Today's interesting customer experience – the challenge is integrated experiences

I’m expecting a delivery today – it’s the delivery of a new mobile phone.

The delivery company has sent me an email to tell  me that they have sent me a text message stating the one hour slot when my new mobile phone will be delivered.

Unfortunately the mobile phone company have already processed the change and have disconnected my current SIM card.

The delivery company’s web site allows me to track the order, but does not tell me when they are planning on making the delivery.

Each of the components of this process have done what they were asked to do. Where this process has become broken is integration. It’s integration where most experiences break.

In technology we have a complexity problem. While the devices that we use may be getting simpler to use, we are using more of them and the integration between them is driving up the complexity. Some people think that the complexity is so severe that we are heading for a technology crash, maybe, I’m not sure. What do you think?

Top 40 Posts for 2015

The year isn’t yet concluded, but I’m planning a bit of a technology fast towards the end of the year and the few days that are remaining aren’t going to make a huge difference to the overall outcome of this year’s Top 40 Posts.

It’s interesting to note that many of this years top posts were written in earlier years. Number 1 was written 2010, number 2 in 2012 and number 3 in 2013.

Many of these posts were also at the top of last year’s list.

Not sure what that says about my current writing?

  1. A Lack Of Planning On Your Part Does Not Constitute An Emergency On Mine
  2. The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS)
  3. Axiom: People join companies, but leave managers
  4. BYOD and Productivity Statistics
  5. “One road leads home and a thousand roads lead into the…
  6. AWS Config now with ServiceNow Integration
  7. Rich Pictures
  8. The Productive Workplace: The Novel and Adaptive Thinking Space
  9. Microsoft – Productivity Future Vision (2015)
  10. “Vision is a picture of the future that produces…
  11. Windows 10: Long Term Servicing Branches
  12. Windows Live LifeCam
  13. “If everyone has to think outside the box, maybe…
  14. I love what I do – because – I’m good at what I do – because…
  15. My Tools: IFTTT – Automating Your Life
  16. Exchange 2016 Architecture Update – a few highlights from Ignite 2015
  17. “The man who does things makes many mistakes, but he never makes the biggest mistake…
  18. “In 10 years, it’s predicted that 40% of Fortune 500 companie…
  19. How to Measure Knowledge Worker Output? Metrics?
  20. Office Speak: “Can you please go on mute” – “PLEASE GO ON MUTE”
  21. “Only three things happen naturally in organisations…
  22. Concept of the Day: Cultural Plasticity
  23. I’m being a bit less social
  24. How I Process Information (Normally)
  25. Office Speak: One Throat to Choke
  26. Rant Over
  27. Productive Workplace: Cognitive Load Management Spaces
  28. Because it’s Friday: Wonderful Geometric Animated GIFs
  29. On the train in 2015
  30. “The Rise of Dynamic Teams” – Alan Lepofsky and Bryan Goode

I'm a man in the middle

Robert Frost once said:

“The middle of the road is where the white line is-and that’s the worst place to drive.”

But that’s the reality of much of my life – I’m in the middle.

  • I’m middle-aged
  • I sit, as a member of Generation X, between the baby boomer generation and Generation Y or as they seem to have become the Millenials.
  • I work in middle management. There are people above and people below.
  • I’m in the middle of the grade structure at my employer.
  • I’m of average height.
  • Although I used to wear Regular (middle) length trousers at some time in history my trousers have become marked as Short though my legs are no shorter.
  • I used to wear tops with an M in them, they normally now have an L instead, probably because I am above average weight.
  • I have an average sized waist. Not sure I understand how I can be average height, have an average sized waist, but be above average weight?
  • I drive a medium-sized car.
  • I have a family that is as close to medium-sized as it’s possible to get without having part of a child.
  • I live very close to the geographic middle of the UK, and the geographic middle of Britain (yes they are different things).
  • Income is a tricky one, that’s above the median, but there are people earning a lot more than I am and a lot of people earning less. I need to remind myself sometimes that I’m not in the middle here.
  • I live in a city that is about as close to having a median (medium) population for the UK as it’s possible to get.
  • I think I’m middle class, but that’s difficult to be clear about that these days because, thankfully, the class system isn’t as definitive as it used to be.
  • The average tenure at most employers is between 9 and 10 years, my tenure has been significantly longer than that.
  • I have an average commute to work for my region.
  • I have the average number of connected device.
  • Looking on my utility providers web site we use an average amount of energy for our region.

The reality is that we all live our lives in the middle of something, but is that really the worst place to drive?

How I process information (2015 update)

Back in February I wrote a post called How I process information (normally). This is an update to that post with a few tool changes and a few activity changes. I tinker around with my own personal productivity on a regular basis constantly seeking something that fits the demands being placed on me and my personal style, this is the latest iteration of that tinkering. Updates are in italics.

One part of my job is to stay current with the ever-changing technology and business landscapes. This means that I process hundreds (probably thousands) of items of information every day.

I don’t read all of them, but I try to process all of them on a normal day. It should be noted here that I try to have normal days as often as possible, but there are many days when that’s not possible. On those many days I do what I can to keep the framework working.


The normal way that I process information focusses on mornings. I’m mostly a morning person so that’s the best time for me to be alert because processing lots of information you should do when half asleep.

The morning is also the best time, for me, to establish and work through a routine. My morning routine works in six phases:

  • Quiet Time – when I read something that is meaningful normally using an application on my iPhone. I’ll then journal about this into a moleskine notebook.
  • Walk Time – I try to start each day with at least 40 minutes walking. During this time I’ll listen to a podcast on my iPhone. I’ve moved from using the inbuilt podcast application to using overcast it has a few nice features that I like (specifically an easy skip forward capability), but also the inbuilt podcast application ran into a problem and I couldn’t get it working..
  • Scan Time – I will work my way through the overnight deluge of blogs via Feedly and all the interesting updates from Twitter. My focus on Twitter is a set of people I have in a list called Interesting, I am likely to scan through the first few tweets from the rest of the people who I follow but not always. In Feedly I’ll mark some items as Save for Later; in Twitter I’ll Favourite some tweets. Both the favourited tweets and the saved Feedly posts will get copied into Evernote via IFTTT. During scan time I’ll also add a few things to a Buffer queue to get posted on Twitter (and Facebook) during the day, or the next day. Buffer allows me to space out posts so that they don’t all get blurted out in the first hours of the day.
  • Email and Calendar Time – I try to limit the time I spend on work emails. The part that I do in the morning routine is to get to inbox-zero by moving items into one of two folders – Actioned or To ActionIn 2015 we have moved our email services over to Outlook based on Office 365. After more years than I care to mention on Lotus Notes I’ve found the change over to Outlook relatively painless, but I have used Outlook in other aspects of life and for some customer projects so it wasn’t completely alien.
  • Plan Time – I have a physical folder with pre-printed Productivity Schedules in it. I’ll fill one of these out for each day. This becomes my plan for the day, it isn’t a task list it’s more than that, I’ll write about it some time.

It’s worth noting that there is only one application in these phases that is provided by my employer; the rest are either free, or I pay for them, this is my personal productivity regime.

Having written this post I realise that I’m still a bit delinquent on posts for the My Tools series; time to do some catching up.

A number of colleagues have written something similar:

Icons by Garrett Knoll, Brian Gonzalez, Andrea Verzola and Agustin Amenabar Larrin from The Noun Project used under Creative Commons – Attribution (CC BY 3.0)

The fall and rise of Accidental Empires

I have been re-reading Accidental Empires by Robert X. Cringley which was written in 1992 and then updated in 1996.

(The full text is available online)

The book charts the changing technology landscape at a time when it was the PC that was rising to be the dominant computing platform much to the surprise of the established computing companies like IBM.

Apart from taking me back to a time when I was relatively new in the business I was reading the book for contrasts and parallels to today’s changing market. The IT market was going through a turbulent time with organisations making strategic moves to grow their businesses and others having a terrible time trying to defend their dominance in another part of the market, sound familiar? Dell has just purchased EMC for $67B; is this a strategic attack or defensive move? Time will tell.

What is clear from re-reading Accidental Empires is that things have changed a lot. I thought I would look up the Fortune 500 list for 1992 and have a look through the IT companies then, and the IT companies in the current Fortune 500 list. There is no perfect list for such things, so I’ll also comment on current Market Cap for some of the organisation.


Back in 1992 the largest IT company on the Fortune 500 was IBM coming in at Number 4 with a revenue of over $65B but already showing challenges in a loss of over $2.8B. IBM were the biggest IT company on the planet, I say were, because today they come in at #24 with a significant cohort of organisation ahead of them. IBM’s place in the Fortune 500 could also be regarded as flattering when you consider the current Market Cap which would put them behind an even broader cohort including Apple, Alphabet (Google), Microsoft, Amazon, Facebook, Oracle, Intel and Cisco.

Other Strugglers

Other organisations have struggled also:

  • Eastman Kodak were at #18 and is now at #966. Revenue of $19.6B down to $2.1B.
  • Xerox were at #22 and is now at #143
  • Motorola were at #39 and is now #363

Kodak has long been regarded as the primary example of missed opportunity, they had everything they needed to dominate the digital photo business but failed to make strategic moves at the right time.

The Departed

There’s also a set of organisation from the 1992 list that no longer exist:

The Risers

There’s also a group of organisations on the current list that didn’t exist in 1992. Many of them are renowned for their use of technology, but technology isn’t necessarily the business they are in:

  • #29 – Amazon
  • #40 – Google
  • #172 – ebay
  • #242 – Facebook
  • #458 – Expedia
  • #474 – Netflix
  • #483 –

Not only did these organisations not exist in 1992, their type didn’t either. Amazon, Google, ebay, Facebook wouldn’t exist without technology, but they’re not really a technology organisation they are selling experiences that happen to use technology.

There are also some thoroughbred technology companies on the current list that weren’t there in 1992:

  • #60 – Cisco
  • #81 – Oracle
  • #121 – EMC
  • #405 – Symantec
  • #408 – SanDisk
  • #428 – NetApp

It’s worth noting that this list was compiled before Symantec split into two organisations and EMC was engulfed by Dell. The winds of change are blowing around these organisations.

The Others

Apple and Microsoft, who both existed, weren’t on the Fortune 500 list in 1992, today they are #5 and #31 respectively.

Dell was on the 1992 list at #490, but isn’t on the current list because it’s now a privately owned organisation and doesn’t declare it’s revenue or profit numbers.

Intel and Advanced Micro Devices (AMD) are unusual because they are on both lists. Intel has progressed from #106 in 1992 to #52 currently, AMD has moved from #295 down to #473.

HP appears on both list: #26 in 1992 – #19 now; this was before their split into two organisations.

The Rest of the World and China

I wanted to use the Global 500 for this post, but I couldn’t find an archive of that from 1992; I don’t even know whether it existed. The Fortune 500 only focusses on US listed organisations and that’s only a part of the story.

Looking at the current Global 500 shows us that whilst Silicon Valley has been the dominant innovation engine for the IT industry since before 1992 it no longer has it all its own way.

Some observations from the Global 500:

  • #13 – Samsung Electronics (Apple is at #15)
  • #31 – Hon Hai Precisions Industries – owner of Foxconn Technology (#32 is Allianz which is Europe’s largest insurer).
  • #55 – China Mobile Communications (#56 is BMW)
  • #160 – China Telecommunications (Intel is at #182)
  • #231 – Lenovo (#232 is Coca-Cola)

Alibaba Holding isn’t on the Global 500, but currently has a Market Capitalisation higher than Oracle, Intel and Cisco.

What I’ve Overlooked

I haven’t reflected much in this post on the massive change in telecommunication organisation, primarily because it’s not my field and it would need a whole post in its own right.

I’ve also chosen to overlook the increasing use of technology by companies such as Boeing, General Electric, JCB, Rolls Royce, Walmart and United Technologies. Technology is no longer a peripheral on the side of most organisation, it’s core to how they do what they do.


It’s been great to look back and see what has changed.

I’ve not got much foresight to give other than the observation that things are continuing to change, making the right moves at the right time will define whether an organisation becomes Silicon Graphics, Xerox, Intel or Alibaba.

We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten. Don’t let yourself be lulled into inaction.

Bill Gates