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.

Nothing changes ….

…. everything’s just the same

These words are starting to resonate with almost daily regularity – which is about the same frequency I hear the words ‘cloud computing’. Now first let me declare a position – I am of an age! That’s an age where I still see all this IT stuff as really just ‘ones’ and ‘zeros’ and I bore people with the fact that, while I work in technology, I’m actually way more interested in “what it does” than “what it is”.

So I have to admit I’m struggling to be swept along on the wave of this so called new era of cloud computing.

Let me explain. When I was a mere slip of a thing there were these things called mainframes – huge computers, often from IBM, that performed all manner of wonders. Operators tamed these Visigoths of computing power through green-screen terminals that actually did very little computing – in fact, they did so little computing we called them dumb terminals – and they were connected by some cables and switches. Often, the mainframe was shared among many users via a sharing service (for IBM systems, TSO – Time Sharing Option) and the really sophisticated ones were even divided into partitions so that they could look like lots of computers at the same time.

Back then, what were the big issues the DP professional faced? Identity, security, reliability, recovery, etc.

Lots has changed since then – three-tier client server, middleware, the network effect, web 1.0, web 2.0 and now the all-conquering cloud. But hang on, we always knew things would get smaller, faster and cheaper – Moore’s law told us that much – and that nice Mr Berners-Lee made sure access and interface would be simpler. So what actually is this cloud computing then? Well, there’s this huge computing capability (what, like a mainframe?) that’s accessed via a browser that actually does very little computing (what, like a dumb terminal?) and your communications flow over the Internet (so, a pretty large cable then?).

And what are we worried about in this new computing age? Identity, security, reliability, recovery… need I go on?

Now, plenty of you will say I’ve missed the point and that cloud computing is actually all about lowering your total cost of ownership, time to market, etc. And of course you’d all be correct – in certain circumstances. But as a far as the IT management issues are concerned “nothing changes – everything’s just the same”.

So perhaps we should forget the hype and go back to what all this “cloud stuff” can do rather than fixating on defining “what it is”.


This post orignially appeared as my first contribution to the 360°IT Blog

Apple to buy Twitter – really ???

As wild rumours go its right there with the best of them but ….

According to Trusted Reviews (and a heap of less reputable websites)….. “Apple, yes Apple, is apparently locked in “serious negotiations” to buy Twitter for $700m. Quoting a “source who’s plugged into the Valley’s deal scene and has been recruited by Apple for a senior position” ValleyWag claims the duo want to unveil a deal by 8 June in time for WWDC 2009″

The article also points out that

  • Apple has no ad model
  • Apple is hardware and OS focused
  • Apple doesn’t do ‘free’
  • Apple image is slick and expensive- Twitter image is cute and bumbling
  • Twitter has already stated it will not sell for under $1bn

The FT has an equally sceptical position (though from a slightly different angle)

….. and as for me …. I just cant see it but stranger things have happened

… about mutli channel and reader focus

My last blog entry got in ahead of an intro peice I did for on print/web convergence which has only recently been published. They also kindly retitled it  “is the printed page dead ?” (… not really the point I was making or indeed the question I was asking buy hey ho)

Anyway, its published now so you can have a read and post any comments either here, at or maybe even both

Printed publications have long looked to the web as a way to revive their diminishing prospects. But, asks CIO Ian Cohen, even if they do embrace it will it be enough to save them?

When it comes to publishing, Bob Dylan said it best: “For the times they are a-changin”.

If you believe the prophets of doom, then the publishing industry is in terminal decline. Advertising revenues are shrinking faster than an expensive cashmere sweater in a spin dryer and circulation figures are falling off a cliff in all but the developing world.

Worse still, the online messiah has failed to deliver on its promises for the vast majority of print publications that launched a .com or version of their title. Dalliances with online subscriptions and paid content have been inconclusive for all but the most targeted of publications and no one has yet cracked the key issue of yield. Sure, the volume is there in terms of page impressions and unique visitors but, as Jerry Maguire said, ‘Show me the money’.

Click here to continue reading

Was no-one listening…

Its always sad to hear of newspaper and magazine publications disappearing but so many are in trouble that their demise is being predicted with alarming regularity.

Alongside today’s FT article “End of an era for Hearsts Seattle paper” which covers the move of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer newspaper to an all digital product after 146 years of print publication, Yahoo gave their prediction of the next 10 major newspapers that will either fold of go digital. There are some major names in this list.

Those who know me well will recall that I have long argued that newspapers will not die. Rather, that we live in a multi channel world and that publishers must recognise this and adapt. Reading is a specific “state” that cannot be replaced by a website (ebooks and ePaper solutions recognise this and focus on augmenting and enhancing that “state” rather than challenging it).

I still believe this to be true but the current predicament of the publishing industry does make one ask the question ..  “was no-one listening at the end of 2004”. Back then, many of us used a website called EPIC2014 to describe a possible future. Lots of editors laughed, some dismissed it out of hand ….. but some didn’t.

In these troubled and uncertain times, it’s worth another look – it lasts about 8mins, the tone is a little dramatic and the post 2005 product names may have turned out to be a bit different but is the outcome any less certain.

What d’ya think