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Ten hopes for the Tens… Revisited

September 22, 2016

Back at the end of 2009, I wrote a post that expressed my top ten hopes for the following decade.

The passed six years have rocketed by and have provided the best years of my life and some of the worst too. The period from 2012 to 2014 provided many happy memories but 2015 to 2016 has delivered many moments I would love to forget – with three unexpected stays in hospital, following life threatening events, and the sad loss of two of the most significant people in my life – my Mother-in-law and Father – within a few months of each other.

So, as we are well over half way through the decade and I have reached a milestone 50th birthday I thought I’d reflect on those hopes.

1. … as my kids go through their teenage years and do as many stupid things as I did that…
a) They survive and are not permanently damaged
b) I can see the context and show understanding

The first was about my kids and their passage through potentially tumultuous teenage years and I’m pleased to say that this hope is exceeding expectations. I know what I was like as a teenager and I walked a fine line sometimes between success and failure, good health and serious injury.

georgia_rowing2My eldest daughter is now in her final teenage year. Physically she has been living away from us for over a year now and psychologically the gap is growing slowly as she experiences life on her own. A diligence and focus at school and college, that was far greater than I achieved, has led to academic success in her GCSEs and A levels and a new path of learning in architectural engineering and design management at University.

It’s great to see that University life is broadening her horizons beyond academic study as she has taken up rowing in her first year and has already had a taster of the GB Start programme – designed to spot rowing talent early.

Back during the Easter holidays she spent a glorious week at a rowing boot camp in the south of France. She has also experienced and survived some less than glamorous wet and windy rowing events on rivers ‘Oop north’.

chloeethel1My youngest daughter remains obsessed with horses and since the end of 2014, she has been caring for her own horse called Ethel. This has been a roller-coaster ride of discovery for us all – particularly taking trips to the stable yard in the early mornings and late evenings during the winter months.

The morning I ended up in my socks, knee deep in mud and gripping the *live* electric fence to stop myself sinking in further will live long in my memory. Despite this and other challenges I am enjoying being a horse owner.

13938361_307668182921126_285434658582340390_nAnyway, I’m pleased to say that the bond between horse and rider has developed strongly over the last 6 months and they both had a fantastic time at a local pony camp during the recent summer holidays where they got to practice dressage, cross-country and showjumping from dawn to dusk for a whole week. The horse was cleaner and smelt a lot better than the rider by the end of it …

2. … my wife and I are not grandparents by 2020

12645021_10153910172178784_6660529314934758305_nThe second was expressing a general hope that my wife and I would not be grandparents by the end of the decade.

I’m relieved to say my immediate and extended family are not rushing to have children with only one produced so far from a collection of nine cousins and I will be happy if my children also take their time before becoming parents themselves.

That said, it is exciting to welcome a new generation to the ‘clan’ and the first arrival is the gorgeous Yuino, the daughter of nephew Alex and his wife Yukiko in Sapporo, Japan.

 

 

3.  … the wonderful teamwork I share with my wife grows stronger still and we can channel it in some exciting new directions

bumpco2The third was about building on the teamwork I share with my wife and taking it in new directions.

This time last year, I put my eCommerce consulting on hold for a few weeks to help build and launch a real-life shop for The Bump Company, the previously fully online gift retail business my wife established in 2009.

Basically, we turned an empty shell that was the temporary home for the local pharmacy, but unoccupied and decaying for 18 months, into a combined workshop and retail space. My wife enlisted the help of interior design students at Southampton Solent University to come up with proposals and then I set about making it a reality with discounted timber from Wickes and several car loads of material from Ikea ‘Bargain Corner’ – from large high gloss door panels (just £7 each) to the shop centerpiece – a white circular table (reduced from £250 to £80).

the-bump-company-designNeedless to say we had fantastic support from family, friends and neighbours to pull everything together in time for the official opening event attended by Eastleigh Borough Mayor Cllr Jane Welsh on the 19th October 2015.

A year on, The Bump Company’s new home has proved to be an excellent first step to bricks and mortar retail as well as giving us our house back and providing the opportunity to employ others to help with growth plans.

 

4. …I get as much fulfillment and enjoyment out of my working life as I have done over the last two decades

I entered the workplace almost 30 years ago now and have been fortunate to have worked across a broad range of industries from broadcast, telecoms, cookware, kitchen machines and automotive components to IT hosting services, software development, public sector change initiatives and defence services.

About the only things I was sure of at college was that I didn’t want to be restricted to one type of job role in one type of organisation and that I wanted to do something that was a mix of art and science.

Fortunately, around the time I was settling into my first ‘proper’ job, working for an advertising agency, Tim Berners-Lee was pushing forward his proposals for the ‘World Wide Web’ and it is this, more than anything else, that has been central to my working life since the mid 1990s.

what-is-responsive-web-designFast forward to 2016 and I am in a role that combines most of what I have enjoyed from my career so far ..

Digital transformation

User driven web development

UX and responsive design

eCommerce development

Content Management System implementation

Search Marketing

Email Marketing

 

Back in 2009 I was betting on the ‘mobile web’ as being the defining technology for this decade and it has been the central focus of the majority of my roles and projects in the last couple of years. As this post from the 2016 Mobile World Congress emphasised, we are now entering a period of merging between native apps and the mobile web to achieve a more fluid approach. As this recent article from The Drum points out, the convergence of mobile web and native apps is the new frontier in marketing and heralds the growth of the ‘push based web’.

Linked to this is the rise of the Internet of Things which I have been tracking closely since the early part of the decade and is now becoming much more tangible in its application and use. IoT has the potential for us to help address many of the big challenges in our increasingly complex world.

product_smartphoneHaving spent the first part of the decade working in the automotive industry and then on a Department for Transport sponsored sustainable transport initiative, I am sure that IoT and emerging Smart Grids will surprise us in their progress and potential in our transport networks by 2020.

For now, my personal interest has shifted to the sector responsible for the biggest output of greenhouse gas emissions – electricity & heat – and how IoT and Smart Grids can help the world achieve its reduction targets.

All the time I have that magical mix of art and science, a big challenge and a sense of purpose I am fulfilled and enjoy my working life. As a bonus, my latest role is a very pleasant 10 minute walk from my house – the best commute I’ve ever had :).

emissions-growth

 

5. … those clever genetic scientists create an injection that will give me perfect hearing again

Fulfilling as it has been, my working life has been inextricably and unavoidably linked to my hearing loss challenges and that has presented a fair share of frustrations over the last ten years in particular.

This decade however has already seen the most significant advances for technologies for the deaf in history and I have benefited tremendously from this.

12996_Watch_Web_Modules_B2C_556x428Without these advances I would be living in a near silent world today as the progression of my hearing loss means that anybody wishing to communicate with me verbally needs to speak directly and loudly into my ears.

With the technology however,  I can now hear better in some scenarios than those without loss and have also been in a few situations where my hearing colleagues were impressed and somewhat envious of the capabilities I now have.

Of course, none of this is cheap or particularly easily accessible and as it is on the cutting edge of development it hasn’t been without frustrations and disappointments.

Although it’s clear we are just scratching the surface with IoT potential in hearing technologies my biggest hope is gene therapy.

This recent article summarises current developments in gene therapy for hearing loss disorders and concludes …

“A comprehensive set of cures for deafness is getting closer and closer. The problem is being attacked from many angles with many different weapons and time seems to be the only factor in its final defeat. Some gene therapies are maybe less than a decade away at the time this article was written.”

6. …  my parents celebrate 2020 New Year with me

downloadSadly, my sixth hope will not be fully fulfilled as my Father will not be seeing in New Year 2020 with us following his death in April 2016.

One of the reasons we celebrated his 80th birthday in the way we did was that there was a general feeling in the family that he had reached that age against the odds. His unstoppable addiction to smoking caught up with him in the end and that ‘end’ was not pleasant as he battled with inoperable lung cancer.

Although I’d convinced myself I had been prepared for the moment ever since his first brush with lung cancer in the 1980s – as well as subsequent heart disease and chronic pneumonia – the truth is I wasn’t. His loss impacted me massively and far more significantly than I ever imagined.

owngardenFour months have passed by now since I watched his body being lowered into the ground and since then I have had to do all of the things I’d been dreading for much of my life, including clearing out his studio, disposing of his model railway and watching the water garden he lovingly designed and built be filled in.

I have been lucky enough to work with some tremendously talented people over the years – from artists and designers to engineers and computer geniuses. However, I have never met anyone who could draw, illustrate and paint so accurately from memory in the way my Father could. He was undoubtedly gifted and from my earliest memories to today there are so many times I felt inspired by what he could do and the things he created.

Beyond that, I had a deep bond with him over our shared challenges of hearing loss. He had experienced everything I have done and always had wise words to help me when times got tough. I am eternally grateful to our enlightened society and wonderful NHS that they funded a cochlear implant for him at the age of 80 and it was encouraging for me to witness how well his hearing was improving over time while mine was diminishing. I miss seeing his joy as he realised he could hear a piece of favourite music again and high pitched sounds that I can no longer hear even with advanced hearing aids.

7. … the Western world understands its debt to under-developed nations and helps them to help us safeguard our planet

As the first decade of the 21st century came to an end it was becoming increasingly clear that a global problem needed a global solution.

Up until recently progress on a global scale looked very poor and although there are undoubtedly many initiatives happening throughout the world to combat climate change, political commitment at the highest levels has always been seen as essential if we ever have a hope of keeping temperature rises to a minimum this century and beyond.

As this article from The Guardian highlighted before the Paris Climate talks …

“Developed nations must take responsibility for their historic emissions and contribute the funds and transfer of technologies to developing countries needed to help avoid dangerous climate change”

Encouragingly, since then there has been much more agreement that the historical polluters should do their bit to help developing nations – but as this article from Grist points out, there is a long way to go …

“The good news for climate justice is that everyone agreed in Paris for the first time that they all must contribute. The bad news is that none of the richest countries has yet come even close to contributing enough.”

wri13_wrr_balancing_act_081314_web

8.  … Web Content Management continues to thrive and prosper and evolve in many exciting new directions

codeguard-state-of-the-web-report-716x600I spent a fair chunk of the first decade of the 21st Century promoting the benefits of proprietary Content Management Systems and helping persuade fellow marketing folks that the rising ‘open source’ approaches were not the way to go. I guess it is somewhat ironic then that I’ve spent virtually all of this second decade so far immersed in ‘open source’ solutions – most frequently Drupal.

My current role is supporting the implementation of Drupal for a large enterprise project – similar on many levels to the projects I was doing back at the end of the last decade on proprietary .net systems like Episerver.

So, over half way through this decade, is it still relevant to talk about Web Content Management? Wikipedia gives a simple and concise view of how things stand today – the summary being that, as a software solution, it is a commodity you don’t really need to pay for anymore. However, looking beyond the list of solutions on Wikipedia, it’s clear there are new ones appearing regularly to fight for a share of the space.

Gartner and Forrester look at things differently from an enterprise perspective, placing the importance on commercial credibility and ability to execute on vision.

In writing that original hope though I was thinking more about Web Content Management as a process – what Wikipedia describes as Web Content Lifecycle

There has been much debate about the relevancy of the terms ‘web’ and ‘content’ in recent years – in part to dress up an increasingly commoditised capability as something ‘new’ but also in recognition that the process needs to be more goal driven and accountable if it is to give a return on investment and provide users with what they want – when and where they want it.

Overall, I like Drupal founder Dries Buytaert’s assessment of the terminology from a couple of years ago and the idea that we are using the technology to manage broader ‘digital’ content and that the processes are increasingly about how and where that content improves an experience.

A recent survey by Marketo looking at customer relationship trends towards 2020 stated that …

“The top channels to the customer in 2020 will be social media (63% of respondents), the World Wide Web (53%), mobile apps (47%) and mobile web(46%). Publishing-centric channels like television, radio and print scored far lower.”

On this basis I think commentary about systems like Drupal dying is somewhat premature particularly as the massive effort that is going into Drupal 8 is very much in line with this view of the future.

9.  … I will be able to wear the dinner jacket I bought in 2000 for the 2020 celebrations (because it certainly doesn’t fit for the 2010 ones😦 )

dj3hmmm – the hope that I will once again get into that dinner jacket comfortably in 2020 seems more remote right now than many of the futuristic hopes listed throughout this post.

At the time of writing I am the heaviest I have ever been and quite daunted by the challenge of that dinner jacket, let alone the trousers.

The jacket is a 44 inch chest. My current jackets are 48 inch. The trousers are a terrifying 34 inch waist. My current ones are 40 inch.

Realistically I need to lose around 4 stone in 4 years if I am going to stand a chance of wearing that dinner suit for the 2020 New Year celebrations.

Can I do it? Well … having had several health scares over the last few years – two of which resulted in periods in hospital – I am duty bound to say I have to do it.

Back in 2013 when the sun was shining and life was good, a summer’s worth of long walks and a focus on a healthier diet had things moving in the right direction but unfortunately the joys of middle age – such as dealing with elderly parents on one side and demanding teenagers on the other – have diverted me away from the goal over the last 24 months.

10. …  I can give up Twitter and blogging for a whole week without getting uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms

downloadMy personal social media usage very much peaked back in 2012 and I can’t see it rising a great deal more than the occasional catch up post.

2015 was by far my poorest year of blogging and 2016 will be even worse. Beyond that, I barely use Twitter and Facebook and haven’t even given the likes of Instagram and Snapchat a second thought. Have I missed any of it? – not a bit. Do I feel in any way disadvantaged by not participating? Not for a minute.

It would appear from articles like this and this that the negative psychological impact of social media and the benefits of limiting its use are becoming more well known.

Professionally however I have responsibility for social media strategy and implementation and therefore must keep abreast of how things are evolving even if I choose personally not to get that involved.

Much of the current commentary reflects observations I made about social media growth during the last decade when I was experiencing the opportunities and threats presented by its usage while working for high street brand manufacturers such as Le Creuset and Kenwood Delonghi.

Given the extent of recent comment regarding the impact of social media on teenage girls in particular I’m grateful that my eldest daughter was slightly ahead of the major upsurge of social usage and that my youngest daughter maintains more of a passion for horses than for the dubious distractions of social media.

As far as my day job is concerned I am pleased that the ridiculous levels of hype surrounding the growth of social media have largely died away now and the commentary has returned to more rational views of its pros and cons. Previous comments I have made about marketers not getting overly distracted by increased ‘noise’ and staying focused on the basics appears to be reinforced by some of the latest studies

“In the rush to stay current on new networks, marketers are neglecting their blogs. The average number of blogs per brand per month actually decreased by 16 per cent across the year, and yet engagement climbed steadily to a peak of 190 average social shares in one month. While there is a decrease in the average number of blog posts per brand per month, the interest, sharing and engagement with blog posts on social media has not dropped off. There is just less activity taking place.”

Personally it delights me that Tim Berners-Lee is ‘no friend of Facebook’ and I hope that the world gets behind his ‘Solid’ initiative to help decentralise the web and give us viable alternatives to US dominated interweb giants.

I’ve never really thought of myself as a web hippie but perhaps that’s what happens when you reach 50 and still remember building web pages in HTML? …

 


At the end of original post I asked what others hoped for in the coming decade and loved the response from Simon (copied below) – to which I have added some current commentary and links …

1. Immersive VR will transform human computer interaction for both entertainment and education.

This Stanford University event in November last year illustrates the advances in immersive VR during the first half of this decade. I particularly liked this observation and can imagine how such experiences will change our workplaces for the better …

“Immersive workspaces will become an integral part of the next generation collaboration ecosystem. They will offer new paradigms to co-create and experience future products. The shared immersive workspaces and product model will become a participatory focus point for the team and client to collaborate, troubleshoot early and often, explore alternatives in rapid virtual prototyping iterations. This will transform the way we work today, reducing response latency, re-work, and decision wait time.”

2. Augmented reality will also transform human computer interaction

The recent mass hysteria over Pokemon Go is the first mainstream example of the potential for augmented reality.

In a recent Salesforce article discussing the potential for VR and Augmented Reality in the enterprise, this statement leaped out at me …

“In the case of AR, the hands-free field service worker can employ in-the-field technical assistance and access visual workflows, tasks and work orders using gestures and voice commands. The content can be served directly from the Salesforce knowledge base, and the tasks configured and delivered through the platform.”

3. Mass produced robots will revolutionise the “economics of labour” and this will create positive social change

This FT article assessed how far the robot revolution has progressed so far this decade …

“In the wake of the great recession, managers have noted an ample supply of cheap human labour and have done without the machines for now. Perhaps there is some vast underground dormitory somewhere, all steel and sparks and dormant androids. In a corner, a chromium-plated robo-hack is tapping away at a column lamenting the fact that the humans have taken all the robots’ jobs.”

4. Social media will transform advertising into something both honest, helpful and objective rather than irritating and emotional

This infographic from Adweek illustrates the impact social media is having on traditional advertising …

“Did you know that that 70 percent of consumers trust recommendations from their friends? What if I told you that only 34 percent of people under 30 get their news from television, that 26 percent of consumers are complaining about brands – perhaps your brand – on social media, or that 87 percent of marketers want to better understand how to measure social media ROI?”

5. Social media will illuminate the evil in the world which will then be defeated by socio-economic forces

This LinkedIn article gives a balanced view of social media and its role in the battle between the forces of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ half way through the decade …

“A March 2015 study by the Brookings Institution shows that ISIS and their sympathizers deployed an estimated 46,000 Twitter accounts, mostly from Syria and Iraq, from October to November of last year. About 20% of those accounts tweeted in English, while a further 73% tweeted in Arabic. None of the Islamic State’s social media tactics are new, yet their savvy demonstrates how social media can be used for harm instead of good. “

6. Virgin Galactic will put a solar panel in space and we’ll all finally realise that there really is no shortage of energy

Although Virgin Galactic suffered a setback in its ambitions following the crash of its experimental spacecraft in late 2014, this article from Tech Insider shows the potential for space based solar …

“Some scientists think humans could get clean power collected from solar panels in space and beamed back down to Earth in our lifetime. Not only would the energy source be continuous, it would also be clean and unlimited. The only thing standing in the way is the astronomical cost. But that’s finally changing, and space-based solar power entrepreneurs are starting to see interest from private investors and potential customers.”

7. Cures for AIDS, Diabetes, Cancer and other major illnesses will be found

Put the combined efforts of scientists together in the way humankind did in its race to walk on the moon and there is every chance that these cures will be found by 2020 …

“The cancer moonshot will be a true partnership between government, the private sector, academia, and the philanthropic community. … It could prove to be a model for how public-private partnerships can overcome even the most difficult challenges.”

8. Robotic cars will end the tragedy of thousands of road deaths, eliminate the travesty of private streets choked with parked cars and usher in a new age of cheap integrated global transportation

Recent news about Teslas crashing in automatic pilot mode show that progress in this field is probably far more advanced than many of us appreciate and this report from Deloitte highlights the amazing potential for ‘smart mobility’ …

“Change is coming to transportation, whether we’re ready for it or not. You can see it in public sector investment in intelligent streets and digital railways, automakers’ focus on next-generation vehicles and smart mobility services and in widening recognition that the ‘information everywhere’ world will utterly disrupt the transportation status quo.”

9. Society will bring discipline to those who have never experienced it

I wasn’t entirely sure what this hope was alluding to but surfing around brought me to an interesting warning about parents using social media to ‘shame’ their offspring but also to the ideas of ‘positive discipline’ which seem to make a lot of sense …

“Recent research tells us that children are hardwired from birth to connect with others, and that children who feel a sense of connection to their community, family, and school are less likely to misbehave. To be successful, contributing members of their community, children must learn necessary social and life skills. Positive Discipline is based on the understanding that discipline must be taught and that discipline teaches.”

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