There is nothing better than a fresh perspective on the future of digital technology, especially from those most likely to create and use it in their impending working lives within the next 5 – 10 years. I am talking about the next generation work force, aka those currently in their mid-to-late teens.
I recently had the opportunity to conduct several mock job interviews with students from a local college in West London, as part of Capgemini’s Schools Outreach programme. Apart from this being a welcome change in routine (if such a thing exists for a consultant), it was most illuminating to learn what these young candidates expected from a prospective employer, and equally what they imagined an employer might expect of them.
So once initial nerves had settled, and the individual conversations started flowing, it quickly became apparent that some of these young people were already rather accomplished, and that perhaps they should be the ones telling us what we could expect from the work place of tomorrow. For example:
- One young entrepreneur ran his own a digital agency, which he’d founded along with a few friends, and he clearly already knew more about digital services than his peers, and teachers / career advisors
- Another had created a charity health info website which consistently came up in the first couple of pages across search engines – a clear testimony of SEO skills, which is pretty much in demand within the digital industry
- Others had done something or other with the web skills they gained on the course, or elsewhere (e.g. one set up a simple ecommerce website for Mom’s business). And, Oh yes, their social media savvy was very much in evidence, as some had already checked me out on Google / Linkedin / Twitter and came prepared with some interesting questions / opinions about my favourite topics of digital content and rights management.
Overall, I was really impressed by the level of awareness and keen interest shown by these students, but that does not mean everything points to a rosy future for the emerging digital work force. For example, according to one career advisor, there are significantly more boys than girls on the ICT courses, hence the mock interviews featured more male candidates than their equally gifted but less represented female counterparts.
Unfortunately, this situation is also sadly mirrored in the IT industry and work force of today. However, there are signs that things will continue to improve, as long as the likes of Marisa Mayer (Yahoo!), Sheryl Sandberg (Facebook), Padmasree Warrior (Cisco), as well as Capgemini’s Christine Hodgson, and Maggie Buggie continue to help light the way forward.
My participation at this event was made possible by our award winning Director of the Schools Outreach Programme, and I would encourage both peers and industry colleagues to go ahead and give it a try if you ever get the opportunity in your respective regions and organisations.
The concept of Intellectual Property (IP) is well proven as a powerful incentive that drives creativity and innovation, but it is increasingly being challenged by a highly connected world, particularly in all aspects of digital information and content life-cycle To further complicate matters, rapid changes in the enabling technology / triggers are only likely to increase or accelerate, and according to Gartner, some of these developments, (e.g. Big Data, Cloud, Mobile & Social) have combined to produce a paradigm shift in the way we do business. Such worrisome trends are only exacerbated by the fact that IP sits right in the middle of it all.
Surprisingly, not many decision makers appear to understand, or are willing to discuss, how such developments affect their business, particularly with regards to information assets and IP. Is it too early for any meaningful dialogue? Are the impacts unlikely to be anything major, (i.e. compared to the other trends), or are business leaders far too busy facing harsh economic realities to focus on this too? The respective answers are no, yes and probably. However, the impact will be anything but trivial, when you consider just how tightly IP is interwoven with all such developments. Some of the high-level intersections between IP and technology trends are:
IP and the Cloud – Key implications for IP, (aside from relevant cloud technology patents), are related to access and use of data held within the cloud, as well as the services they power.
IP and Social Media – Social media is the product of all interactions between individuals in a social network, including all information created, modified, exchanged and shared between the members. Such content, their usage, and user behaviours, have huge implications for IP.
IP and Mobility – Mobility is the ability to access to information and other resources, through a mobile device, without restriction of a fixed location. Key implications for IP include unauthorised access to / use of location dependent material (e.g. territorial rights over copyright content).
IP and Big Data / Open Data – Data and information arguably have the most implication for IP, especially since digital data is both raw material and output / enabler of the information age (e.g. all IP is ultimately reducible to digital data, including the often controversial software IP). Data permeates and binds all the other technology and behaviour trends mentioned above, and reflects all their IP implications.
IP and Litigation – Following the recent spate of patent lawsuits between several large technology companies, it has become clear that IP is now regarded as a crucial weapon by some. According to a recent BBC news article, serious attempts are being made to address “an unwelcome trend in today’s marketplace to use standard-essential patents to block markets”. The cost and impact of such ‘weaponised IP’ litigation is basically stifling innovation, and goes against the key sentiment and objective of IP.
Top 5 things enterprise decision makers need to keep in mind
- The motivations and interests of 5 key IP stakeholder groups (i.e. the creative, technology, commercial, legislative and consumer stakeholders). No group is completely independent of the others; therefore a balanced approach is required for all IP related decisions.
- Need to create and communicate clear enterprise policies for IP, Social Media, Cloud, Mobility and Data
- The much desired real-time enterprise requires certain key elements to be in place, including: self-service BI (e.g. data mashups), event driven architecture (incl. Complex Event Processing), analytics and data discovery, as well as contextual capabilities (incl. location based services), and cloud computing. In all cases, early consideration of IP implications is crucial.
- The key to digital transformation and architecture, in a fast moving dynamic environment, may be found in alignment with constant business model innovation. The architecture of such an organisation, (incl. process and technology), must become more dynamic if it is to provide any sustainable value.
- In the brave new world, the customer comes first, and IP becomes the ‘value’ centre of the enterprise (rather than the products or services it is used to drive), whilst the business model flexes and changes as needed to accommodate those dynamics.
In conclusion, digital trends appear to suggest that mere products and services will no longer be sufficient differentiators in a digital world with ever diminishing barriers to entry. It ultimately boils down to a question of how, and not what, you create and deliver to your customers. Either way, data / Information and IP will continue to play a fundamental role in the entire digital value system.
Note: The above post is adapted from an article which is submitted and due for publication by the BCS Chartered Institute for IT.
Following on from my recent post about the concept of innovation as something you do, and not just something you say, I came across an example of what I would consider innovation in action, courtesy of a newly launched digital music distribution / promotion service called Music2Text.
According to their literature, Music2text is a service that provides artistes and labels with the ability to sell or giveaway music tracks direct to fans, via plain old SMS (or mobile text messages). The proposition is simple, and can be summarised in 3 steps, as follows:
- First, take an existing technology, SMS in this case, and figure out a new way to use it for mass music distribution and promotion
- Make sure the service is fast, free and easy to setup / use (e.g. within 30 minutes, if you already have all the prerequisite information / digital files to hand).
- Then monetise it by allowing punters to associate their music (ringtone or full song) with a simple keyword which the fans can then use to access it by texting that word to a number – 60444 (UK only, at this time). The service replies with a link through which the track can be downloaded, bought or shared with others.
The music owners can choose to distribute their music or ringtones for free, in which case the service is completely free to use, (including links to their favourite mobile and social media channels). In my opinion, this free aspect makes Music2Text an almost perfect mobile, distribution and social marketing tool, with something to offer all key stakeholders, including: music labels, publishers, artistes and their customers / fans.
That said, and in true reviewer fashion, I requested and was given a guided tour of the service by the founders, and I even went one better to upload one of my own tracks onto the service with the keyword ‘Bring’ (yes, I produce music in my not so spare time!). And you can try it out for yourself too, but please be kind if you spot my ringtone track, and wish to comment on it
Overall, I think this is an excellent proposition. However, it is still very much a start-up service, (albeit a brilliant / creative and enterprising one), with the usual minor teething problems you might expect. The monetisation element, with its 90 day keyword limit, makes this a likely vehicle for promotional / marketing applications (e.g. release promos, live tours and competitions etc.), which is no bad thing at all. The music industry revenue model is slowly embracing other sources of income e.g. live performance, streaming (see this post / infographic for recent trends), and now SMS could get onto that list, if this all works out.
So what makes this a real example of innovation, you might ask. Well, if you’ve heard the adage about putting new wine into old wineskins, then you might be forgiven for thinking that this proposition is doomed to failure. However, the ability to reuse / repurpose an existing, and possibly boring, technology to new and profitable ends is right to the heart of innovation, in my opinion. I say well done guys, and keep the UK innovation flag flying!
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:
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
Next year’s Olympic Games mean that both the City of London and global coverage of the events will be awash with logos, slogans, brands and other sponsorship paraphernalia come summer 2012. As the competing athletes get busy completing their training, so too have a particular group of learned athletes, otherwise known as IP lawyers, kept busy by flexing their legal muscles in preparation for an epic battle. Whoever wins in the end must indeed go faster, higher and stronger in that blood sport known as IP litigation.
I was kindly invited to a seminar on brands and Intellectual Property (IP) at Wedlake Bell, a London Law firm, which helped to bring into sharp focus the current state of the IP landscape, (i.e.: Copyright, Trademark, Designs and Patents), and their legislation or regulation in the UK and Europe. The half day seminar touched on several interesting and notable IP related developments, regulation or litigation outcomes including:
- London 2012 Olympics – Covered the looming London2012 games and all it entails, e.g. the need to defend against such tactics as Ambush Marketing, as well as the introduction of a specific right to prevent unfair association with the games called the London Olympic Association Right .
- Freedom of Expression vs. Privacy – Discussed the tension between these two strange bedfellows, as well as highlighting the bright line boundary of commercial or state secret infringement versus the blurred line of private information made public (i.e. intrusion of privacy). Not quite the same thing it seems!
- Copyright Issues – Looked at the challenges facing copyright law and its modern use and interpretation such as the vexed question of just what constitutes a “substantial part” in copyright infringement. Oh, and by the way, newspaper headlines may be copyright too!
- Social Media and the Law – this final session showed how, despite evidently wide-held belief to the contrary, the law can, and does, apply to social media users. Seven types of social media usage, and some resulting litigation, were used to illustrate how the law can impact unwary users of social media, e.g.: insults, uploading, marketing, employees, litigating, gossip and jokes. Also the memorable analogy of just how social media users are very like London cyclists, (i.e. an explosion in great numbers of modish, largely anonymous individuals who may assume the law does not apply to them), helped to bring the point home.
In conclusion, this seminar provided an excellent update on the state of play with IP and brands; litigation and legislation; as well as historical challenges and emerging trends and usage scenarios. It is the sort of useful event, and time well spent, which I would recommend to any person or organization with even the least exposure to IP, digital social media and the laws and regulations that govern their use. With that in mind, perhaps the toughest contests of the London2012 games may well be fought in courtrooms across the land. IP athletes to your starting positions.
Recent headlines around privacy, super injunctions and scandals involving celebrities, sports stars and bankers make it seem like something new and dangerous has appeared out of the ether, when in fact it is nothing other than the usual, albeit grossly exaggerated, effect of disruptive technologies and their use / abuse, laced with a titillating hint of salacious gossip fodder. The rest is history, or not.
Internet technologies and social media applications like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube have made it child’s play for anyone to create instantaneous headline / publicity, or what I call a “flash buzz”, over almost any topic, event or person. There is no gainsaying the fact that social media has established itself as a bonafide media channel through which people can get the fastest and most direct access to world events, and to each other. But this is only just the beginning, if you consider the mountains of so called big data being fed each and every second by these, and other sources of information.
Once upon a time news information trickled down through well established but rather narrow media channels (i.e. news print, Radio and TV), but that trickle has become a fast moving stream, full of all any kind of debris (i.e. meaningless chatter) and valuable nuggets of information about you, your friends (or followers, fans, contacts etc.) and any number of other people. When combined with other Internet applications, such as the World Wide Web and a good search engine, no topic is out of reach for an intrepid seeker. So where does this leave us? What will happen to the existing media / information channels; will they be swallowed up by the deluge of information and get lost in the remarkably high noise-to-signal ratio? Will established media channels, businesses and industry go the way of the music industry?
I think not, because thankfully, there is still something to be said for the perceived authority of the printed word, and many people will still probably take the words on a printed sheet over words on a screen. Also, despite the wow factor of a new information source / channel offered by social media applications, it is still just that; only another source or channel for information. They are not mutually exclusive, and in fact people even use multiple information channels simultaneously. But what has this got to do with privacy?
Why, everything. The increasing trend for easily accessible data, information and knowledge streams means that sooner or later, and to varying degrees of completeness and accuracy, your so called private information will become available online, if it is not already out there. But what does this mean for ordinary individuals that go about minding their own business? Not much, I imagine, but for those with something to hide, or protect (in good cause or not), this can be a very real problem as the recent controversy over super injunctions in the UK will attest. Furthermore, for enterprises that make it a key activity to interact and deal directly with customers, this can be a gold mine (or just a plain minefield) to be navigated and exploited with extreme care as significant legal battles will likely continue to be fought over this particular topic.
In any case, one thing that seemingly escapes attention in the increasingly episodic furore over privacy is that the upcoming generation of Internet savvy digital natives may not see privacy in the same light our current generation of digital immigrants do. If social media was the norm at the time of your birth, or before, then it may be fair to ask just what the fuss is all about.
Mobile Apps are leading the way on innovative use of digital and mobile technology, and last Thursday’s BCS event provided a glimpse of emerging trends, opportunities and threats they present to both business and consumers.
The speaker, Katie Lips is a mobile strategist, digital entrepreneur and regular speaker on this topic, and she gave a good overview of the world of mobile apps and key emerging trends across several areas including:
1. Publishing – this consists mainly of innovative use of edited and layered content to create compelling apps that demonstrate the powerful multi-format capabilities of mobile digital devices, especially tablets.
2. Games – interestingly, games have emerged as the top grossing apps on mobile devices
3. App Discovery – with top App stores boasting over 100k apps each, there is an obvious need for easy ways to discover new apps, (and of course there’s an app for that too). Interestingly, it seems no one has yet managed the old Amazon style recommendation technique e.g. “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought…”
4. Tech tricks – the ability to create a wow effect on the back of mobile / digital technology is always a winner, and the Garageband keyboard demo on the IPad was a case in point
5. Micro social networks – this is exemplified by runaway apps such as Instragram, which lean towards the “fewer is better” approach to social networking, with closer, more intimate groups built around the user
6. Apple first – Finally, this is more a fact than trend because Apple’s ecosystem was and still is the primary proving ground for many app developers and innovators, before moving on / out into other platforms.
Overall, the key message I took away from this excellent event organised by the London Central Branch, was that mobile apps ecosystem, content and business models offer an interestingly unspoiled landscape of immense possibilities, where bold innovation and experimentation is the order of the day, and the brave can reap amazing rewards. However, it is also pitted with remarkable risk, uncertainties and outright dangers especially with respect to digital content and copyright which is still struggling to get a handle on PCs and CD burners, without the head ache of mobile, social, digital content mashups – the pain is just around the corner on that one.
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