a matter of trust in business

A keynote from Peter Sondergaard SVP Gatner, ended with the phrase “may the computing force be with you” but spent a great deal of time covering the topic of social computing and trust. In terms of social computing and it’s clearly ‘much more than just adding a Facebook logo to your web site’ was a key message from Gartner, a hugely respected thermometer of trends, was “do not put in place a policy or technology to inhibit this”, those that do will be big losers.

The example of a major Norwegian packaged food manufacturer was used and a little know fact that 18% of Norwegians eat pizza on Christmas eve. The IT department had engaged with its consumers and was talking parts in conversations with them. As a result of engaging with it’s customers a signal was picked up that ‘paprika’ was not liked in many of its pizza products. This signal identified through trusting the IT department to engage led to the development of a product that excludes ‘paprika’. This paprika-less pizza has gone on to be the biggest selling product in the range.

The trend of social computing was the number one trend highlighted by Gartner, the ability to engage the consumer and allow them to contribute to the business is not to be ignored. Technology can enable trust to be managed, revisit behaviors as the world is changing

also posted on the Orange Business Live Blog


Will the iPad be used by Corporations?

We’re just days away now from people getting their hands on Apple’s latest product the iPad, a tablet device or appliance about twice the size of the iPhone. There is speculation that it’ll sell 6M units in 2010 which is a pretty huge number for what essential is a locked down appliance.

So where will all those devices go? Most if not all will go to the same people that (religiously) buy Mac books and Mac book air’s. I guess that most people will buy them to consume media whilst traveling or just sitting on the couch for instance watching episodes of Lost bought from iTunes, but who else could buy them?

We’ve seen the iPhone creep into the Enterprise at the expense of Blackberry (which ironically is creeping into youth culture with it’s built in IM app). How many emails do you now seen in your outlook inbox with the words ‘sent from an iphone’ at the bottom, I see a growing number. There is a view that the iPhone is a consumer device more so than a business supplied corporate handset, but due to it’s ease of use and the size and scope of the  “there’s an app for that” store, we’re seeing it creep in as the power users phone of choice.

The ability of the iPhone to encroach into the enterprise shows that the iPad may well enter markets that it’s not initially aimed at too. Take the Text book market, text books are expensive (or they were when I last bought one!) and they are heavy to carry around. We’re already seeing text book publishers’ work with software companies to bring their content to the iPad. So could we see School, Universities, and educational establishments in general take up the iPad as the device of choice to provide the educational content?

I’m not sure if iPad will creep into the corporate environment as a lot of content creation goes on and at the moment the keyboard is king. However, I can see Apple selling a lot more than 6m iPads over the next few years into a whole host of new markets as it’s an easy to use/manage/upgrade wireless appliance with what looks like a great screen. What does this mean for the Telco’s; it means yet more networked devices requiring a pervasive network and ubiquitous computing creeps ever nearer.

Will Yammer follow hot on the heels of Twitter?

Use of Twitter, the micro-blogging web-site that allows people to post 140-character updates, has exploded in the UK over the last few months; traffic to the site increased by a staggering 974% over the past year according to Techcrunch UK. The site itself now ranks as the 291st most visited site in the UK, and was described by the Telegraph as the best known microblogging site:

Twitter is probably the best known of all the “microblogging” sites, and it has been incredibly popular with geeks and the technorati since it launched in 2006. People post messages to the site, either via the web or by text message, and these “tweets” are forwarded on to their network of friends and contacts

Twitter’s seminal moment in the UK was on the Jonathan Ross show on the 23rd of January . This show marked the return of Jonathan Ross following an “enforced holiday”. Both the presenter and his guest Stephen Fry– a self-confessed geek and blogger- are avid users of Twitter, and on the show they discussed how the site works and how they use it.

Following this programme, numbers of @Stephenfry followers have rocketed. Stephen Fry now has over 160,000 people following him on Twitter, which means that he has overtaken many of the superstars of the tech world such as Kevin Rose (you see those Digg buttons to the right? He’s the guy behind them) and is closing in on the number one, Barack Obama.

This prime-time moment brought Twitter to the attention of the general public, and it hasn’t looked back since. Interest in @stephenfry reached a new level as a result of the “#frylift incident”. Stephen got stuck in a lift  for about an hour and twittered his followers with updates. He even used his iPhone to Twitpic a photo of his predicament (viewed 77,000 times) .

This incident was featured in several  major news papers, including The Guardian blog and even the Daily Mail

So, as Twitter grows massive in the UK and elsewhere, the next question is – will micro-blogging take off within the enterprise? Recent Techcrunch50 winner Yammer provides a micro-blogging platform to enterprises, free of charge and with some level of confidentiality. Yammer is pretty much like Twitter, but is designed for closed groups or companies. Orange has a group on Yammer with a growing number of active users. Jason Calacanis, CEO of Mahalo, is quoted as describing Yammer as “The best communication and productivity tool available in the market today.” on the front of the Yammer home page.

My own view here is that most people aren’t inclined to blog because they find it too difficult. Micro-blogging, on the other hand, is so simple that there’s almost no excuse not to. Its adoption by so many time-poor people is, in my opinion, an indication of how easy it is to interact with your customers or your peers.

Twitter is already being used by several big organisations and brands to talk to their users. For example,Scott Monty from Ford and Connor Maples from Orange. Lance Armstrong (not an enterprise but very much a brand – Livestrong) is twittering his training in the run up to his forthcoming Tour de France title challenge, in an attempt to be transparent and interact with his fans.

Twitter is increasingly being accepted as a worthwhile tool which allows you to interact with your community. Does micro-blogging have a place as a collaboration tool specifically within the enterprise, and will this help Yammer follow hot on the heels of Twitter?

also posted here

Facebook in the Enterprise

Once upon a time, employees had restricted access to the phone. When email arrived, users faced further restrictions- often, you could only email someone in the same company. Many organisations currently place restrictions upon access to Facebook – why?

Our methods of communication are becoming quicker all the time. We started with the letter, moved onto fax, then email, and we are now moving towards IM (and in some extreme cases microblogging applications such as Twitter). Even our news consumption is becoming faster and less centralised through the use of these tools, as we snub news sources such as BBC and CNN in favour of decentralised citizen journalists. (For example, the Hudson plane crash was ‘Twittered’ and pictures were also posted on Twitpic).

As we demand ever faster interaction, traditional methods of communication are used much less frequently- when was the last time you faxed anything, for instance? To some extent even email falls by the wayside in this era of instant messaging. Facebook takes advantage of the need for rapid communication and provides a platform to facilitate this. It allows IM, profiles and groups, along with systems which can invite people to take part in activities, share documents (including pictures) and even host conference calls for free.

I can see huge value in an enterprise tool that allows the employees to build a profile of their skills and interests, and update it with information about current projects. This tool could provide disparate employees with a platform to share pictures and documents and facilitate the formation of communities or teams working on particular tasks. It would allow people to easily find help from others with similar interests, or those who happen to be working on a similar (or worse, duplicate!) project.

Collaboration is one of the keys to success and the required tools are out there. So why aren’t organisations embracing Facebook – or at the least installing an internal version of it? Is it down to the same fears that restricted access to the telephone- perhaps a reluctance to trust employees to use their time and tools judiciously?

Also posted here: Orange Business Live

Nokia E71 a two handed device.

I’ve been using the E71 for a couple of days now and I don’t know what to think, but something is nagging at me, that maybe this isn’t the perfect phone I’d hoped it would be. It may be just me and how the device is used rather than the device itself being at fault.

Let me try to explain, it’s as simple as some phones need only one hand to be operated, and some need two. The E71 (and the E61i) is for me a two handed devices, ie, to get the best out of it you need to use two hands (or two thumbs) to type, you can’t reach with your thumb in one handed operation mode to keys on the other side of the keyboard, it’s just too big. The E66 on the other hand (no pun intended) is a one handed operation device, which I think is where my head is in terms of devices that I need to use.

I had this same debate with myself a few years back, at the time I had a Treo and it too has an excellent thumb keyboard but it just required two hand operation and after considerable deliberation I swapped the Treo for a (HTC) Orange SPV C500 running windows mobile, which was a much smaller candy bar phone, but it only required one handed operation.

So part of me is saying this E71 is a great device, the battery is awesome, the keyboard (for two handed operation) is great and it’s damn fast, but part of me is saying do I want to have to stop what I’m doing something or let go of something in order to respond to a message, as that’s what you have to do if it’s a two handed device, let go of the handle of Air France shuttle bus, no chance. There’s plenty of occasions when two handed use is just impossible, carrying your suitcase and laptop bag when getting off a plane, phone one hand, laptop bag the other, respond to message, no chance.

Maybe it’s about what you use the device for, if it’s a blackberryesque laptop replacement and typing out emails then two handed operation is the speedier way to go, responding with one line emails and the odd SMS, then one handed and T9 is the way to go. It’s about what you need for a device, is it a laptop replacement or is it a phone. I think I’m in the one handed operation camp, but  Let me give it a few more days use and I’ll have a think again, but at the moment, if you put too devices on the table right now, the E66 and the E71 I’d take the E66, let’s see if my thinking changes over the next week or so.

Which camp or you in… single handed T9 speed merchant or two thumbed typing deamon?


I’m a tad late to the party with this one, but as we’ve migrated from Lotus Notes to Exchange/Outlook as our corporate email within Orange Business Services, it’s finally given me a change to try out Xobni. So far it’s pretty neat it’s made a difference while on a call, being able to quickly search for somebody and see all the files we’ve exchanged without having to hunt though the files. That’s a great plus as is the automatic transfering of the email you’re viewing moving to the xobni sidebar when you click on the calendar, it means no more flicking back and forth while you jot down details.

I’ve read the comments that it’s slowed people’s outlook down massively, I can’t say I’ve noticed anything as yet. It’s crashed once when I minimized it, it wouldn’t come back.

On the whole, it’s a good aid to productivity and I’d recomemd people give xobni a try.

Freeing yourself from E-Mails Grip

There’s a great article in the New York Times about Luis Suarez and his use of social networking tools to reduce his email. It’s a great article as it’s a huge sales pitch on how IBM can help your business become more productive by installing the social network tools that help.

I’ve written before on Facebook in the enterprise, as has JP in much more detail, but it’s clear that social networking tools work and that it’s the topic or subject is what people congregate around. So social networks could work in the enterprise around the topic of the business and Luis mentions IBM’s Facebook-like application.

I’ve worked for IBM and now work for the France Telecom group, two huge organisations and I’m convinced that more social tools within these organisations could only benefit their operation. IBM’s adoption of these tools an willingness of it’s managers to adopt them is a great sign that it works. [via]

Are Calendars the reason for poor productivity?

I was just reading this post by JP and found it extremely interesting. I intend to read the concepts behind the thinking when I get some more time.

The theory is that inability to react quickly within large organisations are due to the fact that it’s so difficult to schedule meetings. Meetings are often arrange days, sometimes weeks in advance. Then when something new or urgent is required, it’s delayed as it’s too hard to either move the meetings that have been booked, or that the calendar is already full.

JP has moved to the concept of fixed and variable time. Fixed time is meetings booked 48hrs in advance and variable time allows the greater flexibility to focus on what’s really important and get things done as opposed to waiting for the slot in the calendar to appear.

I’ve seen this many times myself, your calendar is full and someone calls and ask to schedule some time to work on something urgently. The glance through the calendar fails to find a suitable slot and the urgent item is put off till next week.

The challenge then is how to resolve this agility issue within large corporations.