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Uncovering the Agile Elephant

At our social business event back in September, during Social Media Week London, we could feel something in the atmosphere.  A mood in the room, a sense of excitement and change.  Digital disruption is happening at a rapid rate.  Everyone's business model is under threat from the move to digital across all industries.  The average Enterprise has to change or get leapfrogged by a newer, more nimble competitor.  Being average won't cut it any more That got us thinking. The us, is Alan Patrick, Janet Parkinson and I - the team formerly known as Patchwork Elephant (we've got a new name now).  We all met last decade at London's Tuttle Club and have been crossing paths, working together and talking around the intersection of business and social tools on a regular basis ever since.  The eight different perspectives presented on the future of social business at that last event, combined with the resultant reaction and discussion, along with the commentary we see on our favourite blogs pushed us in to action.  We have some strong opinions around the social business topic.  About the thought leaders, companies and practitioners that are ...

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Beyond Cloud - a series of interviews

A few weeks ago I was invited by Daniel Steeves to kick off his "Beyond Cloud" series of around 15 documentary interviews.  It went live on IntelligentHQ.com and Vimeo yesterday. Daniel is putting these sessions together with IntelligentHQ and Groupe INSEEC London (the French business school).  Daniel's idea is to have a series of video interviews based around the same set of 4 questions to cover the trends, issues and realities of the Cloud landscape from the many different perspectives of the players involved.  I was providing the consultant's perspective, but he will be covering the viewpoint from the very large Cloud provider, the traditional vendor, the SME provider, the Cloud orchestrator, the network provider, the data centre, the Cloud broker, middle-ware provider, orchestrator, security expert, some different styles of SaaS provider, the industry analyst, the business user, the micro business DIY user and the Cloud lawyer.  He's hoping to get some heretics, detractors and realists along with the evangelists and enthusiasts.   At the end of the sequence Daniel is bringing me back so I can interview him with the same 4 questions to wrap up the ...
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Apple's flanking move with iPad Mini and life after Steve

Last week's Apple event has been widely reported in detail, but with a minimum of real analysis on the importance of the why, the how and the what being communicated.  For me there were three significant aspects:
  • Apple improving their leading position in the tablet business by making the leading product even better, as well as opening up a new sub segment of the market to flank the low end competition.
  • The whole event demonstrating that design is still at the heart of the Apple vision.
  • Showing there is life after Steve Jobs - the vision, culture and team he put in place are carrying the torch and keeping up the pace.  (I wish I'd bought shares around about the time the iPod was first announced or before!)
Plenty of reporters and commentators presented most of the facts and the numbers corectly, misunderstood the pricing of the new iPad Mini thinking it too high, and then made the mistake of missing the .9 after the 7 in the size of its screen.  So much technlogy reporting these days seems repetitive, regurgitating the technical specifications and processor chip models in the press release with little analysis and thought of what the technology ...
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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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Inspiration from British Cycling at London 2012

Dave Brailsford on BBC at London 2012We're gripped with Olympic fever here in the UK during London 2012 as you might expect.  Today has been a particularly special day (4 golds, 2 silvers and a bronze so far) for Team GB taking us to our best result in over a century, but one of the highlights was a brilliant interview on BBC Breakfast TV this morning with Dave Brailsford, the Performance Director who has revolutionised British Cycling, the team that's leading our medal charge.  It has some great messages for any business that I wanted to share, so I transcribed his words with some help from my new iPhone's voice recognition.

Dave masterminded the Cycling team's amazing success in Beijing,  and put together a plan to win the Tour de France in 5 years, but actually did it in 2 and a half, when Bradley Wiggins won in such emphatic style just days before these games started.  Even though the rules were changed, seemingly to make it more difficult to win as many medals, in this Olympics  on road the British team has won 1 gold, 1 silver, 1 bronze, and on track 7 golds, 1 silver and 1 bronze.  An amazing performance.  On the BBC News this morning Sally Nugent asked Dave - how do you ...
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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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"Creativity is an operational idea."

Some of you may know that Sir Ken Robinson is a hero of mine.  His 2006 TED talk on education, that I've blogged about before, is inspirational.  Track down and read his book Out of Our Minds.  Until doing some research on another topic I had missed completely this October 2009 Toronto, Canada event at which he spoke - Artscape's third Creative Places + Spaces: The Collaborative City conference.

Sir Ken talks about collaboration in the 21st century and creativity as an operational idea, which you can plan for and make happen systematically.



 Here are some quotes from his talk:
"Creativity is an operational idea.  You can plan for it and make it happen systematically"
"We need to make innovation a habit"
"Politician's say the trouble is you can't define creativity, and I say the trouble is YOU can't!  That's the problem"
"We need to teach creativity in education just like numeracy and literacy"
"It's a key operating principle for the next phase of development in the 21st century"
"Creativity Is a step on from imagination"
"it's applied imagination"
"Creativity is the process of having original ideas that have value"
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Twinfield change partners for a new dance

I was delighted to hear, early yesterday, that cloud accounting software provider Twinfield was acquired by Wolters Kluwer.  I have to disclose that my company, D2C, have been Twinfield's UK partner since 2005 and so we have a vested interest in the success of the platform and some great customers and partnerships that have come as a result of our Twinfield connection.  Over on the Twinfield blog, my good friend and one of the two Twinfield founders, André Kwakernaat, tells some of the back story and explains how proud he is.  Let me give you my take on the acquisition from the perspective of someone  who has been close to the story right from when Andre's idea started at the end of the 90s.  

Andre and the team really have done a superb job building the business since starting on 5 October 2000.  Today the platform supports 80,000 companies, with 40,000 subscribers and used by over 700 accounting practices.  Although the product operates every day in 23 countries, the bulk of the users are in their home market of the Netherlands, which has been both their strength in terms of growth, profitability and stability, but also a potential weakness. ...
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Social Business needs a Cnut

Careful with that spelling (for some reason I preferred it to Canute or Kanute).  Here is my premise.  I think, like Clay Shirky, that we are living in a period of transformation rivalling the changes in society triggered by the printing press, the telegraph, the telephone, photography, film, television, or the start of the Internet (web 1.0).  The application of social media inside and outside of business is changing everything.  However, since around 2009 some of us on the leading edge of this curve, who up to this point have talked about enterprise 2.0 or web 2.0 applied to business, have been drifting towards using the term Social Business to describe it.  Language is important.  For me that language is wrong.  If I ask the average woman or man in the street what a social business is they would tell me about organisations with a social conscience, philanthropic goals and ethical conduct - micro-blogging, collaboration and social media monitoring wouldn't enter their heads.


Back on August 26 2009 Dennis Howlett wrote a post on ZDnet that triggered a fair amount of controversy  - "Enterprise 2.0: what a crock".  His premise was .. ...
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Dachis Business Summit - you know, the Social one!

P1000629Now look.  I have a real problem with the term "Social Business" as it's being used by Dachis and IBM and others.  However, let me put that to one side for another post later this week, but it's a thread that starts here and runs through my thoughts on the London edition of the Dachis Social Business Summit that Lee Bryant kindly invited me to this week.  The venue (awesome architecture), agenda, speakers, food and organisation were all set at a very high standard, with the sole negative of conference wifi that didn't work.  It's a social media conference.  It's obvious that the majority of attendees are going to turn up with Macs, PCs, iPads and smart phones and want to live blog and tweet.  When are venues and conference organizers going to realize that their normal bandwidth just won't cut it for us enterprise 2.0, social media types?  (Rant over, on with normal programming.)

For me the conference highlights were the opening two sessions from JP Rangaswami (Salesforce.com's Chief Scientist) and John Hagel (Director of Deloitte and authour of The Power of pull).  JP's  "Nature Doesn't Do SLA's" used Zen style slides - small white . ...