Tag Archives: computer weekly

My wedding, on the BBC…

BBC Technology Editor, Rory Cellan-Jones, is launching his new series on Radio 4 today. Titled ‘The Secret History of Social Networking’ it is a three-part documentary exploring the origins of social networking, going back to the 1970s.

The programme starts with my wedding to Angelica, and there is a trailer film on the BBC website today promoting the radio show and featuring several minutes of film from our wedding day!

Click here to watch the film

Leaving the BCS ELITE…

I’ve been on the the main committee of the BCS ELITE group for the past couple of years, but I just resigned my position.

I do like the BCS, I think they have a role in helping people map out a career in IT. I know a lot of people in the industry think the BCS is pointless and detached from reality, but I’ve loyally been a member since the 1980s even when it meant nothing to me, though in the past few years the management of the BCS has started focusing on helping people to build an IT career.

The BCS itself is more relevant than ever and after the recent drama of an emergency general meeting, where some members were questioning the agenda of the society, I think the society is now through the storm and ready to start making a real difference.

To those who don’t know anything of ELITE, it “is the UK lead forum for IT Directors and Senior Managers to exchange experiences, views and expectations on how information systems should be managed to achieve business objectives.”

In short, it’s a group for BCS members who are of IT director level or above – the senior management of the British IT industry. I was elected onto the committee with a mandate to offer a few modern ideas, get some new research published, and influence the events that ELITE runs… getting real industry leaders available for debate.

But things never really worked out like that – though I tried. ELITE is like a gentleman’s club for people who work in IT. Events are a success if they break even – rather than if they add to the body of management knowledge – and publications are torturously slow to materialise. In an era where companies need to be planning for every quarter and using modern-day communication systems to ensure rapid decision making, the ELITE culture of cigars in Pall Mall clubs grates somewhat… and how annoying is it to find a committee of IT experts who cannot use any scheduling tools (beyond mass emailing) to arrange meetings?

Take a look here at the forthcoming events organised by ELITE. Well, actually as you can see there are none. And even those that you can see arranged in the past hardly have any appeal for any CIO level management I have worked with. The last management level event that was organised was an audience with Michael Dell back in April 2009. That’s if I’m not including the dinners in Pall Mall clubs that are so important in setting the future strategy of the British IT industry.

Even then, does anyone really want to pay to listen to Dell anymore? Perhaps back in the mid-nineties yes, but what would a present-day CIO get from listening to former industry greats, apart from hearing some old war stories? When I once suggested getting Jimmy Wales to talk about Wikipedia, I had to explain to the committee who he actually is.

Or how about the management publications? You can see them here… A report from three years ago and a survey from five years ago. Cutting edge stuff…

Surely a group priding itself on independence and access to senior level IT managers should consider why it exists? Why should the group exist in the first place? If it is for producing independent research and comment, and offering high-level events and networking opportunities, then why not schedule some of those reports or events? It seems logical.

Instead, the meetings are dominated by a dogmatic adherence to committee politics that are reminiscent of ‘Wolfie’ Smith organising politics in Tooting. Some committees need structure and rules, but when the structure and process becomes the main topic of meetings then there is something seriously wrong. The events and publications timetable speak for themselves anyway.

I’m not detaching myself from the BCS in general. I’m still a member, and I’m cooking up some ideas with the head office in Swindon, for some work that should help promote the BCS and stimulate debate on IT careers in the future – I think the BCS does have a lot to offer. And I think the current management team have a clearer view than ever of what the BCS can achieve – there is a bright future ahead for the society.

It’s just a shame there is not more that the BCS offers to the thousands of senior IT executives in this country. There are already some people out there working with this community. The Computer Weekly CW500 club does a great job with monthly events always featuring a CIO speaker and regular publications, CIO Connect has a regular magazine and events… the IT management community is busy, but there must be room for the BCS to be doing something that addresses their needs to constantly be learning about their own industry.
Global Services: Moving to a Level Playing Field

CW500 Club on Innovation

I went last night to the Computer Weekly CW500 club to hear the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) CTO, James Gardner, speaking about innovation. I was tweeting during the event on the @cw500 twitter account to ensure that there was a live feed of information about what Gardner was saying. You can read my tweets listed below – the most recent is at the top, so if you want to read them in order then you need to go to the bottom of the page and scroll up.

There will be more comprehensive coverage of the event in the next issue of Computer Weekly – this is just the immediate coverage I was writing online as James was speaking.

James is a very good speaker and once again the CW500 club had a really good event. The speakers only talk for about 10 minutes and then do the rest of the time as an ongoing Q&A with the audience. Why aren’t more events like this?

I did really like his view on innovation, especially the observations around how much academic literature there is out there. We know innovation is good for us, but while things are running smoothly nobody wants to innovate. It always takes a near-death experience to create innovation.

How true. And how refreshing to hear it from a senior guy in the public sector, rather than an innovation ‘guru’ claiming innovation will do everything you ever wanted for your company…

Angelica Mari from Computer Weekly

now its time for drinks… Wine is getting warm
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: all the literature is there but if things are all going ok then why innovate
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: you really need a near death experience or it will never happen
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: innovation units fail because they dont create regular demonstrable returns
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: peer support and recognition and making a diff worth more than money
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: best to co-opt the enemies as you lose political capital fighting all the time
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: therefore most innovation plans die within 18 months
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: focus has to be on keeping the lights on
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: the cio is in a very hard position. Hard to ever innovate
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: if people innovate outside their area they need support
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: you can find people get *too* involved in innovation
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: cultural change is very hard to achieve
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: staff engaged in ideastream are better engaged
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: service is not just functional
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: we expect people to start demanding better interactions soon
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: disconnect between type of service offered and what people expect
about 21 hours ago via dabr
gardner: maybe if we had an art mentality in the dwp rather than engineers it wd be better
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: technologists can build beautiful systems
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: i disagree that technical work is not creative and artistic
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: i dont believe in the single hero innovator #cw500
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: egg or first direct are not just one leader. More than just an idea #cw500
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: if you build it they will come does not happen often
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: network effect really important to get more involved
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: is it to keep up or to get ahead?
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: #cw500 only a few places you can innovate anyway… Radical or incremental
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: not always possible to bring everyone along
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: present environment is a great opportunity for change
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: when you have a burning platform you can make changes
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: you need a near death experience to make innovation happen
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: better to get innovation in a silo than none at all
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: time of austerity… Need to collaborate across public sector
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: if you are going to manage innovation you must be prepared to be fired
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: at lloyds we processed about 1200 new ideas a month
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: most people are resistant to change anyway
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: public sector innovation is no different to private
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: you can shift a direction. Much harder to create radical change
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: what radical innovation has microsoft created?
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: pfizer did a great job repurposing viagra
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: apple just knows the direction of travel and creates paradigm shift
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: apple is not innovating. They are creating revolutions
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: microsoft is a failure in terms of innovation
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: caixa navarra is an amazing example of play to win innovation
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: imagine a bank telling you how much they made from you
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: but most people want play not to lose innovation
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: play to win innovation means you put it at the centre of all you do
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: we ask the crowd to manage the suggestion box?
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: do any suggestion schemes really work?
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: we pay our own currency to staff who have great ideas
about 22 hours ago via dabr
gardner: many of the bank systems i worked on are similar to the dept #cw500
about 22 hours ago via dabr
james gardner cto at dwp now speaking on innovation #cw500
about 22 hours ago via dabr
all present in lancaster hotel now for the #cw500 event
about 23 hours ago via dabr

James Gardner, CTO of the DWP

The wifi issues in Brazil today

It turns out that there is wall-to-wall wifi at the Gartner conference in São Paulo today – so I apologise to anyone from Brasscom or Gartner who was upset by my earlier blog post… I found out that Angelica Mari from Computer Weekly had been told off by some of the conference organisers for complaining about the wifi on her Twitter feed.

I have to confess to everyone – I started it. I complained and moaned to Angelica, who also mentioned that it was not really acceptable in a modern-day conference… but she was making a fair business point and there was nothing unkind it what she – or I – said.

The situation was that our hosts had switched off the Internet access because a government minister was coming to speak at the event – so it was a “security” issue to have the wifi enabled during that time.

I did not find out this reason for the lack of Internet until hours later, after being told that I was just not allowed to use Internet in the conference hall. And furthermore, what a ridiculous reason anyway. Could the government minister in question email me and explain why we are not allowed to use the Internet in his presence please?

Thanks to Andrew Spender from Gartner in New York for helping to get to the bottom of the mystery – and he was just following our tweets from Brazil and able to coordinate better than some of the conference team on the ground. Interesting.

This is not a big issue though. I don’t have an axe to grind with anyone and especially not Brasscom or Gartner, but I thought I’d better follow up from the earlier blog because it seems some feathers were ruffled.

A note of reference for conference organisers everywhere, please just ensure the story is right. If you are switching off the net access temporarily, then why not let the audience know the reason?

It’s a whole lot better than someone giving out the wrong information “you are not allowed online in here…”

Pele and Hurst together

Take note, I’m writing for silicon.com now!

It’s true, my Computing blog is still there on the website. But take a closer look. I have not updated it since March 22 this year. All my writing on sourcing, globalisation, and the ‘who moved my job?’ theme is now going into a weekly silicon.com column. So that’s where all my tech services work will be printed.

My social media writing is going into my Computer Weekly SocialITe blog here…

I’m leaving Computing

I’ve been writing my Talking Outsourcing blog in Computing for four years now. It’s grown into one of the most popular blogs on the magazine and even spawned a book-of-the-blog. Some of you might remember the book launch talk I gave last October where I changed shirt about five times while still speaking. It made a change from the regular talks on outsourcing.
Talking Outsourcing - book cover

But I’ve written over 450 blogs on outsourcing for Computing now and it’s time for a new challenge, so you will soon be able to see me publishing a video (and text) blog on sourcing and globalisation in silicon.com as well as my recently launched SocialITe blog on enterprise social media in Computer Weekly. It’s sad to let the Computing blog go, but it’s time to move on to do something new and possibly a little more visual – that is, if you can cope with my mug on camera.

Take a look here for a comment on video. I will see you commenting on the new blogs soon I hope… or chatting on my Twitter.


It’s the London Twestival tonight. You can see what I wrote about Twestival in Computer Weekly here.

I’m keen to talk to some old friends, but also to make a few new ones too. I might try recording a few short videos while I am there, vox pops on how people are using Twitter for business. So if you want to tell me how you are using Twitter then come and find me… and don’t get unnerved when I stick my phone camera in your face!
Mark Kobayashi-Hillary

Angelica Mari’s leaving party in Soho

Many of you in the world of tech journalism will know Angelica Mari, the Chief Reporter at Computing. She is leaving and heading over to the competition… to Computer Weekly

Her official leaving party is at The Endurance on Berwick St on Wed March 31st. A place I remember as a really old rough pub called the King of Corsica. Thank goodness they ripped that place apart and renovated it, adding features like the pub bear…
Bryan Glick and Angelica Mari
Angelica is a serious tech journalist, last year leading the Tomorrow’s IT Leaders campaign for Computing and featuring prominently in the introduction for the Computing / BCS IT Awards 2009. She was also the MC for my Talking Outsourcing book launch last October. But clearly, like all good journalists, she likes to let her hair down now and then…

If you are interested in the tech sector because of your business, because you are another tech writer, or you are in PR and want to buy her a drink then I’m sure she would welcome you at the leaving party. I’ll be there too, so if any free drinks are going you know who to say hello to!

Click here for information on how to find The Endurance… It starts at the end of the business day, which is probably around 6pm for most of us…

See you there!

Google responds to my messages – at last!

The press team at Google finally got in touch with me. I lost my Youtube account on Monday and it’s taken me a week, blogs, tweets, and introductions from various journalists and PRs to get a response….
Hi Mark
Amy passed on your email about your YouTube account and the story you’re writing for Computer Weekly. I checked out your blog to see the latest and I apologise for the fact you’ve found it frustrating to get hold of the press team. I also see that you’re in touch directly with YouTube’s copyright team and are planning to file counter-notices, and I’m glad that at least that process has started.
I understand your frustration at our repeat infringer policy, and wanted to provide a statement that explains the background to why we have one and why it operates as it does:
“Under the DMCA, the relevant law, service providers like YouTube are required to adopt and implement a policy to terminate the accounts of repeat copyright infringers.  YouTube implements its repeat infringer policy in a way that has become the industry standard, and the courts have confirmed that other companies with similar policies adequately implement this legal requirement.
“Of course, we do everything we can to help our users avoid being in the position of being accused of repeat infringement and losing their accounts.  We have clear copyright warnings when people sign up for accounts and when they upload videos; we have a copyright tips section in the Help Centre; we make it easy to file counter-notices if users feel they’ve been falsely accused; and we provide clear notice to our users when a video taken down for infringement that we will close down their account if they continue to post infringing content.  Also, we make it easy for rights holders to use our Content ID system so that their matched content can be monetised instead of taken down under the DMCA removal process if they so choose.”
If there’s anything else I can provide in the way of statements or answers to questions, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Best wishes

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!