Thoughts on Web Summit 6

Go maith gan bheith go hiontach.

Web Summit 6 was weak but had its brighter moments – courtesy of Emi Gal, Tariq Krim and Marcus Segal.

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I attended today’s 6th Web Summit at the RDS in Dublin.  Paddy Cograve continued his run of sell out conferences – this time with almost 1,000 attendees, on a Friday afternoon in Dublin.  I have now attended 3 of Paddy’s 6 web summits.

I think today was the weakest yet.

Sam Barnett was a weak kick off act – did not provide much insight until he explained how he avoided paying rent in his startup (his landlord was a criminal).  Eamon Leonard offered a fairly laboured comparison between rockbands and startup companies (not sure how Paddy found this so interesting). However Eamon’s delivery style and sense of humour kept people amused. Strange that Jennifer O’Connell should pitch thejournal.ie and then announce she is moving on (hardly the greatest pitch for any business).  Emi Gal (Brainient) was exellent – speaking of personalisation and relevance in video).

The coffee break appeared to be sans coffee – a bit Irish for the price people paid.

Tariq Krim (Jolicloud) and Marcus Segal (Zynga) were excellent.  Microsoft and Techcrunch presenters were not particularly inspiring.

And on the networking front – yes probably had the opportunity to catch up with 6 or 7 people and make one or two new contacts.  The pre and post gatherings offered ample opportunity to meet with various people.

So – will I attend future web summits?  I’m left a little cold after today’s – but to be fair there were a couple of thought provoking presentations and the general atmosphere was decidedly upbeat in comparison to much of what we see in Dublin these days.

 

 

 

 

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EU to review internet privacy rules

EU to review internet privacy laws

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NY Times reports today that EU will review internet privacy rules.  Not surprising given the various stories about Google inadvertently gathering private data and facebook partners leaking user data.

‘…Viviane Reding, the justice commissioner, announced its intention to overhaul the European Union’s data protection rules to take account of the development of social networking, personalized advertising and other Web services that have raised privacy concerns. The new legislation, set to be introduced next year, would replace rules that date to 1995…’

On a separate note for any of you concerned re Streetview images uploaded by Google see this link from the Data Protection Commissioner’s Site (Ireland)

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Paperless billing

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This seems to have become a hot topic in Ireland – prompted by the move to electronic billing by mobile phone companies.  We have a number of objectors: the regulator because people had a right to a paper bill, some consumers who want a paper bill and, it seems, An Post who stand to lose out on lots of revenue.  Finally there is the debate about the sharing of the benefits – will all the benefits be retained by the corporations or will they be shared (in part or in whole) with the customers?

Useful catch up on the subject in yesterday’s Irish Times.

Surely this is a ‘non-brainer’ at a basic level?  We must use technology to make things more efficient.  But as in all such projects we must manage the change.   There are benefits in this for the corporations (in terms of cost savings) and there are benefits for customers who are open to receiving electronic bills (or accessing their account information on a portal).  Without doubt there are a group of people who will struggle to deal with an electronic document e.g. those with no internet access or familiarity.  This is a group which is diminishing in relative size – but nonetheless must be accommodated – and it would seem to me should not be disadvantaged over their current position.  This should be the core focus of the change agenda.

Online travel booking seems to have gained widespread acceptance – and it has resulted in major changes for those who previously facilitated the booking process.  Mr O’Leary of Ryanair pushed through the agenda but the Aer Lingus experience is the same.  And we have seen losts of benefits in online travel e.g. the various sites offering best deals across a range of providers – be it flights, cars, hotels, insurance, etc.

Over the last number of months I have availed of the new service from Irish start-up  GetItKeepIt which enables me to receive and a range of electronic bills from various suppliers.  For me this application addresses the specific point made by CAI Chairman James Doorley ‘people were “more likely to check their bills if they get them in the post”’.  I am now more inclined to review bills when gathered in one portal.

Ultimately we will complete a period of transformation – and the electronic bill will be the only option.  And this will be the de facto situation across the board.  And this will be a good thing.  We do not want to continue to have people doing things which have no value add – cutting down trees to create unnecessary paper, printing bills and putting them in envelopes, criss-crossing the country to deliver paper bills which can be sent electronically (or, more correctly, accessed electronically).  As for the benefits – they will be absorbed into the operating budgets of the service providers.

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Upgrade or replace current ERP solution

How to decide whether to upgrade or replace the ERP system

This is a question faced my many businesses;  it’s also a familiar question for me in my role as an external advisor.  And as with all of these situations there is no definitive answer.  It depends.

Read an excellent piece of AMR research written by Jim Shepherd on the same subject (September 2009).

This reminded me of a number of the core questions:

  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • Have you a plan for the business?
  • Have you an understanding of where the current application cannot meet current of future business needs?
  • Are you using the power of the current application/ application suite?
  • Are you having issues in terms of support and/or enhancements?
  • Does the application vendor have a roadmap (and the resources to deliver on the roadmap)?
  • What is the user forum telling you?
  • Have you the budget and the internal capabilities to take on a new ERP project?
  • Is the current application(and associated support costs) a fit for the size of your business e.g. in the context of any significant downsizing?

Given that ERP implementation represents open heart surgery for most businesses the decision to change is not to be taken lightly.  As against this must avoid good money after bad money.

Often there will be vested interests within an enterprise – those with a status quo agenda, those seeking other changes, perhaps off the back of an ERP implementation.   It is a key decision for any business – and needs to be made in a structured, unbiased way.

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Open Source on an upward trend

Open source is gaining traction

Accenture’s recent report would indicate very positive developments for Open Source solutions. Interesting commentary recently in Silicon Republic

The article attributes the trend to a number of developments – including growing confidence in the sector. I think this general trend ties in with the cloud, people’s own experience of using a range of open sourced tools and generally questioning the ability of large software enterprises to go it alone and develop better applications that those sourced and developed in an open market. The debate is most definitely moving on from a pure cost saving one – which has always been debatable.