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Design

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Why I've defected from BlackBerry to the Apple iPhone

After 6 years happily thumb tapping my way around my email and messages with the real keyboard of the BlackBerry smart phone platform I defected to the Apple iPhone back in July (even though the new iPhone 5 was imminent).  It's such a shame - I've been a big fan of Research In Motion's BlackBerry approach and the integrated nature of their software, but to me this highlights how even strong and successful technology companies can lose their way and loyal customers with the wrong strategy and end user experience in a very short space of time.  In today's technolgy landscape, if you aren't always challenging your current product range and reinventing yourself, your toast!

Things were so different back in April 2006 when I followed Ross Mayfield's advice and replaced my Treo PDA and Sony Ericcson K700i phone with a BlackBerry 8700v smart phone, instead of the HP iPaq and Sony Ericsson P990i I had been looking at.  It was great advice!  I loved the simplicity of the click wheel interface and the way the email, messaging, contacts and phone functions were so elegantly integrated.  It actually worked well as a phone too.  Along the way I ...

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The Cloud's 5 Key Challenges for the ISV CTO

Back on 26 April I was asked to present "5 Key Challenges for the ISV CTO and How to Beat Them!" at a Ciklum seminar for ISVs that intended to deliver a hype-free conversation among CTOs, Chief Technical Architects and other key executives grappling with the journey to the cloud.  My slides for the session (see below) are already on Slideshare, but they are mostly visual, so I decided to do this  comprehensive (that means long right? - Ed)  blog write up following the slide sequence as a companion piece.  I was in good company, because the other speakers were Jimmy Gasteen of Precursive, Liam Hogan of OpenText and Melissa di Donato of Salesforce.com.  My pitch was intended to do three things:
  • Give my perspective on the current state of the Cloud landscape
  • Offer my 5 key challenges for the ISV CTO in moving to the Cloud
  • Leave the audience with some practical ideas to take action straight away
The current IT landscape is pretty cloudy.  IT providers are branding whatever product they have that happens to run in a datacentre somewhe as "Cloud" ...
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Living with iPad

iPad's always on next to the PC these daysJust before Christmas I joined in with the iPad crowd.  The last straw was an XBRL event at ICAEW back in November when 5 of my colleagues who were speaking or supporting Twinfield at the show all had iPads and I didn't.  I started to look seriously at the tablet concept to see how it would help me on the road, and to compare iPad vs Android or whatever was available.  The iPad wins hands down, and even though my own 64Gb 3G device just got made obsolete by the iPad 2 announcement, I don't care.  Apple has done what it did to the MP3 market with iPod, and I just can't understand why the competitors have given Apple a year's head start in the market?  Let me give you my perspective on living with the iPad.

A couple of weeks ago at the end of a EuroCloud dinner, a senior Microsoft guy next to me needed to find his hotel in the Cromwell Road.  I pulled out my iPad.  The irony of using an Apple product was not lost on either of us.  I got straight in to Google Maps, showed him where his hotel was and the directions from the nearest tube station.  Then I showed him the London Underground map, which Lines and where he needed to change. ...
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In Search of the Obvious - cutting through today's marketing mess

When I first tweeted that Jack Trout's new book "In Search of the Obvious" had arrived from Amazon, my mate @euan suggested his (excellent) blog is actually easy to find.  He called it "The Obvious" because when he started writing about the application of new technology and social media in organizations, he felt that, actually, he was saying pretty obvious things - even though they are important, and often missed by the many.  Jack Trout's book has a similar theme around today's complex marketing mess and era of killer competition that we now live in.  A good marketing strategy should be founded on an obvious idea that makes common sense, when too much of today's marketing messages try to be clever, and complex, with advertising that is more like entertainment.

If you haven't read Jack Trout, you have been missing something.  Jack Trout and Al Ries have written some of the best and most influential marketing books of the last 25 years.  They wrote Positioning, and Marketing Warfare, and the 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing.  Al went off to write some excellent books with his daughter Laura, and Jack carried on with things like Differentiate or Die. ...
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Is the iPad a big iPod or is it the new Newton?

Apple's ultra thin iPad

The first thing I've got to say is the title of this post was supplied in a tweet from Alan Patrick (@freecloud), but it perfectly encapsulates the controversy going on in the geek world around the new Apple tablet device announced on Wednesday.  Is it going to be as successful and "game changing" like the iPod and iTunes, or a flawed failure like the Apple Newton?  I believe it will be very successful as an e-book reader, for news consumption and Internet access, but also in bringing a whole new audience of technologically challenged people for whom a laptop or a netbook are just too complicated to own and carry around.  

It was fascinating to hear how Steve Jobs was positioning both Apple as a manufacturer of mobile devices larger than Sony, Samsung and Nokia in that context, and then the iPad as a new category of product in opposition to the netbook.  It's well worth listening to the keynote, and watching the slick demonstrations.  For me iPad follows two important paths.  The first is simple user experience and the second is Darwinian divergence in product categories.  

On the first path, the iPad uses the iPhone operating system ...
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Successful presentations? - go back to basics

Some of us of a certain age come from a time when presentations weren't created directly on the PC (or Mac) with PowerPoint (or Keynote), or with cool new online tools like Prezi.  Back then before laptop PCs and low cost flash drives, if there was plenty of money in the marketing budget, and the presentation was really important you might create photographic slides, but usually it was paper on a flip chart stand, or more likely foils and an overhead projector (and you could write your notes alongside on those cardboard frames - oops, definitely showing my age!).   With all of these approaches, you would sit down and write the presentation first, and then transcribe the final version to the presentation medium.  These days it's just too easy to go straight in to the technology, because of the ease of shifting things around and making corrections as you go.  I regularly get seduced in to diving in to the detail, opening PowerPoint and starting at slide 1, when I should be taking a mental step back and going back to basics.

I've blogged before that my favourite book on this topic Is Presentations Plus by David A. Peoples from 1988.  David was a ...
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Switch to iPhone or go for BlackBerry Bold?

BlackBerry BoldI'm just completing my first week of living with my new BlackBerry and my conclusion, particular if your phone is for business or heavy email use, is a resounding "go for Bold"! Let me explain why.
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Making a date for the Accountancy Age Awards

AA-awards 2008This year's Accountancy Age Awards dinner will be a red letter day (well evening) for us, with two of our customers up for three awards.
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About the WordFrame team in Plovdiv

Vicki TambelliniOne of the key reasons I got involved with ITBrix and WordFrame, first as a partner, and then joining the company with a stake in the business, was the quality of the development and support team that George has put together over in Plovdiv. I did a trip report on the WordFrame blog for last week's visit to meet some new partners. I met Vicki Tambelinni of Synergy3 there and she mailed me to say:
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IT Counts wins "Best New Web 2.0 Initiative"

Web 2 Strategies logoYesterday, at Web 2.0 Strategies 2008 in London, the ICAEW's IT Counts community won the award for "The Best New Web 2.0 Initiative". IT Counts, which is sponsored by Microsoft, provides practical IT advice for accountants in business and in practice. It is part of the ICAEW online network (ion), a new collection of web communities, powered by WordFrame, and available free of charge to ICAEW members. The institute, which is the UK's largest professional membership organization for accountants, is providing blogs, wikis, people profiles, professional connections, the use of RSS feeds, group messaging and document management to their member network so that they can complement the physical meetings of regional and special interest groups with an online presence.