Surveillance and sales pitch

I stumbled upon an article on a new trend in he US to scan the streets with cars equipped with thermal cameras. It’s all in the interest of public and energy providers to tell the homeowners how inefficient their house is and how much or little it leaks.

Reading this raise two questions for me.

1. How accurate is the measurement as the buildings are scanned mainly from the front. Will the rest be rough guesstimate or scientifically calculated accurate u figure?

2. How will the results be used? Will it be to advise homeowners of potential savings they may be making? Or will the aim be more sinister – to sell the information to insulation installers and impose fines on those who won’t budge?

On the surface nothing seems to be wrong with this initiative. However it’s likely to face resistance from the privacy advocates. As this comes as extra cost to the energy suppliers, someone has to pay for this. My money is on customer.


Article –

u value –

Windows 8 tablet as my one and only PC!?

I have toyed with the idea for a while. Starting last year when more mobile staff started asking for iPads to get job done when away from the office. Their Toshiba R600/700 laptops were lightweight, but lacked in battery life department and remote connectivity was not something to brag about.

They wanted tablets, however I didn’t like the idea of having whole heap of devices (the same staff had also desktop computers). Why? Well, paying double for all support (we outsourced all our IT support) and software licensing is not my ideal way of running the business.

Over many discussions the brief was formulated. The device to be used needed to:

  • Be lightweight
  • Have a reasonably good battery life
  • Be able to connect to internet via WiFi and 3G/4G (directly or via smartphone tethering)
  • Have a good screen resolution
  • Be usable as product/literature demo device

I also added a business continuity – when office goes offline (post Office365 implementation!), you work from wherever it’s most suitable for you.

Then back in December 2012 HP was debuting its ElitePad 900. Shortly after came Dell Latitude 10. I went with the latter for Windows 8 Pro pilot. Two months later it was clear that Dell Latitude 10 is not fit for purpose. It is designed to hold with two hands, has no proper keyboard folio and Windows 8 drains battery very quickly on standby. Proprietary connectors didn’t help either. Dock was a nice option, but I wanted to connect two monitors instead of just one. Anyway the setup looked awkward and I handed the tablet to a colleague to use during her holidays.

As an interesting side-note I took a phone call form HP earlier this week and our discussion went over mobility. The sales rep was rather adamant that 32GB storage is adequate as “tablets are not storage devices”. I explained the way I see market going and we agreed that event device trail would be wasted time for me.

Looking at options available to us I got an iPad to play with. It’s good and has excellent battery life, delivers my email and works as an entertainment device. And that’s where it pretty much stops. Yes, I agree, there’s an app for anything, but business apps cost as much as on PC on average. Conclusion – It’s a companion device as I knew before and was telling all around me.

Earlier this year I took decision to move from Blackberry phones to new Nokia Lumia 920 handsets running Windows Phone 8. As most of our mobile workforce is now well familiarised with the interface and know what to expect from the handset, supplying Windows 8 Pro tablets seemed suddenly like an option again.

Last month I started investigating the topic again and looked at various devices from Lenovo Yoga to Microsoft Surface Pro. Considering weight, SSD size and screen resolution I got one Surface Pro with 256GB SSD and HP Port Replicator 3 (USB3 version). Running it currently as a pilot the setup includes tablet with two 1080p monitors and USB3 port replicator when in the office and with Microsoft Type keyboard when out. All this under £1000 looks reasonable deal. We’ll deliver Office365 project to all staff within next two months which means roaming users will have access to their files via tablet, smartphone or web browser. All other software is web based and available via secure access.

The only downside of Microsoft tablets (both Surface and Surface Pro) is lack of mobile internet. Some see this as cost cutting mechanism and prefer tethering internet via mobile phone. Let’s hope that whatever surfaces from Microsoft workshop next will be lighter, better connected and have longer battery life.

Weekly reading list – social, cloud and brains

Alongside meetings and events I have come across a number of interesting articles.

Here’s the list:

Mobile is The New Face of engagement – an executive summary by Forrester research (

Why Amazon and Salesforce are pulling away from the cloud pack – good article and follow-up discussion on #cloud, #saas, #paas and disruptive technologies (

Three Ways to Think Deeply at Work – how to use short disruptive tasks to focus on larger problems and working in four hour blocks uninterrupted to achieve result. (

5 Ways To Transform Meetings With Tablets – some disruptive ideas for the enterprise. However I still favour one screen and NO laptops nor tablets in an engaging meeting. Big screen – yes, digital whiteboard – even better! That’s at least what we use for internal development meetings. (

EC sets out strategy for EU cloud data and standards – more centralised thinking coming form the #EC. Good if this is to set out ONE framework and member states need to abolish their own #cloud legislation. However there’s one massive flaw here (as well as in #EU in general) – none of the member states are usually forced to follow this framework and larger players don’t want to let go of their own. Good initiative anyway. (

Helping you to help me to help everyone else…

A good point has been made about the amount of email we receive with initiative to change the way we treat others by email. It is more relevant now where we think of email as part of unified communications. That is – you treat email as every other means messaging – sms, twitter, facebook, IM. Anything, but email that was to carry a message of some importance without too much clutter in it.

the solution is proposed by people behind this site and I encourage everyone to read it through and give it some thought. And where applicable, pass the message on.

Thanks for taking time to read. EOM.

What’s happening in the cloud this fall?

There’s a lot of talk about cloud computing, IT consumerisation and moving toward smarter systems, but a handful of people only seem to know what is hidden behind these keywords. And more importantly (as the topics are hot!) what’s in this for us as consumers of IT services? I will touch on smart systems and consumerisation later and give an overview of cloud-based trends and approaches in this post.

I went to Business Cloud Summit last week to learn just a bit more from the people who are behind the cloud initiative and vendors who are there to offer anything-as-a-service (xAAS) as I like to call the new offerings in the service catalogue.

Professor Leslie Willcocks gave a great presentation ending with main takeaway – Cloud Computing should rather be calledBusiness Cloud Services. Why? Cloud Computing is a clumsy term for a service platform. The Cloud offers elasticity and consumerisation, ease of use and purchase. Cloud services are available on-demand, packaged are rather flexible and broad. You pay what you need and when your requirements grow, the service providers are more than happy to expand your use of their service platform.

This has inevitably led us to explosion of cloud-based application services. It’s good. No, it’s really good, absolutely fantastic. I would be appalled if in ten years time applications would not be provisioned as services and require application specific plugins to work as expected. What is needed is an open platform for developers to work with. I do like RightNow approach where emphasis is on providing and selling business value, not technology where software is subscription based. This enables the customers to start with manageable size pilots and grow organically.

It’s quite clear that cloud-based services may not be treated as hype any longer and those are definitely not aimed for only a specific sector (corporate / SME / individuals). The ‘cloud’ is there for everyone to use, build their business and meet regulatory requirements. Currently there seems to be tendency for business executives to see value and show more enthusiasm towards cloud-based services, than IT management. Is it peer pressure? Everyone is doing it, what are we waiting? With younger and more tech savvy CxO’s around it should be easier for CIO to transition (where applicable and viable, of course) IT services to the cloud-based platform. I believe the problem to lie in the industry standards, or more precisely lack of those. Andy Burton from Cloud Industry Forum gave a good overview of where we are not in terms of standards and where we need to be. And the sooner it happens, the better. Key takeaways from his presentation in panel were interoperability, data locking that should decrease and finding balance between need for security vs. creativity that is required to drive new solutions. Several speakers also brought out exit provisions and compatibility issues that businesses see as potential risk to the cloud-based implementations. IT departments, while wanting to play with new technology, see the cloud-based services as a threat to their future. What needs to be realised is that by moving from in-house operations to the outsourced or hosted services a number of staff can concentrate to actually creating value to the business rather than just keeping the lights on. A good point made by Greg Gianforte from RightNow and something to remember, is that ‘Cloud’ is just a delivery mechanism for the enterprise applications.

Although expectations to the ‘cloud’ are high, according to Gianforte, nearly 30% of SAAS (Software-as-a-Service) products do not get used. This was said pointing openly at Many software vendors want to carry on their existing software distribution mode, by selling boxes, not creating value to the customers. This creates something Gianforte called “Shelfware-as-a-Service”. With investments to the cloud services set to double over next 18 months, this is not something business executives want to hear. Still, according to professor Wiilcocks from London School of Economics and Political Science, over 60% of organisations have strong momentum towards cloud computing.

This opinion was also supported by Gordon Frazer from Microsoft by estimating that cloud R&D today is around 70% and it is forecasted to grow to 90% over next three years. I believe this opinion to be slightly too optimistic, but considering a huge variety of applications that are already delivered as services, he may not be too far off. With large ERP providers (Microsoft, OracleInfor) moving towards subscription based services where the subscriber is in need of a good and reliable internet connection we are already seeing the change happening. It would be unwise for the businesses not to embrace the opportunity, but the decision should derive from a solid balanced business case.

Looking back to the event, what did we hear that was worth bearing in mind?

Jürgen Strahwald, Vice President Corporate Information Technology Governance at Siemens, brought out three key points that seem to well summarise what cloud adopters need to do:

·         Services that businesses are looking to transition from own data centres to the cloud service providers, need to be ‘must haves’, not ‘niceties’.

·         Security is important and not only on paper. Businesses need to do penetration testing, not only rely on service specs.

·         Integration to the existing IT systems and services. Unless this is achieved, the whole project is likely to fail.

And more generally, some key points for those who are still in the dark clouds:

·         Cloud-based services are set to grow over the coming years reflecting software licensing and provision.

·         Communication and collaboration are set to improve with cloud-based services.

·         ‘Cloud’ is quick, secure and scalable.

·         Provisioned services are to become more interoperable and vendors should drive towards less data locking. Now, who want to do that?

·         Cloud-based applications need to internet-native applications, not adoptions.

“Fake cloud” providers will eventually fail. The term came again from Greg Gianforte describing service providers who try to provide existing technology in somewhat migrated and adopted way packaging it as cloud services.

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