Code Halos Aren’t Just For Consumers Anymore—Now Machines Have a Digital Aura Too

Virtual experts that live forever in the cloud, jets that surf the web: these are just some of the ways that companies are now using code halos to get the most out of their machines.

 When we think about our online presence, the first thing that comes to mind is social media. It’s easy to picture how our interactions with other users spread out across the internet through our posts and messages. But we tend to forget about all the other data we produce, which gives companies a rich picture of what makes us tick. Now some industrial players are taking this concept and applying it to machines.

 “Every click, swipe, like, buy, comment, deposit, jog and search produces information that creates a unique virtual identity—we call it a code halo,” says Benjamin Pring, a co-lead at Cognizant’s Center for the Future of Work, speaking about the consumer sphere. “Our code halos comprise our past buying behaviors, the songs we like, our searches, our histories, our media preferences and even our geographic location.”

Were it not for the power of analytics, code halos would be a novelty, lost within the vast forest of data generated every second. “Data without meaning is just noise, and analytics without business intent just creates static,” says Pring. “For a code halo to have business impact, it has to hold its shape. It has to mean something in business terms.”

Apple, for instance, possesses deep institutional knowledge from its big-data initiatives, fueled by millions of likes and transactions and analyzed with sophisticated proprietary algorithms. “Apple can quickly recognize the patterns in an individual consumer’s code halo, so iTunes can create a tailored user experience that was simply impossible just a few years ago,” says Pring.

Lately, the phenomenon of code halos has extended beyond individuals; now, it includes machines. GE Aviation is creating smart jet engines that can log into the web and report to a ground-based maintenance application while in flight. By doing so, each engine creates its own code halo, generating some 200-plus parameters per flight record.

“GE is a leader in sensor-enabling industrial machines and capturing the virtual data flowing off them,” says Pring. “They refer to it as ‘digital twins’, which is a complementary idea to code halos.” The data generated by a machine is studied by mechanical crews, leasing staff, spare parts departments, and a host of other stakeholders, in order to gain value. “They say that if you can reduce downtime in vital components like jet engines by even 1%, it can add billions in revenues to a sector.”

The concept can also be used to create subject matter experts (SMEs) that exist forever in the cloud. “You could have a virtual best operator that helps you understand how to achieve better uptime for your assets, regardless of where they are,” says Ashley Haynes-Gaspar, the general manager for Innovative Software & Services at GE Measurement & Control.

On the consumer front, safeguards will have to evolve to ensure privacy. “We need to establish rules of the road—the regulatory and legal contexts—that enable us to handle code halos in a manner that allows a higher-quality customer experience, without permitting the unscrupulous behaviour that is possible,” says Pring.

What does the longer-term future hold? Artificial Intelligence (AI) can be used to leverage code halos in a wide range of industries, optimizing work processes, creating efficiencies that once would have been unattainable, and implementing a seamless, higher quality experience. “It’s going to change the way we live in a profound way,” says Pring.

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