Have you ever been caught short?

I guess we’ve all had a moment like that sometime. Whether it was finding ourselves short of cash for some unexpected expanse or just needing to find a toilet. Fast.

Two entirely different situations, yet they both share the same need to be resolved quickly. This is the whole point about services. And that’s value – the value they are to you.

Like buying a bottle of wine at your local shop, finding you’ve no cash and being charged a fee for using your card. Or the 50p charge for using a public toilet, when its free at home. That’s what I mean by value to you at the time.

Imagine a friend loaning you £50 to pay an unexpected bill. You’d pay them back – and may be give them a £12 bottle of Scotch for helping you out. That’s appreciating the value.

I wrote about Wonga when it first launched and got a lot of abuse for endorsing a product with such a high interest rate. But it seems that I wasn’t the only one who saw the value. Wonga’s just won a string of awards, like a Webby for their website and for their service.

Wonga are a great bunch of guys as well – So well done and good luck for the future!

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A cryptic question for you. When’s a webpage not a webpage, or a browser not a browser? The answer of course is when its not doing its job properly.

The web’s big thing is that it began standards-driven and is constantly refined over time. Whatever you want to code, there’s a right way to do it. If you don’t stick to this, that’s OK. But don’t expect anyone to read your content or use your browser.

HTML as a markup language does its job pretty well. Everything works as it was intended, which considering how much is there and how long its been going is amazing, really.

Sometimes someone comes along and for whatever reason, decide to do their own thing. But world domination aspirations apart, Whatever you view and wherever you view it on, you’ll see what the author intended you to see.

Microsoft screwed everything up with Internet Explorer. It used unbelievably sloppy coding. But they finally fixed it and with Version 8, its not too bad. But then along comes Opera.

So how does Opera manage to get everything so wrong?

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Sitting on my desk I have a wide-screen, 24-inch monitor. Good for you. I can hear you say. Stick with me on this one. there’s a point to me telling you this.

My web statistics show that 90% of visitors are using 1200×800 resolutions as a minimum. Tablets like Apple’s iPad have similar broad screen landscapes.

But that’s only half the story. Lots of my visitors use SmartPhones, like iPhone or Android. Resolutions for these is similar, but they use a sliding window.

Web design follows user hardware, that’s why most sites used an 800×600 screen canvas. This layout is now less common as we move to wider displays.

A website’s real estate has a value, which roughly follows the page layout of a newspaper. What you see first is premium, what you have to scroll around to, less so.

So to keep visitors happy, how big should a website be. Just how big is your world?

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Imagine this scenario. You’re living in a nice house, but the window frames need replacing.

You have a good look round and find a new window company offering you a great deal. Lower maintenance, more light, much better looking and adding more value to your home. Your neighbours down the road have switched to them and really love them.

But your window cleaner doesn’t want you to have them. So he says no.

What, he’s your window cleaner. You pay him to do what he does. He’s actually saying no?

You’d fire him, wouldn’t you. No way you’d accept a decision of yours questioned like that. But if he’s your IT outsourcer, that’s exactly what he thinks he can do. And you let him do it.

An outsourcer wants to make money from supporting you, I don’t have a problem with that. What I have a problem with is anyone trying to hijack your company’s future.

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Its funny how tech just sneaks up on you. You saw all those people wandering around like a mobile version of the John Lewis electronics section and thought to yourself “Not me”.

Yeah, right!

Then one day you get a PC. And a phone. Next, you upgrade the PC and that iPhone or the latest Android’s looking good. And netbooks are pretty cool. Suddenly, you’re a techy.

Welcome, my friend. To the machine.

Everything goes well until you begin to create data on this stuff. A document on your PC, email attachment on your smartphone or that spreadsheet from accounts on your laptop. Now you’re in trouble.

Well, I’ve found just the thing for you…

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Watch people with smartphones. They seem engrossed. But they aren’t talking, or texting. They’re playing with them.

Its the applications. People are downloading stuff and exploring this latest cool technology. Suddenly the means has become the end. Again.

What do I mean – again?

What I mean is, it seems just like PC’s were when we first discovered them. Exciting, cool. Until Microsoft made it all the same and well, boring.

But this is different. There’s diversity. We’ve got iPhone and Android. Nokia’s joining in, too.

We’re learning stuff, not just using the shiny bits. Could this bring PC’s back to life…?

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No, come on, think about it. Is the PC dead?

Yes and No. Ages ago, experts proclaimed the end of the PC and long live the X terminal. Yet it never happened. Why?

Because applications still needed to be run on the PC as the network infrastructure was not up to delivering them across the wire or the air. Servers didn’t have the capability to run hundreds of users.

But now things have changed. Networks are faster and have greater reach, online storage is a reality and readily available and applications run from servers. Google Office anyone? So why do we need a PC?

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Here’s an interesting news item for you. Zopa has just grabbed 1% of the UK loans market. Now if you’re still brushing off the dust from the banking collapse and looking around you, you’ll be seeing a very different landscape.

The old banks are still shell-shocked and fumbling. But the new guys, leaner, more agile and more innovative are pulling the financial carpet out from under their shaky feet.

I’d just finished writing about Metro Bank and saw the Tweet about Zopa’s market share. And that news got my interest.

Zopa is a loans provider. But instead of just reselling finance at a stupid rate from some finance house, Zopa connects people with money to lend to customers who want to borrow. That’s called Peer to Peer lending, or P2P if you prefer cryptic sound bytes.

It may sound a bit left-field, not something that many would bother with. But consider this. Zopa has now arranged £100 Million of P2P loans for their customers.

Now that’s serious money. Maybe Zopa’s worth a closer look…

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I was having a meal with friends last night. And its becoming a habit. Not the going out bit, but finding something to write about when I do. I was asked if I still used my Blackberry.

Well, the answer was I do, but I just use mine as a phone now, I don’t use it for my emails. Reason being, lack of opportunity. Let me explain.

Here in the UK, use of a mobile phone when you drive is illegal. So that’s out the window. One of the many downsides of being an old fart like me is needing glasses for reading. Anything smaller than a newspaper headline and I’m snookered.

Now, that means unless I’m sitting down somewhere, the opportunity for that quick flick through emails is gone.

And most sitting-down places have wireless access. That’s the other reason…

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Look around the average office. You’ll see lots of desks, some with people sitting on them. More importantly, you’ll see one PC per desk, if there’s anyone sitting there or not.

Think about all that cost. Every PC has a tinware cost, an operating system like Windows® and a licence for every piece of software. Each plugs into a socket and consumes energy. Remember, all that heat and power uses more expensive carbon, too.

The really stupid part is the PC arms race has left us with PC’s too powerful for our needs. We use 5% of their capabilities. They’re 64-bit but we use 32. Each one with a huge disk. What if we could all share one PC and still work as well as before?

Seems one company may have the answer. And it could start an office revolution…

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You can never have too much information. Once upon a time, people used to believe that. But they clearly didn’t have access to the Internet – or email.

The truth is, you can’t have too much information. It provides the essential 360° view that’s always required to make a proper decision. But it must be managed and presented right. That’s something I experienced recently.

Like every strategy consultant, I’ve a mix of clients. Some are big, savvy corporates, some not too IT-focussed small businesses. Each have their own particular issues, but this time, it was a local SME client of mine that learned a hard lesson about information overload.

Let me tell you how they – and I got caught out. Big style…

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Now here’s a question. The answer’s really quite easy, but seeing it this way may not be. What’s the difference between a cellular and a landline phone?

But before you go off at a tangent, thinking about network topologies, cell stations, radio technologies and all that stuff, remember. I’m asking about what it does, not how it works.

The answer I read was so simple, had such clarity, I now try to see everything in this way. Because I believe that’s the key to presenting a great IT strategy.

Its not about knowing how something works, its about what it does for us.

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That bulging wallet that you’re carrying around in your jacket pocket, jeans or handbag is probably stuffed full of plastic, rather than the cash. But do you really need those cards?

Plastic payment cards are an old technology. Older than the Internet and mobile phones. Back then, They were the only way to buy without cash.

That was then and this is now. The Internet is enabling new ways for us to buy and sell. But the banks make a lot of money when you have cards, so they’d like you to keep them. Maybe its time to think about something that works for you instead…

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I read an interesting and light-hearted observation from Phil Houghton on Twitter recently. 10th October 2010 will be 10-10-10. That’s 42 in binary.

Of course, keen Douglas Adams and Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy fans will instantly realise that the number 42 is the key to the meaning of life, the universe and everything. Here’s a question. what’s the meaning of life to you?

I pose this rather philosophical question because during a meal recently, I said I used Twitter and Facebook. The couple we were with asked if I was trying to change the world.

Maybe I am. If not, what are you and I trying to do with our lives?

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The Cloud. Oh, the arguments. What it is or isn’t, do we take it or leave it. How good or bad, how safe, how sound. Let’s look beyond the hype and bullshit see it’s effect.

As a strategist, I build jigsaws puzzles. Joining up all the pieces to find the whole picture. This time, I’m doing more. I’m trying something new.

I’m about to draw a picture beyond what we know and describe a world never dreamt of. Better fasten your seat belts, folks. We could be in for some turbulence…

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Companies are cutting IT expertise and looking to savagely trim-back infrastructure costs. And virtualisation, with its promise of lower hardware costs is usually the weapon of choice. However, could all this paring back taking us closer to a serious security breach?

Well, IBM certainly thinks so. And I agree. Given that “you can’t attack what you can’t see”, PC-based servers flash like a tart on a drinking binge.

They all use Intel’s ubiquitous x86 processor or the AMD variant, but this cheap, one size fits all solution is weak and wide open to attack, unlike its bigger cousins.

IBM warns against virtualisation for any system holding critical regulatory compliant data. Especially virtualised Intel x86-based systems used in PCI DSS environments…

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