- When did you start relying on Uber (or some other more ethical ride hailing App) to get you home after a late night in the office?
- When did you start using the term "to Google" rather than just "to search online?"
- When did you start discussing that new Netflix series, as opposed to the regularly scheduled broadcast TV show you used to watch?
- When did you start ordering your household goods on Amazon?
- When did you start playing YouTube videos, rather than play music from your CD collection?
Tuesday, September 26, 2017
Monday, September 25, 2017
Tuesday, September 5, 2017
But I’m going to stick my next out (once again) on a subject I’m passionate about… Technical Architecture and how it clashes with agile delivery.
Or more succinctly put: Agile Architecture Doesn’t Work
There, I’ve said it now and I’ve been wanting to say it for a while. It has been on my mind as I’ve heard the opposite mentioned in podcasts, or read about it in blogs and books.
I guess I was trying to get this off my chest when I wrote my recent blog post “Digital Transformations starts and ends with Digital Architecture”. As in my mind, the science (or is it art?) of crafting a robust yet flexible technical architecture that supports digital business aims is the one thing you can’t build as you go.
Creating the technical architecture for your new venture takes planning. You also really only need one Technical Architect, the person who owns the architecture and has the responsibility for its solution design and ensures re-use of common components. Not a bunch of developers who all want to create a part of the architecture they are responsible for.
It’s like wandering around on a gap year between school and university (or school and work, or university and work). You may be able to make up your journey as you go, with just you or a travelling companion making the decisions… but the roads and the map are pretty much fixed.
So... although some agile practitioners talk about how agile approaches can help architecture deliver quicker or better. I firmly believe that it is architecture that facilitates faster and more robust agile delivery.
Monday, August 28, 2017
However, when you ask these organisations what they are doing to change their internal systems and technical architecture design to facilitate this change, many either go quiet or simply utter something such as “it’s not about technology, it’s mainly about people”… Which I have worked out to actually mean “that technology stuff isn’t as interesting as building something nice & glossy I can show to the board”.
But let’s flip this around for a minute…
Digitally enabling your business usually means taking control of the data in your organisation and enabling it via online technologies. Yes, it does therefore mean the creation of some sort of new database or cloud-based big data lake that can then have modern web services integrated to it, so that some or all of this can be presented within a browser interface.
Implementing customer self-service channels, typically boils down to pretty much the same thing. Web services and functionality are (securely - obviously) exposed to external customers via web and mobile App channels, so that contact centres or telesales operations can be scaled back or redeployed to different tasks. This also usually comes with a more onerous set of performance & availability criteria, so that a (near) 24/7 service can be offered to customers. However, presenting these services to real users also means that the systems behind-the-scenes need to be able to scale and adapt to changing user demands. Just plugging a rich user interface into a legacy system and hoping for the best is not digital architecture, it is digital anarchy.
Putting the customer at the centre of a business is an easy thing to say and a much harder objective to implement. Most organisations have been created to make money and therefore have lines-of-business designed to perpetuate this purpose. Consequently, technology systems are developed to support these structures and maintain the status-quo, rather than re-orientate things to make sense to the customer or help facilitate their engagement. It might be the ideal, but very few companies actually have end-to-end integrated systems that enable a single customer to be consistently tracked throughout their entire lifecycle. In short, creating technology to enable a customer to be in the middle of a business isn't always as easy as the sales PDF brochure states, especially if you don’t have a decent vision of how these systems need to work together.
So what can a decent technical architecture do for your company’s digital transformation?
It can provide a stable backbone that can support your technical & process change objectives. It can facilitate agile incremental delivery based upon re-usable components. It can help your business grow by supporting integration of other online services, API’s and data sources.
If you’re planning any of this, can you afford to NOT have the right digital architecture?
Tuesday, August 22, 2017
Google has announced it is making renewed effort to help news publishers drive more subscriptions.
Initially these new changes will involve The New York Times and the Financial Times, but apparently the search giant is talking to dozens of other outlets
Full article on Bloomberg here.
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
But the way in which you upgrade and rebuild your site can have a big effect on your business, and more specifically how your rank organically in the major search engines. Organic traffic for most sites makes up between 30% to 50% of all visits and applying changes that affects this traffic means you get less visits, leads or conversions.
So here are 6 of the biggest ways to harm your online search traffic and therefore your key online business metrics in the process:
- Change the domain
Your organisation’s domain is a brand asset and changing it means losing all the search engine reputation it may have built-up over time. On the flip-side, if your domain has been significantly tainted by bad (black hat) SEO practices in the past, it may be best to start from scratch again with a fresh URL.
- Change the user experience
A change in the site design, the navigation, the directory structure you use and many other factors can influence how your site ranks.
- Change the content
Not all online content is created equal. The way your copy is written can have a major influence on how your site is indexed and then ranked online.. from its relevance to the search term(s) to the way the text is structured. However, a new web presence is an opportunity to review all of your content (including your images and the meta content behind the scenes).
- Change the hosting platform
Migrating from one website host to another may seem like a simple task. But where and how you host your website can have an effect on how you rank in Google, Yahoo, etc. especially if the hosting is slow or not located in the country / region where your customers (and target search engines) are.
- Ignore web standards
It takes hard work and determined effort to deliver a new website, especially if you have tight timescales to deliver to. And the area that can get compromised include: the quality of the code, the compliance to accessibility, the use of ‘alt’ tags for image alternatives, etc. In other words, a failure to follow web standards can have a negative impact on your site’s rankings in search engines.
- Re-launch it incorrectly
Sites fail to launch properly in all sorts of ways, from failing to cut-over all content correctly through to not getting the new site indexed in Google as quickly as possible… you are never going to get a second chance to make a first impression on the main search engines.
Wednesday, August 2, 2017
I am at Turing Fest, the tech & digital conference in Edinburgh.
There is unsurprisingly a lot of presentations and chatter about improving the product & user experience.
I was therefore reminded about this quote from Antoine de Saint-Exupery:
Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.
Thursday, July 13, 2017
It is now possible to automate your Amazon Marketing Services payment in a new way... with your own Amazon revenue.
Amazon offers those customers who advertise on their global eCommerce platform the ability to deduct their marketing costs from the payment that Amazon makes back to them.
Yes, this can be a double edged sword... in that you don't need to separately fund your AMS spend, but it is also a lot easier to spend money on marketing in Amazon.
Monday, June 19, 2017
In this video user research expert Laura Klein demonstrates a tool called a User Map to help product owners answer important questions they need to answer about their customers.
Monday, April 3, 2017
It must be hard for those following the IT Industry as it grows and errrr.... develops.
Recruitment agents, journalists, senior managers, HR / Talent people, etc. They must all think we make up terms just to baffle them.
Let's take a few:
A technology for automatically deploying servers to an environment.
Not a doll or a Thunderbird pilot.
A continuous deployment devops tool for groups.
Not a Sweedish muppet (see above) or a cleaver wielding ego maniac who now sells stock cubes.
An approach to software development where which pieces of code are packaged in a standardized way for subsequent reuse.
Not a metal box you see by the docks.
However.... perhaps us technologists make life more difficult for ourselves and should actually give things new names, rather than appropriating terms from outside the industry?
Friday, February 17, 2017
Android shipped 352,669.9 units, making that 81.7% of the market
iOS shipped 77,038.9 units, making that 17.9% of the market
Yup, that's correct. The remaining operating systems, which include Windows, Blackberry and others made up just 0.4% of all smartphone sales in the last 3 months of 2016.
Thursday, February 16, 2017
And personally I've helped to either put companies online, transform their business models to the always-on world or improve their digital proposition.
But through all of this we really need to occasionally take a step back and consider those prospects or existing customers who are:
- Not able to get access online
E.g. because their internet service is not working or even not good enough
- Not able to fully use the service
E.g. for those who have accessibility needs beyond those met by WCAG compliance (or at least beyond the basic compliance level that is typically aimed for by most websites)
- Not their preference or natural choice
E.g. those who have never used online technologies or feel confused and even frightened by the concept of using something as simple as a browser interface
So when transforming the user experience and building other interactions whilst sitting in your 'cross-functional' agile teams of user experience, product managers, designers, developers, testers and content specialists... take a moment to consider those who are not digitally enabled and how they might get on.