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