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Were You Inspired?

August 13, 2012 3 comments

The end of a successful London 2012 Olympics, heralds a return to reality not least for the people of London who played host to the world for two straight weeks. Numerous events, achievements and incidents occurred during the week, but a critical factor for me was the superb organisation which provide some great lessons for any business to embrace and emulate.

Sunset at the Olympic Park

Sunset at the Olympic Park

Below are four great lessons from the London 2012 Olympic Games:

  1. Never promise too much – the organisers of London 2012 did not promise more than they could deliver. In fact, the closing ceremony performance at the Beijing 2008 Games gave little hint of what was to come as the Olympic flag was handed over to London Mayor, Boris Johnson
  2. Wow them with your opener – The opening ceremony for London 2012 was a real eye opener for people on just what the Games could deliver, and they did not disappoint.
  3. Deliver the goods – The most important part of the Olympics are the games, and London 2012 successfully delivered in terms of: organisation, audience participation (apart from early issues with rare tickets vs. empty seats), television coverage (the BBC coverage was outstanding), and a remarkable medal haul for the host nation.
  4. Be gracious in your exit – The games concluded with a music laden closing ceremony, and the Olympic flag was passed with some aplomb to Brazil, the next host nation which also gave a taste of what to expect in Rio de Janeiro come 2016. Even the departure experience at Heathrow Airport was something to write home about.

“Successful”, “fantastic”, “enjoyable”, “brilliant” were some of the descriptive words used by athletes, volunteers, organisers and spectators at these last Games, and those are words that any business should like to hear coming from their clients, customers, employees and partners.

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Innovation and Enterprise Architecture?

August 25, 2011 Leave a comment

You might be forgiven for thinking that these make rather strange bedfellows, especially considering as they don’t often appear together in the same sentence; at least not as frequently as Architecture and Governance, or perhaps Innovation and Start-ups. In my view, this sad state of affairs is all set to change.  

I recently did a BrightTalk Webcast on just this topic, and although the research for it was rather daunting at first, it eventually became clear, from talking to experts on both topics, that the key challenge was how to identify the best role, or sweet spot, for Enterprise Architecture (and all it can bring to the table) in a fluid and dynamic business context / environment. In my opinion, this sweet spot is nestled right between the more forward looking aspects of business model innovation and agile development.

When taken together, rapidly changing business models and agile development techniques do not necessarily make for the most robust, repeatable and best-governed business / technology processes or environment, and this is precisely where certain key aspects of Enterprise Architecture could bring much needed value. These and other issues were the focus for this webcast, and the slides can be found on the Slideshare website.  Enjoy…

Innovation and Enterprise Architecture

Innovation and Enterprise Architecture

Predicting 2010: Wisdom of Sheep or Silence of the Crowds?

December 31, 2009 Leave a comment

“The wisdom of crowds” is a phrase that often evokes lofty thoughts of how collective wisdom and collaborative effort can be harnessed to achieve truly remarkable outcomes. However, like most things, there is a fine line between hype and reality, especially when it comes to online content and social networking.

The Wisdom of Crowds concept does not purport to be a cure for everything, and even its most ardent supporters will readily admit that sometimes the crowd can get it wrong, but it is a proven phenomenon that crowd wisdom can make far more accurate predictions, and better decisions, than the typical individual or expert. Such is the popularity of the crowd concept that it has spawned other related neologisms like “crowd-sourcing” and “crowd-funding” which both have key elements of social networking.
However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and it easily gets to the point where such crowd-based allusions start to resemble the bleating of sheep, or the rush of cliff-bound Lemmings. With that in mind, I wonder what the crowds, (wise or otherwise), will make of the following predictions for 2010, and beyond:

  1. Privacy is a luxury that the Internet Age can ill-afford. Openness will be the new private, and hopefully soon this tired generation of privacy-sensitive individuals (including yours truly), will either learn to accept this fact, or eventually die off, in order to realise the enormous potential and necessary mind-shift of a truly-connected world, populated with privacy-desensitised social networkers.
  2. Speed is of the essence. Ideas are a dime a dozen and failed ideas are worth much more. The increasing trend for most ventures to learn fast and fail quickly, (i.e. on Internet time), only lends credence to the emerging school of thought that an ever-accelerating pace of innovation will bring us to that tipping point in the near(er) future.
  3. Mobility is the way forward. The humble mobile device will continue to evolve into its rightful place as the key device through which people around the world will access digital content and interact with each other. It certainly appears that the approaching decade will be all about mobile, location-based / contextual services. Period.
  4. Economic evolution. The sharing economy (i.e. of content and information) will continue to grow in parallel with existing commercial money-based models for a while yet. Piracy, or what is currently regarded as such, will eventually decline, but only perhaps with even wider acceptance of a more flexible and open access and usage models (i.e. think evolved global copyright scheme).
  5. Money is so yesterday. The underlying system of values we currently use to judge success and failure of a venture will undergo drastic re-evaluation, especially in the face of continued challenges to extant economic models. Money may no longer be the best yardstick to measure wealth in the world of tomorrow. There, I said it!

Ok, that ought to be enough to start a minor stampede among the traditionalist, just-say-no-to-change, crowd, and a chant of “yes-we-can” from the ne0philes among you, but what about the rest? Do they even care? I suspect that this silent majority will decide which side emerges victorious from this debate; therefore it would be most interesting to understand what they think of it all. Perhaps we ought to run a Yes / No poll on the above five predictions, in order to gauge the response from the silent crowd, but the key challenge would be how to go about it given that they are so damned quiet.
PS. Just out of curiosity, what do YOU think about the five predictions and why?

Twitter for Business, or is it. Really?

September 28, 2009 Leave a comment

Last Wednesday, I attended an excellent BCSNLB event on “Twitter for Business”, and whilst it was bothengaging and well attended (indeed over-subscribed), I am still not convinced that Twitter has a legitimate place in business – for the very simple reason that people are still talking (or trying to convince each other) about it.

There is a school of thought that evangelism can be misplaced; especially if it is stating the obvious and preaching to the choir (e.g. that social networking applications can be beneficial for business 2.0). But if this is the case for Twitter then why does it appear to be taking so long to gain traction with businesses, and thus necessitating a seemingly endless round of “gee whiz, look-what-you-can-do-with-Twitter” brand of discovangelism (SIC). Ok, so there is Dell and a few other examples of the successful application of Twitter, but does that make it the ubiquitous Web2.0 business application that it is so often positioned? Hmmph!

Granted that just like mobile’s SMS, Twitter is a phenomenal tool for exchanging bite-size information and a facilitator of inter-personal interaction with a global community of users (much like the 300M strong FaceBook). All these technologies are being used by businesses as additional, personalised channels for marketing and customer engagement. However, that does not necessarily make Twitter the must-have requirement for businesses wanting to engage with potential customers.

Perhaps I am just being impatient and this will come to pass in time, as in the innovative use of SMS for mobile money, but it would be nice see some more tangible evidence fast. I just remember dot.com bubbles, irrational exuberance, and other more recent nasties. Oh dear, here we go again…

Note: The above is just a personal opinion, and not intended in any way to detract from the excellent event or brilliant speakers / enlightened Twitterati, i.e. Mario Menti (@mario); Judith Lewis (@judithlewis) and Guy Stephens (@guyatcarphone)

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Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.

Leadership in tough times

December 7, 2008 Leave a comment

The recent Leaders in London event brought together some great business leaders (e.g. Jack Welch & Muhammad Yunus) and inspired speakers (e.g. Rudy Giuliani & Carly Fiorina) to share their thoughts on the main topic du-jour for most CxOs, i.e. how to lead their organization through the current economic crises.


This two day event, chaired by author / business guru, Rene Carayol, succeeded in delivering immense value to attendees, (ranging from newly minted MBAs to seasoned CEOs), and included additional master-class days by business thought leaders like Dan Pink and Daniel Goleman. Key messages from my attendance on day two includes:

  • The former mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani, emphasized that the role of leadership in times of crises was about motivating people, fostering & recognizing teamwork, and remaining visibly present and optimistic even during the toughest of times.
  • Legendary CEO, Jack Welch, gave a moderated interview / Q&A session, (via satellite link), with his classic forthright opinion on a variety of topics e.g.: the current economic crisis (a breakdown in the financial industry); management theory (only pundits think new management models are the answer); and emerging markets like Nigeria (challenged young leaders to change the game). I could not resist asking if there were any applicable lessons to be learnt from the recording industry’s own crises. His answer: It was caused by technology innovation; therefore need to respond with innovation, in the business model.
  • Richard Reed, Co-Founder of Innocent Drinks, described their journey from start-up to becoming a successful company with firm values of fun, sustainability and focus on doing one thing well.
  • Inspirational leadership helped retired US Naval Commander, Captain Michael Abrashoff, to turn his ship from the worst to best performing ship in the US Pacific fleet. His mantra: give up control, achieve command.
  • Prof. Vijay Govindarajan (Tuck Business School) stated that organizational strategies should be focused on creating “next practice”, and not adopting current best practice. Also that strategy architecture should address five key areas of: non-linear shifts, strategic intent, core competencies, growth playbook and new competencies
  • According to Prof. Gary Hamel, (London Business School), management has stopped evolving and most companies now have more or less the same management models. His hierarchy of desirable management outcomes covers traditional qualities like: Obedience, Diligence and Intellect, as well as the emerging need to inspire Initiative, Creativity and Passion in employees.

Overall, this was one heck of an event, even if only for the quality of invited speakers, but the key message from most of the sessions I attended was about the critical value of inspiration and motivation as the best way for leaders to engage people into delivering above and beyond the call of duty, particularly in these most turbulent of times.

 

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Note: Originally posted on Capgemini’s Technology blog.  You can see the original post, including comments, at: http://www.capgemini.com/technology-blog/2008/12/leadership_in_tough_times.php

RIAA wins round one of many – Read it and weep!

October 5, 2007 Leave a comment

According to a BBC News article, a US court has found against a woman in the first case of an individual contesting the claim of illegal file sharing by the RIAA. It would seem that the birds are finally coming home to roost for the recording industry’s legal truncheon against this activity, but the question remains as to who really wins/loses out in the deal?

The initial impression is that this outcome would deter others from contesting similar claims in future, instead seeking to settle out-of-court by paying the few thousand dollars demanded by RIAA. It certainly seems better than the threat of having to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars should they lose their legal appeal as in the case of the above defendant (She has been ordered to pay over two hundred thousand dollars in damages).

However some analysts are of the opinion that this could very well be an own goal by the recording industry for several reasons:

  • Major labels may now wish to rely more on these lawsuits to protect their profits instead of fully focusing on creating more innovative and profitable business models for their music content.
  • Customers are being further alienated by their possible exposure to this type of legal threat, especially where they cannot prove they did not download the content. It was the neighbour’s cat. Honest.
  • Finally the lawsuits do not seem to have had any significant impact on the rapid decline of the recording industry’s CD centric business models, nor has it provably reduced the sharing of files by consumers.

In the words of Paul Resnikoff, Editor of DigitalMusicNews, ‘time is running out’ for the major labels, therefore they should focus their dwindling resources on more constructive initiatives than individual infringement lawsuits, if they are to survive this seemingly terminal market disruption.

Categories: BCS, Music, Piracy Tags: ,