Monthly Archives: November 2009

Fun and Games at the IT Blog Awards 2009

I was at the Computer Weekly IT Blogs awards on Wednesday night at Shoreditch house. It’s a nice club just outside the City and was overrun by bloggers, geeks, and Twitter users all night. There was even a large screen on the wall displaying TweetDeck and filtered on the hashtag #ITBlogs so anyone talking about the event on Twitter could see their messages appear live on the wall – whether they were actually at the event or not…

It was nice to chat with the new chief editor of Computer Weekly, Bryan Glick. Of course I worked with Bryan when he was editor of Computing, and he only just left so in the past couple of weeks I have seen him at a big awards function for Computing, then Computer Weekly.

I was shortlisted for the best analyst or consultant blog. Unfortunately I didn’t win, but then again I had no real expectations of winning because I never ran a big online campaign asking people to vote for me. I just didn’t have the time as I only found out I was shortlisted quite close to the closing date for voting – I found out because I went to vote and saw my own name on the shortlist!

Still, it’s great to get shortlisted for a national blogging award. It’s certainly a recognition that the approach I take on the Talking Outsourcing blog works for a lot of people. Let’s face it; there are a lot of very dry and boring newsletters and blogs on sourcing. Either they are dominated by contract wins or sales speak. I think my more personal approach to a business blog strikes a chord with a lot of people.

It was fun to meet some people I only know from Twitter – and to recognise them in person from a memory of their profile photo – like Dr Black from Westminster University, and some of the Computer Weekly team. I also got to chat with the marketing team from CapGemini, who I usually only ever talk to on Twitter.

There was a funny moment during the awards presentation. The award for best blog on the environment went to Greenbang. I sent a text immediately after the announcement to Greenbang founder, Dan Ilett asking why he was not at the function. He called me within seconds to explain that he had to attend a family funeral. I was standing next to Bryan Glick so I passed him the phone… the awards were still being handed out and Dan was listening to the editor congratulating him from the event just seconds after he had won. And Dan really couldn’t believe he had won so it was really nice to get him on the phone like that.

Thanks to everyone who voted for me anyway, and especially to whoever nominated me to be featured in the awards in the first place. I didn’t self-nominate so someone out there thinks the blog is worthy at least!

IT Blog Awards 2009

I’m shortlisted in the Computer Weekly IT Blog Awards 2009. The party and presentations take place tonight at Shoreditch house. I’m in the shortlist for my Talking Outsourcing blog in the best analyst or consultant category.

If you are going to be there then please do say hello. If you are not going to be there then say hello on Twitter… if you include the hashtag #ITBlogs in your Twitter messages then they will visible for all to see at the awards party tonight… they have Twitterwalls at the event showing all the online chat about the awards!

So who wants to publish me in India?

The past couple of books I have written ‘Who Moved my Job?’ (Lulu 2008) and ‘Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field’ (British Computer Society 2008) have both been published under license for South Asia by Viva in Delhi.

Viva took a look at my most recent book – Talking Outsourcing (Lulu 2009) – and said they are not interested in publishing it because they don’t feel it connects to the reader in the same way as the other books I have written.

That’s fine. They have their opinion. Only I think they are wrong.

Here’s why.

I don’t think they understand that this was a book of a blog. This book is drawn from the best of my ‘Talking Outsourcing’ blog in Computing magazine, featuring blog entries from 2006 to 2009. It’s written and presented as a chronological business diary. Everything that’s going on in the world of services globalisation and outsourcing from my point of view over that three year period.

It’s worth pointing out that the British national tech magazine Computer Weekly thought so highly of my blog, they shortlisted it for blog of the year in their IT Blog Awards 2009. The launch event at London South Bank University was also very successful – take a look at the video here.

Clearly there are a lot of people involved in the hi-tech service sector in India and I am sure they would like to see this book.

It highlights the issues, the trends, the failures, and the successes of the past three years in the global hi-tech industry and India gets a fair share of that business.

Sure, it’s a book of a blog and not written with a new narrative focused on a single topic, but that’s part of the idea here. Take the content from the blog and make it work in a different way by putting it all in one place, so it can be quickly skipped through.

If you are a publisher in India and you are interested in the South Asia rights for this book then get in touch with me. I’m planning to be there in February so if you move fast we could do some personal appearances around the launch. You can reach me here…

Borders boarded up

So it really looks like the book chain Borders is about to collapse.

What a shame.

When Borders opened their British flagship store in Oxford Street it was like a breath of fresh air to the book retailing market. Yes Waterstones was always knocking around in the background, but the majority of stores were fusty and dusty like Foyles, or just full of the latest bonkbusters, like WH Smith.

Borders had the most incredible magazine section, filled with magazines I’d never heard of, but loved handling and reading them. They had excellent coverage of most areas and the store was a nice place to be, even without buying.

It’s true that book retailing has changed enormously in the past 10-15 years – driven mostly by Amazon, but surely there is still a space in the market for high quality retail stores focused on books. Foyles has improved beyond measure, and Waterstones are also taking the fight to the supermarkets, so it’s true that the competition has learned from Borders, but their precipitous collapse remains shocking to anyone who has ever enjoyed shopping – and reading – there.

Stop press. Latest news on reality TV…

And so, one of the lead stories on the BBC news website today is the fact that Katie Price has quit her place in the jungle on ITV show ‘I’m a Celebrity, Get me Out of Here…’

This is quite a change in BBC editorial policy don’t you think? Not only are the exploits of Katie Price, ANA Jordan, now headline news for the BBC rather than celebrity gossip magazines, but also the events taking place in a reality TV show on a rival channel are also considered newsworthy.

Katie Price is one of those celebrities people tend to love or hate, rather like Big Brother winner Jade Goody before her early death from cancer at 27. What Price actually does to attract all the attention and money she earns is hard to define, yet she does it extremely well. It’s too simplistic to dismiss her as a moron when she constantly features in page after page of newspaper and magazine copy detailing every step of her life. How many wannabe stars would love the attention Price gets? She has redefined the concept of post-millenial celebrity and shown how even a scrap of celebrity (glamour modelling on Page 3) can be transformed into a career and industry.

It’s no longer clear if she defines the way the media present her, or if the media itself defines how they see her. What’s clear is that she never needed to win this game show anyway. It’s just an advert for the latest ghosted book (30+ now), perfume, lifestyle TV show… The Jordan industry will rumble on until the public finally tires of her life, or their own fascination for vicarious glamour.

So who offers the worst business banking in the UK?

The Co-operative bank business banking service has been under fire from the Radio 4 Money Box programme, with bank customers complaining that the system is difficult to login to, data is often lost, and sometimes information is just not available.

It sounds familiar to me, though my business banking service is with Abbey – which is now Santander and is about to be rebranded entirely so the old Abbey brand will vanish.

I’ve used Abbey for business banking for six years. One of the things anyone running any kind of business will know is that you need to be able to go back and check on transactions from some time ago. Accounts are often filed a year or more after transactions take place.

The old system Abbey offered was very good. I could enter a date range and export all my banking activity to a spreadsheet, then format it for my accountant.

When Santander took over, they implemented a new business banking system. Suddenly it was not possible to enter date ranges for statements. I could no longer export easily to Excel. In fact, I could not look back at transactions beyond the last 70 on my statement. So, it was not possible to look back more than a couple of months at most.

When I needed to start getting my accounts in order for annual filing with Companies House, I asked Abbey how I could get the information for the previous year. They told me they could send me the paper statements in the post and it would take at least six weeks to get them because they need to go to a microfiche archive.

PAPER STATEMENTS?

SIX WEEKS TO GET A STATEMENT?

MICROFICHE?

How do I get that on a spreadsheet? They told me I would need to retype everything myself. Why can’t I get it immediately? Because all the data has been archived. Why on earth are you using microfiche rather than a datacentre? We use it for all our archives…

What on earth is going on with Santander? I called several times about this issue and I was told that a lot of businesses are complaining about the same thing. Of course they are. Companies need to be able to go back and look at historic transactions. Don’t deliver a personal banking solution to businesses and expect us to be happy – you idiots.

I’m in the process of sorting out my company accounts for last year right now. As soon as I’m all set, I’m in the market for a new business bank account, but it won’t be with the Co-op or Santander.

Vote for me in the Computer Weekly awards!

I’m shortlisted for an award in the annual Computer Weekly blogging awards. It’s for the best analyst or consultant blog, for the Talking Outsourcing blog I write in Computing magazine. It’s nice to see it shortlisted as Computing is the arch-rival of Computer Weekly – and quite appropriately, the editor of Computing leaves the magazine tomorrow to become the new boss at Computer Weekly. Can he get the staff over there to vote for me perhaps?

I hope you might take a moment to consider voting for me at their site here…

Thanks in advance 🙂