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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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What next for Social Business? Patchwork Elephant Event Report

As part of London's Social Media Week we put on an event called Social Business – The Patchwork Elephant Revisited asking "What next for Social Business?".  We were kindly sponsored by our friends here at CompareTheCloud.net and we introduced the event and the speakers in an earlier post.  The idea was to get 8 different perspectives on where we are at, and where we go next, with using social and collaboration tools "inside" the business to add value and work more effectively.  Why is the "Social" word seen with such suspicion by some executives in the C-suite?  With the explosion of social media use in marketing or customer support reaching out of the organisation, why aren't more companies using it all over their organisations?  We believe change is happening, but why aren't we further forward with "Social Business"?

A few weeks after our event, Chris Heuer did a guest post on Brian Solis' blog that moved in to the same territory we covered asking Social Business is Dead! Long Live What’s Next! and highlighted the problem with:
"While the ideas behind the moniker are invaluable in defining the future of work, most large companies simply . ...
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Where next for Social Business? @ Social Media Week London

This week is Social Media Week in London (but also Berlin, Bogota, Chicago, Los Angeles, Mumbai, Sao Paulo and Toronto).  There is a packed schedule of events each day, heavily oriented towards social media marketing and using social to promote your brand and connect with your customers, fans and community in general.  We (Alan Patrick, Janet Parkinson and I) are running one of the few events of this week that talks Social Business - about using social tools inside as well as outside the organisation to make business more effective - Social Business - The Patchwork Elephant Revisited.  We'll also be discussing the way today's technology landscape is disrupting traditional business models, changing society, and changing the world of work.
The event is being held tomorrow September 27th at Hub Westminster, in New Zealand House in Haymarket (at the Pall Mall end).  It runs from 13:00 (with a formal start of presentations at 13:30 and a 45 minute break, so ample time for networking) and ends at 17:30.  I'm delighted to say we are sponsored by our friends at CompareTheCloud.net.
Three years ago we ran a similar event within the February 2010 edition of ...
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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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ICAEW event: Cloud is just sizzle?

Last month, on 17 April, I was invited to attend the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW)'s annual Cloud accounting event - Winning business in the cloud: reap the benefits of SaaS.  A great title with with the promise of making the case for deploying Cloud. The hashtag for the event was #icaewcloud - it's now at the stage that if your event hasn't got a hashtag, you're missing out in a big way.  Actually this event was generally good, except for one presenter who was well off message, and with whom I have to take issue - more on that later.  First I have to disclose that ICAEW is one of my biggest customers (we provide the technology supporting their on-line community), and that I have a huge amount of time and respect for Richard Anning, the head of the IT Faculty.  He and Paul Booth do a good job putting on events like this one, and fostering IT Counts which is a great resource for peer to peer technology advice in the accounting space.  I should also disclose we resell Twinfield's online accounting - they presented last year and the year before, but not this time.  

Richard did a fine job chairing and ...
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My trip to a nuclear bunker - a rather safe place for your Cloud

Last Monday I visited a data centre housed in a nuclear bunker.  Visiting data centres isn't usually that inspiring - rows of server racks, cabinets with uninteruptible power supplies (UPS) and the like.  This one's different, which is why I want to tell the story.  Can you think of anywhere safer for your data than an underground bunker capable of withstanding nuclear attack?  But I must start with two disclosures.  The first is that this company is our latest customer - we're helping them with product messaging, website content and social media strategy.  The second, you may know anyway, is that I'm a bit of a business geek and I never tire of doing the tour of a new company or industrial site.  I'm fascinated by the way organisations set themselves up, from the layout of the office to the machinery on the "shop floor", and all the processes in between - whether it's an agency using words, design and a bit of technology to heavy manufacturing and big machines making "things" I get excited.  This visit was a bit more than special though.

I've known The Bunker for years.  I thought they had just picked a cool name for their ...
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Connecting Appian, Rinde and Wardley with the intersection of process and social

I've been pushing the concept of using social technologies for collaboration and connections both inside and outside of business to make companies more effective since early 2006.  The naming has changed from web 2.0 to enterprise 2.0 to social business, but the concept is the same.  However, when some areas of technology like smart phones or tablets have made such an impact on business in such a short space of time, why is the potential of social media in business, apart from use in external marketing and customer support, still largely unrealized?  I believe it's the C word (and that's context).  To explain that, three things came together over the last few weeks - a briefing session with Appian CEO Matthew Calkins, a blog post from Sigurd Rinde about the fallacy of the Information Age and the need to move to a better framework, and one from Simon Wardley on flow structures and what he explains as the move from Pioneer, to Settler, to Town Planner.  

First, let me set the scene by reminding you that we've been running businesses with incomplete ERP systems for decades - they usually cover a company's core processes but leave plenty of gaps.  I was reminded of some of 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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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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Trash talk and FUD harms the Cloud industry

Over here we are anticipating this year's Cloud Computing World Forum in London, but over in the US Larry Ellison, Oracle's founder and CEO since 1977, has pivoted his position on the Cloud along with "crossing a line" to trash key competitors.  Elsewhere old guard software giants like IBM are mis-communicating the Cloud messages.  How does this help the the industry, the typical buyer in an SME, or the average CIO in a larger enterprise?  Actually this noise generated by the old guard of IT is significant in positioning the current status of the Cloud landscape, but what we really need is some clarity of vision on the Cloud topic from the big players rather than messaging crafted at protection of their existing customer base and revenue streams.

Last Wednesday Larry announced what the Oracle press release claimed as "the "industry’s broadest and most advanced Cloud strategy", although on the day he actually said, "we are now announcing the most comprehensive Cloud on the planet Earth".  This is an interesting turn around considering Larry has regularly lambasted the Cloud term.  Take a look at this interview some of you may remember from ...