Euler Partners getting co-operative to build ‘tech we trust’

We help organizations work better. It’s not often however we get the opportunity to work with a blank page. In theory, a blank page should be a wondrous thing – no intertia, no existing culture, no change, just fresh thinking, fresh design, and fresh execution. I emphasise should be, although we are intent on creating something special so we’re hardly taking it easy.

The opportunity is too fascinating (and necessary) to pass up, even if it’s not a paying gig. Let me explain.

As I wrote in Attenzi (chapter 35), branding has come a long way since it originally meant burning one’s mark onto livestock to assert ownership. It’s even moving beyond its 20th Century function of quality (re)assurance. Whereas during the best part of the 20th Century quality was a differentiator, it is now a qualifier. The discerning customer can now look beyond the immediacy of the product or service they’re consuming. They can and do ask: “Do I like this company’s attitude towards the environment / sourcing / equal opportunities / etc.?” And: “What’s their wider contribution to society?”

In other words:

Pantheon, Rome

Data constipation. Data liberation. Data science.

I’m writing this post during a week of workshops focused on liberating data, getting disparate petabytes of the stuff flowing and combining to inform decision making, inspire innovation, and enhance responsiveness. Braintribe redefines how we wield enterprise data to competitive advantage.

For any reader familiar with the advantages of Gartner’s bimodal approach, we’re effectively developing the membrane between modes 1 and 2, between the safe, monolithic, legacy systems, and the agile, explorative, and dynamic business reality. In our enthusiam, a colleague commented:

I love data science!

… just the perfect provocation for a short blog post.

Morning fog in Dubai – picjumbo

How astute are smart cities? Reimagining municipal infrastructure in our digital world

Are legacy governance structures able to produce the results smart cities promise? Christina Bowen and Anish Mohammed elaborate on the future of smart cities and on how they might connect to the Blockchain and decentralized infrastructures.

Cities provide infrastructure and governance to allow millions of people within a specific geographic area to live and work within a multitude of coordinated, civilized patterns. People and things need to move in, out and within the city.  Water needs to arrive; garbage and sewage must go away.  Communications must occur at the right time and reach the right people. Energy must be delivered when and where it is needed, and in a form capable of doing the work being demanded of it.  All this must happen with the minimum possible waste and harmful effects on the environment.  And it must happen safely, at a reasonable price, and equitably.

Cities have striven to meet this challenge for centuries but the complexities that come with population size and diversity, as well as technological and economic change continue to up the ante.  As the UN World Urbanization Prospects report notes:

Over half the world’s population already lives in cities: by 2050, 66% of the world’s population are expected to live in urban areas, with nearly 90% of that increase in Asia and Africa.

Now, it appears possible that technology could serve as an opportunity as well as a challenge, making the job and outcomes of municipal design easier, not more complicated. How could this happen? What makes a city smart? How might our cities apply these new technologies in a way that increases our ability to solve today’s challenges together? And what does that mean for our everyday decisions?

Change management must change

Ironically, the art and science of change management hasn’t changed so much in recent times.

Earlier this year I was given 20 minutes to present relevant technology trends to a London meeting of the Change Management Institute, and this has prompted an interesting dialogue with a client in recent weeks. You might say it boils down to the maxim:

People don’t so much dislike change as being changed.

My presentation – appended here – covers the exo-brain (aka smartphone), the exo-peripheral nervous system (aka the Internet of Things), social tech, the irreversible interweaving of the analogue and digital fabric of society, the responsive and visual workplace, building information management, beacons, personal data, quantified organization, influence flows, the work graph, emergence, Web 3.0 and the hi:project.

Philip Sheldrake

What is social business?

3M Think Tank

3M invited our Philip Sheldrake to provide the closing keynote at its recent ThinkTANK conference in Minneapolis St. Paul on the topic of social business.

As you may know, Euler Partners’ vision for social business extends a little beyond the prefixing of the word “social” to the departments and functions of the 20th Century organisation. We won’t say any more in this post, but leave you with the video of the half hour presentation, and the slidestack itself. We hope you like it.

Philip Sheldrake, Euler Partners, 3M ThinkTANK conference, Minneapolis St. Paul, 26th September 2013

Social Business slidestack, 3M ThinkTANK conference, Minneapolis St. Paul, 26th September 2013

UK parliament

UK Government Information Economy Strategy

Euler Partners was invited to the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills today to discuss the UK Government Information Economy Strategy. The strategy is a critical component in the Government’s wider policy – Using Industrial Strategy to help the UK economy and business compete and grow.

Around two dozen organisations were represented, such as the likes of Microsoft, Blackberry, Ericsson, Accenture, Deloitte, Cisco and BT, and debate was wide ranging. Importantly, while opinions differed, it was plainly evident that everyone wants the best for ‘UK plc’.

Ken McCallum, Director, Information Economy, BIS, framed the dialogue by saying we have to think about the “Information Economy” invoked in the name of the strategy rather than the IT or ICT or TMT sector, or whichever acronym you think best describes the sector. This isn’t a sector thing. It’s about how the country makes the best use of tech.

This wasn’t the forum to articulate social business per se, but you will imagine we helped articulate primary facets of social business. We soon focused on the soft / people aspects of the information economy over and above hard tech.

Education and skills became a dominant theme, and not just in relation to school children, students, and those starting out in their careers – the need to educate company board directors, and members of parliament come to that, was strongly felt. On challenging everyone to articulate how things might be different in 2020 versus 2013, the response came back that even if technology development froze right now, there were still massive gains to be made just putting today’s tech to good use.

The need to invest in the soft / cultural dimensions of tech-based transformation in business, government and the third sector, and in society in general, became a carrion cry, and the group just started to recognise that technology doesn’t just support what we’re trying to achieve in our respective organisations and in life, but fundamentally changes the possibilities and the potential. If we don’t shape it, it will shape us.

One hard tech aspect did get appropriate air-time however – Euler Partners’ and Cisco’s call for greater investment in IPv6, a topic close to our hearts.

You are invited to have your say. Public consultation is open until 15th March, 2013.

Image source.

train tunnel

Influence the influence standards

AMEC Madrid Summit 2013 Every industry has its jargon. The lexicon emerges to aid efficient communication, but that efficiency is only achieved when everyone knows what the words and phrases really mean, and uses them consistently.

Modern PR practice and social business are nascent, fast moving and increasingly business critical, and standards setting is important to realise value sooner than later.

The Association for the Measurement and Evaluation of Communication (AMEC) is pivotal to this effort, and I’m a special advisor. Ahead of the European Summit in Madrid this June, I’m particularly involved in proposing standards around the concept of influence, a topic very close to the approach Euler Partners takes to social business as you may well know.

Should you be interested in our machinations, or indeed in lending your voice, I’ve just posted a document to my personal blog detailing some of the fundamentals our working group is grappling with. We’d love to hear from you.

Now and then I’m asked how all the associations and institutes join together, so let me finish here by listing those bodies that work closely with AMEC to make up what’s informally known as The Conclave:

social media apps

Social Media Management Buyer’s Guide

Econsultancy Social Media Management Buyer's Guide 2013We kicked off our New Year speaking with the eConsultancy team about the upcoming update to their successful Social Media Management Buyer’s Guide 2011. Here’s a rundown of the questions Amy Rodgers put to us and our responses.

UPDATE 13th Feb 2013: The guide is now published and available to purchase from eConsultancy.

1) What are the most important trends occurring in this market?

Maintaining one system for external social media management and workflow, and another system for “buzz monitoring”, and another system for enterprise social networking looks increasingly disjointed. We have media to communicate, and we communicate to influence, and influence flows are the lifeblood of mutual understanding, knowledge building and decision-making. Maintaining technological islands for influence flows with one group of stakeholders (eg, customers) distinct from another island for influence flows with another group of stakeholders (eg, employees) effectively ‘misses the trick’. It fails to recognise that today’s organisations must strive to be more than the sum of the payroll.

2) Where are the biggest opportunities for growth within the social media management technologies market?

Integration. This market is maturing from product to platform with unprecedented speed.


It all has to stack up

BBC Tech news article 7 Nov 12, updated 8 Nov 12The Internet is in its forties, and aptly enough it’s having a bit of a mid-life crisis. Like many innovations, the ones we collectively label social business rely on many that have come before, not least of course the Internet infrastructure that many of us take for granted.

One fundamental quality of the Internet is the architectural premise, indeed promise, that it will enable any two things ‘on it’ to communicate directly. This is known as the end-to-end principle. In slightly geeky terms, this means that the ‘intelligence’ lies at the endpoints – like the device you’re looking at right now, and the web server hosting this website – and not in the middle of the network. This one quality manifests itself in many of the wider characteristics of the Internet we cherish – such as it being open, free and neutral.

You need an Internet Protocol address (IP address) to be ‘on’ the Internet and yet the current version of this protocol only caters to 4.3 billion addresses. This was quite a big number back when the protocol was conceived – there were only 235 Internet hosts at the time – but as visionary as its architects were they didn’t envisage the Web coming along, let alone the likes of Google, Facebook, Skype, smartphones or even the Internet of Things. Now, with 3 billion people online and another 4 billion expected in the not too distant, we don’t even have one number per person. Hence the crisis.

Yet the Internet tech community has the answer in the new version of the protocol, IPv6. This protocol has several advantages, not least of which is the fact that the number of things it can address is a 39-digit number – 340 undecillion to be more precise. The Internet as we know it isn’t broken without it, but future growth is contingent upon it. That’s why I’ve been helping to lobby for its aggressive adoption here in the UK, as you can see from this article on the BBC website, its top tech article all weekend.

Social business is at the top of an architectural stack underpinned by the Internet Protocol. For us to realise this vision, we must also maintain the foundations on which we’re building.

Image source: RIPE NCC, RIPE68 PDF

intention economy

A revolution in the making

“Data is the new oil.” So said Clive Humby back in 2006. “Data is the new soil” said David McCandless in 2010.

In between, in 2009, Meglena Kuneva, European Consumer Commissioner, said: “Personal data is the new oil of the internet and the new currency of the digital world.”

I’ve long been excited about the advent of big data, and started posting about visualising the stuff back in 2008. If anything distinguishes the modern professional – in marketing, PR, HR, R&D, operations, etc. – from her predecessors, it’s the facility to work with data.

I’m asked increasingly often to define big data, in particular how it differs from the normal sized stuff. The technical answer is simply when there’s so much of it that traditional data storage and database technologies aren’t up to the job. The more interesting answer is this: data helps us answer questions; big data also helps us conceive new questions.