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2015 in review

December 30, 2015 Leave a comment

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,100 times in 2015. If it were a cable car, it would take about 18 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Categories: social Tags: , ,

Predicting the (near) Future

December 22, 2015 Leave a comment
The future is always tricky to predict and, in keeping with Star Wars season, the dark side is always there to cloud everything. But as we all know in IT the ‘Cloud’ can be pretty cool, except of course when it leaks. Last month saw the final edition of Gartner’s Symposium/ITxpo 2015 in Barcelona, and I was fortunate to attend (courtesy of my Business Unit) and bear witness to some amazing predictions about the road ahead for our beloved / beleageured IT industry.
 
Judging from the target audience, and the number of people in attendance, it is safe to say that the future is at best unpredictable, and at worst unknowable, but Gartner’s Analysts gave it a good go; making bold statements about the state of things to be, within the next 5 years or so. The following are some key messages, observations and predictions which I took away from the event.
 
1. CIOs are keen to see exactly what lies ahead.
Obviously. However, it does confirm to my mind that the future is highly mutable, especially given the amount of change to be navigated on the journey towards digital transformation. I say ‘towards’ because, from all indications, there is likely no real end-point or destination to the journey of digital transformation. The changes (and challenges / opportunities) just keep coming thick and fast, and at an increasing pace. For example, by 2017, Gartner predicts that 50% of IT spending will be outside of IT, it currently stands at 42% today, therefore CIOs must shift their approach from command and control style management to leading via influence and collaboration.
 
2. Algorithmic business is the future of digital business
A market for algorithms (i.e. snippets of code with value) will emerge where organizations and individuals will be able to: licence, exchange, sell and/or give away algorithms – Hmmm, now where have we seen or heard something like that before? Anyway, as a result, many organisations will need an ‘owner’ for Algorithms (e.g. Chief Data Officer) who’s job it’ll be to create an inventory of their algorithms, classify it (i.e. private or “core biz” and public “non-core biz” value), and oversee / govern its use.
 
3. The next level of Smart Machines
In the impending “Post App” era, which is likely to be ushered in by algorithms, people will rely on new virtual digital assistants, (i.e. imagine Siri or Cortana on steroids) to conduct transactions on their behalf. According to Gartner, “By 2020, smart agent services will follow at least 10% of people to wherever they are, providing them with services they want and need via whatever technology is available.” Also, the relationship between machines and people will initially be cooperative, then co-dependant, and ultimately competitive, as machines start to vie for the same limited resources as people.
 
4. Platforms are the way forward (and it is bimodal all the way)
A great platform will help organisations add and remove capability ‘like velcro’. It will need to incorporate Mode 2 capability in order to: fail fast on projects / cloud / on-demand / data and insight. Organisations will start to build innovation competency, e.g. via innovation labs, in order to push the Mode 2 envelope. Platform thinking will be applied at all layers (including: delivery, talent, leadership and business model) and not just on the technology / infrastructure layer.
 
5. Adaptive, People Centric Security
The role of Chief Security Officer role will change and good security roles will become more expansive and mission critical. In future, everyone gets hacked, even you, and if not then you’re probably not important. Security roles will need to act more like intelligence officers instead of policemen. Security investment models will shift from predominantly prevention based to prevention and detection capabilities, as more new and unpredictable threats become manifest. Also organisations will look to deploy People Centric Security measures (PCS) in order to cover all bases.
 
6. The holy grail of business moments and programmable business models
The economics of connections (from increased density of connections and creation of value between: business / people / things) will become evident especially when organsiations focus on delivering business moments to delight their customers. Firms will start to capitalise on their platforms to enable C2C interactions (i.e. customer-2-customer interactions) and allow people and things to create their own value. It will be the dawn of programmable business models 
 
7. The Digital Mesh and the role of wearables and IoT
One of the big winners in the near future will be the ‘digital mesh’, amplified by the explosion of wearables and IoT devices (and their interactions) in the digital mesh environment. Gartner predicts a huge market for wearables (e.g. 500M units sold in 2020 alone – for just a few particular items). Furthermore, barriers to entry will be lower and prices will fall as a result of increased competition, along with: more Apps, better APIs and improved power.
 
The above are just a few of the trends and observations I got from the event, but I hasten to add that it will be impossible to reflect over 4 days of pure content in these highlight notes, and that other equally notable trends and topics such as: IoT Architecture, Talent Acquisition and CIO/CTO Agendas, only receive honourable mentions. However, I noticed that topics such as Blockchain were not fully explored as might be expected at an event of this nature. Perhaps next year will see it covered in more depth – just my prediction.
In summary, the above are not necessarily earth shattering predictions, but taken together they point the way forward to a very different experience of technology; one that is perhaps more in line with hitherto far-fetched predictions of the Singularity, as humans become more immersed and enmeshed with machines. Forget the Post-App era, this could be the beginning of a distinctly recognisable post human era. However, as with all predictions only time will tell, and in this case, lets see where we are this time next year. I hope you have a happy holiday / festive season wherever you are.

Social Media Jam: Google Maps Innovation

October 23, 2012 Leave a comment

Yesterday’s excellent social media jam event featured Google’s Ed Parsons talking about the immediate and future vision for Google Maps, at the Capgemini office in Central London. Read on for some notes, comments and observations from the session.

Ed Parsons Talking Google Maps at Capgemini

As first speaker, Parsons took the audience on a journey through Google Map’s current state and plans, including:

  • Map Annotation – a feature, currently in beta, of real time annotation of Google Maps, based on the user’s circle of trust. This level of customisation means that each user will have a unique Google Map experience based on their annotations.
  • 3D Modelling – In less than five years, there are plans for some 3D photo-realistic models of places and locations, in real time. This means the images generated will be almost indistinguishable from the physical version. However, some challenges to be overcome include real time simulation and Map animation – e.g. to get realistic effects for such things as parallax, the lighting on buildings or movement of leaves on trees etc.
  • Indoor mapping – Another initiative in the works involves mapping “the great indoors” i.e. providing maps and locations within buildings (e.g. via wifi) and integrating seamlessly with the outside environment. Essentially, you could use your mobile device e.g. Smartphone not only to guide you to a shopping mall, but also to a specific location within one of its department stores.
  • Future of Maps – Finally, according to Ed, the map of the future will not be a map at all, instead, it’ll be tightly integrated into contextual services accessible via such cool devices as envisioned in this YouTube video for the Google glass project. Such scenarios involve the use of real time information (e.g. about destination / routes / detours / traffic / historical preference / calendar etc.) e.g. in Google Now, to dynamically adjust the service / experience delivered to the user. Contextual services are really all about exploiting the value of information at the specific time of use, and it relies on ambient information in that magic zone between physical & virtual worlds.

In addition, attendees were treated to a quick overview of an interesting application of Map technology and audio, which essentially allows artistes to create an audio soundscape for specific locations. This topic was covered by Southampton University’s Ben Mawson, who is working on a technology that will allow users to enter and explore sounds linked in this way to a physical location, via their Android Smartphone.

Below are some comments, questions and observations from attendees including:

  1. The decision, by Apple, to introduce their own maps offering into the iOS may mean users not getting to play as much with Google Maps
  2. Google Maps and Circles are a natural combination for Map annotation, but this will depend on user uptake, and careful management to avoid coming across as overly intrusive to the user. It was suggested that an interface with Facebook would be great for such annotations, but don’t hold your breath.
  3. Battery life – In order to make the described features truly usable, the longevity of battery life must be addressed managed intelligently (e.g. GPS usage only when moving)

In all, this was a most interesting event, and a key take away for me was that contextual information and Augmented Reality have come a long way, but their full implications are only just beginning to be understood. This means they can easily become misapplied or overly intrusive, therefore due care must be taken over interpreting user intentions, as this could bring back similar issues of: IP rights infringement, user intent and privacy concerns, which dogged the music industry and its infamous Napsterisation.

Copyright And Technology 2012 Conference

June 20, 2012 Leave a comment

Yesterday saw the first UK edition of this annual conference, which took place in London’s Kings Fund venue. The full day conference featured panels and expert speakers on that most interesting, challenging and potentially lucrative junction of copyright, content and technology. And, another buzzword for the ‘social’ melting pot – Social DRM!

Copyright And Technology Conference Word Cloud

Copyright And Technology Conference Word Cloud

The event format involved the usual keynotes and plenary sessions, during the morning segment, and a split into two streams, (covering technology and legal aspects), in the afternoon. My key take-aways include:

  1. User education on copyright content infringement is far too one-sided. According to expert copyright lawyer, Andrew Bridges, potential infringers / fans need ‘credible teachers’ with a more balanced agenda
  2. Traditional Hollywood release window is under threat (from user demand for content, here and now!)
  3. Piracy data collection / analysis are increasingly used by big content owners (e.g. Warner Bros and Harper Collins) to identify potential demand for specific content, via pirate channels. An interesting question by conference chair, Bill Rosenblatt, was whether content providers saw any potential for combining piracy data collection/analysis with social media buzz analysis, in order perhaps to help identify new market opportunities, remained mostly unanswered
  4. Media monitoring organisations can collect and analyse, (with consumers’ permission), actual usage data from user computers. According to the speaker from Warner Bros, their research apparently confirms claims that HADOPI has had an impact, with a recent decline in Peer-to-Peer file-sharing, in France.
  5. According to MarkMonitor, a high proportion of pirated ebook content are in the PDF format, which some think may be a result of easy portability between devices. Also, according to Harper Collins speaker, key motivational factors for ebook piracy include: Pricing, DRM and territorial restrictions.
  6. In the Technology stream, the panel on content identification (e.g. via fingerprinting vs. session based watermarking) discussed creation of content aware ecosystems using Automatic Content Recognition
  7. The term ‘Social DRM’ (a buzzword if I ever heard one) is the use of user information to uniquely identify digital content (and to potentially name and shame file sharers), as described by CEO of Icontact. One attendee grilled the presenter about ways and means to crack it! Apparently, the term Social DRM was coined by Bill McCoy at Adobe (now at IDPF), and is really just watermarking content with personally identifiable information
  8. Bill Rosenblatt described LCP (Lightweight Content Protection) for ePub as being somewhere in the middle of the content protection continuum (i.e. between no DRM and very strong DRM). Also, he observed that thepublishing industry stance on DRM is still in flux, and that genres such as (sci-fi, romance, IT) were mainly going DRM-free, whilst other e.g. higher education still used strong DRM to protect content
  9. Finally, my technology stream panel session on Security Challenges of Multi-Platform Content Distribution saw key contributions from experts, with multiple perspectives, from: a Security Consultant (Farncombe), DRM Provider (Nagra), Business PoV (Castlabs) and Content Provider / Owner (Sony Picture Entertainment).

Overall, this was a very good first outing for the Copyright and Technology conference in London. The co- organisers, GiantSteps and MusicAlly, did a great job to pull it off, despite disappointment (by last minute cancellation of a keynote) from the HADOPI Secretary General). I would certainly encourage anyone interested in the opportunities and challenges of content, technology and copyright to attend this conference in future. And yes, Social DRM is my new buzzword of the month!

Hands-On Gamification

The inaugural event for GSUMMITx – Gamification in London, which was hosted yesterday at Capgemini’s ASE in Holborn, provided a sneak peek into the world of gamification and its application to solving real world problems for business and the enterprise.

GSummitx - Gamification in London (at Capgemini's ASE)

GSummitx – Gamification in London (at Capgemini’s ASE)

 

The event featured a talk by author and gamification expert, Gabe Zichermann; a DIY online leader board demo from a startup called Leaderboarded; as well as the problem-du-jour / challenge faced by a non-profit organisation which it would like to solve with gamification. A key high-light for me was the facilitated / hands-on session which demonstrated the use of games technique in the ideation process of gamestorming (or games based brainstorming) for solving a real world problem, in this case: how to enable debates at a global level. The gamestorming technique used was based on the 3-12-3 game, as originally described in the eponymous book called ‘Gamestorming’ (see: my review of same) Some interesting suggestions that emerged from the session included: an avater-based online system (to protect the vulnerable); a global SMS debate platform (to include/reach the widest demographic); and adoption of universal rules for debates, possibly even including ‘Rap battle’ style formats – seriously. The winner by far was the idea of an ‘instagram like’ platform for debating. Btw. you know you’ve got it made when your service / platform is now being used to describe other ideas.

So yes, this was a fun event, with lots of fresh ideas, new information and experiences for the 40-strong audience. More information about GSUMMITx – Gamification in London, including some audience feedback, can be found at their Meetup homepage. Also, you can find out more about Capgemini’s ASE here, (and on here YouTube)

Big Data, Cloud, Social and Mobility == Super Disruption

December 30, 2011 Leave a comment
Did I leave out anything? Well, there was just no other way to end 2011 than by taking a quick look at the big four buzzwords that will likely combine to unleash a perfect storm of disruptive forces over the next 12 months or so.
Cloud, big data, social and mobility

Cloud, big data, social and mobility

Over the course of this blogging campaign I have focused mostly on cloud and certain relevant aspects (e.g. content, security, access and Intellectual Property), but the fact remains that other equally profound developments, such as: big data, social and mobile computing also provide significant challenges and opportunities for both consumers and the enterprise. Gartner predicts that the above four forces will combine to transform the IT landscape in 2012, and I couldn’t agree more. In my opinion, this will probably go much further than the IT landscape, since such a potent combination can easily transform entire industries as well.

In 2011, the impact of social media and mobility meant that many organisations sought ways to engage better with their customers, using social media and mobile technologies. Also various organisations, ranging from consumer products to public sector, actively looked for ways to manage and leverage increasingly large amounts of ‘big data’ and valuable content, sometimes in ways that almost rivalled traditional content industries. Think publishing, broadcast and, of course, social media footprint in your organisation today and compare it to just 3 years ago.

So what does each of the aforementioned forces portend for industries in 2012, and what are the early signs or indicators of disruption? My imaginary crystal ball has misted over slightly, but the following are some key trends to watch for the coming year:

  1. Big Data – According to Cisco’s Visual Networking Index (VNI), there will be more networked devices than people on earth, by year end 2011. With so many networked devices, and a related prediction that this number will double to over 2 devices per person by 2015, this is a clear indicator of the trajectory of growth for big Data over the next few years.
  2. Cloud – Cloud service providers will continue to improve and optimise services, particularly at the Data Centre level, in order to provide a seamless and efficient solution for their customers. Key focus areas include: security, intelligent storage, unified networking, policy-based power management, and trusted computing capabilities. Basically, anything that will make it easier to transition customers to the cloud environment, along with greater confidence in sustainable delivery and quality of service will win the day
  3. Social – Social media, networking and CRM all represent a move towards user centric engagement models that will allow a two way conversation between the enterprise and their: customers, suppliers, partners and employees. The user expectation of more meaningful and productive dialogue with the enterprise is only set to increase over the next 12 months
  4. Mobility – This is both a technology and use centric force which readily demonstrates the combination of all three forces along with location (in space and time). In the paradigm shifting world of context aware computing, the user and their activities are central to the flow and direction of dialogue / interaction with the enterprise. Increasingly users expect the enterprise to be able to leverage contextually relevant information when dealing with them, and this in turn drives enterprise adoption of enabling technologies to provide this capability.

A good case in point will be the summer Olympic Games in London, which should provide a fertile proving ground for many of the combined challenges and opportunities presented by the four buzzwords / trends discussed above.

In conclusion, I expect no less than a step change in disruption levels across industries over the next 12 months, or so. The gloomy economic situation will only enhance the need for change, particularly in situations where: competitors are plunging ahead; customers are expecting even more for nothing; and employees are demanding similar levels of service and user experience from their enterprise, as might be expected for a consumer – which they likely are. Some very interesting times lie ahead.

Note: This post is brought to you in partnership with Intel(R) as part of the “Technology in tomorrow’s cloud & virtual desktop” series. For more information please click – HERE

Digital Content and the Cloud

October 17, 2011 3 comments

This is first in a series of posts about cloud computing and digital content which will look at some of the immediate impact, as well as emerging and potential future trends of digital content in the context of cloud computing.

Digital Content Cloud

Digital Content in Cloud

Once upon a time, it was normal expectation and practice to run a decent-sized content business entirely from your own servers, storage and website. Nowadays this is not necessarily part of the conversation, even for small content businesses, as a result of the pervasive awareness of this thing called cloud and all the benefits it can deliver to the bottom line. The obvious advantages (e.g. scale, flexibility and reach) far outweigh most of the real and perceived disadvantages, but for content businesses, and I mean those businesses that rely on digital assets for their livelihood, this is a critical step with an intolerably high cost of failure.

In order to play in this field, content businesses must make it a point to ensure they are well placed and able to handle challenges posed by certain key aspects of doing business in the clouds, so to speak. These include:

  1. Storage – Along with the vast compute power, virtually unlimited storage is one of the key calling cards of the cloud optimist or evangelist. It is a compelling argument but there are still some key operational challenges to be faced in dealing with the vast amount of content stored in the cloud.
  1. Security – Cloud security is a staple topic of criticism by those I would refer to as cloud pessimists, but even now it is still way too early to tell which way the dice will fall on this one
  1. Collaboration – the ability to collaborate over space and time is another key attraction of cloud for content creators, business users and the even consumers (e.g. for User Generated Content)
  1. Intellectual property – The ability to monitor and enforce IP rights is a slow burner of an issue which will only get hotter as the more immediate challenges get resolved
  1. Emerging Usage models – The content industries face a major challenge dealing with constantly changing user needs and behaviours, (e.g. in the social context) resulting in the need for a highly flexible business model to cope with the onslaught; and this in my opinion, is where cloud technologies can really help enable the businesses of tomorrow

These and other related topics will form the main subjects for discussion in my subsequent posts for this series. In the meantime, I’d like to reiterate that the opinions expressed in this post and in the subsequent series of posts (and indeed my entire blog), are strictly mine and do not in anyway reflect the views of my employer, Capgemini, or the BCS Chartered Institute for IT.

DISCLAIMER:  This post is brought to you in partnership with Intel(R) as part of the “Technology in tomorrow’s cloud & virtual desktop” series.