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broadstuff"broadstuff" - 5 new articles

  1. The Future of Social Business 2015
  2. Digital Chindits
  3. Disappearing Google Glassholes
  4. Profits from Prophets?
  5. Protecting our freedom by stifling it
  6. Search broadstuff
  7. Prior Mailing Archive

The Future of Social Business 2015

Bjoern Negelmann and the Gartner Hype Curve of Social Business

I wrote up 2 notes in our Agile Elephant Blog (over here and here) on the state of Social Business today, but here is a summary:

In essence I buy Bjoern Negelmann's analysis at the Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Paris last week that it is in the Slough of Despond phase, and the only way is up (see picture above).

This is confirmed in my view by the latest McKInsey report on the subfect, which essentially notes that it is here to stay, and more and more companies expect to expand its usage.

I also think the fact that two "New New" memes - "Digital Transformation" and "Enterprise Social Networks" are now riding on its coat, tails tells you that it's hitting early mass markets. But last word to the McKinsey analysis of "what comes next":

Begin with a targeted approach, then broaden impact. While the overall adoption of social tools remains widespread, the results indicate that most companies use them intensely in only a few functional processes. Yet the successful use of social in sales-and-marketing processes suggests how much more potential value is at stake in other parts of the business. To get the most value out of social technologies, companies should focus on specific cases where these tools could be implemented in a targeted way. A company already using social tools could broaden the technologies’ impact by adopting them in areas such as operations, where they are used less often now.

Focus on metrics. As companies adopt (and adapt) these relatively new technologies in their business, they also face the challenge of measuring data they’ve never seen or worked with before. To use social tools more effectively and understand where and how they can add future value, companies must mind how to measure the impact from tools already in use. One approach is comparing existing metrics from areas of the business where social is used against control-group areas without social tools. But the best methodology depends on the process and what benefits companies ultimately want to see.

Change the way people work. Executives are optimistic about the potential business value from social tools—a common attitude toward new technologies. There’s an initial growth phase that drives adoption and excitement around the technology, but then companies need time to figure out how to use it to drive real productivity improvements. To reach the next S-curve of value from social tools, companies must think more holistically about the organizational and cultural changes to make.6 Social tools have the potential to change organizations, but only if those tools are implemented in a way that changes how individual employees work day to day.

From the Slough of Despond, the only way is up.....


Digital Chindits

The British Army has resurrected the Chindits, one of the special force units used in WW2 to operate behind enemy lines - in their case to operate behind Japanese lines in Burma. It was formed by Brigadier Orde Wingate following a successful usage of Boer commando style tactics in the British/Commonwealth reconquest of Italian East Africa in 1940.

The new Chindits are to fight behind the lines in the digital wars - Torygraph:

...the new unit's focus will be on "unconventional" non-lethal, non-military methods such as "shaping behaviours through the use of dynamic narratives", an Army spokesman said.

The development is part of a major restructuring of the military under the Army 2020 plan, which will see the military scale down to around 82,000 regular troops in the next five years.

The spokesman said: the brigade "is being created to draw together a host of existing and developing capabilities essential to meet the challenges of modern conflict and warfare".

It's part of the (belated, in my opinion) realisation among Western armies that from the end of the Korean War onwards, asymmetric warfare is the new "conventional" warfare. The new Chindits are designed to combine "conventional" irregular warfare psy-ops and disinformation techniques with a major digital capability to use social media and other digital information technologies.

One thing to keep in mind - the Chindit experiment ultimately failed militarily, their raids were characterised by dysentry wracked men carrying huge loads marching uselessly for days without contacting any enemy, high casualty rates due to disease not enemy action, and US (air) support was essential to keep them in the field*. They were retained more for PR purposes on the home front than any military effectiveness.

One hopes that the same will not happen now.....

(*This is not a criticism of the brave men who served in the Chindits, it's that an approach finessed for dry African conditions ultimately did not work owing to the jungle environment)

Disappearing Google Glassholes

Google to stop making Glass "In present form"

Google is to stop producing its wearable technology Google Glass in its present form, but is still committed to the idea of smart glasses, the company has said.
The technology, which delivers news, messages and calls directly to a user’s field of view, has been on sale in the UK since June, and in the US since 2013.

In a statement posted to its Google+ account, the company said the Glass team would move out of the “Google X” incubator labs and become a separate division. What the "New New" form will be is anybody's guess, but I'd suspect it will be less obvious to other people more than anything else, to stop both the "Glasshole" problem and to not alert other people so visibly that its filming and recoding them. Somehow I don't think they will relinquish the "hoovering up all that data" play.

In other news today, UK hypermarket chain Tesco has just launched an app for Google about timing. While the aim is largely laudable, it seems like yet another unfortunately timed play from this beleagured retailer.

Update - Had a Twitter discussion with Steve Bowbrick, his point being that the Google Glass busiiness model (very expensive device that records other people as UGC) has been rejected (by the public). I am less sure that Google will let go of it, as with Facebook I suspect it will be a 1 step back, 2 steps forward when you're not looking sort ofplay - I think it will be interesting to see what 2.0 does.


Profits from Prophets?

The next edition of Charlie Hebdo went on sale on Wednesday, and the production run was up from 60,000 to c 5 million - and rather than c 25% of 60,000 copies being remaindered, this time 5 million was probably not enough. (The money will be going to support the families of those killed, though there is a bit of a sour note starting with people trying to sell copies on eBay)

If the aim of the shootings was to cow Hebdo and its satire it has been a complete failure so far, and also far any attempt to further inflame France (if anything the UK media seems more cowed than the French).

But (and this is why the subject surfaces on this digital tech blog) modern online technology probably has quite a lot to do with this beng different to what it may have been even a few years ago. In short, my thesis is that the huge amount of user generated content has both increased ordinary citizen participtaion globally, and lessened the ability of the various vested interest armed camps to twist this to various agendas. My thesis is that, (so far anyway):

Firstly, using violence or banning to suppress unwelcome media is hardly a new trick, and it usually works if there is no way to route around it - but if it can be routed around it often produces the opposite effect, i.e. drives a far larger distribution and hence support base for the victims. (This is why banning stuff always backfires if the material can find a route out, as it incites more, not less people to take an interest). Digital media, including video and image based media, was a major part of that alternative channel here.

Secondly, the #JeSuisCharlie campaign was hugely accelerated and amplified by the online media, it was the fastest and largest twitter trend yet seen - it had enormous reach, fast.

Thirdly, social media was heavily used to organise and co-ordinate gatherings of support all over the world.

Fourthly - the outpourings of user generated media from smartphones have made it something that huge numbers of people have engaged with at a visual level as well as textual - I don't know if this makes a difference but I suspect the higher information content and authenticity of UGC picture and video images makes it easier to see what is "real" and - it seems to me anyway (be interesting to see if any research confirms or denies this) harder to inflame by deliberate mis-representations.

In addition, the shootings have generated furious discussion about a multiplicity of conflicting issues to a new level of distribution and intensity. There are many interlocked issues - Freedom of speech vs Causing needless Offence; What observances can a religion rightfully demand of non-believers; Is this religious fundamentalism or a cynical use of religion for political ends, What is the role of Satire - to only speak truth unto power, or to poke at any sacred cows, etc etc etc.

It has engaged millions of people all across the world like nothing I've looked at online before, and (I can't prove this on my very limited analysis to date, however I think this is true based on what I've looked at so far) I think we're not merely seeing the all too usual polarisation and a spit-at-your-camp approach that contentious issues usually take, there is actually some hope that we are still in an Age of Reason.

At this "interesting" time in history this is something that can only do good in this writer's opinion....

Protecting our freedom by stifling it

I heard our Prime Minister was proposing to ban encrypyed messaging services in the UK (from the NYT Bits section - I prefer US papers' take on UK tech politics, they are usually more informed and detached than UK pundits):

“Are we going to allow a means of communications which it simply isn’t possible to read?” Mr. Cameron said at an event on Monday, in reference to services like WhatsApp, Snapchat and other encrypted online applications. “My answer to that question is: ‘No, we must not.’ ”

Mr. Cameron said his first duty was to protect the country against terrorist attacks

“The attacks in Paris demonstrated the scale of the threat that we face and the need to have robust powers through our intelligence and security agencies in order to keep our people safe,” he added.

Of course the comment was sparked by the Charlie Hebdo shootings, and the need to dress ones weak tells up as strongly as possible, and also that we have a general election in a few months so the Tories (the party of lawnorder) are all competing with each other to seem more draconian than thou while shuffling for post election pole positions. And of course it is only due to be execuited when everyone has forgtten about it, long after the election, if he wins.

Any restriction on these online services, however, would not take effect until 2016, at the earliest, and it remained unclear how the British government could stop people from using these apps, which are used by hundreds of millions of people worldwide.

Except that it's unworkable (but you all knew that already).

The reason is that it can't work - or rather, it can to an extent, insofar as the average Brit will be unable to prevent being spied on for life (assuming all the commercial providers acquiesce - I'm less sceptical of this happening than some pundits on this) - is that the real bad guys will know exactly how to get around this all, so will do so. Of course so will all the UK tech experts, but they will immediately be suspected of nefarious designs - way to go to shut down a potentially lucrative UK stake in an emerging high value industry.

Also, by all accounts the impact of digital surveillance has been far less effective in staving off all these impending Bad Things than good old fashioned spying has. Most recent terror events (including Paris) have happened because authorities dropped their physical surveillance of known bad people, or forgot to tell each other who they knew was up to something. Thus, building a MegaData store of bigger haystacks to find needles in is probably not going to help enormously.

This way, all you will probably wind up with is permanent mass surveillance of civil society and little impact on the criminals you are after.

Mind you, from a State point of view that may be a totally desirable outcome, as all States like to control communications as naturally as they like to tax, and as a bonus it stifles all those irritating critics to boot. Every one of these events first brings cries of "we must not allow this to damage our free way of life" followed shortly by proposals to do just that.

There is a terrible irony that to so many of our glorious leaders, the best way they can think of to protect our freedom is to stifle it.

A better approach by far would be to carry on doing what has been shown to work already, and probably also be prepared to have a mature discussion with the Geat British Public about something that we alreeady know - you can't do anything that is 100% effective here.

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