Tag Archives: technology

IT journalists in London – know about outsourcing?

One of my clients, the technology company IBA Group, has asked me to come over to London in September to MC their birthday party event on September 10th at the Wellington Arch.

It’s their 20th birthday, they have a great and historic venue and corporate birthday parties always feature plenty of Champagne so it should be fun, but London has no end of parties so I suggested they add a little bit of business value to the event for the people who will attend.

Of course, it’s a party so nobody wants to listen to endless speeches about SAP integration or how the cloud is affecting the future of IT. What I suggested to them was to invite a group of IT journalists to the event to give their view on the next 20 years in the technology business – especially how outsourcing is changing.

The CEO of IBA will open with his summary of the past twenty years, then each journalist who wants to try giving their view will have just 5 minutes to predict the future. The audience at the event will all have voting cards so they can vote for their favourite futurist…

As an incentive to the journalists, the one who is judged to be most compelling by the audience gets an iPad.

It’s only going to be about 40 minutes of talks, then a return to the drinking, but it should be quite interesting to see how different IT experts see the future playing out. I might even try to chip in myself, though if I win then it will be suggested that I fixed the whole event as I’m supposed to just be chairing!

If you are a London-based tech writer and think it sounds interesting – plus it means you get to spend an evening in the company of a bunch of other tech writers – then drop me a message here or on Twitter.



Photo by Richard Masoner licensed under Creative Commons

B of the BRICs in London

I was in London last week and I arranged an event in partnership with Intellect and UKTI (thank you to Nitin Dahad for doing most of the work in London) at the embassy of Brazil.

Titled ‘The B of the BRICs’ it was a chance for some experts – including me – to explore the two-way opportunities for business between the UK and Brazil in the hi-tech sector. We had speakers from UKTI, Intellect, and a case study from BT who are hiring extensively in Brazil.

The room at the embassy could take 80 and they ended up turning people away so it was a big success. I was really pleased to see some familiar faces – there were several people there that I have had meetings with in São Paulo – as well as some new people.

You can still view the speaker list and agenda here and I have attached some information below, including the PowerPoint slides that I used on the day for my own discussion… if you were there or if you are interested in the topic then please do connect to me on LinkedIn and let’s talk about Brazil!

B of the BRICs with UKTI and Intellect at the embassy of Brazil in London

India’s shame

I’ve visited India many times. I’ve spent time in hotels and offices that could be anywhere in the world, yet I have also seen how the slums sit cheek by jowl with the new hi-tech India. There is often a sense of chaos in India and a relaxed attitude to time reflected in the often-repeated joke that IST really means ‘Indian Stretchable Time.’

But in all my experience of India, I have found that world-class companies offering first-rate goods and services really do exist. And why not? India is one of the BRICs… the countries that will lead the 21st century. So who can explain the disaster of the build up to the Commonwealth Games?

Teams are arriving to find they can’t live in the accommodation provided because it’s flooded or unfinished. The bridge linking the main stadium to a car park just collapsed, seriously injuring several labourers. Athletes are already pulling out citing security risks.

India can do far better than this in the world of business, where Indian companies compete with the best. So is the failure to organise the games because of endemic corruption and favouritism in the political classes? The local media in Delhi is reporting that vast sums of money allocated to the games has just vanished.

Where did it all go? Who is going to answer for the chaos? And when will India allow competence to rise above nepotism when managing major events such as this?

One look back at China in 2008 shows how a major athletics meeting can be run with precision and efficiency – I expect London 2012 to be a bit more relaxed than China, but if I was Indian today I’d be filled with shame because the world is watching and waiting as disaster reigns.
Ellora caves, Maharashtra, India

Employees first, customers second

The CEO of Indian technology giant, Vineet Nayar, has just published a book called ‘Employees First, Customers Second’ with the Harvard Business School Press. It challenges the conventional wisdom of business in any industry – that the customer is always right – by suggesting that if you focus on looking after your employees then they will ensure the customers are happy.

I’m going to meet Vineet tomorrow to record an interview about the book and his philosophy on management. If you would like to send a question for me to use during the interview then do get in touch…

Getting ready for NASSCOM 2010

Comment on Brazil

I went to Brazil as a guest of BRASSCOM recently, the Brazilian hi-tech trade association. Angelica Mari was the only other British journalist on the trip. Take a look at what we both produced in just a few days meeting people in Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo:

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

BCS Emergency General Meeting

The BCS used to be a stuffy club full of academics and practitioners who endlessly harked back to the days when they would spend happy hours scanning punch-cards for bugs before compiling a bit of software, because it took all night to compile.

The industry has moved on. IT is now the common theme underpinning every single industry you can name. The tired argument that IT practitioners have to understand the business better to get on with their career is now so outdated… because almost every industry depends entirely on IT to function.

What is a bank these days? Just IT pushing money around the world. Education is moving online. Retail is moving online. Even mining, manufacturing, and construction rely on IT. The corner shop down the road uses IT to keep track of their inventory. There is almost no business today that can function without technology.

So how come a renegade group of BCS members are calling for the BCS to return to the past? The BCS transformation programme is designed to make the society more relevant for the 21st century technology industry – in particular the global nature of the industry.

The EGM call was a few months back, but there is now a vote taking place at present for members. If you are a BCS member, please don’t vote for a step back. If you do then I know I won’t bother renewing my membership.

Bikinis not Burqas

I’m at the Brasscom Global IT Forum 2010 in Rio de Janeiro.

I was talking a couple of days ago to a very senior figure in the Brazilian technology industry and he listed all the benefits of working with Brazil, including the deep domain knowledge, heritage of the IT industry, and the flexibility of the people. But then he said that often the reality is that an executive will end up with two or three possible locations where they can work and so it’s soft benefits that will help influence the decision. On that note, he waved his arm at the winter sunshine and pretty girls around us in a cafe and said, would you rather be visiting Brazil or Bangladesh?

It’s a serious point. I have heard rumours in the past of one company that invested in a back office in Sri Lanka just because the wife of the CEO wanted the ability to regularly visit the beaches there.

And in terms of lifestyle, Brazil has to be one of the most favourable locations in the world – particularly here in Rio de Janeiro. As I write this blog I am in a major hotel conference centre, yet I am also about 10 metres from the golden sand of Ipanema beach, with waves crashing onto the shore as the only noise disturbing the conference speaker.

It’s winter in Brazil at present, yet it’s still 20c. In northern Europe, that’s quite a nice warm day. To many Brazilians it’s chilly, though the joggers on the beach are in shorts and T-shirts. The whole city screams work-life balance because offices can be just metres from the beach – like my hotel.

I was enjoying a drink on the rooftop bar of the hotel last night and I mentioned the ‘Brazil or Bangladesh’ comment to another leading Brazilian tech player. He immediately said: “It’s all about our business plan B – are you interested in bikinis or burqas?”

It’s not culturally sensitive or politically correct, but both commentators are telling a real truth in a humourous way. If you are an executive and you are choosing a place to invest, once basic competencies and price are all compared and a short list is created, the soft factors are going to play a major role in helping you choose where you want to work.

And it’s very hard to beat Brazil as a nice place to do business.

Brazil and technology

I’m blogging next week from the Gartner Sourcing Summit in São Paulo, Brazil. And following that, I’ll be in Rio de Janeiro for a government led event focused on the tech industry in Brazil.

Take a look at the speakers at the Gartner summit by following the link above. If you want me to ask any questions about the tech industry in Brazil to any of these good people, or the government people, then just send me a message…

Hedkandi Brazil

BBC film was not just a rant

I had a few comments about my appearance on BBC Click suggesting it was just a rant. There were a few unsympathetic voices by email even. It’s pretty easy to find me online, so I had to expect that.

Well, I’m not hanging my head asking for forgiveness, or ranting about how unfair it is that the big boy Google is a bully. The film on Click was a measured look at how the strict application of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act is essentially not going to work as we head further into the future.

Think about this for a moment. Where do you store your photo collection? I know that I have over 10,000 photos on Flickr, along with a box of old photos, but I am not taking any new photos that are going in the box – they are now all going online.

What happens if people start complaining about my photos and the host decides to delete my account? I don’t keep a local backup of all that content. And even if I did keep everything locally, what happens if the hard disk fails or goes up in flames?

The point about my YouTube account was that there were two complaints from over two years ago, then the Jimmy Carr complaint caused the account to be wiped without any notification. I just had no account anymore. Nobody told me a thing. I had to chase YouTube for several days just to find out why my account had vanished.

Google does not make the ‘three strikes’ policy clear anywhere, even in the small print. Saying repeat offenders will have their account removed is not the same as explicitly saying three-strikes-and-you’re-out.

And I never contested those earlier copyright claims – I never felt that I could. Imagine if Jean-Michel Jarre invited his fans to upload video, but his music publisher complained to YouTube. How would I think that I have any right to fight the music publisher? Because that’s the exact situation that occurred.

Naturally, when I lost my account, I did push back on these complaints – even the ones from 2008 – and as I said in the film, they were all removed as mistakes. But they were mistakes that for a period of time had cost me my entire video collection.

The whole point of this is that I agree that the law has to be followed, I agree piracy needs to be managed, but the fact is that the way the law is applied by Google at present means that many innocents will get caught up and will lose their content, even though you could not argue that they are deliberately trying to pirate material.