Mixed Views on our Technological Future

Pew Internet Research  in conjunction with the Smithsonian magazine have just had a look at what US citizens think of their technological future.

The report is “US Views of Technology and the Future – Science in the next 50 years” (pdf)

In general there is some optimism around but we were surprised at the gender differentiation at an overall level with a significantly less rosy view from the female sector!

Looking 50 years out our health stands a good chance of improvement but our unpredictable weather is likely to continue!

You can even participate in a small (13 questions) Science and Technology Knowledge Quiz and see how you compare with the average American?

Smart Inclusive Government

 Gartner have come up with the 10 strategic technology trends for smart government which include:

  • Personal Mobile Workplace  - Government IT organizations may have an illusion of control, … However, the reality is that employees, depending on demographics, personal preferences and pressure to improve performance, can decide how much they want to use corporate information and applications versus personal information and applications.
  • Mobile Citizen Engagement - Several inquiries with Gartner government clients reveal an interest in providing citizen-facing services using mobile devices, as well as leveraging social software functionalities.
  • Big Data and Actionable Analytics – Governments are searching for ways to use big data to gain business process efficiencies and reduce costs, but are having limited success.
  • Cost Effective Open Data – Governments become both providers of open data to each other and to the public at large (the latter just for public data) and consumers of open data coming from other parts of government as well as from businesses, NGOs and citizen communities.
  • Citizen Managed Data -  Citizen data vaults are services that provide data subjects with the ability to access their data outside the context of a particular government transaction, allowing them much-finer-grained control over when and how data can be accessed, and by whom, within the relevant legal framework that they are subject to.
  • Hybrid IT and Cloud – The main objectives pushing cloud adoption have been cost reduction, speed of procurement and deployment, and responsiveness to regulations and needs for cost cutting. The public cloud is also gaining momentum as governments seek savings via consolidated procurement.
  • Internet of Things – Governments, as well as most enterprises and technology vendors, have yet to explore the possibilities of an expanded Internet and are not operationally or organizationally ready.
  • Cross Domain Interoperability – Smart government initiatives depend on interoperable information, data obtained from external as well as internal sources, and processing and delivery networks that effectively integrate planning, performance analysis and business operations.
  • Business Process management (BPM)  for Case Management - There isn’t one market for case management because all cases are not the same.
  •  Gamification for Engagement – Gamification can be used by government to motivate interactions with citizens or to achieve more meaningful levels of engagement with employees.

Elsewhere our Government is seeking to smarten more of us up via their Digital Inclusion Strategy  aiming to reduce the number of people who are offline by 25% by 2016.

We hope they achieve, or in fact exceed, their target.

Dashing amazon

Click to enlarge

The “Dash” has appeared!

Amazonfresh  their, somewhat embryonic, US based (Seattle, San Francisco & Los Angeles areas only at present) food store delivery service announced the (limited) availability of this new device last week. It’s by invitation only following application.

The trial we think is only available to Amazon Prime Fresh members (who subscribe to an annual membership fee costing  $299 – the standard prime membership is now $99). Prime Fresh membership is currently available only in the Southern California and San Francisco, CA Metro areas. It sort of gives you the usual prime membership benefits plus free (next day) grocery delivery on orders over $35 ish.

Following the introduction of the TV set top streaming box last week the Fire TV with “voice search” this is the next device including this ability. In addition to the voice search for items it also has a scanning function for barcodes.

As ever via your WI-fi setup the device transfers your spoken and scanned items in this case to your amazonfresh account which can then be edited and submitted for order from your desktop/laptop or mobile app.

Seems to make a lot of sense to us although it does, sort of, introduce yet another remote to the household.

Here’s their promo video.


Disclosure: We have marketing affiliate arrangements with Amazon

Around the world in 22 days

Google’s Project Loon has just had one of their balloons circumnavigate the world (sort of) in 22 days.

The balloon I-167 is part of the project to set up a “ network in the sky” to bring internet access to, in particular, the billions in the southern hemisphere who are not connected.

The 500 square metre balloon set off from New Zealand and circled Antarctica crossing South America before going some way south of Australia.  

Click to enlarge

As it started the second lap balloon I-167 clocked up the half millionth kilometre mark in terms of the projects total balloon travel.

Since mid last year a couple of major  improvements have helped the navigation of the balloons:

  • “we’ve been using the wind data we’ve collected during flights to refine our prediction models and are now able to forecast balloon trajectories twice as far in advance.
  • In addition, the pump that moves air in or out of the balloon has become three times more efficient, making it possible to change altitudes more rapidly to quickly catch winds going in different directions.”

We prefer balloons to drones and are fascinated by this project which can be followed on Google+

Here’s Googles video of the making of their balloons and why they last so long.

Brits online 2014

IPATouchPoints5  have just published data from their latest survey concerning the UK consumer technology environment.

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They discover that nearly half of us own smartphones and a quarter tablets which moves up to nearly 40% availability on a household basis.

On average we now spend 2 ½  hours a week online a week v’s 2 hours in 2012. In terms of devices, desktops/laptops still take up the majority of this time (54%) followed by smartphones (32%) and tablets (11%).

The activities we undertake online are led by emailing (80% of all adults do this weekly), browsing and looking for services and products (70%) with social networking on the increase (54%).

97% of us still watch television on a television set each week with 13% watching on our desktop/laptop, 8% on a connected TV (presumably both  smart and via set top boxes and other streaming devices), 5% on a tablet and 4% on a smartphone.

On the reading front 54% of us still read print versions of newspapers and magazines with 8% reading on our desktop/laptop, 6% on a smartphone and  4% on our tablets.

As regards to listening to the radio 75%  listen to the radio on a radio or TV set each week with 9% listening on desktops/laptops 9% listen on a smartphone and 4% listen on a tablet.

On the shopping front 90% of us still visit and shop in the high street every week with 5% via a PC and 2% each using smartphones and tablets.

“The survey, conducted by Ipsos MediaCT, questioned 5,100 adults aged 15+ through a substantial self-completion questionnaire and an e.diary that collected data every half hour for a week on how they were spending their time, their opinions, and the role of media in their lives.”

Digital degrees from Harvard

Well, sort of!

The Harvard Business School  today have announced their “ … first online offering.”

Known as HBX “The .. launch marks an important milestone in our ongoing efforts to educate leaders who make a difference in the world,” said HBS Dean Nitin Nohria. “HBX embodies the highly engaged, interactive learning that has been a hallmark of the School’s MBA, Doctoral, and Executive Education programs for more than a century.  Moreover, HBX will provide a powerful channel for communicating ideas to and engaging with new and wider audiences, complementing the work we do through Harvard Business Publishing.”

“The initial HBX offering is  CORe (Credential of Readiness), comprises three interlinked courses:  Business Analytics, Economics for Managers, and Financial Accounting. They describe it as their primer on the fundamentals of business and is designed for college juniors and seniors, non-business graduate students, and those in their early careers.”

From their FAQ’s “… the introductory June 2014 three-course sequence is $1,500.”

You can then on your CV boast eg ” HBX Credential of Readiness (CORe), Pass with High Honors, September 2014.”

“This will launch in June for local students and later this year HBX will introduce a series of specialised courses for executives on topics such as entrepreneurship and innovation; disruptive innovation, growth, and strategy; and the microeconomics of competitiveness.  Over time, HBX expects to roll out more courses that build on the HBS faculty’s influential research.

Finally, HBX will introduce HBX Live, a virtual classroom that collapses geography and allows participants worldwide to interact directly with one another and a faculty member in the same way they would in a campus-based HBS class. Harvard Business School has partnered with the public broadcasting company WGBH to create a state-of-the-art space that will allow virtual engagement with up to 60 participants at a time. HBX Live will launch in Summer 2014 and be available initially on an invitation-only basis.”

Well worth a look and a “watch this space” bookmark we think!

Kickstarter – Thanks a BILLION

Looks like it’s going to be a week of billions!

Yesterday it was the billionaires and today it’s the  US crowdfunding company Kickstarter reaching the not insignificant landmark of having received $1 billion in pledges from a total of 5.7 million participants. We reckon that means an average of $175.

“The 5,708,578 people who have backed a Kickstarter project come from 224 countries and territories, and all seven continents.”

Having started in April 2009 they moved to promote UK projects from  October 201 and since then have expanded into Canada (September 2013) followed by Australia and New Zealand (November 2013).

The overall breakdown by country of funding (as opposed to projects) is USA 66.3% UK 5.4% Canada 4.4% Australia 3.2% Germany 2.2% France 1% and Japan Sweden the Netherlands and Singapore all at 0.7%.

You can have a tour round their interactive map of all the 224 countries and discover that they had, inter alia, 11 backers from Antarctica and  7 from the Falkland Islands but apparently none from South Georgia and the Arctic is not present!

To date 58 projects have raised over $1 million probably the largest & best known is probably Pebble the wearable company and our favourite internet of things products company Smarthings

A remarkable success story for both the concept and a huge number of the projects funded.

Tech Billionaires List 2014

One of the first of this years listings comes from the  Hurun Report and first appeared at the end of last month. It ranges from Bill Gates at #1 to Vadim Moskovich at # 1,867.  He occupies this position based on the alphabetical ordering of his given name as there were 132 just scraping in at the $1.0 billion level.

On our rather wide Technology definition (suitably caveated as our analysis has been of a somewhat cursory nature) we have identified 166 in our listing ranging from Bill Gates to Yuji Otsuka in this case the last of our 8 with a mere $1 billion. Interesting to see the comparatively new arrival of Brian Acton of Whatsapp at #50!

At a parochial level James Dyson who collects a Technology categorisation from Hurun comes in as the top UK tech billionaire at number 39 (overall ranking # 352).

At a really parochial level we were impressed to see that, whilst outside our sector, a couple of local boys had made good with both Peter Hargreaves and Stephen Lansdown figuring at #’s 892 and 848 with $2.1 and $2.2 billion respectively.

The Top 50 Tech follows and the whole 166 are detailed in pdf format (Hurun Global Tech 2014)  for your perusal

We’ve simply numbered our rankings with no equals, simply reverting to a given name alpaberica basis. If we have unintentionally insulted anybody we apologise unreservedly!

The complete listing can be obtained from the Hurun Report site.


From Apple to Mobily

Brand Directory are one of the first to come up with a 2014 brand table – in their case the Global 500 2014.

The top 5 by value we would categorise as coming from the technology sector and elsewhere at Warc they categorise 9 of the top 10 as Tech brands with Walmart being the only exception at number 9. The top UK company is Vodafone is at # 16.

Overall Brand Value Rating Sector Country
ranking $ billion
1 Apple 104.7 AAA Computers USA
2 Samsung 78.8 AAA Semiconductors S Korea
3 Google 68.6 AAA+ Internet USA
4 Microsoft 62.8 AAA- Software USA
5 Verizon 53.5 AAA- Telecoms USA
6 GE 52.5 AAA- Miscellaneous USA
7 AT&T 45.4 AA Telecoms USA
8 Amazon 45.1 AAA- Internet USA
9 Walmart 44.8 AA+ Retail USA
10 IBM 41.5 AA+ IT Services USA
16 Vodafone 29.6 AAA- Telecoms UK
77 Toshiba 13.7 AA Electronics Japan
145 Canon 8.2 AA Office business equip. Japan
500 Mobily 3.0 AA Telecoms Saudi Arabia
Source: Branddirectory, Global Brand Index 2014


This encouraged us to look at their sector categorisations – they have 50 and of these we would allocate 8½ to our wide view of the technology sector. The ½ relates to Miscellaneous where of the 9 companies we would count 4 as techs!

On the 8½ basis 82 (16%) out of the Global 500 are techs.

A critique of the sector allocations might question Google & Amazon being categorised as Internet – in fact  looking at the remaining 11 constituents (ebay, facebook, QQ, PayPal, Priceline, Yahoo, Baidu, QVC, Semantec, Netflix and WeChat) their appears to us to be a remarkable diversity of brands. Even more so than Miscellaneous!

They also categorise differently the most powerful brands where Ferrari comes out on top and the other AAA+ rated brands are Google, Coca Cola, Disney, PwC, Hermes, Red Bull, L’Oreal, Rolex, Mckinsey and Unilever. Only one tech here then and we might argue, subjectively, for Apple’s inclusion (who fall short by a single+) ahead of Google.

Much more to digest on their interactive table including the history from 7 previous years. 

The A Web Awards 2014

Earlier this week saw the  announcement of the opening of applications for this years Nominet Internet Awards.

There are five categories:

  1. Innovative internet business
  2. Online skills and training
  3. Making the internet a safer place
  4. Doing good online
  5. Digital innovation in public services

There are four supporters/sponsors

  1. Innovation Warehouse
  2. Cyber Streetwise
  3. NCVO
  4. techUK

 There are eight Judges:

  1. Ami Shpiro
  2. Nadhim Zahawi
  3. Eden Upton
  4. Peter Wilson
  5. Chi Onwurah
  6. Gillen Knight
  7. Alun Cairns
  8. Julian David

 There are a couple of, sort of, bespoke website sections:

  1. The Guardian Media Network – Nominet Partner Zone
  2. Nominet’s site

Applications have to be made by 25 April

Judging to take place on 5 June

Results are announced at a black-tie event

Follow them “ …on Twitter @Nominet and look out for updates about the awards using the hashtag #nia2014.