Week 12 – Reflect

600px-Until_tomorrow,_goodbye_Alaska._(8687696432) Until tomorrow, goodbye Alaska. Magnus ManskeCC-BY-SA-2.0

Expectations

I was a late starter in this course (I believe I started in Week 3). This course was originally on my list, but the Friday evening timeslot was the issue, so I had to move some personal commitments around to make it work. The reason I chose this subject over others was that it offered the opportunity to look at new and emerging technologies and this excited me. Enterprise Systems and Business Process Management (BPM) are my majors, so I am usually looking at more established technologies, therefore being able to take a look at some of the ‘newer’ and leading edge technologies in a class environment was very enticing.

In terms of whether the course lived up to meeting its expectations, yes, I definitely think so. This course provided me with the chance to not only look at some technologies that I haven’t seen before, but also to ‘have a go’ at using them – not just tinkering – but actually having to produce something with them as was the case with the app building and the mashup. I appreciated the opportunity to hear how other people used or perceived the range of technologies we looked at and discussed, providing me with some new perspectives to my way of thinking. Being an IT major we are often looking at technologies and studying how to use them or develop them. Not much time is spent on critiquing these technologies and looking at the overall engagement of these technologies within wider society, as well as the societal impact of technologies in general. Being able to do this was a valuable outcome of this subject.

The Learning Environment

In terms of the learning environment for this subject, I liked the overall mix. The classroom time was very thought-provoking and I enjoyed the open discussion format. I also thought the guest speakers really added a valuable dimension to the learning experience. In terms of the class structure I was a bit sceptical of not having the regular ‘tutorial’ time immediately following the lecture. However, the fact that there was a structured activity that needed to be undertaken online was an interesting and worthwhile alternative to the usual situation of turning up to a tutorial where only a handful of people have undertaken the readings and are ready and able to actively participate in the discussion! As the fortnightly activities were compulsory everyone had to invest time and effort into completing them, which therefore increased their ability to speak knowledgeably to the specific topic. In terms of the subject tools, I hadn’t used Google+ before, and I found the first couple of weeks a bit confusing, so it took some time to ‘settle in’. However, based on Kathleen’s explanation for using Google+ rather than Facebook I appreciate the reason for doing so.

In terms of the assessment I believe it was reasonably balanced. I would have liked to have seen what a ‘good’ blog post was prior to the marking of the first submission, as I lost marks for a couple of silly mistakes/oversights which I could have corrected with an example of the expectation. Also, while I like the idea of creating a community on Google+, I’m not so sure I liked the assessment marking for contributions to this. I read a lot of what was on the community and commented where I felt it appropriate, or where I could add value. However, I didn’t write a huge amount as I don’t like writing for the sake of it and now in retrospect I feel that I have probably lost marks for this reason. Perhaps instead the marking for this element could be more balanced and not just be concentrated on writing comments in the online community, but also for positive overall contributions including contributing to discussion in class (or for online people during the live feed), as I feel that unfortunately those contributions counted for considerably less in the overall marking criteria. In adding this element, those people who feel the need (or like to) comment extensively on the community can do so, while those who prefer to contribute in the face-to-face environment will be equally recognised for doing so.

It is also worth mentioning that I really liked the format of ‘Play’ and ‘Reflect’. I think this was valuable in allowing hands-on experience and experimentation on the one hand, then allowing us to analyse and share our thoughts and opinions on what we had done or what we had discussed during the workshop. It was a refreshing format and in my opinion it worked very well.

Challenging, Interesting and What’s Missing?

I found the app building and the mashup the most challenging activities – but both were great to do. The app building provided me with the opportunity to do something I have wanted to dabble in for a while and though the result didn’t have all the ‘bells and whistles’ of a finished app, I was very happy with the functionality that I achieved from it. I’m now trying to come up with something novel in order to build the next killer app! I also found the mashup challenging as while I take lots of photos I realised I didn’t have access to the software required to do the mashup, so it took quite a while to find something suitable to get it done and complete the task.

I should also make special mention of the gamification week. This was quite enlightening. I felt that I got pulled into the game due the competitive challenge that was thrown out there by Katya. There were some challenges that I couldn’t participate in due to time issues, but I tried to engage in those that I could – hence my dedication to the story over several separate time periods – despite some frustration as to where it was going! On the other hand I don’t use Twitter, nor do I intend to, so I had to pass on that challenge. However, what this week made me realise was the potential for gamification in certain areas, but the need to be careful in how it is applied. For example, if I were to implement gamification in the workplace it must serve a very clearly defined purpose. It can’t just be a means to reward staff for completing an activity or a means of developing a competitive workplace environment, otherwise I can see how it would have the potential to take up a great deal of valuable employee time, distracting them and pulling them away from their work. I found this out firsthand during gamification week! Also it might be useful to undertake this ‘challenge’ earlier in the semester before the big assessment items start to get in the way.

Another area I found extremely thought-provoking was the whole idea of analysing our own social media usage – especially early in the semester – as it’s something I’ve never really sat down and thought about. I also found it interesting to see how other people in the class use social media, as well as some of the generational aspects relating to its use. Interestingly I think I’ve gone off Facebook more because of this (not that I was ever a power-user). I will also take this into consideration when I finally update that LinkedIn account as well. The fact that we had to put this personal social media usage analysis into the persona poster reinforced in a very tangible way this learning and also helped me to gain further insight into user-centred design and UX, which is an area in which I have considerable interest.

In terms of whether there was anything missing from the subject, I think that it would have been useful to go into more depth in some areas. For example, during the week where Nic Sozur was the guest speaker it might have been interesting to look at a couple of case studies (with the class having to do some background reading in advance). On another note, it might also have been interesting to have a week/fortnight when the librarian majors and the IT majors split into two groups to focus on something specific to their areas (other majors can hop into one of the two groups). This may enable a greater depth to be achieved in certain focused areas.

There is no specific week that I didn’t enjoy – I enjoyed them all! It was more a case of finding some more challenging than others, but all were enjoyable and worthwhile.

Key Learnings

Key learnings from the unit for me are the importance of getting in and trying some of these new technologies firsthand, as well as hearing and comparing other people’s experiences and opinions on their usefulness and applications.

Another key learning was the overall societal impacts of new technologies. This was multi-faceted and ranged from analysing my own personal usage of social media and how it impacts my own life, to the ‘two-speed technology society’ that seems to be developing between those who have the latest technology and know how to use it, and those with limited or no access or ability to take advantage of these, through to the impacts of the complex legal aspects of these technologies and the new power balance that is emerging in society based on who has control of these technologies. These are all areas of which I will be more conscious in the future and would like to explore further should the opportunity arise.

“Technology is everyone’s business”

Having undertaken this subject I have gained an expanded insight not only into some new technologies, but also the overall impact of technology on society more generally. The extent to which technology now impacts every aspect of our lives means that each of us NEEDS to make technology our business. We need to be aware of what is going on around us, who has information about us and what they are doing with it. We need to ask if technology is benefiting us, is it damaging us, or is it just noise? While I was aware at the high level of some of the topics we discussed this semester, having had the opportunity to hear more about issues such as metadata and technology participation has made me realise the importance of being more involved and making more of these technology issues my business. It is only by engaging and making technology our business that we can influence positive change both now and into the future.

Week 10 – Reflect

Tree of Community

Communities are first and foremost about people and it is a sharing of a common interest or purpose that brings them together. Technology can be used to create a community in the sense that it is an enabler for the community. This may be in the form of a platform to allow people with different interests who are located in geographically dispersed locations to come together in one place to share ideas and experiences. Technology may also be the reason for the development of a community as in the case of the IEEE community.

However, just like real-world communities, online communities must be driven by people. Just having the technology itself doesn’t mean that a community will form. The emergence of online forums, social media platforms and blogs has enabled new ways for communities to connect and develop, but it is the people coming together that is the community. Susan Tull, argues that the successful development of an online community is dependent on a “matrix” of factors  specifically highlighting the importance of the key components of: environment, engagement and stakeholders.

Tull outlines the stages of the development of an online community. While it is more of a ‘how to’ description, it highlights the fact that the technology is the enabler and just a small component as there are other important factors that are required to ensure its success.

Matrix

While the development of online communities for various personal activities and passions has increased over the years, one specific area that interests me is how large organisations and companies have sought to develop online communities for business purposes. Part of my interest stems from being a bit of a voyeur and seeing insanely large marketing budgets being blown on such endeavours which either fail or have some serious issues counter to the reason for their establishment in the first place. How do these companies get people interested in the first place, then how do they keep them engaged? Thinking back as recently as ten years ago marketing to customers was very much a ‘push’ process whereas now in the age of social media businesses need to adapt and determine ways to engage their customers/users in a way that is positive not only for customers but also for their overall business objectives.

While many businesses may think that having a page on Facebook is an ideal way to engage stakeholders and build an online community James Davidson describes this as an ‘open social network’ and clearly distinct from an ‘owned online community’. He provides a very clear distinction as to the difference:

Owned Online Communities

McKinsey’s report ‘The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity through Social Technologies’  outlines how the development of communities by organisations and business is still in its infancy, however, they argue that it has the potential to provide so many benefits when utilised effectively. The effective building of internal and external communities has the potential to influence everything from product development through to marketing and sales. James Davidson elaborates on this further, specifically with regards to external communities. He provides the following example of potential business benefits:

Business Benefits

While organisations and businesses are starting to realise the potential benefit of online communities the successful establishment and engagement is likely the bigger hurdle. Davidson provides several starting points:

1. Create a strategy that aligns with the organisation’s business objectives. Whatever the organisation seeks to develop, it must align with their overall business need.

2. Understand what the customer/user needs. Identify the stakeholders and what their needs are. If it doesn’t meet the need of the intended audience then it is destined to fail.

3. Ensure it integrates with other processes and systems. Don’t make it a stand-alone experiment. Ensure it integrates with everything else already in place. This can also help with measuring ROI.

4. Develop an activation and engagement strategy. Building something doesn’t mean people will use it. It needs to be engaging and people need to have a reason to be there. It also needs to constantly be refreshed in order to meet changes in the environment as well as changes in the users’ needs.

The development of an online community for an organisation or business provides an avenue beyond a static ‘Like’ on Facebook. It provides a dynamic means by which to engage internal and external stakeholders which can be controlled to a certain degree by the organisation and harnessed in such a way as to bring a range of benefits to both the organisation and to the user. However, it is not the technology itself that creates the community. Technology’s importance lies in how it is used as an enabler and how it meets the needs of the specific community to develop and grow. The technology is an integral part of a successful online community, as if it doesn’t work or fails to meet the needs of the group then people will elect not to use it and go elsewhere. Nevertheless, as with real-world communities, it is the people who make the community and the main challenge lies in how to bring people together and how to continually engage them. While many organisations and businesses have sought to establish these online communities with varying degrees of success, perhaps one of the most well-known and successful is the Apple Support Community, where users of products are able to post questions and answers to other members, as well as there being input and control from Apple. The establishment and development of this online community aligns with each of the four points outlined above and is an outstanding example of what can be achieved when an organisation gets it ‘right’.

Image Credit: https://www.marketingtechblog.com/benefits-forums-communities/

Week 10 – Play – Argh, Me Hearties, Here Be Treasure!

Here are my badges! Like Stacey I set out on the hunt early, but had to divert, so now I’m back! Game On Everyone! treasure1treasure2treasure3i-found-treasurehappy-icon Argh, I be going now in search of more treasure…. It be Tuesday now and here be more treasure! nightowl-2 Argh, it be Wednesday and there be stories to be told about more treasure! sushi-icon Argh, I have been busy, but here be more treasure I have found… picture-thisThere be Easter Egg treasure out there…

Sleuth-5

Week 6 – Play and Reflect

Play – Photo Mashup
For this week’s Play I’ve decided to do a photo mashup. I used two images, one from the State Library of South Australia of a woman on an old-style surf ski, and the other image is of a snow person which I built with my children in Yosemite in November 2011.

skiing
snow person

I used GIMP to manipulate both images and build the new one. I wanted to build an image that was composed of two diametrically opposite images. And this was the result…

Skiing With Snow Person Michelle

Reflect – Open Data is the Future of the Web

The sharing of data is not something entirely new. The scientific community is often cited as being at the forefront of sharing as researchers “perceived the benefit of openness and of sharing of data” (Chignard, 2013, para.6). Having research available to all, has enabled researchers to be able to build upon the work of those who came before them in order to further advance knowledge and move forward. Similarly, with the advent of the internet there has been a long sharing of software code that has enabled the development of many technological advances of the modern age. (Chignard, 2013, para. 7).

However, over the last decade there has been an increasing move and even ‘push’ toward open data – making public data freely available online. This is in contrast to the traditional approach of governments to hide data or to release only limited and selected data. While initially sceptics in government may have held this approach – usually stakeholders with concerns about its use, or misuse – gradually over time there has been a move amongst many Western governments to release data at the local, state/provincial and even national level as they view the benefits as overriding the disadvantages.

While there are a range of benefits of open data, including specific case studies, the Open Data Handbook summarises the benefits as including:

• Transparency and democratic control
• Participation
• Self-empowerment
• Improved or new private products and services
• Innovation
• Improved efficiency of government services
• Improved effectiveness of government services
• Impact measurement of policies
• New knowledge from combined data sources and patterns in large data volumes

The benefits of open data, coupled with a range of other factors including decreasing governmental budgets, lack of qualified staff to adequately assess all the available data, and increasing demands for openness and transparency from constituents can only lead to an increase in the sharing of open data as we move into the future.

Governments looking to implement successful open data initiatives need to determine how best to “maximize value and minimize risk” (McIlvaine, 2013, para. 11) . Helbig, Cresswell, Burke and Luna-Reyes in their White Paper ‘The Dynamics of Opening Government Data’ recommend:

– Releasing government data that is relevant to both agency performance and the public interest.
– Investing in strategies to estimate how different stakeholders will use the data.
– Devising data management practices that improve context in order to ‘future-proof’ data resources.
– Thinking about sustainability of information on an ongoing basis once it is released.

Beyond these issues, it appears the challenge for the future will no longer be the access and transparency of the data. Rather, the challenge will around what use this data is put to in order to improve the communities in which we live – be this through utilising the datasets to develop technologies that will significantly impact lives, or changing the way processes are currently undertaken, or through the potential this openness has in increasing public action and participation in the government process at a time when there seems to be an increasing ambivalence to the current political landscape and the workings of the machinery of government.

References:
Chignard, S. (2013). A Brief History of Open Data, Paris Tech Review. 29 March 2013.
Helbig, N., A. Cresswell, G. Burke and L. Luna-Reyes (2012). The Dynamics of Opening Government Data: A White Paper. Center for Technology in Government, University at Albany, SUNY, New York.
McIlvaine, H. (2013). The Future of Open Data. April 10, 2013.
Open Data Handbook

My Use of Social Technologies and Persona Creation

Pflaum POSTER FINAL

Reflection On My Interaction with Social Technologies

In reflecting on my own use of social technologies I realised how much my usage has evolved just as social media has over the last decade or so. During the mid-1990s I embraced email as means of communication, but the initial social media of the early 2000s were not mature offerings and to me they seemed to be a bit of a time waste. My first usage of what would now be termed ‘social media’ would have been Classmates.com, followed closely by LinkedIn. The former was because I was invited by past university friends, and it sounded intriguing at the time. I joined LinkedIn early (and against the technology policy of my then workplace) – officially joining as member 8,908 – because it fixed the ongoing problem of having an outdated Rolodex. At that stage LinkedIn was merely a dynamic way to keep your professional contacts up to date, but now it is so much more!

Not long after I created my own blog using Blogger, to keep relatives up to date with goings on and photos of my young children. Then, of course, Facebook arrived. If I remember correctly I was hesitant to use it at first as it seemed to be just another version of MySpace (which I didn’t really like). But over time and with an increasing number of friends and colleagues joining, I decided to throw caution to the wind and dive in – that was 2009. After I joined Facebook I seemed to drop the whole blog idea, as the purpose of the blog was now overtaken by Facebook.

When I assess how I interact with social technologies I have always been conscious to keep my social media very compartmentalised into: personal (FB, Blog, Pinterest, YouTube, Yelp, Amazon); professional (LinkedIn); and study/university (SlideShare, Google+, FB, WordPress). This is because I have always sought to keep work and personal separate, and somehow university has just slipped in there. Being a parent has made me even more cautious in terms of keeping my social media compartmentalised, as well as being even more conscious of what I am sharing and with whom.

I interact with social media on a daily basis. I usually check Facebook several times a day (too many times really). I check Google+ regularly during university semesters in order to keep up with subject requirements. I utilise Amazon, Yelp, as well as other social media sites to gain product information about purchases I am looking to make on an as-needed basis. I receive weekly email updates via from LinkedIn, and if they are interesting I login for a closer look. I use other social media such as SlideShare when I need to with university demands, and Pinterest for personal interest when I have time!

I prefer to use my laptop to interact with social media, as I still find it is a richer experience. I find the smartphone can be a bit hit and miss and some sites are still lacking in their mobile rendering. I don’t like sharing too much of my information with anyone on social media and try to keep it as basic as possible – which is why I found the invasion of privacy with Facebook Messenger so outrageous that I uninstalled it from my phone.

Overall, I find social media does enhance aspects of my life and makes some things easier than they would have been ten years ago. However, there is a fine line between the value I obtain from social media and the time it takes out of my real life. I do however find that it takes an ever increasing amount of time out of my day and sometimes I just need to close the computer screen in order to get on with reality.

Creating a Persona

While I had previously seen personas on websites, it wasn’t until Week 3 of this course that I truly understood what they were, as well as their purpose. Having to create a persona in class with my group was extremely worthwhile in preparing for this assignment. Following this first attempt to create a persona in class I looked at a range of personas available on the internet to see the different ways they were presented and the information each contained. Each varied depending on the specific purpose. With this in mind I began to use ideas from this research against the assignment specs in order to determine what information to include in building my own persona. It appeared to be an easy task to achieve, but in reality it was quite difficult. Assessing my own use of social media required me to really think about the social media I use and the reasons why I use it. It also made me think of why I use some social media and not others.

It was interesting to present this in a one-page poster format as it required me to be succinct and focus on the most important points. While my persona was based on only one person, it made me realise how complex it must be to make a persona based on several customer/user profiles and having to combine them into one.

The Use of Personas in User-Centred Design

Personas are important as they seek to answer key questions about users with the intent of applying this knowledge to the design or improvement of a specific product/service. Having a marketing background with a specific focus on IT, I see personas as being a vital element in product/service development and improvement to ensure a business remains ‘on target’ and relevant to its customers/users. Rather than a business guessing what users want, it can build personas to either extend market research or utilise collected user data to develop a profile representative of its users. By having this persona this allows designers to have indicative guidelines from which to construct a product/service. Similarly, personas provide marketing personnel with information about their target audience which is very useful in the development of marketing campaigns ensuring focus and dollars better spent. Beyond these benefits others also include:

• Building Empathy
• Developing Focus
• Communicating and Forming Consensus
• Making and Defending Decisions
• Measuring Effectiveness
(Source: Goltz, 2014)

With the above in mind, personas have the potential to have a significant impact on a business. Personas allow the business to focus on its customers/users, which can lead to increased revenue and to ensuring the business remains relevant and viable. Conversely, businesses that are unable to identify who their customers/users are and what they want face tremendous challenges, risk losing business or potentially going out of business.

References:

Churruca, S. (2013). Introduction to User Personas
Goltz, S. (2014). A Closer Look at Personas: What They Are And How They Work (Part 1)
Millard, R. (2012). How User Personas Can Improve Your SEO Strategy
Paley, A. (2004). The Advantages of Building a User Persona

Week 4 – Play and Reflect

P1050011 Play – App Development – Tech Fix

For this week’s Play I’ve decided to build an app. Having thought about building 100s of apps over the years I have never actually built one! So I thought this was my big chance. I looked at several of the free app builders around – notably BuildFire and AppsMe. BuildFire wouldn’t let me get past naming my app. So, next I tried AppsMe. I started and found its visual appearance much less than I was expecting. SO, as luck would have it someone suggested I look at the MIT App Inventor 2. Bingo! This was it, the app builder for me.

I wanted to build something that I would use regularly, something that would save me (and others with the same interest) time and effort, while fulfilling the spec of “an app that groups together information resources on a particular topic for a particular user group” (IFN612 Week 4 Learning Activities). Every day I like to read the tech pages of various news outlets, but I really dislike having to go to each individual site, getting distracted by other articles and then finally reaching the tech section. So I built an app that will aggregate each of the sources I want to see, and present each of the tech feeds at the press of a button. This could be used by anyone who is looking for the latest tech news from a range of sources, or the same concept could be used for any other topic, requiring some simple customisation.

I chose to get feeds from CNET, San Francisco Chronicle (SFGate), San Jose Mercury News (SJ Merc), The New York Times (NYT) and Sydney Morning Herald (SMH). I was limited due to the screen size so kept my list to my top sources. For deployment to a tablet, there would be much more screen real estate to play with. Below are screen shots:

MIT App Inventor Tech Fix

Above is a screen shot of the dashboard for MIT App Inventor 2.

Screenshot_2015-03-21-22-39-29

Above is my home page with buttons for each of the publications I want to link to. This page is showing the link to CNET’s website.

Screenshot_2015-03-21-22-39-39

Above is showing the link to the San Francisco Chronicle, also known as SFGate, Technology page.

Screenshot_2015-03-21-22-39-55

Above is showing the link to the San Jose Mercury News Technology page.

Screenshot_2015-03-21-22-40-09

Above is showing the link to The New York Times Technology page.

Screenshot_2015-03-21-22-40-43

Above is showing the link to The Sydney Morning Herald Technology page.

Reflect – How has the Mobile Web Impacted My Life?

The advent and evolution of mobile devices, has provided ever-increasing benefits that extend beyond the fixed ability of just having my laptop. In terms of my mobile device usage it might be useful to provide some background to my ‘mobile device journey’…

In the early 2000s with the increase in the availability/affordability of mobile phones and the 2G network, mobile devices were used for making phone calls, then eventually sending text messages. I received my first work cell phone in 2003 from a boss who moved from Europe and couldn’t believe we didn’t have them as standard issue (Europe and other places were ahead in mobile in the early days).

In the early stages there were disparate networks which complicated things, so if you were a San Francisco customer of a major network provider, you couldn’t use the network if you travelled to Washington or New York. Similarly there were black spots even on major freeways (ironically the 101 running up and down Silicon Valley was the worst spot!), so the lines were unreliable and would often drop out. Eventually the networks got their acts together and these gremlins were sorted out. Texting also started to gain traction as a means of communication as well, but many people still held onto their pagers. By the mid-2000s it became clear that the system wouldn’t be able to handle the increasing demand for data, so along came the NextGen network 3G. It was 3G that really facilitated mobile broadband and launched the mobile revolution, taking mobile devices to the next level allowing easy and reliable data transfer – and even mobile access to the internet! With this background it is easier to explain my use of the mobile web in my personal/professional/academic life.

Personally and professionally my preference is still to use a laptop for most of the substantive work I do. This is mainly due to the fact that, for me, this medium still proves a much faster means to get the job done and a much richer user experience. However, while initially my first cell phone was used exclusively as a means of mobile telephone communication – to communicate with colleagues and clients while on the road – over the last 10 years it has developed into so much more. It is now a means of storing all my important contacts so I can reach them at the press of a button. It is a means of being able to access databases of my company that I may need at a moment’s notice. It allows me to get information, such as client bios prior to important meetings. It is access enabler to the infinite volumes of information on the internet. It even allows me to play FlightControl while I am waiting at the airport for my plane to leave! In terms of study, it allows me to keep up to date with any changes that may be happening with my calendar, enrolment or assessment. It means I can message team mates working on collaborative projects, rather than having to wait until I get home or wait until they are out of their meeting. It means we can send each other updates in realtime and, through the web, we are able to access version controlled projects, all while on the road. In terms of play, the mobile web has been a godsend for price comparison shopping. Being able to go into a store to make a major purchase and being able to view competitors’ prices to ensure I’m not paying too much, or even to get a discount! Being out with my family and trying to find the nearest gluten free restaurant, rather than stopping at EVERY-SINGLE-PLACE. Google maps on the mobile device – say no more! Or better still, Google Maps’ free GPS app. Because of this I don’t think my kids know what a UBD actually is. There have been so many positive aspects to this evolution of mobile devices.

However, on the flipside there have also been negative aspects of which I am constantly conscious. Using a mobile device while driving, or worse texting, is a deadly distraction that didn’t exist not so long ago. This is a problem which needs more than the current solutions on offer as I see people texting all the time while driving and give them a wide berth. It’s as bad as drink driving, and the penalties should be equally as high – a $341 fine simply doesn’t cut it when people’s lives are at stake. Increase the fine 10x and you might get people to think about stopping.

Texting and ignoring those around you                                                                   Photo credit: Fiona Hamilton

I see another negative of mobile devices when I go to my kids’ sports events. I notice how many parents are looking down at their devices, rather than looking up to see their kids playing sports and scoring that goal or making that home run. I recently saw a parent with three youngish children sitting at a table at a café on a Sunday morning. Each of them had a device and were interacting with their own device instead of each other. I thought perhaps they were just chilling out, only to see them the following Sunday doing exactly the same thing. I couldn’t help but think about what they were missing out on as a family. But it’s not just parents and families, I see people at restaurants or in lines to buy coffee, constantly looking down rather than looking up to see what is going on around them and having that ‘old style’ interaction with those around them. It isn’t that ‘old style’ – it is only in the last decade that this has all changed. I often wonder how many people are missing out on ‘real life’ experiences or opportunities just because they are looking down. I mentioned in last week’s lecture that I wonder if I would have met my partner had access to mobile devices been around when we met in the mid-1990s. How many people have missed that opportunity and will never know? I really like this video for clearly articulating much of what I am saying here:

Reflect – Evaluating the Power of ShazamShazam Logo Like most people, I have many ‘favourite’ apps, everything from the ever-useful ‘World’s Brightest Flashlight’, to the overly addictive ‘Flight Control’ – the game developed within a matter of weeks by an old friend of mine, Rob Murray formerly of Firemint. But if I was to look at apps that I think are ‘game changing’ I would consider ‘Shazam’ to be at the top of this category. Shazam describes itself as “a mobile app that recognizes music and TV around you” (Shazam, 2015). Shazam’s core strength is based on its ability to take a piece of music (unknown to the user) and match it against the music contained on Shazam’s extensive database, providing the user with the name of the song/music. Shazam is incredibly interesting as it has solved that age-old nagging problem of “what’s that song?”. But I believe its power goes beyond just identifying songs and media. Imagine having the ability to derive the same opportunities that ‘Shazam’ has provided to the music industry through instant recognition of music and using the same principle and applying it to business processes. In largely paper-based and/or process driven organisations such as the financial services sector, it would mean having a technology that automatically reads and captures information from any document, then categorises the document type and filters out any irrelevant information – significantly improving processing time, eliminating paper and printing costs, and reducing errors and rework to correct mistakes (Nagarajan, 2013). The documents are then able to be automatically submitted to the next stage of processing or approval. This is exactly the approach which inspired the creation of Australian technology company OneTouch. Beyond streamline internal processes and the associated cost savings, this type of technology has the opportunity to significantly impact on the customer service of these organisations, through significantly improved processing times.

Shazam is a truly disruptive technology in the music sector. But extending this further the idea behind Shazam has far wider implications for many information organisations – it has the potential to be a game changer for any organisation or industry that is able to truly grasp its potential power and be willing to lead the implementation of a new paradigm in their business operations. I think Hany Pham, the inventor of OneTouch has grasped the potential. The question is whether others are as enthusiastic or forward thinking, and are able to move this truly amazing technology to the next level.

References:

Nagarajan, 2013 – http://www.ibmbigdatahub.com/IOD/2013/blog/what-does-smarter-content-mean-banks
Shazam (a commercial organisation) (2015) – http://www.shazam.com/company http://www.brokernews.com.au/contents/e-magazine.aspx?id=147036 , p.24
Photo: courtesy of Fiona Hamilton published in http://www.couriermail.com.au/news/parents-urged-to-turn-off-phones-computers-to-spend-more-time-with-children/story-e6frer4f-1226052830359
Shazam logo courtesy of Shazam: http://news.shazam.com/
All other photos taken by me.