Friday, 21 December 2007

what's next in technology, does Redherring have the answers?

As 2007 comes to a close and the markets are debating whether a global recession is really just around the corner, it's always refreshing to look at the future and what's going to be the next innovation in this exciting technology world of ours. Recession or no recession - new technologies never stop being developed or launched.

Red Herring has just announced its top 100 Global Award Winners at the beginning of December in the US. It's always worth taking a look in terms of which companies you have already spotted doing great things and who are the start-ups making an impact. There are definitely some nice surprises in there and some really cool looking companies.

The markets are perhaps not surprising and range from mobile and wireless (such as Actimagine, Clairmail and Truphone), security (Lifelock and IPLocks) through to TV, Film and video companies (Bablegum, Pandora TV and Joost).

At an EMEA level, another list that I always like to take a look at is the Deloitte Technology Fast 500 EMEA winners.

What's always interesting is to see which companies actually last the course after this initial recognition and glory. Good luck to them all.


SCG

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Calm Down Doris

Shouting at the radio news is one of my many bad habits. Getting into a spluttering rage against a Radio 4 arts programme is a new development of my affliction. The cause of this deterioration in my evening mental state was Doris Lessing and her comments on how the Internet is destroying reading. First voiced in her interview with the Observer and repeated in her Nobel acceptance speech, the comments were rolled out again with little criticism. Perhaps the interviewer rolled over because of her Nobel Laureate status. Nonetheless this conclusion is absolute bunkum and a case of sloppy not sharp thinking. The Internet and reading are not mutually exclusive. Did Amazon build its business case on how Internet shopping would kill off the reading of books? Neither is the Internet intrinsically inane. Certainly there's lots of rubbish on online but is the Internet any more inane than a Barbara Cartland novel, any page of Mein Kampf or even a little bit of Peter Rabbit? So a little more balance please Doris before you wobble off your high perch

Probably what Lessing means is we aren't reading enough of what she regards as good books or perhaps more accurately her books. This actually is a pre-Internet argument with past book killers comic books or television or penny dreadfuls or Laurel and Hardy movies or cave paintings or whatever competing visual media loved by the masses got superior intellectuals in a froth.

Ironically enough for someone who professes loathing of the medium, there's byte loads of online coverage. And, to be perfectly honest, my reluctance to read one of her allegedly depressing scifi novels is ever so slightly reduced by curiousity to see if what she writes is as inane as the Internet.

Friday, 7 December 2007

Businessweek is asking if recession time is here again

Businessweek is the publication I find most useful for telling me about stuff I need to know. This ranges from the weekly back page column written by the management king Jack Welch (and his wife Suzy), who invariably have wise words of management wisdom, through to profiles and incisive interviews with the IT giants such as Microsoft, Oracle, Sun and the like, through to the very exciting gizmos and gadgets from the latest hot sexy Silicon Valley start-ups.

Which is why when Businessweek starts talking about a recession, I take it seriously.

Well, it makes sense too. I have been in this game long enough to know that each recession usually starts at the end of one decade and runs into the next. So if it’s true, we are just starting this one a bit earlier than normal. My business partner (who has a degree in economics so is the expert...!) argues that it’s not so simple, however, history for me suggests otherwise.

So if a recession is really on its way slightly sooner than usual, then my view is that it might be less painful than the boom and bust of 99-2002 because the IT and telecoms industry tightened its belt so tight during the last downturn that I don’t think it had chance to really loosen it yet.

My other source is Radio 5 Live, who predicted the last recession before anyone else and is very busy doing the same thing again. As we all know, we can talk ourselves into downturns.

So watch out, tighten your belts accordingly, it could be upon us sooner than we think.

Sue G

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

New Zealand Tech Blog gears up for CeBIT 2008

We're working for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise again on how they promote their ICT companies at next year's CeBIT. To provide another channel of information the NZTE team are experimenting with a blog to capture what's happening in New Zealand ICT and their plans for the March 2008 event

Friday, 23 November 2007

Corporate citizenship is the way forward according to US survey
The recent US PR Week survey highlighted interesting trends with regards to corporate citizenship and the environment.

Refreshingly corporate citizenship and environmental issues are becoming increasingly important for bosses and employees alike.

One company interviewed ensures that all their products are eco-friendly and all their new buildings have an ‘eco structure’. The company also supports volunteerism by its employees and donates money for the hours employees donate to charitable efforts.

The survey also highlighted that new recruits just coming out of school have been raised to be socially aware. So for them joining companies that are looking after the environment is very important. In the US, the survey revealed that the fastest growing sector is the non profit sector because people want to do work that has a social impact….for this new generation a socially beneficial role is amongst the most important criteria for their long-term careers.

Good corporate citizenship and looking after the environment are fast becoming at the top of most peoples’ agenda, both at home and in the workplace. I suspect we are just at the start of something that will change our lifestyles forever.


SG

Monday, 19 November 2007

US CEO Survey...social media doesn't play a role!

Last week’s US PR Week annual survey of CEOs produced in conjunction with global PR giant Burson Marstellar, reveals some interesting or should I say disappointing facts about todays CEOs running some of the world’s most successful organisations.

It seems that these more ‘traditional’ CEOs aren’t quite there yet when it comes to social media and embracing our new online world. Whilst they cite their own ‘accessibility’ to customers and employees as being crucial for good communication, they don’t consider social media as being a useful tool in achieving this. Instead they’d rather consume many hours on planes, airports and hotel rooms (adding to our environmental problem) and zooming from one office location to the next (when they could be doing podcasts, webinars or even communicating via Facebook and YouTube). The research simply brushes over the new social media tools (and in fact blogging comes bottom of their list).

“We are still in the analogue world when it comes to communication”!!!!!What...did I really read that correctly?

Instead high on the list for influential PR is the non-controversial stuff like speaking opportunities at community events and trade shows, traditional sponsorship and networking events. The CEOs considered these to be the most important PR tools.

Thankfully not all companies are so traditional when it comes to communication. Serena Software has just announced to its staff that Friday is a Facebook day, when all staff downtools and collaborate on Facebook (BusinessWeek) with the objective that it builds teamwork and camaraderie amongst the teams. Now, I’m not suggesting we all do that, but what a refreshing approach to internal comms.

It will be interesting to see how CEOs views change in the next three to five years as social media comes more into the mainstream.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Next stop….Rehab!

“We only have 300 test tubes, do you think that will be enough shots on the door?”

This was the question my colleague was asking me this time two weeks ago, as we prepared for the infamous GBC and Chocolate Communications media party. To be honest I was unsure, we had an unprecedented amount of media RSVP this year, ranging from influential UK bloggers to journalists who had once upon a time received all press releases in the post.

The tongue in cheek ‘Break Free from Rehab’ theme had already resulted in a real buzz about the party and we didn’t want to disappoint. In retrospect we had nothing to worry about, even though we had almost 200 journalists in attendance we were well prepared.

The venue was perfect; a new place in Soho, London called Club 49. The staff were also fantastic, quickly creating an assortment of tasty shots for consumption by the attendees who didn’t have an early start the next day (or had simply forgot). The role of these shots in the decision to have a break dancing competition at midnight is also still up for debate.

The only complaint of the night – that the next party isn’t until the new year. But at least some comfort can be taken from the fact they can still check out the pics on this Flikr site.





Thursday, 8 November 2007

Hello?....I'm on a plane right now

So... using a mobile on board a flight is becoming a reality, according to not only Ofcom but Ryanair who were pleased to announce the new service to passengers on their entire fleet from 2008. While some airlines seem to be excited about this, I have so far not come across anyone who thinks this will do anything in the way of improving their in-flight experience. In fact, I recently saw that The Daily Telegraph started a petition to keep airlines mobile free citing passenger sanity and security reasons and so far 5,332 readers have signed up.

Having travelled by plane only yesterday and experienced voicemails, screeching ringtones and reminders beeping through the cabin seconds after touch down, the potential horror of allowing mobiles on planes hit me. It's hard enough to sleep on any flight or even relax with a good book. Imagine trying to sleep with the sound of your fellow passenger making a call explaining what he's just had for lunch, where he is on the world map, what films he'll be watching.. the list is endless and we know these types of conversations too well from train and bus journeys.... Now imagine a Boeing 747 with 490 mobile phones on board. While I'm all for technology, in this case I really do enjoy having a mobile free in-flight experience.

Tuesday, 30 October 2007

Consolidating IT Security industry

Gosh another IT security specialist is gobbled up. Intended consequences are that an IT security vendor becomes an even bigger one stop shop covering all possible defences against an ever widening and proliferating range of threats. Unintended consequences are that some nicely stitched together OEM deals to plug together - for example - separate vendors' anti-spam and anti-spyware products into one integrated offering look like they'll be torn apart as new owners build their expanded security portfolios

Thursday, 25 October 2007

Last Ring Tones of Phone Box Recorded Online

A sneaky look at my neighbour's plans for a conservatory opened my eyes to how much more information UK councils are putting online. Full PDFs of planning applications are now available online. Only drawback is web site performance which can be pitifully slow and crashed my laptop twice - but anything is better than actually visiting a council office.

Having found my neighbours plans (perfectly sound by the way) I noticed that many of the other planning notices are for the removal of the BT telephone boxes. Seems phone boxes are being converted into illuminated signs. So, looks like the mobile is finally killing off a British street corner icon. Finland has already declared the public payphone extinct. And now the last rites of the UK payphone are being recorded online. Could the pillar box be far behind ....?

Thursday, 4 October 2007

High Tech May Avoid US Economic Blues

I just had the pleasure of returning from my reconnaissance mission in San Francisco. It’s a city known for its tech haven and occasional earthquake, but I would prefer to avoid thinking about earthquakes given I’ll be heading out there to open up shop for GBC this month.

Even with talk of the sub-prime mortgage crisis echoing in the background, the tech market seems to be determined to steam ahead. It was good to hear so many felt that the heady days of ‘99 are back. No one is whispering about working for an Internet start-up and are proud to admit they are apart of the Web 2.0 bonanza.

Nonetheless, everyone was much more open about admitting to the mistakes made in Web 1.0 and ensuring they learn from them.

Upon boarding the plane back to the UK, I was left with the distinct impression that while everyone is open to the possibility of another tech crash there's still a lot of money seeking home and adding fuel to the fire…which certainly bodes well for a tech PR agency eager to take part in the action.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

good news for recruitment

Code of practice for headhunters

What great news, PR Week 28th September 07, a code of practice has been launched to stop that ridiculous practice of recruitment agencies poaching staff they have only recently placed with an employer.

It's been rife in the PR industry for many years now. Every two years, a PR agency knows that the recruitment agency will be back in touch with the person they placed, encouraging them back out again …so just as the individual was starting to make a real impact on the business and more importantly on client work…invariably the recruitment agency will be encouraging them out again and they get fees twice over for doing virtually nothing other than making a phone call.

However, just because there is a new code of practice…I suspect (judging from the reaction of the recruitment agents) that nothing much will change. The challenge now will be to make sure it is taken seriously and actually implemented across the industry..until such time as they find a way of doing that, we are just paying lip service to the problem. And of course, ultimately, the problem remains the same..as we all know good PR people are few and far between.

SCG

Wednesday, 26 September 2007

New Public Affairs Blog Goes Live

Our public affairs team has launched their first blog inspired by the Labour Party conference. So expect some intial tales of life at the politico coalface, a quick review of what fringes tickled their political fancies and much more besides

Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Web 2.0 Killed the Porn Star?

Who would have ever thought the porn industry would be under threat today? Having survived religious outrage, legislative threats and societal shunning, the porn industry has, like a cockroach, always survived crawling out of the deepest and darkest corners after the fallout.

It’s everywhere we look – upper shelf of the news agent, late night TV, cable and the Internet. In fact, you could argue
porn practically invented the Net.

So you would think that the porn industry would be thriving in today’s Web 2.0 revolution. I certainly thought so, but was surprised to find that the Internet is actually contributing to the
industry’s decline.

It seems the whole user generated video and content phenomenon is starting to kill off the mainstream porn industry with
Porn DVD sales down by as much as 30% since 2005.

So who is cleaning up? It is not some huge media conglomerate. It is Joe Bloggs, the man on the street…the person with a healthy appetite for sexual expression. That’s right you and me… Ok, not you and me. I’m certainly no porn buff, but user generated porn is the hottest thing on the market – and it’s free!

YouPorn.com and PornoTube.com has really caught the porn film industry with their pants down (pardon the expression). Americans, in particular, are taking to it like
‘America’s Funniest Home Videos’.

I guess it just goes to show that nothing is invincible. Now, I don’t necessarily believe this will be the death of an industry valued at $14 billion, however I do think a valuable lesson can be learned here. No matter how ancient and well established an industry is, the Web continues to be a force to be reckoned with that can disrupt and shake up any industry, even those that have previously thrived online.

Friday, 17 August 2007

It's possible for all to play in the Global IT market
Excitedly, I picked up the recent Business Week top 100 IT companies in July …(yes I’m one of those people that still gets excited about those kind of lists)…..it’s always interesting to see who the great movers and shakers are, particularly in this rapidly changing IT world ….it could be anybody’s game right now. One thing that struck me more than ever is how ‘global’ the top 100 is and also the range of markets that they cover…The IT industry is now truly global developing exciting leading edge technolgies in an array of countries from Spain and Russia to Mexico. Perhaps surprisingly, the US only had 7 entrants in the top 20 and Asia Pac just 3…And also whilst the usual brand names are in there such as EMC, Cisco and the like, there are others much lesser known names who I expect we will hear much more about long-term such as Telenor,Tata Consultancy Services and Softbank – also giants in their own right but lesser known than their US counterparts. What also struck me in this latest global 100 tech report is the diversity of technologies and markets - from mobile technology to outsourcing through to web-based companies….I expect that next time we will see more web and online companies in that list…

Today, a truly global market…we’ve all got a part to play on this international stage where it’s possible for even small companies to do global business.

SCG

Wednesday, 15 August 2007

Second Life Cut Short?

They build em up only to knock em down. The backlash to Second Life is breaking through into the nationals. The consensus here is that once you're in there Second Life resembles a post-apocalyptic wasteland rather than a shiny bustling virtual world. And our French colleagues confirm its flopped over there.


But like many other things in technology its death may be exaggerated. Look at how the good old computer terminal/mainframe server model is being reinvented into the green computing thin client wonder device.

Expect to see Second Life technology concepts popping up in other guises.

Friday, 3 August 2007

Simpsonized yet?

Sadly, there are some dreams that we eventually have to admit to ourselves will never come true. I very much doubt that I will be selected for the Manchester United first team any time soon, and probably less likely to become a pop star although X-Factor does offer me some hope.

I have however today finally fulfilled one of my life long dreams, to become a Simpsons character!

Using the Simpsonizer, an online web application sponsored by Burger King, I was able to upload a photo of myself and within ten minutes I was Simpsonized.

This is a great example of viral marketing in action and although not completely original, it has definitely got everyone talking about the new Simpsons movie, if not Burger King.

Me as a Simpsons character:







Friday, 27 July 2007

The Web is Going Underground

We really like to order what we see. Look at the moon and the human mind sees a face. Look at a fluffy cloud and we see a Scottie dog or the shapelier parts of Pamela Anderson.



Visualising what the web looks like is another hardy perennial. Some attempts make the web look like an explosion frozen in time.



A new view adapts the principles of the London tube map to show the main stops on the Web and avoiding any attempt of illustrating the geographic realities like the actual distances between places. Read Jack Schofield's Grauniad blog for more



The result is fascinating though ultimately a bit depressing. Are we all running around this same closed loop of web sites, services and applications? Whatever happened to the web as some kind of limitless universe?

What's also interesting is who is stuck out on a suburban branch line - the equivalent of Epping - on the edge rather than the centre of the map.

Monday, 23 July 2007

CSO pockets key to Executive Suite

An inevitable consequence of the green business movement cross fertilising with US corporate culture and its love of business status monikers is the first appearance of the CSO, Chief Sustainability Officer, on the ever lengthening listing of C-level titles. Or so says the New York Times.

Could it catch on over here? Probably, yes in a small way.

UK media scrutiny of green IT is sharpening with new media blogs like Dan Ilet's Greenbang putting the spotlight on business green practices including high level business strategy and public commitment to deliver results.

Getting sustainability on the board agenda is critical but C-level titles will probably impress few if any UK media commentators. They are increasingly looking for substance not style in business communications on this issue. This is probably why we are seeing a movement by UK business to move from talking about carbon off-setting to talking about real cuts in energy consumption.


CSO is a sign of the times but probably a passing fad. A CSO should be where the buck stops when other C-level roles like the CFO and CEO should have sustainability high on their agendas too.

Nonetheless expect more CSOs popping up in the media from now on.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

No apple smoothies for me please

There is a website called 'Will it blend' by blender maker, BlendTec which shows how in various experiments they blend all kind of crazy stuff like toys, cosmetics, a garden hose and yes.. finally the iPhone too.

When I first came across the site, I didn't think much of it but then realised that from a Web 2.0 perspective this is a very smart viral campaign by BlendTec.

The company creates an online video show called “Will It Blend” that ranks in 5 figures on Alexa, and has already blended a range of consumer goods. It’s very clever online marketing for a kitchenware company on one hand. On the other hand, iPhone fans like myself found it somewhat painful to watch. The one prominent topic in technology news has been the iPhone, so BlendTec is obviously taking advantage of the iPhone's fame to market their product.

Apparently BlendTec videos have collectively had something around 15million views on youtube.

Having watched the video a few times, I was actually surprised by how long the iPhone's screen holds on... much longer than expected! Roll on Christmas!


Thursday, 28 June 2007

Buzz in the bay

Having just returned from my recent trip to Silicon Valley, it's great to see the 'bay area' buzzing again with tech start-ups …it is very high energy out there right now. Car parks are full, 101 South is jammed at rush hour and Starbucks is packed with everyone ‘doing deals’ just like the boom times of the late 90s.

At the peak of the down turn all 3 were empty (though Starbucks always survived on stay at home moms and the retired) and there was a general depressing malaise in the air… ….where the general overheard conversations were about where to get a job, the company’s latest losses..the dramatic drop in house prices and who was the latest victim of cut backs…but that’s now all firmly in the past.

Yes, boom times are here again, you can see it everywhere, the San Francisco Chronicle is covering it all the time. And isn't everyone just jumping on that bandwagon hoping to make a quick buck…but as was learnt last time around…it’s only a small core of those that really hit the big-time…..and those are the ones with a sound business strategy, good marketing and not just a great new Web 2.0 idea ...


However, the industry is saying that it's different this time. Let's hope so, we don’t want to go through the same boom and bust process as before…Whilst the Web 2.0 manic frenzy seems very similar to the .com era of 99/2000, there are also some very credible businesses changing the face of our working and personal lives forever. For the very latest on what's happening check out techcrunch.com and venturebeat.com.

And finally, this is the first year that I really could carry my laptop around remote accessing wherever I went…Starbucks, my hotel, San Francisco airport (which meant I nearly missed my flight), small independent cafes…yes it all finally works which it certainly didn’t 18 months ago.. the productivity was high with no time wasted.

Though my laptop hasn’t worked properly since I’ve been back so the remote access world is still not perfect after all!

And finally, if you are a visitor, do take a trip out to Sausalito…the views back to San Francisco are ‘awesome’.

Wednesday, 27 June 2007

Store n Forward Networks in Nelson's Navy

Back from break by the lovely - it was really - English Channel. Deal has the last standing 18th century Timeball tower on the coast. This used to keep the Royal Navy's ships on time. Before that it was the first tower in a line of towers that used semaphore to send a message from the fleet to London. In 2 minutes. I was impressed by the speed and how the principles of store n forward data comms is traceable to the time of jolly jack tars and press gangs. Anyway back to the day job...

Tuesday, 12 June 2007

Green Computing is Sprouting Column Inches

It's really taken off but can't move for green computing stories. One we particularly like - but can't claim as our idea though we were talking to a prospect about green data centres a couple of months ago - is the cyber warming stories in the media this week. A clever "greening" of the shared service idea, it also makes me nostalgic for my days trying to get journos to stop writing about PCs and write about Wyse terminals and IBM mainframes instead.

Green tech is very chic as I found when I discovered the Treehugger blog last week when working on a client project. The blog goes into green consumerism in a depth that I've never seen over here. To find out why GBC went green last week check out the New Scientist story on a GMI poll or visit the International Herald Tribune's Green Business blog