Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Big Data, the Machines and You

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Ah, Big Data, the old IT bandwagon rides again eh?  Who’s with me?  Yeah, you and every other IT consultancy in town.

The thing is, beyond the hyperbole (and of course the ridiculous notion that data can be big or small or even mid-sized) incredible things are beginning to happen with data that affect the products and services we use, how we innovate and even how we understand the world around us.

More and more we are using big data services to help us in our personal lives, they recommend our purchases, answer our search queries, even translate our languages and every day, through the beauty and wonder that is machine learning, they get _better_.

Having access to more and more data, combined with technological advances like the cloud which provide seemingly limitless storage and compute power we are able, finally to start to harness the incredible power and potential it offers not just society at a broad level or just to huge organisations like Microsoft, Google and Facebook but we also start to get to a point where that power becomes accessible to every individual and every single business.

As with all such major advancements, we’ll face our fair share of challenges too; some will be technical – we’re still looking for the needle, but now it’s in a billion haystacks, some will be cultural – how do you ensure that data is accessible and of sufficient quality? And some will be just plain hard – like in a world of data and machine learning, what happens when the algorithms take over?

As it turns out, bandwagon or no, big data is crucial to our respective success.  Don’t believe me?  Well, why not waste 30 minutes of your life listening to me trying to convince you.  This is a presentation I gave at this year’s Turing Festival trying to make exactly that point.  (You can also download the slides here).

Like it or not, the world of big data is here – it is now up to us to figure out how to make best use of it.

(n.b. Thanks and appropriate respect go to both GetAmbition and Interactive Scotland for both organising the event and creating video and supporting collateral).

The Virtual Revolution

Friday, January 22nd, 2010

BBC: The Virtual Revolution

I’ve been following the creation of this documentary for a few months now. What makes this TV series so special is that they democratised all of their material, interviews, documents and other resources free of charge. The series has theoretically been made by ‘the people’ for ‘the people’.

It starts next Saturday on BBC2, and should be a thoroughly reinvigorating watch.

Check out for the unedited rushes interviews.

Rise of the Pro-Ams

Sunday, January 17th, 2010
What ever next?

What ever next?

Experience and tenure are at stake, we are starting to see an army of amateurs falling out of the clouds (pun intended), and the new heroes are the underdogs, the unknowns and the every day Jo’s. We see it everywhere, from television atrocities such as X-Factor, where you can become a hero just as quick as becoming a loser. But there are important success stories to consider, such as the Cuban blogger, Yoani Sanchez who through political persecution spread the words around the world of the real experiences of those living in Cuba, to which she was awarded the prestigious ‘Maria Moors Cabot’ journalism award.

Leadbeater and Miller describe professional amateurs, or ‘Pro-Ams’ as “Innovative, committed and networked amateurs working to professional standard. This emerging group, the ‘Pro-Ams’ could have a huge influence on the shape of society in the next two decades”. I certainly wouldn’t disagree…But it’s also not a new thing, take Richard Branson and Bill Gates as examples, Pro-Ams in their own right back in the hay day, but I think what Leadbeater and Miller are getting at is the opportunity that the Internet, and more importantly the Web has created. In the past 15 years we have seen a proliferation of more multi-million dollar organizations than ever before, just to name-check a few: Google, Twitter, eBay, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube, PayPal (etc) and these are not just fads, each organization in their own right has changed intricate details of society, and out of nowhere they were sprung by Pro-Ams. So what does this all mean? It means opportunity for those less fortunate, innovation enthusiasts and entrepreneurs.

Looking back over the past decade, the Internet and the Web have advanced and become pervasive commodities, and looking five years ahead it’s possible to see it becoming a mere service that we WILL take for granted, like many of our developed world pleasures. However, unlike the ‘real-world’ in the cyber-world your voice can be heard if you shout loud enough. Fede Alverez, a keen amateur film maker uploaded a video project that he’d been working on, it was a 4 minute sci-fi spectacle depicting giant robots destroying the capital city of Uruguay…not too dissimilar to Michael Bay’s blockbuster hit Transformers 2, but unlike Bay’s $50million flop, Alvarez’s powerful short film was made for free, instead opting to use his own skills behind the camera, creating his own CGI robots and getting his friends involved. Within a few days, Alvarez was contacted by many Hollywood studios and has now signed a $30million deal to shoot a film for Sam Raimi (Famed for his Spider-Man remake, and Evil Dead trilogy).

These are stories of glory, and maybe your next-door neighbour isn’t going to become the next James Cameron, but one thing is for certain, there are millions of people around the world being discovered for their fresh and new ideas. Talent is easier to spot than ever before, don’t be blind-sided by experience and tenure, because originality and passion will never become passé.

Monologue or dialogue?

Saturday, November 21st, 2009


We all know how important the internet is to companies these days. But I get the feeling that many businesses are still fumbling in the dark. First and foremost it’s important to remember that for the past century companies have controlled the communiction with their customers through monologues over traditional media like radio and TV. Then along came the web and turned this model on its head. Naturally, it will take any business a long time to fully adapt to this change but unfortunately consumers don’t have the patience to wait. Companies need to develop a greater undertanding of the way people interact with brands on the internet so that they can connect with their customers and have the much awaited dialogue that’s been needed for so long.

Luckily, Razorfish, who are one of the largest interactive agencies in the world, recently released their annual consumer behaviour report in an attempt to explain how people interact with brands online. This report should be compulsory for everyone that in someway interacts with customers in a business. If you don’t want to understand the behavioural trends on the web then just have a look at the awesome illustrations in the report.

There are so many intersting facts in this report and the one businesses should pay extra attention to is the fact that 65 % of consumers reported to have had a digital experience that either positively or negatively changed their mind about a brand. Of that group, 97 % stated that this eventually influenced whether they bought from the brand or not. This is incredibly interesting and it illustrates the importance of managing digital relationships.

The facts

I think this is great news for everyone. This changing relationship will force businesses to push the boundaries of  quality in everything from product development to customer service and consumers will get a lot more for their money. Whether you are in B2B or B2C doesn’t make much of difference. We are all conusmers in the end, so if you are in B2B it is very risky to believe that you can afford to ignore the digital trend. I also think it’s important to point out that the digital relationship will not replace face-to-face interaction but simply add immense value to the overall relationship you are able to have with your customers. Businesses will need to adapt to the digital ways quickly and start having more dialougues instead of monologues.

IT Sustainability Pop Quiz

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

IT Sustainability Pop Quiz

You know, I just love this slide, but sometimes I wish I’d think more before wheeling it out.  I presented this last week to our National Railway provider and didn’t think for a minute about how their electricity bill “slightly” skewed the answer.    Lucky for me they humoured me and let me get on with the rest of the conversation.

Anyhow, there it is folks, stop worrying about virtualisation and power saving PC’s – start worrying about how to transform the 98%…