Trends snapshot: Blockchain, self-service and digital platforms

Blockchain, self-service and single digital platforms are the key trends we are seeing across industry verticals (media, financial services and insurance) at the moment.

Blockchain

Get your Blockchain T-shirt here while it's still cool
Get your Blockchain T-shirt from Zazzle to show the World you know what it is

Blockchain is a centralised, distributed ledger. Its most famous use is Bitcoin to track all the individual ‘bits’ of Bitcoin.

In Insurance it might be a list of all insurable assets. In media the chain can store media assets. In Financial Services it can store equities. Continue reading

Book Review: Drive by Daniel Pink

Drive - motivating your team the Pink way
Drive – motivating your team the Pink way

Drive is a good, practical book on how to motivate people around you, inside and outside of work. I’ve read a few books on the subject, but many focus too hard on organisational structure, or project management. Drive focuses much more on the psychology of motivation. What is it that really drives people to perform well?

Interestingly there is a quote from a review by Malcolm Gladwell on the front cover (of my paperback version), because the book is written in a Gladwell-esque way of theory first, practical second. Like Gladwell, there is a bucket full of examples in the book to help Pink illustrate his key theories. Continue reading

Quarterly Digital Innovation Report Q3 2014

We’ve just released the latest version of our Quarterly Marketplace Innovation report, showcasing some of the most innovative projects across industries.

Many organisations focus on competitors within their own industry, but often the most innovative ideas are blossoming in other sectors. The quarterly report aims to lower the fences between different industries.

My personal favourites from the last quarter are the Fan Boost in Formula E racing  and Google Flights, which has made my recent travels so much easier and probably a little cheaper.

If you would like us to present these projects to your organisation, to send you a paper version or to produce a more targeted version of this report, please contact me.

Who is the most innovative Digital company?

http://www.flickr.com/photos/69730904@N03/8813574238/in/photolist-eqPSyw-epTCc8-epTGev-en4VSP-eqPSPS-eqPTLS-eqPTc7-eqPTq9-doNVTr-efQAXy-efJRYB-efQBp5-em66tj-efsmR6-cENafG-dMJvs3-en4PPF-e6EqJu-ecJRVJ-e6pKQ6-ek6sgo-ei8Brh-eAWKCw-dFV5kN-eqB6TM-bNkiBe-dYvGXF-efMgFh-eATBuR-eh7hDz-eh7hi8-eh7hu4-eh7h4p-eh7hag-eh7ho6-eAWK9m-efhiTw-dUz93S-dYvGYV-bK2B1V-efWWxb-efWWTJ-efRb6H-efRbwx-efWX7U-efWWZs-efWWB9-efWWsQ-efRbCg-efRbuv-efWWEY/
Google Glass. Beware in bathrooms of someone winking at you.

Yesterday someone asked me a question which I’ve been asked before but never covered it on this site… “What company do I think is the most consumer-oriented, innovative technology company?”

The context of the question related to Google, Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, who do I rate as the most innovative?

First we need to ask another question – “What is innovation?” To me, innovation is the skill to keep inventing new stuff, to keep redefining products and/ or business models. It’s the constant strive for change for the better, not just the sake of it. Continue reading

21st century support

Bradbox WordPress error
A frustrating way to finish a weekend

If you’d visited this blog over the weekend, you’d have received a WordPress error message. I only discovered it on Sunday evening when I checked the site for feedback. Google Analytics revealed the outage started from about 1am on Saturday morning.

I tried fixing the problem. I tried everything I could to fix it. One limitation I faced was that I have been brought up on Microsoft technologies (.net and SQL Server) and not php and MySQL – the technology that this blog runs on.

Frustrated, I went to sleep on Sunday night knowing the site was still unavailable.

After work on Monday I returned home and tried a few more things. I reached out to a WordPress guru I know. He offered some advice but I’d already tried everything suggested.

And then I came across one of the new types of one to one support websites where specific experts help other users.

I’ve always been interested in this area of consumer support. Graduating in Computer Science a couple(!!) of years ago earned me the natural honour of fixing anything within my extended family that had electricity flowing through it. Since my degree I’ve been asked to ‘programme’ the clocks in various cars, fix a microwave, tune in a TV and set up speakers – my university course appears to have been highly practical from an external perspective.

When family or friends call for help with real computer issues such as domain names, broken hard drive, email configuration, or Google Apps, I wonder who people call if they don’t have access to a friend or family member with a technical computer background.

So there I was on Monday evening, urgently wanting my site fixed, on Wizpert.com. I thought I’d give it a try. The sign up process was fast, and within a few seconds I was talking to a friendly chap from Romania (yes… I wondered whether there was an Endava link too, but no there wasn’t) who was one of their WordPress experts. At first we were chatting on Wizpert’s chat screen, and then I offered for him to remote on to my screen using Chrome Remote Desktop.

Naturally I was sceptical, and thought at some stage he might try to install some spyware somewhere, or change some passwords for access at a later stage. I watched carefully as he moved around my virtual server.

Just under two hours later he had fixed the issue and after thoroughly testing the solution I was a happier man.

The issue wasn’t straightforward, and required two types of solutions. We were still puzzled at the end about how the problem had started on the Saturday night at 1am – our assumption is that one of the WordPress components ‘auto-updated’ and broke the MySQL installation.

Not everyone uses Amazon Mayday for support
Not everyone uses Amazon Mayday for support

Wizpert is one of a number of new support models arising in the peer Internet age such as Amazon have with the Mayday button.

On Wizpert, payment to the expert is discretionary.

If you do decide to pay, users buy ‘coins’ using a credit card or PayPal, and then send these coins to the expert who helped. There are recommendations during the chat process “Most users who this expert helped gave x coins to thank them”.

I doubt these support models will be used for enterprise clients, but as devices and applications become more complex – and certainly more essential to our daily lives, end-user support will transform from the current model of phoning anyone you know with a Computer Science degree, to being able to ask someone sitting a few thousand miles away for some help and advice.

What is Digital?

Self-service - a key trend in digital projects
Self-service – a key trend in digital projects

Many organisations are finding themselves asking “What is Digital?” It’s a difficult question which sounds easy at first. After all, isn’t everything that we do today that involves electronics, digital in some shape or form?

If an organisation has a CTO (Chief Technology Officer), why does it also need a CDO (Chief Digital Officer)? If an organisation already has an IT department, why does it need a digital one too?

So what is digital?

To me, digital is a mindset. In the 1990’s we’d have called it a paradigm. It’s all about thinking slightly differently to classic IT. Continue reading

A British review of US sports and media offerings

Possibly the easiest signup form, presented by Fox Soccer
Possibly the easiest web signup form, implemented by Fox Soccer

This week I’ve been working from our newest sales office in Atlanta, USA. It’s been a great week, and we’ve met some really interesting (and super friendly) people and companies.

During the visit, I spent some time looking at the consumer media offerings over here. The US has often been ahead of the UK market when it comes to television, but the UK leads the world in some web offerings – such as grocery shopping and BBC’s iPlayer, so I wanted to see what the US has to offer. And it’s difficult to do this from the UK because so many sites are geo-blocked. Continue reading

Isn’t Uber super?

Uber - an example of how mobile apps are transforming industries that the web couldn't reach
Uber – an example of how mobile apps are transforming industries that the web couldn’t reach

I’ve started using Uber in the last few days, and it’s transformative to the taxi industry. It’s one of those concepts which makes you think “I wish I thought of that first”. But not everyone agrees, and unfortunately for them, that resistance is probably one of the success factors in any consumer digital transformation offering.

In essence, Uber is a mobile app to call a taxi. It replaces the call to the minicab/ taxi office, and provides more functionality than the old model, because as soon as you call a car, you can literally watch that car drive towards you on a map. Continue reading

The digital divide in the UK

I’m writing this article at 35,000ft above sea-level, on a flight from London Heathrow to Atlanta. Before taking off, I sat in the marvel of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 building watching MotoGP on my smartphone, in what looked like an immaculate resolution.

My daughter on Ben Nevis - with a view like that, who would prefer to check their phone?
My daughter on Ben Nevis during the summer – with a view like that, who else would prefer to check their phone?

At the start of the summer, I took most of the family and some friends to Fort William to climb Ben Nevis, the UK’s highest peak. Whilst the 2001 census reported that Fort William has only 10,000 people living in the town, I suspect there is regularly the same number again in tourists and visitors. Whilst in Fort William, my phone hardly had any reception. In fact, my mobile hardly worked north of Glasgow. Other members of the journey were on different networks, and coverage was also patchy across the group. Continue reading