Drop In Night Reflections

Some tweets from the night: Sitting in with pal @Smart_Dresser on a session with the awe inspiring @AnnZitterkopf was invalu­able. @jewl you were right, she’s #awesome …thanks to Viji Pathy whose amazing wealth of know­ledge for #Android & Tech helped reaf­firm my plans…Marc Abraham was my first session, but his advice fol­lowed me through all the others. #awe­some­ness  I hope he sees this!…I see @sdevo as one of the most #awesome#tech minds I know. If I had to speak with someone last night @moblacad Steve was it.…Last night @moblacad #amazing .If I could put a price on the advice from the I#awesome busi­ness people & their exper­i­ence I’d be bankrupt!

Tutors in view: Tom Hewitson, Ann Zitterkopf,

Tutors in view: Tom Hewitson, Ann Zit­ter­kopf, Michel Sabatier, Dave Slo­combe, Karen Barber, Rick Chandler, Steve Devo…

Tutors in view:

… and Marc Abraham

Tutor Elliot Dell talks straight as per...

Tutor Elliot Dell talks straight as per… Jo Rabin and Niall in the background.

Drop in Night Tips

Drop InAt Drop In Night, 27th November, you will each be able to select 3 x 20 minute ses­sions. This will be on a first come first serve basis from 6.30pm — so best turn up on time to get your first choices.

As we go through the night, you will be able to grab addi­tional ses­sions as you see tutors are available.

To make the most out of Drop In Night:

  • Take a look at the list of experts (check out the Who’s Who) and think through who you most want to get a session with
  • Prac­tice your elev­ator pitch — with only 20 minutes, you want to get to your ques­tions as quickly as you can
  • Con­sider teaming up — perhaps you have the same ques­tion as someone else and you can share ses­sions … more bang for your buck
  • If you do not want any advice on a spe­cific product or busi­ness idea, you can ask others if you can sit in on their ses­sions or just have a general chat with the Experts

Here are the list of sur­geries on offer (there may be some changes to this list)

Jo Rabin – Busi­ness Strategy & Tech
Ann Zit­ter­kopf — Busi­ness Strategy
Karen Barber — Mar­keting & Busi­ness Devel­op­ment
Tom Hewitson — Devel­oping Content for Mobile
Rick Chandler — Tech­no­logy Strategy
Steve Devo — Tech­no­logy Strategy
Sean Bedford — Tech Archi­tec­ture, iOS, Hybrid Apps
Niall Roche — Android & iOS
Viji Pathy — Android & iOS
Dave Slo­combe — Product
Julia Shalet — Product
Marc Abraham — User Insights
Elliot Dell — Career Man­age­ment
Michel Sabatier — Angel Investor
Sam Harper — Legal

A slice of innovation pie from Appsworld Europe, London 2014 by Lawrence De’Ath

Lawrence De'Ath, Technical Programme Manager & Participant of our 5th Academy

Lawrence De’Ath, Tech­nical Pro­gramme Manager & Par­ti­cipant of our 5th Academy

Now in its 5th year, Apps World claims to have “grown to be the leading global multi-platform event in the app industry”. So did it live up to the hype?

Here’s what I learnt in two days at Apps World Developer Con­fer­ence & Exhibition.

Cus­tomers expect mobile to be beau­tiful and Product Man­agers are focused on responding
Mobile is per­sonal tech­no­logy – closer than any pre­vious gen­er­a­tion and intimate like only our wallets and jew­ellery has been in the past. So, the User Exper­i­ence, UX, is crit­ical to success since con­sumers are fed on a diet of beau­tiful looking products. You know all this, so what does it mean for innovation ?

This means Product Man­agers are centre stage calling for ‘user value’ – if people get some­thing back from engage­ment with a App, they will keep on using it and not be part of the extra-ordinary high rate of App aban­don­ment in the first month after installation.

Again, mobile is dif­ferent with con­sumers not just con­suming, but sat at the co-creation table influ­en­cing devel­op­ment decisions. This may not be the lengthy market research of old. Organ­isa­tions able to gather crit­ical feed­back and respond will be winners. In a panel dis­cus­sion centred on retail applic­a­tions, Kate Cuth­bertson, former Head of Mobile Innov­a­tion at Asda gave a nice case in point “If we couldn’t decide between options, we would just write dir­ectly to our most fre­quent users and say ‘we need your help’, we would always get a response”.

This rapid and focussed approach seems to have paid dividends with claims that the Asda App came to market in just 16 weeks. Pair-wise (or multi-choice) com­par­ison can be a great tool.

Users at the centre is chan­ging how organ­isa­tions innovate
After the ‘users have spoken’, the response needs new ways to manage devel­op­ment and innov­a­tion. A free-for-all or trying to do everything is not a recipe for launch success. However, the demo­crat­isa­tion around cus­tomers is encour­aging organ­isa­tions to gain trac­tion for their ideas before a first release or look-and-feel choice by exposing their devel­op­ment plans and pro­jects earlier and more than ever.

On the Enter­prise stage, HMRC presented some ideas for exposing their API explaining how they would encourage developers to make the process of sub­mit­ting our tax return easier. No sur­prises on the API idea, but the session got into some inter­esting issues.

Mark Dearnley, Chief Digital and Inform­a­tion officer at HMRC set the scene by explaining they had a “only 41 Million cus­tomers in the UK”. With this number of accounts, they can’t afford to get things wrong. Yet they are not tech­no­logy lag­gards, having pro­cessed the UK’s first elec­tronic money transfer more than four decades ago.

Ques­tions from the audi­ence got to the heart of the busi­ness and market oppor­tun­ities that have opened up by virtue of the pres­ence of the API. However they also revealed some of the con­fu­sion around how to build an API eco-system. Hinting at the old style planned economy of Gov­ern­ment ser­vices one ques­tioner asked “How will you marshal all the developers that want to use the API ?”. Mark Dearnley’s answer was simple “We won’t, they develop what their cus­tomers want”. He did explain that they had a respons­ib­ility to con­sider tech­no­logy com­pli­ance to the API, but this was a sep­arate issue. The HMRC stance is typical of pro­gressive organ­isa­tions looking to get the best bene­fits of ‘market-led’ innov­a­tion. Stand­ards are needed, and are a great aid to fast-track innov­a­tion, but the standard setter should not see it as their role to determine the details of an implementation.

On a smaller scale Ashley George, Head of Innov­a­tion CoE, GSK lifted the lid on how the global phar­ma­ceut­ical giant is asking their staff to bring their con­sumer tech­no­logy exper­i­ence to work. He explained how he and his team were bringing these strengths together with the full gamut of Lean and Agile to bring new products to the internal IT offering.Blog LD 1

His case study was rapid devel­op­ment and ‘user-led deploy­ment” of a video mes­saging and sharing applic­a­tion – allowing staff from the CEO through team-leaders and regular desk staff to post their com­mu­nic­a­tions in video. What caught my innovation-eye was that this work was itself driving innov­a­tion at the firm – doubt­lessly a shrewd choice from the Head of Innov­a­tion. Peak use of the service was hit at Christmas where now a cheery message in video can come not just from the CEO, but from your team leader in another country or time-zone. It not radical stuff, but if this can become a habit of effective man­age­ment – why not post regular updates to your team?

Com­mu­nic­a­tion is a key ingredient of innov­a­tion and making that easy to produce, more inform­ative and easy to access may help improve quantity and quality. As for con­cerns about post­ings of ‘cute cat videos’, Ashley George was frank “It was bound to happen and it does, you can’t stop people”.

Tech­no­logy – it can be dev­il­ishly dif­fi­cult to see where the best bene­fits sit, but bare with us

Seeing the poten­tial of new tech­no­lo­gies is always tricky, but you’d have to be a real naysayer to dis­regard the oppor­tun­ities that HTML5 is addressing. With HTML4 dom­inant for around 15 years, now is beyond the time for 5 to take hold.

With recent reports of more teen­agers today having access to a tablet than a radio, the pres­sure to connect all media in a “served” format is there. This is one of the drivers encour­aging the BBC to use HTML5 as part of their drive to meet their com­mit­ment to uni­versal access. So, HTML5 is gaining strength as a prime non native plat­form using the format’s poten­tial for easier “any screen” applic­a­tions. Though native iOS and Android applic­a­tions con­tinue to lead the field in pret­ti­ness and func­tion­ality, there are reasons why HTML5 is being sup­ported to catch up. A sub­stan­tial benefit for the BBC is that their “design for com­pat­ib­ility” is hugely sim­pli­fied by using browser tech­no­logy rather than having to main­tain many dif­ferent applic­a­tions with dif­fering code bases and levels of func­tion­ality in order to support hun­dreds of dif­ferent set top boxes, smart TVs, mobile and desktop environments.

Two other key bene­fits land with HTML5 — both help mobile and tablet users as well as sim­pli­fying things for content pro­viders:
1. HTML5 will bring to an end many of those annoying bolt on applic­a­tion envir­on­ments like Flash and Java. Cutting the plug-in saves on CPU and there­fore battery power – another chal­lenge unique to mobile which is in dire need of a solu­tion.
2. The cap­ab­ility to run HTML5 applic­a­tions off-line but in standard (HTML5 com­pat­ible) browser is a second benefit par­tic­u­larly suited to addressing one of the weak­nesses of Mobile – lost connectivity.

Pay­ments – let innov­a­tion battle com­mence !
Pay­ments are a vibrant area sector for innov­a­tion. It would be folly to attempt to sum­marise or find the high­lights in the com­peting offers – or even try to cat­egorise them. Tim Green of Mobile Money Revolu­tion speaking at The Mobile Academy iden­ti­fied 38 mobile payment routes.

Why so com­plic­ated for such a fun­da­mental thing you ask?

Most mobile money solu­tions add one or more addi­tional layers in the “stack” that ends up with tra­di­tional banking – where most people’s money sits. Each has some nuance of added value.

More radical web/mobile money offers to trade in a new cur­rency, without further involve­ment of your bank after you “invest”. Poten­tially radical bene­fits in low cost trans­ac­tions and single “global cur­rency”. It’s a big step however, so here’s one thought.: Banks tempt us with real cash to switch to their account – and stand­ards try to make it risk and pain free, yet people don’t switch, more than every few decades even though it may save them money and hassle of actual bad service. Switching out of that system alto­gether needs a whole new level of trust.

How much Bitcoin would con­vince you to dive into an altern­ative currency ?


Thanks Lawrence, for this great blog post and for joining our trip to Apps World. Good on Mobile Monday London too for securing all those free stands for StartUps -

Nana, Gary & Cathleen from our current academy.

Nana, Gary & Cath­leen from our current academy.

And the 5th Academy is up and running!

Back to our lovely Idea London venue with a brand new first night session. We tried out a new format where Steve & Sean lead the drawing of some tech­nical archi­tec­ture dia­grams with input from the techies in the room and plenty of ques­tions from the rest! We came away with some under­standing of infra­struc­ture and nomen­clature. Ready to delve further as the course progresses.

Great to have Sean and Steve back as experts in their field and alumni of pre­vious courses.

Steve Devo & Sean Bedford give us the Tech Overview on our first night.

Steve Devo & Sean Bedford give us the Tech Over­view on our first night.

1st Night

Par­ti­cipants of our 5th Academy take in the tech­nical defin­i­tion of a “framework”

Great also to see alumni Chris Michael and Niall Roche as well as a lovely sur­prise visit from Viji, our Android Tutor. Looking forward to more alumni popping in as we progress.

#needtoknowmobile for Marketers by Alex Meisl

Alex-MeislWhat happened to the “Year of Mobile”?

I get a near uncon­trol­lable urge to punch someone when I hear this ques­tion. Cer­tainly, mobile has “made it” and yet curi­ously, even now, despite all the jus­ti­fying signs, brands still under­in­vest dramatically.

Before I go any further and elicit grumbles from those who have nothing better to do, “Mobile” to my mind is any device which is not tied down to a fixed loc­a­tion and as well as smart­phones also includes wear­ables, tablets, phab­lets and any other w*nky ter­min­o­logy coined by someone on the West Coast.

My chums at Ipsos MORI have come up with two com­pel­ling and light-hearted facts which demon­strate the sig­ni­fic­ance of mobile:

  • One in three adults would rather give up sex than their smartphone
  • Two in three adults would rather give up alcohol (I suspect that their sample group did not include many people in the agency space).

Despite this, the painful truth is that most brands are out of their comfort zone and don’t devote the atten­tion or neces­sary budgets to max­imise their oppor­tun­ities in this bur­geoning space. A final stat which the industry rolls out on a depress­ingly fre­quent basis is the Mary Meeker Media Con­sump­tion versus Advert­ising spend graph. The annual launch of her research is greeted with the same level of anti­cip­a­tion by hard­core mobile fans as the new foot­ball season, the glor­ious 12th for grouse lovers or the next launch date of any “i” product for Apple fans. Mary’s chart shows the dis­con­nect between time spent con­suming dif­ferent media-types and budgets devoted to them.The two biggest anom­alies are print media which con­sumes 19% of budgets invested against only 5% of time spent con­suming it, and mobile media where budgets barely reach 4% despite 20% of media con­sump­tion now being on a mobile device.

What to do?
At the risk of stating the bleeding obvious, how about fol­lowing tried and tested tra­di­tional busi­ness dis­cip­lines? By this, I mean go back to basics by working out what the cus­tomer wants and what you are trying to achieve. Then work out the chan­nels and tools which are most appro­priate for your audience.

Depending on your industry, you prob­ably need to con­sider this non-exhaustive list:

  • How does your audi­ence engage with you at present?
  • What per­centage of visits to your website are from a mobile device?
  • Is your mobile offering location-aware? (if I am out and about and want to know my nearest store for a spe­cific product, then mobile can be a great help. If I am standing in the store, then I want my device to recog­nise this and turn into a store guide.)
  • What are the key answers that a cus­tomer is looking for or prob­lems they are trying to solve when they come to your site?

Without a doubt this will help you realise that mobile should be sitting at the heart of your mar­comms strategy. You might even be one of the enlightened few (step forward and take a bow, Face­book, Google and House of Fraser amongst others) by adopting a “Mobile First” strategy.

Right, you’re getting there. However, do not, under any cir­cum­stances, fall for the evil seductress that is “sexy tech­no­logy” or the “shiny new toy” unless there is both a com­pel­ling reason to do so (maybe winning awards is your only KPI?) and you have got your basic strategies and offer­ings in place. In the good old days (no more than two years ago!) mobile users were for­giving if they had a bad exper­i­ence on their device. Not so anymore. Research shows con­sumers are more likely to go to a com­pet­itor brand if they are sub­jected to a rubbish time on their mobile.

Whilst an app, Bluetooth, QR code or Aug­mented Reality or iBeacons might be the right way for you to go – sort out the basics first and ensure that your core cus­tomers have a delightful exper­i­ence, and remember that research shows that every pound spent on mobile, delivers a dis­pro­por­tion­ately higher bang for your buck than other channels.

Alex is co-founder and Chairman of Sponge and WiForia (the in-store engage­ment company) – and is former Chairman of the Mobile Mar­keting Asso­ci­ation. Alex also tutors at The Mobile Academy. You can catch his and other expert tutor ses­sions on our next academy starting 30th September.


As our 5th academy approaches and we get ready for an all-alumni drinks on Friday, we look back to the Summer of 2012 — not because of the Olympics — oh no — but because it was our first academy!

Happily, we have con­tinued to attract a diverse crowd; from freel­ance developers, to agen­cies — large and small, from mar­keters to those in between jobs, many with ideas that they want to kick around, some already working full time on their new ven­tures. As an example of the diversity, in this video, from the first pro­gramme, we see the large agen­cies rep­res­ented: Sammi from M&C Saatchi and Clare from Atos; Brian, Andy and Chris who are all still working on their Start Ups and Dave who is working on eHealth Soft­ware Product Devel­op­ment at Imperial.

Alumni from The Mobile Academy on Vimeo.

Lots has happened with the par­ti­cipants of the first course, in the two years since attending. Many have brought new products to beta and some to full market launch; some have managed to get the jobs that they wanted focus­sing on mobile; others have won awards, got the top of app stores and raised funding.

Here is also a review of how the academy is con­trib­uting to London’s Mobile Eco­system.

Further Reading — Insights from Forum Oxford #needtoknowmobile

Thanks to Pan­telis Mourato­glou from our 4th Academy for sharing his thoughts: 

1. The first major thought raised by Haydn Shaugh­nessy was whether busi­nesses have really under­stood how sig­ni­fic­antly mobile is trans­forming their markets. That the big mobile com­mu­nic­a­tions pro­viders find it chal­len­ging to keep up with the evol­u­tion of tech­no­logy? Karim Lesina gave us a good example of how dif­fi­cult it was for AT&T to keep up with 3G and 4G. The lesson was how important it was to invest in innovation.

2. Emer­ging markets vs Mobile – Today 170m mobile devices operate in Brazil. Revenue made in mobile 2013: $25bn with $70bn to be made from mobile in Brazil in 2017 according to Patricia Timoner. It was inter­esting to find out also that Brazilians do not mind ads — in fact they enjoy them!

3. Can I fund my app without going to the bank? In line with Sean Kane’s present­a­tion, crowd­funding is increasing in volume ($-wise and player-wise). Com­munities like F6s help the start-up world to connect. (Note: he is a founder at F6s)

4. The top 5 coun­tries with the highest com­bined revenue for both app stores (Google + Apple) are South Korea, China, Japan, US, UK. The best App ana­lytics tools, according to Chris Book: Flurry, AppSee, X-Mobile Tracking.

5. Mick Rigby, Richard Downey and Tony Pearce all emphas­ized the sig­ni­fic­ance of making your app dis­cov­er­able and then keeping high levels of engage­ment with your cus­tomers post-download. Have a look at Peggy Anne Salz’s  book — Appo­nomics. Jeanette Carlsson gave us the tip of focus­sing first on what the cus­tomer wants and needs before and be focussed about where to reach them.

6. If you want to know how to reach inter­na­tional audi­ences for your start-up in 3 years, look up Lee Omar’s journey — and I would also recom­mend readying about Patrick Bergel’s Chirp.io story.

7. Security - listening to David Rogers made me realise how important security is in this fast moving environment.

8. The power of media is to a certain extent shifting away from media pro­viders to people thanks to mobile. Proof of citizen journ­alism according to Tineka Smith, is found during last year’s protests in Turkey, where people become the media. Cath­erine Mul­ligan on Internet of Things (IoT), created a picture where inter­con­nectivity con­structs a world full of smart cities. Life is sup­posed to be easier (smarter) with inter­con­nectivity. But how sure can we be about that?

Overall, it was a great exper­i­ence where I got most recent updates about mobile and met awesome people that have made it in mobile. I found out about the con­fer­ence through The Mobile Academy so ulti­mately, thanks goes back to you guys!