Tag Archives: Olympics

Review of my 2012 predictions


Gosh, didn’t 2012 go quickly? It was always going to be a year of counting down the months, weeks, days and hours to the-greatest-show-on-Earth, and then getting back to reality. And the-greatest-show-on-Earth didn’t disappoint – what an amazing event London 2012 was.

Here are the predictions I talk about in December 2011…

1. The Olympics summer of proof-of-concepts

We saw lots of electronic display advertising around London in the run up to the Olympics, and Google updated their rich snippets to display sports results during the Olympics. Each of the sponsor brands also carried out some innovation during the Games.

Prediction rating: 8/10

2. Social to level off, but will become a central hub for our activities.

Facebook isn’t quite the walled garden that I thought it would be, but it’s getting there very quickly. At Endava we are working with some customers to enable their services to work inside Facebook – and these are customers that you would have thought would resist social media more than others. My wife hardly uses email any longer – she uses Facebook messages because there’s zero chance of spam, and from her perspective, only her Facebook friends send her email anyway. Skype video calls working inside Facebook only confirm this prediction.

Prediction rating: 5/10 (I reckon I was a year early).

3. A big tech failure

I was discussing both commercial and technical failures here – and I have one answer: RIM. Between February and October the RIM BBM outages strongly affected the share price by almost two thirds, although it’s doubled since October.

Prediction rating: 9/10

4. Mobile payments

Well done Barclays for launching PingIt in February. And with Barclaycard’s PayTag (the NFC sticker), you can now pay for buses using a mobile phone linked to your credit card.

Prediction rating: 8/10 (dropping points because only one bank is offering such services)

5. 3D printers after the Olympics

I thought I was wrong (or at least, too early) here, but thanks to Danny, an architect at Endava, he said that he’s been reading about 3D printers all over the press now. I don’t understand why they haven’t taken off. There are already websites popping up with 3D designs such as www.shapeways.com and www.thingiverse.com.

Prediction rating: 5/10 (It’s here – but still too geeky)

6. Akamai stock to rocket around EURO 2012 and the Olympics.

At work this prediction was classed as too easy. It’s a worldwide recession, and Akamai stock rose from $28 in mid-July to $35 at the end of the month. It’s now $39. If it was such an easy prediction chaps, let me know if you bought some shares!

Prediction rating: 10/10

7. More toolbars

As predicted, I’m seeing many more JavaScript toolbars at the expense of installed toolbars.

Prediction rating: 10/10

8. Home automation to make a comeback

You can now buy a remote central heating service from British Gas for £150 – after the first 10,000 consumers liked the technology. There’s also Nest, the best looking thermostat you can buy. Personally the thought of wrestling the family with the central heating iPhone app as the 21st century version of the TV remote is a bit daunting.

Prediction rating: 8/10 (why do we need to automate the oven or curtains anyway?)

Total prediction score of 63 out of a possible 80. Pretty good going. Must try harder next year!


How the Olympics team delivered London2012.com

Click to watch the London 2012 highlights video

The Olympics is like London buses – you don’t see anything about it for a while, and suddenly you get several opportunities at the same time.

On Monday I was very fortunate to meet with Alex Balfour, who was the Head of New Media at London 2012. If you haven’t seen Alex’s summary of London 2012 on slideshare yet, stop reading this and take a read straight away.

So I saw Alex on Monday, who for a man who has had one of the most stressful jobs in Digital Media for the last three years, didn’t look any worse for it (no grey hair or hair loss!); and this evening I was invited to an event hosted by Simon La Fosse where the guest speaker was Gerry Pennell, the CIO of London 2012.

Gerry spoke for around thirty minutes, which flew by quickly, and then there were literally dozens, dozens of questions from the audience. The thing that struck me was how each member of the audience was so polite and started off by congratulating Gerry and his team on such a successful event. This was refreshing because the IT community doesn’t congratulate one another – IT has such a high expectation that if it works, well, it’s expected to, and anything less is something to complain about.

Gerry described how important digital was such a key component of delivering the Games. Actually, he wanted to stick to ‘just’ the huge undertaking of delivering a live events service, but his presentation kept coming back to digital consumers. All wonderfully consumer focussed.

Some of the other key points he covered:

  • Just under a quarter of LOCOG’s budget went to IT
  • It was easy to motivate his team to get things done – everyone knew about the deadline, rather than many other IT organisations who have a degree of lethargy and motivation issues
  • Gerry’s teams had to create their own requirements four years ago, because the rest of the organisation didn’t know what it would want back then
  • Preparation was key. The team prepared via a large number of test events, scenario planning, disaster recovery planning, and so on
  • LOCOG knew that they were going to have a rough time with the press. He told a story about the day that the BlackBerry Messaging service went down, and a journalist in his office blamed Gerry for the outage!
  • The threat of cyber-attacks was taken extremely seriously, and some politicians were involved on this subject. There were six actual significant attacks during the Games which were dealt with, and Gerry was paid his compliments to their Content Delivery Network
  • To resolve IT issues immediately, rather than the usual IT call-fix resolution timescales, they had to ‘saturate’ the stadia with support staff and equipment – they would replace desktops and equipment rather than problem solve
  • Despite all the IT infrastructure, there is still a huge reliance on paper in the stadia – referees and other games staff wanted/ needed to have a sheet of paper. The last two Olympics have printed 50 million sheets of paper, and in London they produced 16 million. A full box of office printer paper has 2,500 sheets, so that’s still almost 6,500 boxes of paper!
  • LOCOG were shocked at the amount of mobile traffic. And this traffic wanted live results. For the first time, London was able to provide point by point score updates (as opposed to game or match results) – and the peak traffic period was the Murray final, where mobile users wanted point by point updates about the match
  • There were 40 university sandwich placements who worked for the LOCOG IT organisation. I had a sandwich placement in my third year at university, and I can only begin to imagine what an experience the Olympics must have been for these once-in-a-lifetime lucky students

Someone in the audience asked about the huge amount of data that LOCOG had collected during the summer, and whether there was a Big Data opportunity. Gerry answered that the team was disbanded straight after the Paralympics, so there wasn’t much of an opportunity or business desire (because the business was dismantled as well!)

We are seeing a world where the value of content is continually diminishing – there are so many sources of content that it’s easy to move to someone who’s giving it away for free as soon as one source starts charging. Technology also makes it easy to bypass traditional content funding models – such as the ability to fast forward during adverts on pre-recorded TV programmes.

Sport will continually increasing in value though. By its nature, it’s time sensitive, so it’s usually watched live. This makes the advertising much more valuable – for instance, think about the infamous Super Bowl ads.

This in turn makes the content more valuable – and one of the key reasons why the English Premiership’s rights rose 71% this year to over a billion pounds per season.

Sport – it’s only a game. Really???

What are the most popular cameras today?


I’ve always enjoyed photography and embraced digital photography as soon as it became affordable. I know own a pseudo-SLR camera – a Panasonic DMC-FZ18, and I’m proud of many of the photos I’ve taken in the last few years.

I used Flickr to store my best photos, both for archiving reasons and to show friends and family abroad. Flickr is a great website and one of its successes was “getting it right” so early on. It hasn’t changed very much in the last few years, which is a sign of how far ahead of it’s time it was.

Flickr provides a raft of analytics to premium members, showing all sort of visitor information of them people who have looked at your photos.

One of the publicly available reports is the popular camera model graph. What’s interesting about the graph is how quickly camera phones have replaced “traditional digital” cameras, and how quickly they’ve done so.

The most common camera in use by Flickr users is an Apple iPhone 4S. Until recently, the second most common camera was the Apple iPhone 4! I suspect it’s only dropped in the rankings recently because users are migrating over to the 4S or even the iPhone 5.

During the Olympics this year I was amazed how many spectators were taking photos after the athletics with iPads and iPhones. One would have expected that attending the World’s premier sporting event would warrant dusting off a camera to get the best possible photos, but the majority of those spectators on television had different views (no pun intended).

The best video player


So the Olympics are finally here. 7 years ago and around 9 billion quid later, we got to see an opening ceremony that was educational, humorous and grand (how did they convince the Queen to do that?), and a first day full of world records, surprises and disappointments. Fantastic.

On the digital media side, we’ve seen the BBC revamp their homepage (which became the same template as their microsites), and the video player has slowly been improving too. But when the Olympics started for real, the BBC video player sprang to life.

First, some background.

I don’t really subscribe to the second screen theory – I’ve seen some crazy stats that TV viewers use related apps on their mobile or tablet, to what they’re watching.

I do believe people (especially my family) sit on the sofa on their iPhone playing games or on Facebook – unrelated to the TV programme they’re watching.

We’ve seen interactive TV in various shapes and sizes. From crude red-button implementations (e.g. Sky Bet) to TV apps which mimic a web browser interface.

I’ve seen demos of TV apps which allow you to tweet or watch a Facebook activity feed during a programme – really annoying and disruptive.

However the BBC video player for the Olympics provides the perfect level of interaction, additional – read ‘relevant’ – information. Then throw in PVR-style functionality (for non-techies – it’s like Sky+ with rewind, etc.)

I watched the Tour de France on the ITV website and sometimes it was frustrating not knowing who was in the lead and the peloton – I wasn’t necessarily interested in specific positions, but you need to know if the camera is with the leaders or not.

The BBC player shows event information and allows you to look at a summary of a specific athlete as well. All in HD.

Here’s to the next fortnight, with super weather and medals galore for Team GB!

Four reasons for being so busy


At the end of 2011 I gave a presentation to some of our customers and on the last slide I pointed out four key Digital Media trends for 2012 that my team could foresee. They are:

  • Mobile – even the most traditional of corporates will recognise the impact of mobile technologies in 2012 and need to update their systems and interfaces
  • Creative agencies – we are seeing a trend for organisations to use multiple front end agencies to create some ‘healthy tension’
  • Closer collaboration between non-competing brands – sharing data, joint projects and so forth
  • The wider economy would see two halves to 2012 – the months leading up to the Olympics will be upbeat (“What recession?”), and the months afterwards will depend on the prior investment

It’s only the end of March (where did the first three months of the year go?????) and little did I realise how correct our predictions would be. Our customers have been pushing for both tactical (short term) and strategic (long term) solutions to all of the points above, and this has led to a very busy time at work.

Hence this site hasn’t seen a lot of new content recently – I’ve either lost my weekends recently, or wanted to stay as far away from a computer as possible!

I write these blog posts in batches and use a timing function to release the articles, so I can guarantee the next couple of weeks you will see a lot of new articles.

Eight Digital Media Predictions for 2012


To continue what I started in 2010 and 2011, here are my technology predictions for 2012:

1. The Olympics summer of proof-of-concepts

A huge amount of corporate investments will go into the Olympics, so we’ll see them spend their money on sponsorship and advertising more than product development. This will mean we’ll see a lot more cutting edge, proof of concepts (in adverts) rather than market-ready new product launches.

2. Social to level off, but will become a central hub for our activities.

Just like you currently open your browser to look at a number of websites, I expect your homepage will be a Facebook, Google+ or LinkedIn page which will then keep you within the ‘walled garden’. Expect to see a close tie up between the social networks and a search engine (Google or Bing).

3. A big tech failure

Expect one of the big websites to collapse which has been too dependent on more and more VC funding rather than its own revenues. We’ll witness the collapse and realise that our own data has gone with it, and then we’ll realise how important that data really is.

4. Mobile payments

It’s been a long time coming, but 2012 will be the start of mobile payments. I don’t think consumers will be paying via our phone in 2012, but you’ll see the banks start the education process using advertising and proof of concepts to enable consumers to see that by the end of 2013 we won’t need a credit card any longer (except when the battery runs out).

5. 3D printers after the Olympics

If it weren’t for the Olympics, I think 2012 would have been the year of the 3D printer. You can already buy them from under £2,000 and that printer will fall as demand increases. 3D printers will compete with Windows 8 for Christmas presents next year.

6. Akamai stock to rocket around EURO 2012 and the Olympics.

The Content Delivery Network Akamai will be covering the two biggest sports tournaments of the summer for most broadcasters around the world. With encoding bitrates (quality) constantly increasing to end viewers, they will be handling record levels of traffic during the summer. More traffic will mean significantly increased revenues.

7. More toolbars

In a bid to keep their logos on the screen in ever more engaging user interfaces, expect to see JavaScript toolbars being used more regularly, sitting like a taskbar inside your browser. This is not to be confused with browser toolbars – I don’t think you’ll be proactively installing anything.

8. Home automation to make a comeback

Its been possible to connect your household appliances to a computer for many years. The problem has been selling it as a technology rather than a function – and this made it marketable to geeks and no one else. With apps such as Sky Anywhere, people will want to turn their heating up, or switch the oven on while they are commuting home from work.

Photo courtesy of FL08 on Flickr

Google the answer engine, not ‘just’ the search engine


I watched my nine year old son doing some homework this week on the computer and noticed for the first time that Google didn’t just point him in the right direction to answer a question, it actually provided the answer.

He didn’t think anything of it. He thinks that Google is there to provide answers, and is an absolutely reliable source of those answers. He doesn’t question the validity of the source any more than I would have questioned Encyclopaedia Britannica when I was his age. I found that it was a further leap for Google-kind than even, two years ago.

The question was “Who watched the ancient olympics?”

He actually typed in “who watch the ancient olympics?” which actually brought the answer closer to the top of the results than the grammatically correct question. That’s a separate issue I’ll have to deal with and it was difficult to ascertain whether he typed in the incorrect grammar to obtain the best results rather than a genuine mistake.

Education is changing at an amazingly quick rate. My son’s [state funded, primary] school has an interactive projector in every classroom, and is aiming that within two years will have a laptop per child.

Children are being taught to use Google to search for answers.

In Richard Watson‘s book, Future Minds, he describes how it took less than a generation to go from reading long form (e.g. a paper article on Ancient Olympics) to consuming bite sized snippets on a screen. I don’t have a major problem with this leap, except for the fact that we need to understand and accept that general knowledge will deteriorate because children will only know exactly what they’ve searched for, rather than anything broader.

Reading the paper article, or even one of the search results’ full articles would have taught my son that the games used to be one day long, then five days long, the different events, and even that in boxing, the boxers would wear hard leather straps with metal over their knuckles – ouch.

Image courtesy of Arkntina

Come on England bid

I’m really pleased with the news coverage of the England 2018 bid for the FIFA World Cup this week.

In the UK we have an unhealthy lack of interest in sport, as demonstrated by the press over the constant negative publicity for the Olympics.

Make no mistake, the Olympics will be a success – stadia will be sold out, huge parts of our infrastructure (transport, telecommunications, accomodation, media, tourism) will be massively improved on a number of levels, and the whole country will have a feel good factor for the summer of 2012.

Having the World Cup here 6 years after the Olympics will be such a great event – our favourite three sports in the UK are football, football and football… it is in our national DNA.

Vancouver 2010 web traffic stats

Some interesting statistics from http://www.vancouver2010.com/olympic-news/n/news/the-vancouver-2010-olympic-winter-games-by-the-numbers_297556Ko.html:

  • 19.1 per cent of North Americans with Internet access visited the website this month
  • 4.6 per cent of people worldwide with Internet access visited the site this month


According to http://www.internetworldstats.com/stats2.htm, there are 259,561,000 Internet users in North America. So that means there were 49m users just from North America in one month.