New Year Reflections and Thank you’s

As we enter a new year and a new decade, I’ve started to reflect and think about the opportunities and challenges ahead and more importantly who will be collaborators on that journey.

This year promises and is pretty much certain to be “very” interesting one, my employer will be making cuts and that will mean people will lose their jobs – I am not immune from that process – so it inevitably makes you think about what might happen and how one would deal or adapt to those situations should they arise.

This time last year the team I work in at the council had to reduce by 2 FTE’s which was not a nice thing and that experience will be much more common over the coming months, not just in my council but across the whole sector. A lot of good people will be leaving the sector and I hope and wish that they continue to be collaborators with the public sector as it will need all the help it can get to get through the next 3-4 years.

The biggest thing last years process did for me was to proactively look at alternative employment opportunities, whether full or part time and luckily last July I was offered a part time position with Cosmic (a ICT Social Enterprise) and that has made such a huge difference to my personal motivation and personal development – the cultural differences are huge and more importantly refreshing.

Whilst this year will be challenging and in some cases pretty horrid, it will also be one of the most interesting and I’m really looking forward to working with so many amazing people who are passionate about making a difference, not just locally but as far as their influence can reach.

I hope to meet more twitter folk face to face as you are all even more interesting in person and it is great to share more than 140 characters with people.

I’d like to highlight a few people who I know will play a huge part in my life or will influence me one way or the other during the next 12-18 months.

Many more of you will also play a huge part and I look forward to working and collaborating with you all during 2011.

Happy New Year to you all. 🙂


GartnerSym 20:20 Vision

My second session on Wednesday was more about the future, which is the kind of session i like as it gets my brain thinking and buzzing around with ideas and opportunities. The Session was called 20:20 vision  and the Gartner Analyst was Steve Prentice.

The format of this session was to look at where we are how we got here and then instead of making forecasts or predictions – Steve was going to suggest some projections.

These notes bounce around a bit as it wasn’t a standard session it was intended to stimulate thought and suggest a potential future.

The life cycle of a revolution

In the 1920s Russian economist Nikolai Kondratiev described 1920s, the regular “S-shaped” cycles of technological innovation (each lasting 50 to 60 years) that drive the world economy – In 2003 Carlota Perez in 2004 produced “Technological Revolutions and Financial Capital” and built upon Kondratiev’s model and introduced 4 stages:

  1. eruption
  2. frenzy
    (1 & 2 are supply side innovation)
  3. synergy
  4. maturity
    (3 & 4 are demand side innovation)

Some key dates of our current revolution:

  • 15th November 1971 – Intel launches 4004 microprocessor
  • 12th August 1981 – IBM introduce the 5150 the IBM PC
  • 6 August 1991 – Web made available to the public
  • 10th January 2001  – wikipedia is created
  • August 2003 – Myspace goes live
  • 4 February 2004  – Facebook goes live
  • August 2004 – Google goes live with expanded offering
  • 23 April 2005 – you tube goes live
  • 21 March 2006 – twitter goes live

Projection – We won’t see any new technologies over the next 15 years – but we will see an increase in applications built upon existing technology that enable people to consume information and engage with stuff better and more efficiently

More stats

  • global ip traffic is doubling every 2 years
  • mobile traffic is doubling every year (games consoles, digital photo frames, tv’s fridges etc)
  • currently 60 billion smart devices

The internet is big and getting bigger – It is very hard to explain to people how big the web is – a trillion web pages – 250 million websites

Projection – It will take 8 years to get the remaining population of the world connected to the internet.  This is SO SIGNIFICANT you need to pause and consider your business model in this new context?

Device and Data Proliferation will be significant

15 petabytes of information every day – This is huge, in fact i can’t really imagine what all this data looks like, however some common references say that we produce more information in a day 1500 time greater than the contents of the library of congress which has 32 million books on 650 miles of bookshelves. again we produce more than that every day?

Just to give some context Steve said:

A book is a printed kindle  –  A library is a like a physical media centre

This did put a smile on my face, but also made me think that one day i’m sure we will actually have to explain stuff in this way!!

To get a sense of where we are going we need to understand the drivers:

Simply put we are naturally social creatures:

  • 74% of people visit social networking site and remain on their for an average of 6 hours a month
  • 50% of facebook users logon everyday
  • 22% of online time is in social networks
  • 1 billion users across all social media

Practically no one makes a purchase decision without referencing either google or social networks very pervasive

We can now, as individuals build our own infrastructure online and pretty much for free.

The younger minded people of today (notice i write “minded”) often say “why do i need to know something if i can just ask google”  – however people have a naive assumption that what appears in google is the “truth”. Search results are also available in “klingon”!!

Entertainment and Recreation
Gaming is bigger than the movie industry
Average online gamers are 34 years old and core gamers play 48 hours per week?
Social gaming – farmville has more than 60 million active users – 100 million dollar business

What is interesting about this is almost at the same time i was in this session Gartner analyst Andrea DiMaio tweeted the following:!/AndreaDiMaio/status/2304046811578370

It is already starting to show in people’s thinking about Government and I’ve already posted some thoughts on gaming and government in my World of Govcraft posts:


  • SMS 6.3 billion messages a day
  • 150 million mobile facebook users
  • more than 100% penetration in some countries
  • “to text” is now a verb
  • mobile data traffic is rising
  • for the first time in september 2010 mobile data traffic exceeded mobile voice traffic

online transactions are growing
social gaming is a huge industry

is access to the web a basic human right and should it be free?

Net neutrality (wikipedia definition)
the power to control what a user can do on the internet

Interestingly Hollywood and China had shared agendas about controlling the web?

Looking forward – the dark side
The web is full of opinion, not facts
Can you distinguish the fact from fiction (if users are influenced by peers, maybe this will be an important issue to consider)
Do a search of your “company name” and the word “I hate” and see the results?

Looking forward- context and cloud

Taking advantage of location and time
Cloud is inevitable but not without risks

Resistance is futile – you WILL be assimilated, i’ve heard this before, but considering this was a future session, it really will be the future.

Enterprises are losing control – the outside is coming in – the walls are tumbling – consumers have choices and they are bringing them with them…wherever they go.


  • what new institutions will arise – what does a company look like?
  • what new business models will emerge
  • working practices – what does a career look like? portfolio working
  • social integration or tribalism
  • social innovation or technology innovation – how can we manage this effectively
  • does technology free us or enslave us –  we need downtime and we need to disconnect to get balance  “off the web is off life”
  • what is the role of government?
  • will the internet break apart and become the splinternet

Societal change despite constraints
issues – people, resources, geography
by 2025

  • 2.7 billion will face water shortages
  • 60% live in urban areas
  • 24% is over 65

Question: how will tech best serve a global population that is growing, aging and urbanised to levels never seen before?

People need to understand anthropology, social sciences, behavioural psychology to address the societal changes.

The session ended on a slide which spoke about TRUST,  a number of questions relating to this and how we should be considering these from a personal and business perspective. We all need to think about this question in a future which will clearly be very VERY different to what we see today.

GartnerSym – Social CRM The Next Generation of Customer Innovation

My first session on Wednesday was about Social Customer Relationship Management (CRM), which I was looking forward to and it didn’t let me down, it was very interesting and highlighted a set of case studies where organisations have successfully used social media for customer relationships and where some had clearly failed to understand what was really going on with social media.

The Gartner analyst leading the session was Jim Davies who started by stating that very few organisations are executing Social CRM against a clearly thought-out social strategy that complements their overarching CRM strategy.

There is much confusion and uncertainty around the impact and scope for nurturing customer relationships through social channels, Jim highlighted 4 different approaches organisations take with regard to Social CRM:

  • Kamikaze – jumps in without a care or thought
    Jim highlighted the Nestle facebook example as an example of “fail”
  • Strategic – Focuses on business opportunities
  • Toe dipper – most people do this
    Curious and doesn’t want to miss out
  • In denial
    Doesn’t believe it will impact on them
The challenge for organisations who are in denial is that the next generation of talent will expect organisations to be socially aware.
What is social CRM, the following represents my view and interpretation on the areas that Jim outlined:

1) Internal –  “your people, your place”
Essentially this area is about looking at the internal opportunities that are there for you. This is an area which I personally feel will deliver great benefits not just around the learning but in supporting a wide range of internal business issues.

It is important to remember that unless your organisation has articulated business issues you will struggle to get buy in or support.
Some potential business issues you might hear which you could link to these tools are as follows: NB this list is an example and is not comprehensive. It also doesn’t imply any particular approach.

– people finder or skills finder (internal staff directory)
– project spaces and business collaboration
– real-time or near real-time internal communications (yes email is an option but that isn’t always collaborative)
– learning communities and peer support groups

2) External – “your people, other people, your place”

The second area that Gartner referred to was external but a platform that was managed by the organisation. An example of this would be where you host a community function for people to discuss and or support each other like a helpdesk community support function. In local government terms this is a challenge as we need to be careful about trying to create communities that we intend to be organic. So the difference here is that we are clear and open about what we would expect such a community to do or what broad outcomes we would expect.
Again some potential business issues you might here to link to would be as follows:

–  service improvement function
– service user support community
– shared communities of practice
– project spaces and collaboration with partners and other organisations

3) Public – “your people, other people, their place”

This aspect is the area that to be honest most people focus on, it includes facebook environments, twitter, youtube etc. This is where stuff (for most social media people) get interesting. However this is also where most fear resides and organisations are low in awareness around the possibilities, case studies, return on investment figures. BUT this is where the MOST VALUE will be gained to all.

Again some possible business issues (not comprehensive) you might come across which could be linked into these solutions or approaches – however i stress and i say this all the time now. Don’t focus on a single technology, do your homework, work out what will actually deliver the value in any given circumstance.

– connecting and engaging with communities
– civic debate and discussion
– trend spotting, listening to the social web community or as Gartner refer to it “the collective” can provide insights into what might be the next big opportunity or next big issue developing.
– people to people connections
– building relationships

Jim outlined a set of definitions which is useful when thinking about “Social”:
Social systems — describe the context for the way all of us work. They emerge from the people, processes, tools, organisation, relationships, skills and information associated with a group of individuals. 

Social computing — describes an approach to IT whereby individuals tailor information-based collaborative technologies to support the way they work.

Social networking — describes the use of online services such as Facebook to share information and interact with others. It is a subset of social computing.

Social CRM – a business strategy that mutually benefits cloud based communities and the business by fostering engagement while generating opportunities for sales, marketing and customer service

One of the key aspects organisations and in particular CIO’s need to recognise is that you need to shift away from Controlling Relationships to Guiding Relationships.
I started to think at this point about all this shifting to “social” If organisations and enterprises invest, adopt and completely embrace social media then do they by definition become Social Enterprises?
One of the top reasons organisations have invested in Social Media is to improve Customer relations, So Jim reminded people of the Eight building blocks for CRM:
1 Vision
2 Strategy
3 Customer experience
4 Organisational collaboration
5 Processes
6 Information
7 Technology
8 Metrics
For me the key is to Socialise these aspects in order to truly embrace and adopt social CRM. This means the whole organisation.
Also organisations will need to understand the links between Social CRM and Knowledge Management. How do we capture community knowledge into organisational knowledge bases and if we take this further – When does social knowledge replace corporate knowledge?
Kim completed the session by looking at the Ultimate sales (engagement) cycle < I’ve added in engagement as i see this as a model for Local Government as well and the sales bit is merely conducting an online transaction.
  • Mobile
  • Presence
  • Social
  • Sales (engagement)

I need a bit more head space to explain this in a local government context so I’ll just leave the four headings there as placeholders.

Ted Talks – Teaching design for change: Emily Pilloton

As if being at Gartner Symposium wasn’t enough for me this week, i’ve been checking out some Ted Talks this morning.

This particular talk is about Designer Emily Pilloton who moved to rural Bertie County, in North Carolina, to engage in a bold experiment of design-led community transformation. She’s teaching a design-build class called Studio H that engages high schoolers’ minds and bodies while bringing smart design and new opportunities to the poorest county in the state.

So for me, this made me think about 2 things

  1. Social Enterprise’s as a way to address local social, economic and environmental issues
  2. Big Society isn’t about the “Big Stuff”, it’s about doing little stuff in your community and making a real difference – In order to do good, you must first do something.

The Big Society isn’t really for everyone

It’s true the Government does understand the principles of social media and the principles of reuse as Big Society is relaunched yesterday (was the the 3rd time, i personally lost interest and count during the election).

Anyway yesterday the twitterverse was awash with a variety of views on what is and what isn’t Big Society and how risky it could be and whether capacity exists in communities to do what essentially paid employees do now – but for free. Also without any money how will this actually happen, which services, how it will turn government on its head and transform society and bring us all together like one happy family…it really was a fascinating discussion you can check it all out here.

I have thought about this quite a bit since i first heard about Big Society, well actually since i started thinking about digital participation and engagement (to be honest i can’t even remember when now, but it was definitely before yesterday!!) and have wondered how inclusive it really is and who actually will be part of this Big Society.

It is worth saying that i think the concept of the Big Society is a good one, it is afterall already happening in many parts of the country right now. It will be a difficult challenge, but i fear unless we really appreciate the impacts, effort and commitment required we will end up creating poor quality replacements that could put people’s lives at risk. We need to be clear about the risks and mitigate and manage these.

People do this all of the time, but these people are few and far between, the following comments are generally concerned with a wider adoption by society of this and my at time somewhat cynical view. BUT i am trying to be optimistic about this, after all it will happen – we need to shape how good is actually is.

I did like reading Shane McCracken’s post about how he saw the Big Society developing and emerging (even though it isn’t a new idea – just new branding – Shane points to an asset transfer scheme which is almost identical)

One thing that did occur to me though after reading Shane’s post and it joined the dots in my head about this also is that the Big Society isn’t really for everyone.

The Big Society will *really* test people and communities and their tolerances around the quality and variety of services available to them. As Shane points out in his post the Big Society is already here and is well established across communities up and down the country – what the government wants to more of it so that the impact of cutting or stopping services is reduced by the willingness of active and committed people.

I spot Flaw number 1 – Active and Committed people….Hmmm, well when i look around my community now i do see active and committed people, some are only temporarily active and are based on issues but on the whole there is a good few people – notice the use of *few*.

I was also thinking about what type of services people – the active and committed kind – might be tempted to run – well this to me seems like and endless possibility really as there are already groups that exist that manage quite complex services and are accountable (this is a key aspect which we must not lose sight of) an example being School Governors. They really do an excellent job and it isn’t something you would do because you felt like it, you would need to be passionate about the school and the education of the children in it. You would be a committed and active person. This is why not everybody becomes a school governor nor actually wants to – for some it just sounds like *a bit too much like hard work* and for what return? Flaw number 2 – Motivation.

However society isn’t made up of active and committed people – i very much see these people like i see the high value contributors in social media spaces. They generate most of the content and develop the conversations for others to engage in and consume – The sad truth is that the majority of society are in fact *lurkers* and they are happy to consume and participate in a low-cost way – providing it doesn’t take up too much time.  Here comes Flaw Number 3 – *Time* – Now i agree with Shane in that those people who are passionate will find the time, but i suspect that these people are *already busy* and more than likely using all of their available *participation bandwidth* supporting services which the government has already decided not to support or simply wouldn’t exist without their input.

One of the  biggest challenges to Big Society for me is not identifying which services a community might decide is too important to lose but how the community itself – the people in the communities who are already active and committed – can tap into and access the people on the edges, the people with *participation bandwidth* and provide the sustainable connections to maintain the service.

In my post the World of GovCraft it refers to  “gamers” and the super powers they have developed and how these super powers can help us solve the worlds problems.

The 4 super powers that gamers have are:

Urgent Optimism – extreme self motivation – a desire to act immediately to tackle an obstacle combined with the belief that we have a reasonable hope of success.
Social Fabric – We like people better when we play games with people – it requires trust that people will play by the same rules, value the same goal – this enables us to create stronger social relationships as a result
Blissful productivity – an average World of Warcraft gamer plays 22 hours a week: We are optimised as humans to work hard and if we could channel that productivity into solving real world problems what could we achieve?
Epic meaning – attached to an awe-inspiring mission.

All this creates Super Empowered Hopeful Individuals – People who are individually capable of changing the world – but currently only online /virtual worlds

There are clearly lessons in there about how we can all tackle the issues facing us and how those active and committed people can support a new kind of active citizen, one who has being doing epic problem solving and giving huge amounts of time willingly for the sake of a wider community.

Perhaps the challenge is about defining community and associating stuff to it for people so they see value in helping to keep it alive.

I think i’ll need to blog again on this at some point as there is of course the models by which communities and groups can organise themselves to manage and provide services, which will provide better opportunities to bring communities together – Social Enterprise anyone!!