’re joined by Eric Bowman – Recent CTO at King and Former CTO at TomTom to uncover the new possibilities large language learning models unlock for IoT. We discuss why large language models might be a game-changer for IoT, the power of small language models at the edge for human-device interaction, AI security risks and the recent NY Times lawsuit against OpenAI and more!

Chapters

  • 00:00 Introduction and Background
  • 02:50 TomTom as an IoT Business
  • 05:16 The Interpretation of IoT Data
  • 08:48 Skills Needed for IoT Development
  • 13:08 Technological Advancements in IoT (Large Language Learning Models)
  • 23:11 The Potential of AI and IoT Interaction
  • 27:27 Security and Privacy Concerns in IoT
  • 30:14 The Challenges of Quantum Computing in IoT
  • 33:06 The Pace of Innovation in Technology
  • 35:23 The Need for Advanced Productivity Tools
  • And much more!

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Tom White (00:01.229)
Eric, hello. Welcome to the IoT Podcast.

Eric Bowman (00:04.462)
Hello, Tom. Thanks for having me.

Tom White (00:06.405)
Thank you for coming on. We were saying just backstage actually, I think this is the first time we’ve ever had anyone on the show that’s not directly, and you’ll probably argue this slightly with me, but directly been involved or on the team from an IoT perspective. But clearly your background and where you’ve been is very, very impressive. And we’re delighted to have you here. So for people that don’t know you, Eric, could you give us a quick intro on who you are and…

how you got into this world.

Eric Bowman (00:37.87)
Sure. Thanks. Yeah. And I, you know, that I think that can only mean that IOT is breaking into the mainstream now. Um, finally now. So yeah, I’m Eric Bowman and, uh, for the last five years or so I’ve been, uh, at TomTom last several years as the CTO. And I would argue that TomTom, uh, is an IOT business in lots of ways, and we can maybe talk about that more. Um, but it’s also, you know, like any business, uh, really.

Tom White (00:43.781)
Yes, yeah, finally!

Eric Bowman (01:06.766)
focused on delighting customers with amazing experiences, which is the only place I ever really want to work. Before that, I worked at Zalando, which is a fashion e -commerce company based in Berlin and was the first VP engineering there and oversaw a significant kind of cultural and architectural and leadership transformation that was called radical agility. And that helped kind of.

around the time they went public, helped position the company, I think really to be more like a tech company than just a retailer. In the past, I’ve worked for other e -commerce companies and Telco three in the UK and a startup in California. And a long time ago, like almost 25 years ago, I worked on the original version of the Sims computer game.

Tom White (01:58.181)
Oh wow. Many hours spent on that, Eric. I’ve got you to blame for that, I suppose.

Eric Bowman (02:03.168)
Yeah. Well, as the time goes on, it’s less about angry parents complaining about what I did to their children and more about people saying, hey, thanks for what you did to me. So that’s kind of nice.

Tom White (02:12.165)
Yeah, yeah. Did you come up with the language by any chance that the Sims used to speak?

Eric Bowman (02:17.102)
No, I did not. Um, but I did implement the cheat system and Rosebud was, uh, one of, one of the cheats I introduced.

Tom White (02:25.893)
Okay, cool, cool. Well, thank you very much for joining us on the show. It’s great to have you here. Clearly a fantastic background. So I want to delve into that a little bit actually about your most recent experience at TomTom. And that’s obviously where I’ve known you. Why would you argue that TomTom was an IoT business? Is it beyond just what people used to know of TomTom that was the, you know,

personal navigation devices that used to sit on top of cars’ dashboards, or does it go further than that?

Eric Bowman (02:56.846)
Yeah. Well, I think, uh, it certainly starts there. It does go a bit further. Um, you know, the way that I described it really was that, uh, Tom Tom had an internet of things, a business before internet of things existed and they had a flywheel, uh, business before people really talked about flywheel businesses. And I think one of the things that really attracted me about what they were doing was how clever, Oh, that was in their original, uh,

devices or at least early in the devices, they started putting SIM cards in and collecting GPS probe data in a very simple internet of things application and uploading that to the server and creating a traffic model, which allowed people to avoid a traffic jam. And I think, you know, as people experienced that for the first time, it was really a kind of hair standing up on the back of your neck.

moment, like an absolute triumph of product and technology, which led to tremendous word of mouth spread and huge growth for the company. And of course, that as they sold more of those devices, that data flow, the breadth of it and the depth increased. And so the product improved by adding more customers, which is a wonderful flywheel effect. And, um,

You know, their business is less about those devices these days. They’re more of a kind of a B2B business. They do a lot of business with automotive, but they continue to collect that same data. And the traffic model has just gotten better and better. It continues to be, you know, a significant challenger, if not outright better than Google’s traffic model, at least in my view.

Tom White (04:48.805)
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I think I won’t touch on the last comment, but yeah, I think a lot of businesses struggle to know what to do with this data, right? Obviously, you know, IoT devices by their very nature, collecting and harvesting data, but it’s the interpretation of that and the decisions that can be made from the interpretation of that data, which is so, so important. And I would imagine a business like TomTom is connecting.

so much data at all times. What decisions are or have been impacted from the collection of that data that TomTom have used on an enterprise level?

Eric Bowman (05:19.02)
Yeah.

Eric Bowman (05:29.518)
Well, yeah, so you’re right about how challenging it is kind of at every layer of the stack. And that has really slowed things down, I think, for a lot of the opportunity that we see out in the market. You know, on a good day, TomTom is somewhere in the 600 to 900 million connected vehicles, which is a ton of data. And increasingly that data becomes more.

rich because of another internet of things application out there, which is ADAS cameras, which where there is a camera that’s doing kind of onboard tagging of what the camera is seeing to see signs and lanes and things like that. So that data becomes richer. Ultimately, you know, what becomes possible and I think what Tom Tom’s really become long -term and even maybe medium term strategy is to use that data to

create a much fresher and higher quality map based on those data streams that are individually quite rudimentary, but at scale, there’s a ton of richness there. But it is a significant technical challenge, algorithmic challenge, to figure out how to get all of the insights out of it. And the necessary infrastructure is complicated. And…

While some of the use cases, the data doesn’t have to be fresh or very fresh, certainly for a live traffic model, it really needs to be extremely fresh within minutes to be useful. And so every single part of that challenge is pretty difficult. But, you know, it’s, you know, hundreds of millions of people benefit from some understanding.

of traffic conditions. And when you’re driving, even even if you don’t need navigation, certainly knowing that there is a traffic jam, it almost becomes, you know, the baseline of what people expect. And certainly, when it’s taken away from you, like in a rental car or something, you really appreciate like, you know, driving, trying to predict when you get anywhere is a

Eric Bowman (07:43.438)
is pretty difficult without some kind of assistive technology, whether it’s on your phone or built into the car or even like a device.

Tom White (07:51.877)
Yeah, yeah, I mean, from a completely agree from a consumer point of view, you know, you really are lost without it, right? I actually remember one of the early instances of first using satellite navigation was using Tom Tom’s app that I had on an iPad and and and using that, you know, it was just transformative for me.

you know, prior to that you used to print off the Google kind of things on a piece of paper and then somehow try and work it out. So yeah, yeah. And before that, a map, right? And usually you’d have it upside down. So yeah, I remember that fondly. Being in your position obviously as a CTO for a technology company, there’s a lot of people that watch our podcasts that may not be in a…

Eric Bowman (08:18.734)
Yeah.

Eric Bowman (08:23.628)
Yeah.

Eric Bowman (08:28.302)
Before that map quest.

Eric Bowman (08:32.91)
Yeah, exactly.

Tom White (08:48.133)
in a similar position, but may have aspirations to reach those kind of ranks within an organization. What kind of skills would you say that people would need to possess to work in a business that’s involved in IoT that may be in demand in 2024?

Eric Bowman (09:06.478)
Yeah, I think, yeah, like I get question, similar question pretty often. How do you get to do this? And I guess the first question you should ask yourself is, do you really want to do this? Because it’s a very different job than being like a software engineer or a data engineer. And it is a mixed bag. But I would say that, you know, all of the experience, I worked as an individual contributor.

into my forties before I got into management. And I’m quite happy that I remained working as an engineer as long as I did, because it takes time with technology to go deep enough to build up the kind of intuition that you need to really be an effective, like technology executive, whether an IOT or otherwise. And, you know, I think the, the part.

that I would caution people about and what people don’t understand is that at a very senior level, the amount of task switching and context switching that you have to do through a day is pretty exhausting and pretty challenging and not everyone can do it. And certainly very few people can do it very, very well.

Tom White (10:20.549)
you

Eric Bowman (10:30.574)
And one of the, but one of the things that makes it possible to exist in that is that essentially, you know, your, your intuition plays a very significant role. So if you’re familiar with, uh, thinking fast and slow, this quite remarkable book, which, uh, uh, written by, um, the inventors of, of behavioral economics, and it really highlights a lot of cognitive biases and has a nice model for how the brain works.

There’s what they call system one and system two and system one is kind of your intuition and system two is the part where you really have to stop and think. Inner intuition doesn’t really require much energy and it can easily multitask, but it’s easily fooled. And your system two is single threaded and exhausting. And, um, so the reason in my view to remain technical as long as you can is that you build up more and more intuition or kind of system one.

which makes it possible to more safely tasks, which between them, you know, the 40 different things that people put on your plate, uh, in a given day as a CTO, where you have to understand it enough, both in technology terms and in human terms to understand what’s going on. And, and, you know, when the, when people need guidance, uh, to give it to them, um, but also avoid giving too much guidance, you know, you got to.

really create the conditions where people are figuring out for themselves, uh, what’s the right thing to do. Um, and then of course the other element is really, it’s good to understand people. And for that, it’s important to step out of the technology domain somehow. And, you know, I think for me personally, having a family helped me to be, I think a bit more understanding of people.

but I also like to read fiction and even poetry sometimes. Science fiction is also a wonderful source for people to really understand what makes people tick because at the end of the day, you know, it’s about applying people and technology, whether an IOT or anything that’s based in technology to really understand the problems that people have and how we’re going to solve, organize ourselves to solve them using technology.

Tom White (12:44.389)
Very well articulated. Yeah, I think one of the things that I love about the technology industry, which resonates in what you said there is you can be both an individual contributor and do very, very well at that, or you can take a step into management. And also time isn’t necessarily a precursor for impact.

So people can be very, very good at what they do by having an affinity with the code or an affinity with the technological aspects and other things you can learn and other things you can bolt on. But it isn’t for everyone, right? So I think the phrase, be careful what you wish for is quite a poignant one, I think.

Eric Bowman (13:24.43)
No.

Eric Bowman (13:29.102)
Yeah. And very often, you know, you don’t really know what you’re getting into until it’s too late. Um, I’ve been incredibly fortunate in my career that I’ve very rarely ended up in a situation where I was working on something that didn’t, that I didn’t love. And I think that would be the other piece of advice that I would give, you know, to people is that finding something that you love and then doing that for 10 years and really, you know, assuming that.

Tom White (13:33.893)
Mm.

Eric Bowman (13:57.204)
mastering that is important to you and it’s perfectly fine to kind of work to live, you know, as opposed to live to work. But if you really want to master something, then the difference between loving it and not loving it is night and day in terms of how, you know, getting up every day and trying to improve yourself can be a joy or it can be a nightmare.

Tom White (14:22.693)
Well, it’d take 10 ,000 hours to master something, right? So you better love it in order to spend 10 ,000 hours of it.

Eric Bowman (14:27.278)
Yeah. As soon as you have kids, you realize 10 ,000 hours goes by pretty quickly.

Tom White (14:33.381)
Yeah, feels like an afternoon probably. Thank you, Harry. So moving on a little bit more into IoT development specifically. So last year, we obviously saw lots of developments in IoT and a convergence really of various technological advancements from edge computing to AI, major cloud providers expanding services, and of course, the EU Data Act.

Eric Bowman (14:36.79)
Yeah.

Tom White (15:01.445)
What are your thoughts on where we are with IoT at the moment and both the convergence and coalition of different technologies happening at the same time? Pretty interesting time to be involved in tech, I would imagine.

Eric Bowman (15:16.334)
Yeah, of course, you know the last year in terms of large language models and generative AI has been quite literally transformative for many people and there are amazing things about it and less amazing things about it and and it’s really it’s not clear how all this is going to shake out but it has shaken Big Tech it has shaken the foundations of every industry as well as the labor market.

And exactly what it means for IOT, I think is a really interesting question and challenge. And I think it’s quite possible that it’s actually going to be what enables something like an IOT breakthrough in the market. And the reason I think that is that, you know, I think first of all, one of the real challenges when you’re designing an IOT system,

You know, in a period in history when technology is moving so fast is that there’s a, there’s this constant balancing act as kind of an architect between how much, uh, smarts or how thick an IOT client should be versus how much bandwidth is it using versus what is the complexity and what are the, also the privacy issues, for example, and the regulatory environment server side and, and, um,

There are some patterns, but I think also it’s really moving quite fast still. And it just isn’t clear yet in my view, what is the most preferred way for any given situation, let alone lots of different situations. So it’s a very fluid technical environment, which makes it both interesting and scary. Scary because it’s very easy to build something that’s actually not.

going to be fit for purpose are not going to scale the way that you like. And of course, you know, it is distributed systems are hard and, um, IOT systems are about as distributed as it gets. So every single part of the problem is difficult. Um, and then I think, you know, the second factor that’s sort of interesting is that there’s so much economic pressure on, um, reducing the power consumption.

Eric Bowman (17:40.014)
of different approaches to AI, including large language models. And the driver for that is not necessarily IoT itself. It’s more about just general power consumption in data centers. But IoT is very likely to benefit from that. And the kind of scale of compute now that is needed,

for modern data center AI application is so enormous that we can foresee that really quite sophisticated applications are going to be possible quite soon in a more embedded or IoT environment. And they are very likely to be able to run in a reasonable way for lots of relevant tasks without needing to make network calls to do so.

Tom White (18:33.861)
Hmm.

Eric Bowman (18:34.478)
And so that opens up a possibility space that was almost unimaginable even two years ago. So there’s quite a lot still to be figured out. And we’re waiting for some of what I said to come true, but it is, in my view, foreseeable and something that we can start to plan and design around. And then the question really becomes, so what is the smarts that is needed?

at the edge of the network. What is the purpose of having AI in IoT? And I think, you know, there are a few kind of obvious things around being able to tag data and significantly reducing, for example, the bandwidth requirements for transmitting quite rich data sets over a fairly expensive and potentially slow and high latency network connection. But where I think it could become…

really quite interesting is as IOT devices themselves become much more capable of interacting directly with people. And that, you know, so far what we’ve seen there has been pretty disappointing. I think the, the, the kind of big tech entrance in terms of interactivity in the home, uh, did not change the world. And now actually, you know, since the release of, uh,

GPT 3 .5 are almost awkward, embarrassed and embarrassing to use. But as that changes, I think there’s a bunch of applications that become possible. And I go back to, I can’t remember what it’s called, but Amazon had this thing where if you liked some particular detergent, they’d give you basically a.

big red button to press when you wanted to order that detergent, which is, I’m sorry, doesn’t strike me as like a total winner of a product, but they’re experimenting and seeing what works. But they were trying to solve a real problem there. And I think those kinds of problems are going to become solvable. And the combination of IoT,

Tom White (20:27.749)
Yes, I remember.

Eric Bowman (20:52.398)
and AI in particular, and as very small devices become capable of interacting with us and also maintaining some understanding of our identity, there will emerge a level of convenience that I think is, I mean, essentially almost unimaginable at this point. You know, even just as 20 years ago, you couldn’t imagine what people are using their phones for.

I think it’s very likely that that world is going to displace the need for phones. And I think phones will rapidly, after a certain set of innovations, become at least irrelevant in more cases. I don’t think we’ll use phones around the house like we do now. I don’t know about you and your family, but if at any given moment of any given day, someone is doing something on a phone at my house,

And I’d be pretty happy. And some of that is really quite useful stuff. So that’s a little bit of what I’m thinking about in that space.

Tom White (21:58.085)
Yeah, it’s interesting insights. I remember that Amazon button. I used to think, you know, this is a bit overkill, right? I’ve forgotten what it’s called as well. But I think the premise was you could put the detergent in the kind of laundry room, stick a button on the wall, and when you were low, you could hit the button. But of course, now Amazon just tell you on your Alexa device every five minutes, you might be running low and you’ve only got to say the wrong things slightly and you’ve ordered too ton of it, you know.

Eric Bowman (22:06.798)
Yeah.

Eric Bowman (22:15.374)
Yeah.

Eric Bowman (22:21.614)
Yeah.

Eric Bowman (22:25.55)
They’re backing the truck up to your house.

Tom White (22:27.681)
Yeah, yeah, so, but no, I think that’s a really interesting point, you know, and that wasn’t so long ago, right? That was, what, a year, two, three years maybe, something like that?

Eric Bowman (22:36.238)
No.

I think it was a little longer than that pre pandemic for sure.

Tom White (22:42.085)
Yeah, right, right. But relatively speaking, not long ago, to now getting to the point where, you know, the AI could start to converse, right? And we’ve had people talk about cobots on the podcast and robotics coming into the industry and actually working alongside people really, really well. But actually, now, if you take that other dimension of being able to converse and or think for itself,

based upon the data that’s coming, it starts to get quite spicy and quite interesting actually. So I can’t quite imagine exactly where this is all gonna go. And you can kind of have sort of guesses about how quickly, but I don’t think anyone would have realized how quickly Nvidia’s market cap would go up and where it was from 10 years ago. And that never ceases to amaze me in this industry.

Eric Bowman (23:18.382)
Yeah, absolutely.

Eric Bowman (23:28.526)
Yeah.

Eric Bowman (23:41.454)
No, yeah, to me and, and I mean, I think it’s moving now faster than it’s ever moved. And, um, what a time to be alive. Amazing and terrifying all at the same time.

Tom White (23:52.965)
Yeah, just hope it’s slightly more amazing than terrifying. But yeah, I think, yeah, so it’s an interesting point to talk there about the interaction and the typical use cases for that. So one that we were involved with as a business many years ago and that people should do well to remember is actually in care. So when you have people who…

Eric Bowman (23:56.854)
Yeah.

Tom White (24:20.581)
maybe at home or they’re not getting regular visits or they’re quite beheldly, actually this IoT and these sensors and the ability to interact with these people and to provide them some level of comfort when they’re spending vast majority of time alone is actually a really, really feel -good factor. And I think that’s some of the great things that we have about the technologies that go beyond, say, the commercial gain of being able to sell more washing detergent. So…

Eric Bowman (24:48.238)
Yeah.

Tom White (24:50.457)
I can’t wait to see this improve and I think we’re going to make terrific strides very, very quickly when we’re talking about at the edge and things like TinyML and what that’s doing to devices right now, right?

Eric Bowman (25:04.974)
Yeah. And SML small language models. That reminds me of a story I heard once about someone on the Alexa team who gave his father who was aging an early Alexa and then was able after he passed away to download the recordings of this development device. And, and you know, it was kind of eyeopening for the whole team to hear how he was interacting.

Tom White (25:07.245)
Yes.

Eric Bowman (25:33.038)
with, uh, with this device, you know, essentially for company and, um, that, you know, I think a lot of the history of IOT is, is that these are very, you know, barely capable devices out there that are simply collecting data for, you know, some kind of central brain, if you will. And in a, and even though the, the optimistic promise of, of that much observability, uh, it’s really exciting. Very different.

Tom White (25:37.349)
Yes. Oh.

Eric Bowman (26:02.286)
as we start to think about more capability on the edge. And both in terms of what’s possible in terms of human interaction, as we’ve talked about, but also, you mentioned care and the, I don’t know if you know what a RAG or request augmented generation is, but it’s essentially working with a large language model. You can kind of.

Tom White (26:06.499)
Hmm.

Eric Bowman (26:27.982)
really load up the prompt with a ton of context. And as we get smaller language models deployed, certainly one of the really interesting things that’s going to happen is we’ll see request augmented generation using all of the local data in a way that’s against a local model in a way that’s very privacy safe. No data will be leaving the device. And it will be possible.

Tom White (26:31.525)
Right.

Eric Bowman (26:55.47)
to do all kinds of things, including I think dramatic improvements in healthcare for much less cost all over the world. Also almost certainly, minding people’s kind of mental state and as well as energy efficiency in the home. And I mean, it’s like, it is mind blowing what’s possible and how we choose as a society to prioritize that will be kind of interesting to see.

Tom White (27:17.923)
Mm.

Eric Bowman (27:25.39)
Hello, shakes out.

Tom White (27:27.109)
Do you think there’s a risk or a potential with AI and general security when it comes to protection of people’s data and what can be harvested from IoT? Or is it adding… I’m glad I asked then.

Eric Bowman (27:43.852)
Yes, I do. No, it’s always a risk, you know. And I really salute the European Union for the strides that it’s taken. And then that’s set a good model for the rest of the world. But it is, you know, and actually, you know, the way GDPR is structured is sort of telling.

about what is the dilemma that people and companies will continue to face, which is that everything is kind of the trade -off between privacy and the unintended consequences of giving up privacy relative to the benefits of, you know, essentially one person’s privacy is kind of another person’s context container for insights and learning and creating value. And, uh,

It’s, you know, these are tools that can be used for good or ill. And, um, you know, I think it’s one sign of what’s to come is going on now, uh, in the lawsuit, uh, the New York times is filing against open AI where, you know, they feel rightly or wrongly that open AI was perhaps a little too liberal in its use of their data. And of course it’s not individual data, but it’s just difficult, especially for.

you know, product developers trying to do good in the world. Uh, the, the value that they can, can create from using this data to derive insights is, is, is to them, not ambiguous. And it’s unfortunately complicated to think through all the privacy implications. So there will certainly, there will be mistakes and legislation will, will be tailing and, but I suspect that it will over time.

kind of work itself out, hopefully without too many problems.

Tom White (29:47.845)
Yeah, fingers crossed, fingers crossed. Yeah, it’s fantastic insights. I think, you know, one thing we haven’t even touched on, you know, in all of this is the injection of quantum into this as well, right? So we’re talking about the leap of AI, we’ve got quantum computing, obviously growing at a rapid pace as well. IoT actually now, you know, doing its thing and not being theoretical anymore. So…

Eric Bowman (30:08.908)
Yeah.

Tom White (30:14.575)
It is really a fantastic time to be alive and certainly with technology, the pace of innovation is quite hard to keep up actually, isn’t it?

Eric Bowman (30:22.83)
Yeah. I’m a little more skeptical about quantum. I have to say. I think, um, now on the one hand, I mean, obviously full scale quantum is kind of scary because it will render much of the encrypted data in the world currently in the world, unencrypted essentially. And the consequences of that are a little scary. Although I know, uh, actually I saw, I just saw the headline, I think today or yesterday that.

Tom White (30:26.661)
Okay, I’ll be interested to know why.

Eric Bowman (30:51.918)
Apple’s messaging product is using a new encryption algorithm, which they think is more safe from quantum computing attacks. But I think quantum is still quite a ways off, personally. And I could be wrong. And I’m certainly not an expert, but I have been listening for 30 years, people talking about that it’s…

Tom White (31:01.605)
Hmm.

Tom White (31:07.875)
Yeah.

Eric Bowman (31:20.546)
Almost here, almost here, almost here. And it doesn’t really seem to be here yet, despite some claims to the contrary.

Tom White (31:25.221)
Mm. Mm.

I think it’s, yeah, I think I agree with you in the sense of the fundamental shift from binary on and off to being the same time in a super state and that whole reworking of everything that we ever knew and were trained about how a system works. It’s not something that can be done very quickly or

Eric Bowman (31:50.894)
Yeah.

Tom White (31:57.155)
necessarily be developed and deployed in a safe manner quickly, which is why it’s probably taken so long to get to where it’s got to today. And it hasn’t actually got that very far, has it?

Eric Bowman (32:07.406)
Not so far, but yeah, it’s a very, very different programming model. But if you, the appeal of it is real in part because if you ascribe to the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, it is literally utilizing compute from essentially an infinite number of universes in parallel. And,

Tom White (32:13.925)
Hmm.

Eric Bowman (32:37.61)
unlocking that capability is, uh, you know, if we think AI is cool, unlocking that will be a whole nother. I mean, it is quite unimaginable for most people, what kinds of problems could become solvable. Uh, and, but that, what’s that? And yeah, and created it. But the good news is I think we have a minute before we’re there.

Tom White (32:56.547)
All created. All created.

Tom White (33:06.661)
Yeah, yeah, just about. Eric, thank you so much for coming on to the IoT podcast. It’s been really interesting to hear your thoughts on a variety of topics. I think, you know, we could probably talk for hours and hours about various elements of IoT and different technologies coming into play at the moment. But I think it’s been really, really insightful.

definitely for our listeners to hear it from a slightly different perspective actually and someone that can take a more wider view of where we are today. As we come to the end of the show, we always ask a series of questions and some wrap up questions. And the question that we’ve got for you today, Eric, is a fairly vanilla one, but an interesting one. What challenge that you face in the kind of everyday life would you like to see a tech solution for?

Whatever it may well be.

Eric Bowman (34:02.798)
Yeah, that’s a, that’s a good one. Um, what I face in my role, you know, as a constant stream of requests, follow ups and context to be organized. And, um, I ha I am starting another job, uh, very soon, uh, a new job, but I was tempted to pursue this, uh, as a startup. And it’s essentially a combination of email and to do and calendar and personal database is backed by.

AI and you know, the tools that we use today are so rudimentary compared to what is possible. I have built some prototypes using scripting and specific tools that are open to scripting. And I’ve started to get a taste of what that can be like. And I want more of it. I don’t want to have to build it myself. And I definitely want all the people who I work with to have that. And it would really mean much more rapid access to contextual information. That’s helpful.

And a much easier way to make sure that follow -ups happen, that agreements are kept and context is shared. And essentially it’s enabling, you know, a group of people to remain focused on a bigger goal rather than getting kind of distracted and fragmented. And that for me is something the world really, really needs. It just does not.

Tom White (35:23.781)
Yeah, I completely agree. I mean, you know, we have, when we have meetings in our business, we have a mobile phone in a bold policy. The distraction that people have is palpable, right? I mean, I personally, I use a series of reminders all the time, because I’ve got pretty good memory, actually. But if I don’t have these reminders, it just doesn’t get done.

Eric Bowman (35:48.588)
Yeah.

Tom White (35:49.445)
but you need something to combine and yeah, you’re right. It is actually quite rudimentary. So yeah, if you ever end up doing that, I’ll be watching with real interest. I might even invest something as well. And some quick choir questions. So a gadget that you can’t live without, Eric.

Eric Bowman (35:57.294)
Hahaha.

Excellent.

Eric Bowman (36:07.912)
Probably my Peloton.

Tom White (36:10.469)
Oh, nice, okay. Is that the bike or the treadmill? Okay, nice. Most unexpected thing that you’ve learned this week, and it is a Thursday, so you’ve had a few days to learn something.

Eric Bowman (36:13.742)
bike. Love it.

Eric Bowman (36:23.15)
I think the you know, there was a study That was just published by Harvard Business School around innovation and joy and compensation It’s not an entirely new idea Dan Pink talks about this in Drive The money is often a poor motivator But this study which they did using people contributing to github was incredibly comprehensive and and absolutely conclusive

that people are much more innovative and creative when they’re motivated by some kind of internal sense of joy than any amount of money. And even though I wouldn’t say I didn’t know that, I didn’t know about the study and it really kind of, I don’t know, made me happy.

Tom White (37:10.661)
Reminds me of a book by Ken Blanchard. I think it’s Gung Ho where he uses Albert Einstein’s theory of relativity to say enthusiasm is motivation and cash combined. I think it is something like that, right? So, you know, it’s joy. No, cash and congratulations.

Eric Bowman (37:29.358)
Yeah.

Tom White (37:34.597)
So it’s a similar type of topic actually. So yeah, very interesting. Yes, very good. Yeah, very good. Yeah, One Minute Manager, great book. And something that you’re passionate about outside of work, Eric.

Eric Bowman (37:40.27)
Big fan of Ken Blanchard, let’s say. Good.

Eric Bowman (37:52.206)
Uh, you know, the, the, I think that would have to be my family. Certainly the pandemic, uh, brought us together in a way, honestly, when it started, I was worried we were all going to kill each other. And, uh, it allowed me to connect, uh, with my, my kids and my wife in a way that hadn’t previously. And that has been really become quite a passion. It’s amazing to see that develop and the, the, you know, the.

something about family and the bonds that in the modern world, especially coming from the U S as I do, it’s very often minimized. Yep. A lot of research has shown that those kinds of connections are key to happiness. And, uh, I think as boring as that actually may be in a way, that’s what I’m most passionate about at this point.

Tom White (38:35.749)
Oh, it’s incredibly heartfelt and lovely and what a way to end the show. Eric, thank you so much for coming on to the IIT podcast. Welcome.

Eric Bowman (38:42.414)
Thanks, Tom. Real pleasure.

 

About our guest

Eric is the current Chief Technology Officer at King, a mobile gaming powerhouse acquired by Microsoft, they lead strategic technology initiatives aimed at enhancing player experience. Prior to his role at King, he served as the Senior Vice President of Engineering and CTO at TomTom, spearheading transformative efforts in product portfolios for an AI-driven future. His career spans pivotal roles at Zalando, Gilt Groupe, and LooCee, where he drove technological innovation and scalability. Notably, Eric contributed to pioneering projects like the world’s first 3G Service Delivery Platform and the development of The Sims 1.0 franchise, the top-selling PC game.

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