The end of privacy ??

Originally posted on my LInkedin feed –

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 ( and Flow (, 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:



Meet the new boss …

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

“Originally featured in – ” 
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.

A little more conversation ?

I know Elvis said “a little less conversation a little more action.. ” (Yes, I’m back with the song titles !!) but it seems that when it comes to leadership the reverse is true.

Now many of you will have seen me banging on about this in various presentations where I postulate that we should add “conversation” to the now ubiquitous cloud, consumerisation and collaboration triad. Most of the time I’ve been talking about the conversations we have with our customers and colleagues however in this post I’m going to focused the latter.

Companies are increasingly finding that the emergence of enterprise social tools, that enable “conversational collaboration”, create far more employee engagement than any of the traditional push / broadcast communications. Interestingly they are also allowing large companies to create the intimacy that was always seen as the benefit of smaller organisations. Large disparate and geographically dispersed companies can now seem intimate and inclusive rather than cold and fragmented.

But, just like the best traditional conversations, organisational conversations work best when there is more listening than speaking – particularly from those at the top of the tree. The old “two ears , one mouth” adage is sometimes lost when executives dive into the world of enterprise social. Equally, people who use these tools to simply pontificate or make self-centered pronouncements are reminiscent of the chap who walks into the pub or dinner party and shouts endlessly about me me me … and we all know how we view those folks.

Right up there with listening is authenticity. There’s been a lot of chatter recently about celebs who don’t do their own updates – shock horror !! Really !!! You thought it was all Justin’s own words (look up Bieber on Google or ask your kids). But seriously, if your CEO isn’t big on blogging or tweeting then he or she probably shouldnt be spoofed by your corporate communications folks as employees will quickly see through the charade. Better to have someone who is genuinely comfortable with the medium stimulating the conversations….. and that’s where trust comes in.

No one is going to enter into an open and honest exchange if they believe there’s a hidden agenda or worse still inappropriate behaviour. Trust is a hard-won commodity that is easily lost so organisations are naturally cautious but in reality most employees don’t come to work with the intent of spilling the company secrets or damaging its reputation so perhaps a more trusting approach (with some clear policies around “acceptable behaviour” – actually nothing more than you’d expect in a physical conversation) would be beneficial. The rewards can be great so its worth giving serious thought on how to cover subjects that in that past you might have considered off-limits.

So there you go, by no means exhaustive but if I had top pick 3 things to focus on it would be listening loads, being authentic, and creating a genuinely trusted and trusting environment.

I’m sure those of you reading this will have lots more to add and, as usual, this is just my humble opinion.

….. oh, and Elvis has left the building.

Doesn’t anyone own music anymore

Seems my original post from back in August really should have been “doesn’t anyone own music anymore”

An article from today’s FT says that sales of downloaded music, video and games passed the £1bn mark for the first time last year (2012)

“Digital music sales rose 15.1 per cent over the year to £383.3m, excluding the growth in music streaming services such as Spotify and Deezer.

Data from the Official Charts Company released on Wednesday showed that these services were growing in popularity with 3.7bn tracks streamed in the UK during 2012. The top three streamed tracks reached the equivalent of 140 streams for every household in the UK last year.

Digital downloads accounted for 99.6 per cent of all single sales. Digital album sales rose 14.8 per cent to 30.5m last year with Emeli Sandé’s Our Version of Events the bestseller.

However, physical sales of CD albums fell 19.5 per cent over the year to 69.4m.”


Doesn’t anyone buy music anymore ?

I used to like owning music. Truth be told I still do. I still download songs, albeit mostly now after I’ve listened to the album they originated from on Spotify, and being an ex muso geek I even edit them to get them exactly the way i like – fade-outs, fade-ins eq fixes etc. That’s one of the many reasons why i hate Apple iTunes but that’s not a debate for here. The fact is I spent years building a collection in vinyl,  cassette, CD and now digital but through it all it was mine; to do with as I saw fit.

However it seems that music ownership is going the way of the dinosaur. Global revenues from streaming music services such as Spotify, Pandora, and Rdio will grow almost five times faster than revenues from downloads over the course of this year, according to a new forecast from Strategy Analytics. The research firm predicts that streaming will bring in $1.1 billion in 2012 compared to $3.9 billion from downloads, with overall digital revenues expected to overtake those of physical music in 2015.

Now don’t get me wrong, I understand the whole scarcity and abundance theories and how the recorded music is  just becoming a another vehicle through which fans connect with the artist or band but to me its still important. Live performance is indeed the true “scarcity” and therefore often the most valued experience but I don’t get to see every band I want to play live and in some cases I don’t even want to – I just love the track(s) and that’s enough. I made a choice many years ago to posses the music I loved and despite all the advances in streaming technologies and services, I find it hard to place my enjoyment in the hands of an intermediary – what happens if Spotify falls out with a particular record company and I loose my treasured playlist.

And by the way, there’s a reason the title of this post used the word “buy”. I’m pretty sure I’m also one of a dwindling band of consumers who still buy their music.

Oh well

Beyond Oblivion – beyond the digital download ??

I sadly missed a tweet (or trick yesterday) on another interesting twist in the whole music download saga. Indeed, if you were preocupied with the Spotify announcement which was big news in itself, this may well have passed you by.

So, if you also missed it, News Corp has made an interesting, if surprising, investment in a digital music start-up company whose stated aim is ” shifting the burden for paying for music to device manufacturers and broadband providers, giving consumers free, legal access to an unlimited number of tracks.”

Let the cheering commence amongst all digital downloaders – but hang on, this must live in the land of ‘too good to be true’ right – whats the catch

Well, according to Beyond Oblivion’s founder Adam Kidron, there isn’t one. Content is essentially ‘licensed’ to devices and services from which unlimited access is provided thus making the actual cost “pretty much invisible to the customer”. Beyond claim this approach will will stimulate the device sales and they will also tier their charges based on the device and market types (presumably a smartphone is cheaper than a PC and South America is cheaper than Europe). The Beyond system can also create protected versions of any file already on a customers device and in a surprising statement “essentially legalise pirated tracks wit the rights owners”. “There is no illegal music in the Beyond world because we pay royalties no matter what its source,” Mr Kidron said.

Beyond will pay monthly royalties from its licence revenue based on the number of times tracks have been played with guaranteed minimums for the record companies and maximum caps to avoid unexpected usage spikes.

Beyond told the Financial Times they “expected to pay out well over $100m in royalties to music companies within five years, but believed it was ultimately possible, via its potential agreements with device manufacturers and the music industry, to add $10bn or more to last year’s global digital music revenues of $3.7bn.”

So this is kinda like pay per use but not quite …. frankly it all sounds a bit confusing and I’m never entirely convinced by claims to make price “virtually invisible” but its clearly a market move to keep an eye on.

What d’ya think ?

Whats the Buzz ?? It still just tastes like chicken

Almost a year ago now I blogged about the impending death of innovation when it comes to the user interface and asked “Does everything have to taste like chicken?”

My point was that in the rush to get the next great Web2.0/Social Networking/collaborative toy out into the market, developers were just copying each other and no one was being really innovative. Rather than celebrating the fact that one could be genuinely different, the prevailing view seemed to be that if you simply just throw more and more familiar stuff into into the same pot then the customers will be happy. Its the equivalent of the one stop shop…. the BlueWater approach to development. Just put as much as you can in one place and then the punter doesn’t need to think – they can just do. So as a result; Facebook updates Twitter which can update Facebook and set your status automatically in Linkedin which can pass the information to Plaxo and so on. Tweetdeck can be a browser and can now do embedded Picasa and YouTube, Disgby can look like Google Talk but actually update everything – aggghhhh !!!

Well, here we are almost 12 months on and its no better – infact to my eyes its getting worse…. and the most recent offender in the tastes like chicken stakes is Google Buzz. Who in the name of all thats good and true though we needed yet another social networking tool and then, worse still, who thought it would be a bright idea to embed it in a really good email client. Jeez, it must have been ‘Chicken Tonight’ over in Mountain View when they came up with Buzz. Now I don’t intend to go into the well documented privacy concerns here – you can google them – but just pause for a minute on the approach. Did we really need another status setting tool ? Did we really want to grow our already impossibly large contact lists again ? Did we really want our finely tuned and pimped Gmail client messed up with yet more notifications ?? ….. and wouldn’t an add on to Gtalk been just as useful (sic) ?

To my eyes, and granted they’re getting on in years now, it seems that there’s no value in being innovative. First mover advantage has all but disappeared and now we can all be fast followers – even Google – by just incrementing what already exists. Call me an old cynic but everything really is starting to taste like chicken

What d’ya think ?