There’s more to “start-up life” than London

When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life according to Samuel Johnson.

Well if you’re a start-up there’s more to life than hankering after an expensive converted loft in Shoreditch.

The start-up scene is vibrant all around the UK and good example would be the burgeoning ecosystem in Bristol and Bath, which form part of the so-called Silicon Gorge in the south west of England. The place of birth of a number of well-known start-ups and tech companies, this region shows that sustainable businesses can be built by passionate people even with limited access to VC money and acceleration programmes.

See more in the original article at – http://thenextweb.com/eu/2015/07/18/engineers-meet-artists-startup-ecosystem-bristol-bath/

Forget Millennials. Is Your Workplace Ready for Generation Z?

This past year, Millennials became the largest generation in the work force. In the United States, they number over 80 million, making Millennials (those born between 1980 and 1995) the largest cohort size in history.

As this generation reaches their mid-30s, employers are now beginning to shift their focus to the next big wave: Generation Z who are just now entering college and wondering how they will respond to their workplace requirements

Check out the article athttp://www.inc.com/larry-kim/forget-millennials-is-your-workplace-ready-for-generation-z-infographic.html

 

You’ve done it all ….

originally published in CIO magazine on 3rd June 2015

You’ve done it all, you’ve broken every code, pulled the rebel to the floor
You spoilt the game, no matter what you say
For only metal – what a bore!

Yet another huge showcase event from another of the technology behemoths – this time Google I/O in San Francisco – ends ultimately in a feeling of disappointment. All foreplay and no climax if you excuse the pun.

Is it just me or are these big tech events all becoming a bit passe? Too much razzamatazz and not enough substance. Jeez, I know someone said that developers are the “new Rock Stars” but does that mean that every big corporate tech CEO has to think they’re Bono.

Perhaps, in a world increasingly dominated by style over substance, these events have to “play it large”. At the recent Salesforce World Tour in London, Keith Block prefaced his keynote with a full on James Bond / 2012 Olympics style video enhanced entrance. Now don’t get me wrong, I love that Salesforce continue to push the boundaries of enterprise software, but this year’s London event seemed to be joining the ever increasing world of “my show’s bigger than your show”.

The sad thing is these launch events actually launch very little that’s genuinely new. They seem destined, for now at least, to be the homes of incremental upgrades – but each one paraded to the sound of adoring whoops from the gathered faithful rather than being the homes of any great innovation (btw, a note to our US cousins, Brits don’t whoop – for anyone or anything, so don’t take it personally).

Nowadays, long before the first whiff of sulphur from the pyrotechnics has passed, we’ve already heard all that needs to be heard. It’s all pre planned leaks and tweets or so called secret blurry pictures secured with Jack Bower like espionage from a far flung manufacturing facility.

Maybe need every change wrapped in unnecessary pyrotechnics. Maybe my next Internet of Things enabled, fully cognitive, predictive, geolocated, voice activated toaster really does have to arrive at my house on a mock Back to the Future hover-board, along with flying drones playing a heavy meta soundtrack and firing stage cannons. Or maybe we really have done it all, seen it all and been everywhere – man ??

Certainly not !! Only today I sat in amazement at the latest innovation in robotics, connected everything and AI coming out of South Korea. So, I’m not going to settle for whooping wildly in fake amazement at incremental advancement. I’m not going to accept style over substance in an auditorium where they measure success by the number of people who couldn’t attend. I am going to continue to actively seek out the sources of genuine innovation (and potential disruption) and make some noise about them – and I invite you to do the same.

The end of privacy ??

Originally posted on my LInkedin feed – http://tnw.to/p3PzX

Please watch, consider and then comment below as you see fit.

The conventional view is that if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to fear. But as more and more data is collected about us then perhaps, as this peice asserts, if you have nothing to hide then you have nothing to live for. Privacy is more than a tradable commodity – its a fundamental right

….. Oh ond yes, the irony of posting this on a social network / blog is not lost on me

Is it better to be a horse or a unicorn ??

One of the many things to consider before taking that seemingly attractive VC windfall.

Its all about “what you want to be” right ?? Except that’s possibly the hardest question for any company let alone a start-up.

As  Andrew Wilkinson, Founder of MetaLab (http://www.metalab.co) and Flow (http://www.getflow.com), says “…rising venture money is a high risk commitment to go big or go home, and it isn’t for everyone. It certainly isn’t right for me, but neither is the surfer lifestyle business. I’m somewhere in the middle, with the Snyders of the world – I’m not a unicorn, I’m a horse. ”

Read more: http://uk.businessinsider.com/founder-wants-to-be-a-horse-not-unicorn-2015-2#ixzz3cZ3utL2X

 

 

Are you experienced?

Have you ever been experienced?  I have… “  

I was fortunate enough to spend some time earlier this week down at “Digital Shoreditch” – an event billed as “a unique community celebrating the outstanding creative, technical and entrepreneurial talent of London and beyond.”

 Now it may be that they were all lost amongst all the brogues and beards but I didn’t see many of my CIO colleagues there which is a little disappointing. Not because its the only place to sample the startup vibe – that’s not the case as there are many other vibrant communities all across the UK.  No, I guess I was disappointed because too many of my ex colleagues still seem to think that this new wave of entrepreneurs and disruptors are not relevant to their industries or sectors. Indeed, there was an alarming number of CIO 100 submissions this year from people who didn’t think the startup community posed a threat.

 Despite my natural inclination to think this was just startling naivety, I wondered if the real reason was the fact that many of these new entrants are simply operating at a pace and with a vocabulary that many CIO’s are just not familiar with.

 Its not a new phenomenon. It was the same in the 1st ecommerce wave of the 90’s (and is probably traceable back to the earliest innovation cycles) – people who have become successful at doing what they’ve always done rarely see or recognise the opportunities for disruptive change that new entrants recognise with laser like clarity.

 There is however a genuine power shift going on. In the past, startups both the UK and “the valley” were, to use a military metaphor, a bit like like arms dealers – happy to ship their munitions so that others could load, aim and fire to enact business change. Now, they are fully fledged commando units; armed to the teeth with new technologies, behaviours, and commercial acumen. This time round they’re gunning for you and your markets – just take a look at what companies like Uber, AirBnB, Coursera et al have achieved in next to no time. These companies are already ready to pivot to find new opportunities yet you’re still looking at your project plans

 So what can you do ??  The answer is simple – dive in, engage and learn. Work with new partners, try new tools and techniques, co-create, experiment and get experienced. As Jimi would say “If you can just get your mind together , then come on across to me….. Are you experienced? Have you ever been experienced?  I have… “

Meet the new boss …

…. same as the old boss ?????                

“Originally featured in cio.co.uk – http://tinyurl.com/mu4zd5z ” 
The time has passed when executives could wear their lack of IT knowledge as a ‘badge of honour’ 
I’ve been fortunate enough to be doing a bit of digital advisory and consulting recently. Its been a real eye opener. Not because “digital” is possibly the most misunderstood and misused word of the last few years. Or because there are so many column inches written about it (oh bugger, I’m adding to them). No its been an eye opener to see how many leaders are just abdicating their responsibilities.

Pete Townsend said “ meet the new boss, same as the old boss” …. and sadly, too often, that’s exactly who I meet. The same old boss who wears his lack of technology knowledge as a badge of honour. “I don’t do technology”, “I don’t do social media” and maybe sometimes – “I’ve got an IT guy who does all that – I still print my emails”The single most important aspect of the “digital journey”, after clear leadership, is what people are now calling “engaged executives”. These are the senior leaders in your organisation who genuinely believe that “IT matters” and accept that they need to step up and take clear and direct ownership of their firms digital activities.
You see “digital leadership” is about everyone in the firm. Its not about hiring a CDO (though some companies may need one to act as a catalyst or provocateur). This is about about recognising that this “digital journey” is primarily a change of culture and approach across your whole enterprise. Its recognising that technology – which enables and underpins this journey – is now everyone’s job and that everyone needs to have the vocabulary of technology.

The time has past when executives could where their lack of IT knowledge as a badge of honour. You’d never hire a CFO who “didn’t do math”, but equally you’d never hire any executive sales, marketing, managing director etc who didn’t do “numbers” – so how can you have people “who don’t do technology”.

Now you don’t have to be an expert, but get some vocabulary, do some research, get engaged, try, learn, explore, experience ….. The “digital journey” is going to create some new challenges and “not doing technology” will be like driving a Fiesta on the motorway when everyone else is in Ferrari’s. You’d better pull over and get out of the way.