Video interview about Olympic IT

BCS interview image

The British Computer Society/Chartered Institute for IT has posted an interview with the Metropolitan Police’s Director of IT, Stephen Whatson, who’s been tasked with the IT infrastructure for the Olympics this year.  Includes some interesting comments about the preparation and decisions made. Video embedded below (Flash player required).


Source: BCS – Video interview: Olympic IT, Apr 2012

The need to mix business and design

A great article on Fast Company highlights the need for both business and design skills when faced with tough business challenges: What Both MBAs And MFAs Get Wrong About Solving Business Problems, by Melissa Quinn.

Article outline: Numbers and bullet points aren’t the only things driving executive decision making. And pretty pictures won’t get you there either. Both designers and MBAs have a lot to learn.

Toronto University’s Rotman School of Management has run a design challenge geared at exposing MBA students to the value of design methods in business problem solving. For the past 2 years, the MBAs (Masters of Business Administration) have been trounced by the MFAs (Masters of Fine Arts). How?

With only 15 minutes to convince a skeptical panel of experienced professionals about a new idea that doesn’t exist in the world today, [MFAs] fared significantly better than their MBA counterparts. Why? Because they shared real user insights to engage us emotionally, used narrative and stories to compel us, drew sketches and visualizations to inspire us, and simplified the complex to focus us. It’s proof positive that numbers and bullet points, while important, aren’t necessarily what drive executive decision making

The key message – don’t assume you can teach MBAs to do this stuff well by chucking in a couple of modules as part of their course. Don’t dismiss the years of study that designers undertake to develop these skills.

That said, it wasn’t an entirely happy ending for the MFAs either.

While design students fared much better than their MBA counterparts that Saturday afternoon, I should point out that only the winning team from the Institute of Design at IIT actually charged a fee for the service they developed (a fact that was not overlooked by my final-round co-judge Ray Chun, the senior vice president of retail banking at TD). Some competitors were able to offer a vague notion that their ideas would generally create economic value, but crisp articulations of a profit model and underlying assumptions were hard to come by.

A great article, worth a read. Particularly if you tend to rely on bullet points more than visuals in PowerPoint to explain something you want people to remember. (Side note: but does depend on the type and purpose of presentation. If teaching a technical topic, screenshots and bullet points are usually quite helpful after the event.)

p.s. The image at the top? A book shelf in my home office, containing some of the books that continue to help develop presentations. Story boarding for films has been the latest new topic of study. 🙂 (Half of those books are in Kindle-only format… times change.)

As a good mentor Nicholas Bate likes to say – ‘Always be learning’.

Social Media judges the Olympics

Techcrunch has an interesting article: How We Hate NBC’s Olympic Coverage: A Statistical Breakdown.

NBC Olympics Sentiment Analysis

The statistics are coming from a couple of different ‘Sentiment Analysis’ services that track what people are saying about brands online. Twitter Sentiment tracks positive and negative comments on Twitter, updated in real-time (image shown above). Another service, Crimson Hexagon, went further to breakdown into specific categories, discovering only 15% were happily watching NBC’s Winter Olympics coverage (more details are provided in the TechCrunch article) whilst 85% were complaining.

What’s interesting is how easy it has been for these services to gather the data. Crimson Hexagon analysed over 20,000 tweets and 5,700 blog posts and forum comments. Twitter Sentiment is continually updating in real-time, as the tweets are posted. When I grabbed the screenshot above, over 2,500 tweets had been automatically categorised as positive or negative.

The analysis demonstrates just how easy it is to discover what people really think thanks to the Internet. People who take the time to tweet and write blog posts are more likely to be giving raw opinions than a selected audience targeted to respond to a survey. For sure we tend to be more compelled to write when we have something bad to say, so results are almost always going to skew towards the negative. But they are readily available, often for free or little cost, and offer an insight into how products and services could be improved. Sentiment analysis shows how businesses can benefit from getting involved in social media, even if only to listen.


Related posts:

Dell B2B Social Media Huddle Part 4 – Case Studies

This is part 4 in a series of posts from Dells B2B Social Media Huddle held on 9th December 2009 at Dell’s UK Headquarters. For previous posts, read Part 3 – The Business Case, Part 2 – Community Matters and Part 1 – Social Media Trends.

Social Media Case Studies

The second half of the day consisted of various breakouts delivering case studies in social media. Some great companies presented but I could only sit in on a couple and not all slides have been shared. – Jamie Grenney

Jamie’s was one of the session’s I sat in on. He gave a great presentation about how has approached social media. Here are some soundbites captured on the day:

“To buy the word ‘Cloud Computing’ on Google [Adwords] costs $14 which is expensive. Creating a cloud computing video and publishing it on YouTube shows higher potential RoI”

YouTube is seen as the most beneficial social media channel for Why? Because the videos have the potential to go viral. Twitter activity accounts for less than 1% of YouTube views. But most interesting is seeing YouTube become more valuable than what has now become traditional Internet advertising.

“Having a ‘Contact us’ button at the end of a video is more effective than having a form to fill out at the start.” analysed site statistics and found that making someone fill out a form was impacting the likelihood of viewing the video. It has proven far more effective to have an easily accessible ‘Contact us’ button that people can choose to click at the end of the video. Again, as has been seen in other posts, this approach is sales driven rather than cold call marketing.

“Write about what you know. If you’re not a product manager, don’t write as though you are” have put a lot of effort into staff training and have clear guidelines for what to do. This includes identifying yourself as a employee. Social media guidelines are available publicly on their web site. They are even concerned that customers should publicly disclose they are customers when talking about

“We are still quite new to this – only have 7,000 followers across all channels.”

A healthy reminder that social media is still in its infancy for most organisations. And again back to previous posts in this series – think big, act fast, start small. The financial investment should be tiny. The time investment is another matter entirely…

LinkedIn – Henry Clifford Jones

No slides this time unfortunately and I’m not sure if the case study is public so I won’t name the client referenced.
LinkedIn analysed their membership database for a pharmaceutical company and provided some interesting statistics:

“On LinkedIn, there are approx 3.7 million people globally in the healthcare industry. 6,000 groups about healthcare. Profiling down to job roles, there are 121,000 doctors…”

How useful is that data? At the very least, people are talking healthcare. If healthcare is your business, do you join in or ignore it? How easy is it to build a target audience to evaluate a new product? Could a group on LinkedIn make it easier?
Whilst the potential is there, there are challenges. When Henry asked us all what we thought of groups, there was unanimous animosity and comments about groups being barely more than a badge on your profile, that the group itself is full of spam dominated by job adverts. Seems this hasn’t gone unnoticed and LinkedIn have already released a newer interface and have some interesting improvements in the pipeline.

Dell – Richard Binhammer

Missed Richard’s session but from his contributions during the roundtable and closing, I can guess it was a pretty good session and the slides have been shared.

Coming next: Part 5 – Roundtable discussion and closing thoughts


Life, Death and Twitter in Africa

A quick note. I tend not to blog about news unless it is something worth munching over (and preferably not being bounced around the Techmeme echo chamber). Instead, I share links through Twitter and FriendFeed (most come via Google Reader) and roll them up into a weekly post. If you want real-time updates, join in the fun on Twitter and/or FriendFeed

But this link on Wired deserves a post all to itself – Life, Death and Twitter on the African Savannah – talking about how social media is being used to raise awareness about and donations for a wildlife park in Kenya. Funds have dropped due to the recent political turmoil affecting tourism. Some sound bites here, but I recommend reading the full article.

…the blog raised $40,000 from donations in March. Kimojino’s Facebook page drew about $2,000; and a handful of safari companies bought advertising on the blog in exchange for sponsoring rangers. “All the rest has been from single donations from individuals around the world, from donations as small as $5 to our biggest, which was $5,000,”

The man who helped set the blog up was discovered in the wilds of… Rotherham, a town up North here in the UK. Thanks to his blog attracting attention, he switched life as an office temp for life Stood in the Congo. I am truly envious 🙂

Beyond blogging:

On a game drive one morning, the ranger stops his car in front of a herd of antelopes and whips out a camera. “I have never had a Coke’s Hartebeest on Flickr,” he says, taking a picture.

(If a certain fizzy drinks company had any sense, they’d donate some of their advertising revenue and sponsor that picture.)

What is most amazing – big companies reluctant to change should take note – is how traditions are adapting to blogging:

Getting online has not been without its risks for Kimojino. He explains that for him to be speaking about the park to the public, instead of his boss, breaks traditional Kenyan decorum and was at first difficult for him.

And balancing needs for digital and physical life:

…after a few months of this online activity, Kimojino went to the optometrist – he was worried the computer would damage his eyesight, hindering him from spotting, for example, a leopard in a tree two kilometers away.