Thursday, 18 December 2014

Part Three of the exclusive Interview with David Cook is Chief Digital Officer at Time Out.

Mark Baker: What happens to organizations like yours if they don't do this transformation?

David Cook: Embracing digital means that we can take Time Out further and faster than ever before. It’s an incredibly exciting period for us. We’re building from a very strong base; we have a great brand and some very loyal fans. We consider ourselves very much a multi-media publisher, so print remains an important part of the mix. However, digital platforms mean that we can offer a service wherever and whenever our readers are looking for our advice.
So, for us, it’s not a question of whether to transform or not, we’re already well on the way.

Mark Baker: If there were 3 things that you think that a prospective CDO needs to know? what would be the key things to know or do?

David Cook: Yeah, I think they would be: Be be Respectful, Collaborate collaborate and Innovate

I've seen people come in to an organization who are very disrespectful to what’s happened before; they can be quick to blame others and belittle previous decisions. I don’t think that’s a great way to build relations, so I’d always recommend being respectful of the past.

Collaboration is also key. The best way to get things done is to work with others and deliver something that the whole company is proud of. There’s no benefit to either isolating yourself or your immediate team.

Finally, I think that it is important to establish a framework for innovation and experimentation. It is too easy to get left behind and you need to make time for thinking the unthinkable . . .

Read more of this interview and others like it from digital thought leader look out for the forthcoming Chief Digital Officer Handbook 

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Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Part Two of the exclusive Interview with David Cook is Chief Digital Officer at Time Out.

Mark Baker: So as a Chief Digital Officer, what barriers have you had to overcome in creating this digital transformation?

David Cook: I think everybody has had to adjust to the changes in consumer behaviour; that’s a big shift for any organization. You have to assume that everything we produce is now read on mobile first; that’s very different to a traditional print mindset.
It’s important to challenge the status quo; you have to devise new ways to expand and new ways to make money if you’re going to remain a leader in the digital age.

Mark Baker: Did you find that the goals of the key stakeholders were aligned? Have they had the same vision or have the key stakeholders have different perceptions about what should and shouldn't be done, and about who should be making the decisions as well?

David Cook: Yeah, that's a good question. Once the new CEO started, it probably took us a few months to agree what the grand vision was. We wanted to challenge every preconception about the sort of growth that was achievable and set ourselves some big, hairy audacious goals. Rather than talking about expanding into 80 cities, we started talking about 800.

Mark Baker: How did you sell that idea internally?

David Cook: We devised a new operating model, something we call ‘Time Out in a Box’, which described in practical terms how we could expand efficiently and keep costs low; the good news is that we’re already seeing it come to fruition. Having a plan is one thing, but seeing it work really gets everybody aligned and behind the vision.

Mark Baker: Can  you give us any actual case studies of the transformations? Maybe roll-outs of ‘Time Out in a Box’?

David Cook: One example that comes to mind, is our franchise partner in Spain. In January 2014, they came to the UK to discuss expansion and were assuming it was an 18 month project requiring significant investment. We walked them through the new operating model and, to their delight, Madrid was live within 4 months at a relatively small cost. It was a major achievement and it gives everybody confidence.

Mark Baker: And are there different boxes lined up for other Spanish cities?

David Cook: Yes, it wouldn't surprise me that next year we add three more cities in Spain; there are plenty of great cities to choose from. We've also been using the model internally across the UK and US. We’re big in London, New York, Chicago, and LA, but that was really the extent of our footprint in those markets. This year alone, we've added Manchester, Edinburgh, Leeds, Glasgow, Washington DC, Miami, Las Vegas, Boston, San Francisco, Atlanta, Austin, Dallas, Seattle and Philadelphia. That represents a massive change in our time to market for new cities when compared to the past.

Mark Baker: And in each case you just have one or two people on the ground?

David Cook: Initially it’s a small local team supported by freelance journalists. They’re then supported by centralized national and global teams. As the audience in each city grows, so we increase the size of the local team. Some content, such as film reviews or interviews, can be produced centrally and distributed locally; that benefits everybody.

Mark Baker: And how do the local teams interact with the national center or even with main headquarters, if they are in for example LA or San Francisco? What’s life like for them?

David Cook: Typically the local teams comprise Editorial and Sales staff. They have a direct link with the national team and there are regular meetings that keep everybody on the same page. Ideas flow in both directions and we frequently see local initiatives being picked up and rolled out globally.
It’s tough for any remote team, but we do our best to keep everybody engaged.

more tomorrow

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Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Part One of the exclusive Interview with David Cook is Chief Digital Officer at Time Out.

David Cook is Chief Digital Officer at Time Out.
David Cook’s mandate includes Research, Innovation, User Experience, Design, Product Development, Technology and Analytics. He was previously Technology Director - Auto Trader  & International and Chief Information Officer at Marshall Wace 

Time Out was founded in 1968 in London by Tony Elliott, Time Out has since grown into a global media group that, as of November 2014, spans 68 cities across 37 countries with a monthly combined audience of over 33 million.  The business is well positioned to provide the platform and marketplace for inspiring people to make the most of their city through a distribution network, which incorporates a growing online presence, mobile applications, magazines, events and partnerships.

Mark Baker: So tell me about your organization, David, about yourself and how you got to where you are.
David Cook: Okay, well, I'll start with the organization. Time Out has been around since 1968, being the original listings magazine for London in terms of what's going on in the city around you. It's gradually grown over the years to become a global success. We now have presence in 68 cities and 37 countries around the world. It is a business with a strong print heritage, so digital really only became a priority after we received investment from Oakley Capital a few years ago now . 
In terms of my background, I'm a software engineer by profession. At university I studied astrophysics, but I also did a lot of programming, having got a taste for it back in the early 80's. It was as a result of those two disciplines that I ended up working for a company called Logica  in the space and defence sector. Gradually I moved from software engineering into project and change management. After that I got into more senior leadership roles, firstly at the NHS, then Marshall Wace, Auto Trader and now Time Out. It was at Auto Trader where I got firsthand experience of digital transformation; so, when we the company had finished that particular journey, it was a good time to leave and leverage that experience elsewhere. Time Out ended up being the right fit at the right time. After 4 years of distance learning, I completed my MBA at the end of 2013.
Mark Baker: That's great. Can you tell me about the development of the Time Out digital road map? How you've gone about that? 

David Cook: I initially joined as CTO, in June 2013. However, when Tim Arthur became CEO, we decided to create the Chief Digital Officer role, which covers Research, Innovation, User Experience, Design, Product Development, Technology, and Analytics. It's quite a broad remit, but brings together the core digital teams under one umbrella. When compared to our peers, we had some catching up to do – as an example, our mobile web experience was not up to scratch. We were able to set a road map pretty quickly just by looking at what others were doing around us, but we are now coming out of that phase. We have a very clear vision and direction, so we can finally move forward with some new and exciting initiatives. 

Mark Baker: So, how far forward does your road map take you? 

David Cook: We look at the road map across 3 distinct horizons: Horizon One covers what we’re doing now and for the next 6 months; Horizon Two covers what we plan to do next, roughly up to 12 months out; and then we have Horizon Three, which is obviously 12 months plus. 
At the moment, we are focused on 3 main initiatives: firstly, a new product that we recently launched into the market called Premium Profiles; secondly, the roll out of our new responsive website, which has been designed mobile-first; and thirdly, the development of a new blogging platform that we’ll be opening up to the Time Out community.  Looking further forward, we’re planning to update our ecommerce platform; release a new suite of apps; and revamp Time Out Dating. 
When it comes to Horizon Three, we’re looking at the connected TV, connected car and wearables. So for example, we’re considering how we might expand the user journey from the desktop, tablet and phone onto these new devices whilst still providing a coherent and useful end-to-end experience. 

 . .  more tomorrow  . . .

Read more of this interview and others like it from digital thought leader look out for the forthcoming Chief Digital Officer Handbook 

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Thursday, 11 December 2014

Part three of the exclusive Interview with Jora Gill, Chief Digital Officer of the Economist.

This is an excerpt from my interview with Jora Gill from the forthcoming Chief Digital Officer's Handbook. Jora is the new Chief Digital Officer of the Economist. The interview will appear in full with other digital though leaders in the forthcoming handbook.

Mark Baker: That leads us into the next question about whether you've had a situation with key stakeholders having different perceptions of what should and shouldn't be done digitally and where ultimately, these decisions lie?

Jora Gill: I think each stakeholder, be it technology marketing, sales, advertising, finance, have their own KPIs within,an organisation and they are measured by these KPIs. So along comes digital disruption that requires collaborations across departments. However the KPIs have not been set across organisations but within each department so do not allow the organization to collaborate and miss KPIs in one department for the sake of another succeeding.
CIOs and CTOs are trapped in KPIs for example other departments demand that they be more successful with projects not experiment and fail and be rewarded for early failure, they must cut costs but are not rewarded for new innovative products that increase profits as profits do not sit within their departments, their departments are brought into projects when the project has been decided and now costs are required rather than a lean philosophy of building incrementally to customer needs. CIOs are in that unenviable position of knowing what’s wrong and often what to do about it but are often not empowered to make radical decisions across the organization…did I mention Kodak and Blockbuster?
So the question should be "How can we collaborate throughout an organisation where we deliver to customer value ?”

Mark Baker: Can you give details of case studies from your past experience.

Jora Gill:  Yes we at The Economist have collaborated across departments and looked at the customer journey when purchasing new subscriptions or one offs through our eCommerce systems. However we took the journey from start to end with lots of ‘what ifs’ built in. We therefore looked at our marketing systems, our sales systems, our customer care systems, our billing systems. We took the journey of a straightforward transaction, a complex transactions, a transactions where a decision was taken not to proceed half way etc. etc.
We took all of these journeys as if we were the customer and then we mapped all the systems against these journeys. What we found was that the experience was great when straightforward but difficult when complicated. We then looked at the best of breed systems across the above areas and mapped them, once integrated, across these journeys and found  a much better and lower touch point experience. We are now implementing a new solution that will provide our customers with a greater experience when interacting with us.

Mark Baker: So you have a process to get the answer.

Jora Gill: It's a process of starting with an assumptions then experiment with it and then based on those experiments and the data (feedback loop), going back to our assumption board and ask "Was our assumption and experiment correct, if yes great carry on?" or "If no it wasn't. Do we throw the whole thing away or modify slightly?" If we decide to do something slightly or radically different, we then experiment again and then go back again to the data. "Were we correct this time?"
Look at firms, where did Twitter start? They didn't come up with the idea of Twitter on day one and built the company. They pivoted a number of times before landing on an assumption that was correct and the rest is history.. What about Facebook, Groupon, Link-In…? All the same they experimented and experimented until they had the right formulae. Their strategies evolved over a number of years

Mark Baker: Okay, so again, moving nicely on from that. What sort of changes do you expect to see over the next two years and then contrasting that over the next 10 years. In other words, short-term and long-term. How do they...?
Jora Gill: Within the digital space.
Mark Baker: Yes, yes. Within the domain of a CDO.
Jora Gill: Within the domain of a CDO.
Mark Baker: Which is quite a broad domain, so...
Jora Gill: Yeah. I think within the next two years, we'll have established the CDO as a role with a defined purpose.

Mark Baker: Is that going to be a permanent thing? Are they going to be permanent CDOs and are there going to be CDOs in ten years' time?

Jora Gill: I think there will and the reason I think there will be because I don't think digital's going to disappear in the next two to ten years' time so irrespective of the exact job title, there will be somebody who's responsible for digital and enhancing a digital strategy. Now, I don't think one person or one department will be creating all the digital ideas. I think these will be multifaceted but one person will be responsible for bringing together a digital strategy and also executing on that strategy. I don't think it'll be a five year strategy, I think it'll be a six month to three year strategy and as I said early, you'll be pivoting or preserving more often but I think within the next two years, people instead of talking about digital and not really knowing what digital is, will have defined what they mean by a digital strategy.

A lot of organisations currently want a CDO but they haven't all answered the basic question of why and what is success when we have the CDO ? I think at the moment, it is a trend to say "We need to be digital and we need a Chief Digital Officer for us to be digital." but they haven't quite defined what being digital is and what the success criteria are. Each organization is different so there is not a single digital blueprint.

I think over the next ten years, disruption will be a constant and if organisations have not figured out what makes them digitally valuable to their customers, then ultimately they're going to fail. If they are slow or unable to react to digital disruptors then they are ultimately going to fail. If they are not a digital disruptor themselves then ultimately they are going to fail.

Mark Baker: I think that's a very good vision for the ten years actually and you've actually covered the next question quite well which is what happens to those who don't transform efficiently. Do you think any of them will stay here on or...when I say efficiently, some of them, it may just be that their vision of digital isn't as...or far reaching. We've got digital. We have a website. We have e-mail.

Jora Gill: I think it depends on your industry. Within the media industry, we've been massively disrupted by digital and reacted to it. I think if you're a logistics company, you can take advantage of digital but if you're a really good logistics company, you're still going to be a really good logistics company that uses digital where it brings advantage in ten years'

Digital is more than producing an app it is thinking differently and looking at your company differently like a disruptor would. If you can do this then you should be OK . . . . .

Read more of this interview and others like it from digital thought leader look out for the forthcoming Chief Digital Officer Handbook 

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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Part two of the exclusive Interview with Jora Gill, Chief Digital Officer of the Economist.

The second part of my interview with Jora Gill from the forthcoming Chief Digital Officer's Handbook. Jora is the new Chief Digital Officer of the Economist. 


Mark Baker: Can you tell me what barriers do you see the CDOs come up against? Your own experience and from those around you. What are main barriers that stop you from...

Jora Gill: I think there's a soft side and the hard side to that question. The hard side is that the CDO skills predominantly come through from two backgrounds. One is technology so ex-CIOs, ex-CTOs or two is marketing, so ex-CMOs and what you want with the CDO is a mixture of both. So you want somebody who really thinks from a customer perspective. How do customers think and how can we market to those customers but you also want somebody who can deliver through those great thoughts, you know, a technologist who's grown up and  been able to actually deliver on the strategic promises. The difficulty is how do find people who have that joint mindset.  If this combined strategic and operational mindset does not exist there is a danger that the CDOs fall back into their comfort zone when faced with tough issues. In the case of the technologist the comfort zone maybe operational and problem solving or in the case of a business background CDO their comfort zone maybe marketing, sales or some other discipline. So what's the role of a CDO? If all I do is deliver technology solutions, then I'm a CIO or CTO. If all I do marketing related, then I'm a CMO. My role as a CDO has both technology and business drivers. It consists of three verticals. One is product management new ideas, innovation, what can we experiment on build fast and fail fast and learn from that. The second is digital technical with the normal focus on technical demand management, expectation management, project management and technical capabilities required to execute. The essential difference here between a CDO and CIO is that a CDOs role is focused on the touch points of the customer and not the wider enterprise technologies a CIO has to deal with. The final vertical is data and analytics. An example of how data is used is that we may have thought that we had a good idea, we built on that good idea, now let's see what the customer thought by looking at the data. This essentially provides commercial feedback into the department and occasionally the feedback says “We can build you great products but we can also tell you those great products weren't as great as we first thought.”
The other element of the CDO is the soft side.. The CDO needs to bring together the whole organisation in embracing a digital strategy. They do not necessarily have to own or devise the digital strategy but must champion it. This can take a lot of energy even though it sounds obvious we should not dismiss this we only need to look at firms like Kodak and Blockbuster where the digital challenges were staring them in the face but they could not react due to internal organizational inertia or a missing digital champion.

Mark Baker: Do you think there's an element that CIOs and to a certain extent, CTOs don't have the permission to fail whereas the entrepreneur or the CDO may have?

Jora Gill: I think so but I think also it depends how the CIO, CTO's being brought up. So if you've come up from a security background, your mindset is always going to be on protection. You got to protect the organisation from people who are trying to bring down your website or infringe your data and privacy laws. So you come up with a mindset that's sort of very much into a rulebook rightfully so of reasons why we can't do things and I think there is a large quantities of CIOs, CTOs that have come up with always thinking of what can go wrong. So they sit in meetings and they sit in and that's why they're great CIOs and CTOs because they'll sit in them going “Okay, you think this project can be delivered in three months but let me tell you we can't. We haven't the right we have the right people, capable of executing to the level that we want. So they come from a mindset of what can go wrong. With the CDO role, you come from a mindset of the art of the possible, going “What would happen if we did this, this and this?” So you come from that entrepreneurial mindset. So I think that's the challenge but having said that, I meet, as I said earlier, I think there's many, many CIOs and CTOs are more than capable of being bold and of experimenting of failing fast but they have to get away from thinking that a failed project is a failed project. Sometimes a failed project is a successful project because what you've done has killed that project. That three million project; stop it one hundred thousand in, and someone might say “Oh, you've just wasted a hundred thousand.” and I'd say “No, I've just saved you two point nine million.” So it's changing your mindset.

 . . . to be continued tomorrow  . . .

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Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Exclusive Interview with Jora Gill, Chief Digital Officer of the Economist.

This is an excerpt from my interview with Jora Gill from the forthcoming Chief Digital Officer's Handbook. Jora is the new Chief Digital Officer of the Economist. The interview will appear in full with other digital though leaders in the forthcoming handbook.

Mark Baker: Okay, so the first question is basically a background one. Tell me about your organisation, yourself and how you got to where you are.

Jora Gill: Okay. So we're The Economist, a publisher of a weekly print digital edition as well as an app and at online, We talk on a variety of subjects and we really are there to bring...I would say the news behind the news to really have folks who read up content and to think about what's happening around the globe right now. Be it finance, be it business, be it news, be it technology we want to  evoke a reaction with the news behind the news  we'd really like to do is build a community, we have built a community on the one side terrific journalist, write world-class stories, on the other   our community of readers of our content and  providing feedback . On my side, I'm the Chief Digital Officer for The Economist. I've been here three months so it's a fairly new role for me and prior to this, my background was more technology-based. I was the CTO in a company called Elsevier[1] which is  the largest publisher of medical and scientific journals, books, online in the world and I was there for a number of years and before that I was a CTO at Standard and Poor's[2] which is a financial services institution. What led me to this role was a crossroad in my career that I could see that digital was disrupting what we do on a daily basis. Be it through our personal lives or be it through business and I wanted to move both my technology skills and my strategic business skills into a role that really blended these along with my passion of how technology could serve its customers digitally and really, the Chief Digital Officer allows me to both think from a technology delivery focus on delivering great technology or delivery great content with technology but also from a business focus of looking at the customer. What  we really want from the second we serve them is how   can we use  data and data analytics to serve them better. For me, it's just a great role to have.

Mark Baker: Although you are quite early in your development of your road map for The Economist, can you tell me about your plans and experiences in creating digital road maps for your organisations?

Jora Gill: I'm actually developing a road map right now so I can actually talk about what we're doing right now. So what I'm seeing is at the heart of digital, if you put the technology aspect away, at the heart, it's really getting closer to your customer and the customer is the centre of your ecosystem. So with your customer in mind, how do you build a digital strategy? What is it your customer's looking for? What experience are they looking for? From our aspect, they're looking to read great content but they're looking to read great content on any device that they're on or any situation that they are. Be it travelling or they're stuck at home, they want to immerse in our content or they want to a quick snap of our content. So therefore, you ask 'How does our customer consume content?" and it's a multiple mobile devices. What is our strategy for mobile devices? On the other hand, how is our customer consuming other content on other products and do they want to integrate our experience they have with us with other products through their mobile devices, through their desktops and they probably do. So therefore, you need to be able to be part of their daily lives. The other aspect of it is 'What's happening in the disruptive world that we find ourselves in?' In digital building a five year plan or a strategy is going to be very difficult when you're constantly disrupted through new product sets. So therefore you say “Okay, we are going to be disrupted and let's accept disruption as the new norm. Let's build our products or platforms to accept that change is inevitable.” So instead of building just a product that we hope will be used for five years, let's build platforms that accept disruption as a constant but also allows us to leverage that disruption. So when we see some really good CRM product, can we easily swap our CRM with their CRM when we see really good responsive web front-end design ask how can we take advantage of responsive easily when we see the changing expectations of customers on what they want from content. So they might want bite-size content, they might want a large periodical of content and the bite-size might serve them well because they find themselves in a situation where they're travelling and they want to immerse themselves in a topic such as a visit to China. What do The Economist have to say about China and when I arrive and land in China, I want to show the people that I'm talking to and experience with, I've done some background so I just want that content right now. So how can we take our content to give them what they're looking for right now or if they're immersing themselves because they a deep reading experience on a weekend. How do we give them right content at the right moment? So customers are at the heart of what we do. This results in mapping our customer journey going “Okay, through the daily life, through the daily week, through the daily month of a customer, what do they do when they wake up from their morning, what do they do?” They want a quick snapshot of the morning At lunchtime, they've got an hour, they've got a sandwich, they want to read a bit more deeper. So why don't we take ourselves through the customer journey and see how they want to immerse themselves with content? This is where customer profiling plays a big part. We need to understand our customers through their actions and this is where data analytics plays a big part.
So build platforms and customer journeys then bring together is data. So data should really help us make our experimentation decisions on new products, on what the customer deems valuable through profiling the customer and understanding their habits. So a company...we may think we've just created the best product in the world. If the customer's not using it, our data will tell us the customer's not interested in this great product that we've just built, therefore what insights can we take from the customer experience of the product? Let's learn and put the lessons into the next iteration of the product. So let's become more agile in the way we actually deliver value for what we deem as a customer. Why it's difficult to build a digital road map is because there's a constant change happening and a constant expectation from our customers so we need to keep ripping out the rulebook every 6 months, every year and going “Okay, that was important six months ago, to the customer but right now, it's no longer valuable... they've topped up on of what they deemed as the most valuable” and our data proves it. Our data tells us that they're not coming back to us as often as they were on that...So let's use that data and to say “Do another experiment. We believe the customer's most important aspect of how they consume our digital content is X and let's put X out there, let's do some more testing on X and if we find actually, that is something of interest to our customer, let's persevere with it. If it's not, let's prove it (the data will tell us) and let's didn't work, fail and learn and move on.”

Mark Baker: Can you talk about more about the platform product dichotomy because that’s obviously a key part of being able to allow you to do long-term planning.

Jora Gill: Sure. So on the platform side, the heart of what we do is content and that content should be easily found by our front-end tools. So we need to build a content repository if you like, that's tagged cleverly. So when a customer's searching for something, it takes that tagging and builds algorithms around that tagging allows the customer to find easily, using taxonomies and ontologies, the content they're really looking for. On the other hand, a customer may say “Look, I just want to read the content.” So we need to assemble content very easily. So essentially, we need to build modular content repositories that allow us to take advantage of the immense content that we've had for many, many years. The Economist was established in 1843. We weren't quite tagging our content back in 1843 but we still have some fantastic content. So instead of thinking of The Economist as just a newspaper that you consume cover to cover or beginning of the app to the end , it's also pieces of content infographics, videos, audio the written word. If you start tagging this content, you start building products that are valuable to your customer and you're going “Okay, we never saw that.” We were going down the linear route of saying “A customer's going to read our great content, end-to-end” but now by tagging and building new content, we've actually seen opportunities for increased customers value so it's building up modular pieces on platform.

On the other hand, a customer looks above the line on what they see in be it the apps or the web site. They're also looking below the line that they want a great experience. So customer service should be great in the digital world, CRM should be great, marketing should be great and we're not marketing them products that they're not interested in and so we have this 360 view of below the line of what the customers wants and experiences above the line. So we want to take advantage of great CRM systems, great marketing systems but we don't necessarily want to build those. We want to be able to integrate those great systems into our architecture very easily and then when those systems aren't cutting-edge or aren't what we believe is the best agreed road map, we want to be able to remove them instantly and integrate new forms.

So the platforms I'm talking about are providing us competitive advantage by firstly building great content and delivering this great content to the customers to experience but secondly we also want to take the competitive advantage of best of breed systems in the CRM space, the marketing space, in the eCommerce space by being able to plug in those great tools into our digital ecosystem systems until we feel that they've lost their competitive energy and somebody else is doing much better and we swap in and out new systems into our digital platform. So it is lean enablement of our architecture where architecture stops being a journey where you have to land i.e. an architecture  can no longer be a as-is to a to-be exercise because with constant disruption we do not know what the to-be is. Therefore what we really want is an enabling and evolving architecture. We want an architecture that allows us to evolve and doesn't hamper us from creating that great experience or taking advantage of others who are creating great products that we can integrate with.

 . . . continued tomorrow . . . 

The full text of all the interviews will appear in the forthcoming Chief Digital Officer Handbook

[1] Elsevier B.V. (Dutch pronunciation: [ˈɛlzəvir]) is an academic publishing company which publishes medical and scientific literature. It is a part of the Reed Elsevier group. Leading products include journals such as The Lancet and Cell, books such as Gray's Anatomy, the ScienceDirect collection of electronic journals, the Trends and Current Opinion series of journals, and the online citation database Scopus. Elsevier publishes 250,000 articles a year in 2,200 journals. Its archives contain seven million publications. Total yearly downloads amount to 240 million. Elsevier reported a profit margin of 36% on revenues of US$3.2 billion.

[2] Standard & Poor's Financial Services LLC (S&P) is an American financial services company. It is a division of McGraw Hill Financial that publishes financial research and analysis on stocks and bonds. S&P is responsible for stock market indices the U.S.-based S&P 500, the Canadian S&P/TSX, and the Australian S&P/ASX 200. S&P is considered one of the Big Three credit-rating agencies.

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Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Why Black Friday Sales Drop Might Be a Sign of Digital Transformation

The National Retail Federation (NRF) reported that US retailers showed a reduction in "Black Friday" spending, with sales falling 11% from the same period last year ($50.9bn down from $57bn). In the same report US consumers spent on average $380.95 per person, down 6.4% from a year ago. On Monday reduced sales actually impacted Apple shares with a drop of 6.4% to $111.27 in the first 30 minutes of trading Monday.

So what's actually happened? Well, the figures are not all in, especially for the whole season, but what we might be seeing is a shift from a domination by physical retail outlets to online as part of the digital transformation of holiday season retail. As digital matures this is accompanied by a shift from surge shopping to an expectation that products will be available and delivered on demand and that online shoppers can wait later in the season . The idea that prospective shoppers might camp out over the Thanksgiving holiday in an effort to secure a place in front of the line and thus a better chance at getting desired items is falling back into history in much the same way that similar lines for luxuries behind the iron curtain has.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Using social feedback in predictive analytics.

Great conversation with a tech company today about how they should use user likes combined with other key analytic metrics to automatically pull out great content.

When to hire a Chief Digital Officer

There was a fun tweet today which went something like this

You should hire a Chief Digital Officer if:

  • CEO has a Blackberry
  • CMO buys TV/radio ads
  • CIO uses AOL email

It made me think of a whole lot of corollaries
You should hire a Chief Digital Officer if *anyone* at C-level or the board thinks:

  • Thinks the internet is a channel
  • Thinks the internet is not relevant
  • Thinks the internet is overhyped

And then there are these. You should hire a Chief Digital Officer if anyone at C-level or the board thinks:

  • Thinks digital transformation is overhyped 
  • Thinks digital transformation is not relevant

Those rapidly flowed to these . . . you should hire a Chief Digital Officer if anyone at C-level or the board thinks:

  • They've done digital transformation - the company HAS a web site already
  • Digital transformation doesn't work in their sector - they've tried something and it failed 
  • Thinks digital transformation is not relevant

And then there are these - that you should hire a Chief Digital Officer if any of the following apply :

  • You don't have or understand a portfolio approach to risk involved in digital 
  • CEO or board have not bought from their own site themselves
  • CEO has not spent time intensively looking at his own company's social media personally with someone not responsible for generating the content
  • Whoever is in charge of digital customer experience only uses one type of mobile (apple/android/windows/blackberry)
  • CEO has not bought from their own site on a tablet
  • CEO doesn't know what a platform is or why platform should take priority over product
  • CEO doesn't know what a minimal viable product is
  • Digital is put off until next year

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Transforming Science Digitally. Insights from University of Cambridge.

Really interesting insights into digital transformation in neuroscience today while visiting Cambridge University. Labs working on neurodegeneration and on developing strategies to delay or prevent the death of neurones in injured or degenerating brain, particularly in Huntington's disease (HD). I saw thick wodges of written forms and heard that the big digital transformation was going to be writing behavior down on a tablet device instead. Even in science there is a tendency to wait long periods for quite small incremental improvements, regarding them as not being core.

Talked to scientists about work that I'm doing with University of Zurich to automate the whole lot so machines do the work instead of people. Interesting uses of R Language too (GNU S).

I'm thinking no wonder scientists were so freaked out when I automated everything whole reams of experimentation and analysis at the Cancer Labs in Oxford and later at Johnson & Johnson.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Choosing a CDO - how transferable are digital transformation skills?

Good debate at La Fosse today - how transferable are digital transformation skills - is specific domain expertise essential - or does highly focused domain expertise without breadth in the fundamentals just reproduce past systems. Also interesting to consider does extended experience of past internet technology cycles - being engaged in the 1998, 2000, 2004 and 2007 cycles give insights or are past technology cycles irrelevant to current expectations and transformations?

Reinterpretation of Gartner's Hype Cycle due to experience informing selection and implementation. From Digital Transformation ISBN-13: 978-1500448486 

Is this a cycle that you can learn from or is each one different? The conclusion affects whether there is value in staff with long term Internet experience or whether these is more value in being advised by younger staff. This is actually something that is discussed in detail in Digital Transformation ISBN-13: 978-1500448486 and it looks as though Zuckerberg's insight just doesn't hold up to the evidence.

And if you think you need a big team to design something really complex . . think again . .

In part this is a shameless plug of the new book on the English Electric Lightning by my facebook chum (and a sort of childhood hero) Ian Black - the last pilot to qualify on the Lightning.

The specification for the Lightning was laid down in 1947 when the spitfire was still used by the RAF but was Supersonic without afterburners and one intercepted a U2 flying at 88,000 feet

For me the really interesting thing about the Lightning is that, 60 years after its inception, while its basic specs still exceed most supersonic modern aircraft it was designed by an incredibly lean team (totalling 27 people) and was a legendary design by those in the know for it's prowess and flawlessness.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Lead on MacDuff!

So no new MacBook Air model until 2015. It looks like Taiwan-based ODM Quanta Computer started production of 12-inch MacBook Air in small volumes in October and will gradually increase output beginning November but 12-inch MacBook Air isn't expected to hit the store shelves in 2014.

Change in the MacBook Air spec to make it thinner means that It is loosing standard USB ports. The new USB Type-C type connector might be a big problem for someone like me who uses a huge array of hardware, but shouldn't be a problem for normal users I guess. Main annoucements don't seem to cover the essentials yet - to me the form of the 11 inch does the job - upgrades to resolution, keyboard and thickness are not a big deal - but what the machine lacks is decent RAM (say 16GB), a terabyte SSD and ability to support more than one display. The Intel Core i5 Broadwell processors seems a bit weak - I hope there is still going to be an i7. And it still needs to fit in a rucksac pocket or Barbour poacher's pocket too - the form factor is just about right. And, of course, I'll still need bootcamp too - would be good to triple boot with Linux as well. 2015 seems a bit long to wait though that's about half a Moore generation away and the specs I've outlined will seem feeble by then!

The Tesla P85D and the A3 E-Tron

Just seen the details for the Tesla P85D to be launched in December with all-wheel drive and 3.2 second 0 to 60 mph. It's also claimed to be more efficient than the current Model S.  Range will be a claimed 275 miles on a charge. Answering recent criticism the car will offer active safety features like adaptive cruise control and the ability to read speed limit signs, stop itself if a crash is imminent, stay in its lane, and even park itself in a street spot or in your garage. It doesn't yet have the car's charger automatically plug in. Coming up soon there will also be radar that can see through fog and snow; a camera with image recognition capability to spot traffic signs and lights, as well as pedestrians; 360-degree ultrasonic sonar; and a system that combines all the data those produce with navigation, GPS, and real-time traffic systems.

So we are told that the net result will be a car that can be put on "autopilot," if not fully autonomous mode although it's not clear if that's the P85D or some putative future model. Tesla isn't ready to make the jump quite yet, Musk said, since the safety system can't be fully relied on, and regulations to handle self-driving cars have to be figured out. But, Musk said, if you fall asleep while driving, the car should be able to get you home safely. If you try to steer into danger, the wheel will resist. Owners will also be able to summon the car to pick them up autonomously, as long as they're on private property, where DOT and other regulations don't apply. "The car can do almost anything," he said.

Looking at my own use cases i'm still waiting hopefully for the cute little A3 Sportback e-tron to be released in the UK - and I guess the reason why is that I quite fancy combining it with solar panels on the roof of my house and really enjoying a "self contained" carbon neutral (well except for the manufacture) transport system.

To me the E-Tron seems to be much more a relevant advance than the original Prius which was still dependent on fossil fuels and at 40 mpg that many users reported used more gas than a lot of standard cars. What is more it's probably less likely to let you down miserably than the Tesla in real life.

So let's say I can get the car charged quickly at home at least then:
Use case 1 - I want to drive to the nearest high speed train station from my home to get to London (although I could use the same trip to get to Paris on the EuroStar). Round trip 30 miles (50km) no long term charger at parking bay. Both A3 and Tesla can both do this on a single charge. Both therefore highly acceptable.

Use case 2 - I want to drive to the nearest large shopping mall from my home. Round trip 30 miles (50km) with possible long term charger at parking bay. Both A3 and Tesla can both do this on a single charge. Both therefore highly acceptable.

Use case 3 - I want to drive from home to Glasgow, or Cornwall or Paris - all regular trips. The A3 will switch to petrol (ICE) about 35 miles into the journey and complete without problems. A Tesla P60 will run out part way at 230 miles (370 km) unless I can find a charger that isn't boxed in by other cars parking which from my own observations so far is problematic. Even if the best possible facilities - a Tesla Super Charger, are actually on route (which is unlikely) its going to add an hour and a half to a six hour journey. With ordinary charging we are making an evening's drive into one that needs an overnight stop which means Cornwall or Paris are no longer weekend destinations.

Use case 4 - I want to drive from home to Chamonix or Provence - again not irregular  trips and all normally a long day's drive. Again the A3 will switch to petrol (ICE) about 35 miles into the journey and complete without problems. with the Tesla P60 we are extending things to a  three day journey each way so if I'm just down for the week things are not so good.

That's why we hear that Tesla recharging problems are not uncommon at present.

So back to the Audi A3. We are on to the next generation now and A3 turbo petrol engine driving in conjunction with an electric motor claims to deliver 35g/km CO2 emissions, 188 mpg both pretty much dependent on what cycle you test them on and a range of up to 600 miles which could be very useful. 0-62 mph in 7.6 seconds seems about right. On battery power alone, the A3 e-tron can cover 31 miles without the need for the petrol engine - which just about works for me for trips to town (well it's probably marginal) and the claim is that it can be fast charged to full power from near flat in 40 minutes - if you can find a charge that someone with a normal car hasn't just parked in front of without thinking. I'm still very impressed with what Tesla have achieved - but for now the infrastructure, high battery prices and social habits of treating the charge stations as free parking make an ICE a necessary addition.

Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Alas for !

Disappointing that I couldn't get to work for me. Tried with my AMEX card but no luck. Talked to Ed Buchholz, Founder and CEO of ExpenseBot - very helpful but still no luck. Drat back to photoing my receipts with Evernote!

Purgatory, the pope and holy followers.

@Sree Sreenivasan Chief Digital Officer of the Metropolitan Museum of Art just told me that the Vatican offers 'time off purgatory' to followers of Pope Francis tweets. Considering that some peoples regard social media as a type of purgatory anyway it seems to make sense.

Really good interview with Sree - and good stories about early days of the internet and early digital - I must think about getting corresponding ones from the British Museum and the Louvre.

How many tweets on a floppy disk?

I hear someone say today that "a floppy could hold about 12 tweets with full metadata but held Zork or Wordstar. " - well - Elizabeth Dwoskin tells us that "In a Single Tweet, as Many Pieces of Metadata as There Are Characters" so a tweet typically has about 300 bytes of data max. A 3.5 inch floppy has 1.44 megabytes so that's more like 5000 tweets. Even the old 8-inch disk could store about a megabyte so that's several thousand tweets.

Chief Digital Officer Handbook

I've been interviewing leading Chief Digital Officers for the last few weeks for the forthcoming Chief Digital Officer Handbook. Very exciting contributions from Ogilvy & Mather, Time Out, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), M&C Saatchi Group and more to come from Telegraph Media Group, The Economist, UK Ministry of Justice.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

In a world being eaten alive by software,

What you don't want to do is abandon technical planning and design!

I saw this post on twitter from ReadWrite ‏@RWW "In a world being eaten alive by software, you need to hire more developers, and then get the heck out of their way." It linked to this article

 Seems to me like trying to build a great construction project by hiring a load of bricklayers and then leaving them to see what they come up with. Definitely coddle your developers and give developers the space they need to succeed - but that doesn't mean that you don't need creative technical leadership There is more to transformation than lines of code!

Windows 10 preview ISO - Here we go now!

Just downloaded Windows 10 preview ISO - wish me luck! Bet it won't live happily with Lubuntu 14.04 (Trusty Tahr) though. Might have to run it in a VM!

Digital Transformation

If you've bought a copy of "Digital Transformation" on Amazon and there looks as though there is something awry with the content please get in touch and I'll make sure that you get a new copy immediately. There was a problem in production for a short while and some copies have problems before it was spotted! Contact me and I'll make sure that it is sorted out. You can use the mail button on my page at