“OK Google. Where did I park my car?”

Google Now "Where did I Park my Car?" CardThere appears to be a bit of controversy with some commentators learning exactly what “Favorite Locations” are, as stored by every iPhone handset. What happens is that the number of visits to common locations are recorded, from which, based on time spans and days of week, Apple can deduce your “normal” working location and the address at which you sleep most nights. This is currently stored only in your iPhone handset and apparently not yet used; it is designed to enable services to advise you of traffic conditions to and from work, to be used at some point in the future.

The gut reaction is “Whey! They can see exactly where i’m going all the time!”. Well, yes, your handset can; GPS co-ordinates are usually good for an approx location to a meter or two, you have a compass in there that indicates which way you’re facing, and various accelerometers that can work out the devices orientation in 3 dimensions. The only downside is that the full mix tends to be heavy on battery power, and hence currently used by applications on the phone fairly sparingly.

Some privacy concerns then started to arise. However, I thought it was fairly common knowledge that mobile phone operators (certainly in the USA) could deduce the locations of spectators as being inside a sports stadium, and tell the stadium owners the basic demographics of people present, and the locations from which they travelled to the event. This sort of capability will extend to low power bluetooth beacons which can be positioned in retail outlets, which armed with a compatible application (and your permission to share your data), will give them analysis gold. Full coverage, 365 days a year, to a level that doesn’t need Paco Underhill class analysis (Paco is the author of seminal book “Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping“, itself based on years of analysis of customer behaviour in and around retail establishments).

I think i’m fairly cool with it all. Google Android handsets can already sense internally whether you are walking, cycling, on a bus or driving in a car. The whole premise of Google Now is to do searches or to provide service to you before you have to explicitly ask for it. I got quite used to my Nexus phone routinely volunteering commute traffic conditions before I got in my car, or to warn me to leave earlier to hit an appointment in time given current driving (or bus service) conditions on the route I usually took. I was also very impressed when I walked past a bus stop in Reading and Google Now flashed up the eta and destination of the next bus, and a summary of the timetable for buses leaving from that stop.

Google have just released another card on Google Now that automatically notes where you parked your car, and navigates you back to it if you feel the need for it to do so later on.

All of this is done with your explicit permission, and one of the nice things on Android is that if the software vendors data policies change in any way, it will not allow through the update to enable that functionality without explicitly asking you for permission first. Hence why I knocked LinkedIn off my Nexus 5 when they said an update would enable them to collect my phone call data of who I was calling and receiving calls from. I thought that was unnecessary for the service I receive (and pay for) from them.

The location services i’m sharing with a small number of vendors are already returning great benefit to me. If that continues, and service providers are only intrusive enough to help deliver a useful service to me, then i’m happy to share that data. If you don’t want to play, that’s also your call. What’s not to like?

Great Technology. Where’s the Business Value?

Exponential Growth Bar GraphIt’s a familiar story. Some impressive technical development comes up, and the IT industry adopts what politicians will call a “narrative” to try push its adoption – and profit. Two that are in the early stages right now are “Wearables” and “Internet of Things”. I’m already seeing some outlandish market size estimates for both, and wondering how these map back to useful applications that people will pay for.

“Internet of Things” is predicated on an assumption that with low cost sensors and internet connected microcomputers embedded in the world around us, the volume of data thrown onto the Internet will necessitate a ready market needing to consume large gobs of hardware, software and services. One approach to try to rationalise this is to spot where there are inefficiencies in a value chain exist, and to see where technology will help remove them.

One of my sons friends runs a company that has been distributing sensors of all sorts for over 10 years. Thinking there may be an opportunity to build a business on top of a network of these things, I asked him what sort of applications his products were put to. It appears to be down to networks of flows in various utilities and environmental assets (water, gas, rivers, traffic) or in industrial process manufacturing. Add some applications of low power bluetooth beacons, then you have some human traffic monitoring in retail environments. I start running out of ideas for potential inefficiencies that these (a) can address and (b) that aren’t already being routinely exploited. One example is in water networks, where fluid flows across a pipe network can help quickly isolate the existence of leaks, markedly improving the supply efficiency. But there are already companies in place that do that and they have the requisite relationships. No gap there apparent.

One post on Gigaom showed some interesting new flexible electronic materials this week. The gotcha with most such materials is the need for batteries, the presence of which restricts the number of potential applications. One set of switches from Swiss company Algra could emit a 2.4GHz radio signal between 6-10 meters using only energy from someone depressing a button; the main extra innovations are that the result is very thin, and have (unlike predecessors) extremely long mechanical lifetimes. No outside power source required. So, just glue your door bells or light switches where you need them, and voila – done forever.

The other material that caught my eye was a flexible image sensor from ISORG (using Plastic Logic licensed technology). They managed to have a material that you could layer on the surface of a display, and which can read the surface of any object placed against it. No camera needed, and with minimal thickness and weight. Something impossible with a standard CMOS imaging scanner, because that needs a minimum distance to focus on the object above it. So, you could effectively have an inbuilt scanner on the surface of your tablet, not only for monochrome pictures, but even fingerprints and objects in close proximity – for contactless gesture control. Hmmm – smart scanning shelves in retail and logistics – now that may give users some vastly improved efficiencies along the way.

The source article is at: http://gigaom.com/2014/04/07/how-thin-flexible-electronics-will-revolutionize-everything-from-user-interfaces-to-packaging/

A whole field is opening up around collecting data from the Onboard Diagnostics Bus that exists in virtually every modern car now, but i’ve yet to explore that in any depth so far. I’ve just noticed a trickle of news articles about Phil Windley’s FUSE project on Kickstarter (here) and some emerging work by Google in the same vein (with the Open Automotive Alliance). Albeit like TVs, vehicle manufacturers have regulatory challenges and/or slow replacement cycles stopping them moving at the same pace as the computer and electronic industries do.

Outside of that, i’m also seeing a procession of potential wearables, from glasses, to watches, to health sensors and to clip-on cameras.

Glasses and Smart Watches in general are another much longer story (will try and do that justice tomorrow), but these are severely limited by the need for battery power in limited space to so much more than their main application – which is simple display of time and pertinent notifications.

Health sensors are pretty well established already. I have a FitBit One on me at all times bar when i’m sleeping. However, it’s main use these days is to map the number of steps I take into an estimated distance I walk daily, which I tap pro-rata into Weight Loss Resources (I know a walk to our nearest paper shop and back is circa 10,000 steps – and 60 mins of moderate speeds – enough to give a good estimate of calories expended). I found the calorie count questionable and the link to MyFitnessPal a source of great frustration for my wife; it routinely swallows her calorie intake and rations out the extra extra calories earnt (for potential increased food consumption) very randomly over 1-3 days. We’ve never been able to correlate it’s behaviour rationally, so we largely ignore that now.

There’s lots of industry speculation around now that Apple’s upcoming iWatch will provide health related sensors, and to send readings into a Passbook-like Health Monitoring application on a users iPhone handset. One such report here. That would probably help my wife, who always appears to suffer a level of anxiety whenever her blood pressure is taken – which worsens her readings (see what happens after 22 days of getting used to taking daily readings – things settle down):

Jane Waring Blood Pressure Readings

I dare say if the reading was always on, she’d soon forget it’s existence and the readings reflect a true reality. In the meantime, there are also feelings that the same Health monitoring application will be able to take readings from other vendors sensors, and that Apple are trying to build an ecosystem of personal health devices that can interface to it’s iPhone based “hub” – and potentially from there onto Internet based health services. We can but wait until Apple are ready to admit it (or not!) at upcoming product announcement events this year.

The main other wearables today are cameras. I’ve seen some statistics on the effect of Police Officers wearing these in the USA:

US Police Officer with Camera

One of my youngest sons friends is a serving Police Officer here, and tells us that wearing of cameras in his police force is encouraged but optional. That said, he said most officers are big fans of using them. When turned off, they have a moving 30 second video buffer, so when first switched on, they have a record of what happened up to 30 seconds before that switch was applied. Similarly, when turned off, they continue filming for a further 30 seconds before returning to their looping state.

Perhaps surprising, he says that his interactions are such that he’s inclined to use less force even though, if you saw footage, you’d be amazed at his self restraint. In the USA, Police report that when people they’re engaging know they’re being filmed/recorded, they are far more inclined to behave themselves and not to try to spin “he said that, I said that” yarns.

There are all sorts of privacy implications if everyone starts wearing such devices, and they are getting increasingly smaller. Muvi cameras as one example, able to record 70-90 minutes of hi res video from their 55mm tall, clip attached enclosure. Someone was recently prosecuted in Seattle for leaving one of these lens-up on a path between buildings frequented by female employees at his company campus (and no, I didn’t see any footage – just news of his arrest!).

We’re moving away from what we thought was going to be a big brother world – but to one where such cameras use is “democratised” across the whole population.

Muvi Camcorder


I don’t think anyone has really comprehended the full effect of this upcoming ubiquity, but I suspect that a norm will be to expect that the presence of a working camera to be indicated vividly. I wonder how long it will take for that to become a new normal – and if there are other business efficiencies that their use – and that of other “Internet of Things” sensors in general – can lay before us all.

That said, I suspect industry estimates for “Internet of Things” revenues, as they stand today, along with a lack of perceived “must have this” applications, make them feel hopelessly optimistic to me.

Office for the iPad; has the train already left the station?

Meeting notes by @Jargonautical

One asset I greatly admire (and crave!) is the ability to communicate simply, but with panache, speed and reasoned authority. That’s one characteristic of compelling journalism, of good writing and indeed a characteristic of some of the excellent software products i’ve used. Not to throw in the kitchen sink, but to be succinct and to widen focus only to give useful context supporting the central brass tacks.

I’ve now gone 15 months without using a single Microsoft product. I spend circa £3.30/month for my Google Apps for Business account, and have generally been very impressed with Google Spreadsheet and with Google Docs in there. The only temporary irritant along the way was the inability for Google Docs to put page numbers in the Table of Contents of one 30 page document I wrote, offering only html links to jump to the content – which while okay for a web document, was as much use as a cow on stilts for the printed version. But it keeps improving by leaps and bounds every month. That issue solved, and now a wide array of free add-ons to do online review sign-offs, adding bibliographies and more.

This week, i’ve completed all the lessons on a neat piece of Analytics software called Google Fusion Tables, produced by Google Research and available as a free Google Drive add-on. To date, it appears to do almost everything most people would use Tableau Desktop for, including map-based displays, but with a much simpler User Interface. I’m throwing some more heavy weight lifting at it during the next couple of days, including a peek at it’s Python-accessible API – that nominally allows you to daisy chain it in as part of an end-to-end a business process. The sort of thing Microsoft had Enterprises doing with VBA customisations way back when.

My reading is also getting more focussed. I’ve not read a newspaper regularly for years, dip into the Economist only once or twice every three months, but instead go to other sources online. The behaviour is to sample less than 10 podcasts every week, some online newsletters from authoritative sources, read some stuff that appears in Medium, but otherwise venture further afield only when something swims past in my Twitter stream.

This morning, this caught my eye, as posted by @MMaryMcKenna. Lucy Knight (@Jargonautical) had posted her notes made during a presentation Mary had made very recently. Looking at Lucy’s Twitter feed, there were some other samples of her meeting note taking:

Meeting Notes: Minimal Viable Product

Meeting Notes Cashflow Modelling in Excel

Meeting Notes: Customer Service

Aren’t they beautiful?

Lucy mentions in her recent tweets that she does these on an iPad Mini using an application called GoodNotes, which is available for the princely sum of £3.99 here (she also notes that she uses a Wacom Bamboo stylus – though a friend of hers manages with a finger alone). Short demo here. I suspect my attempts using the same tool, especially in the middle of a running commentary, would pale in comparison to her examples here.

With that, there are reports circulating today that the new Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, will announce Microsoft Office for iOS this very afternoon. I doubt that any of the Office components will put out work of the quality of Lucy’s iPad Meeting Notes anytime soon, but am open to being surprised.

Given we’ve had over three years of getting used to having no useful Microsoft product (outside of Skype) on the volume phone or tablet devices here, I wonder if that’s a route back to making money on selling software again, or supporting Office 365 subscriptions, or a damp squib waiting to happen.

My bet’s on the middle of those three by virtue of Microsofts base in Large Enterprise accounts, but like many, I otherwise feel it’s largely academic now. The Desktop software market is now fairly well bombed (by Apple and Google) into being a low cost conduit to a Services equivalent instead. The Server software market will, I suspect, aim the same way within 2 years.

Mobile Phone JFDI – and the forgotten art of Removing Buttons

Keep Calm and Just Do It PosterIn my relative youth, I was always bemused about how the Computing Industry had a habit of making things over complicated. I’d be listening close by as a phone call came in to one of my colleagues, where a salesman wanted to know how much a specific piece of software would cost his customer to buy. Out came a wide range of licensing and update options that made my brain hurt, and i’m sure sent the salesman into a state of gloom and despondency. Came in with one question and left with at least three.

There was an article in one of the early editions of “Practical Computing” magazine that really hit home, so much so that it’s one of a select seminal few bits of paper I still have copies of from my early programming career . A two page article – stored alongside a completely unrelated one page flow chart of how to draw a circle on a bit mapped screen using only increment and decrement instructions, with no trigonomic functions in sight. The two page article was entitled “Removing the Buttons” by Nick Laurie. It’s premise stands correct to this day, an observing it has resulted in some multi million pound profit spectaculars my teams have pulled off down by career.

The 0-$100m at 89% Gross Margin – in 18 months – example

One was being given a Software business to run that featured 48,000 different part numbers. Some of my American colleagues built this into a kind of telephone directory that was 2″ (50mm) thick, and duly sent this to all the sales folks in the USA in the belief that it was doing them all a favour. I took a different tack, listened in to quite a few customer phone calls, and managed to boil things down to 6 double page spreads, each spread dedicated to a specific type of product. The chief stated objective was to ensure that a salesperson could lookup the part number and price for any software product we sold within their normal attention span (which we thought was around 10 seconds!).

So, the split was Operating Systems and System Software, Development Tools, Networking/Comms, Database Management, Industrial Applications and Office software (aka “End User Computing). Product names down the left with most of the part number present, different computers in order of price/power across the top (with the code to insert into the part number for that tier), and the associated price at the intersection of product and machine. The media cost on tape cartridge or magtape on the right of each product.

Visit from Royalty

We had a Corporate senior management entourage over from the USA who were told about the DECdirect Software Business and it’s impressive growth. I found myself called out of the blue into a conference room, carrying one of the price books, to find at least 2 company Vice Presidents and a lot of their senior staff present talking to my bosses boss. One of them got the USA Software price book out, and asked what I thought of it.

I related the challenge it gave salespeople, and on request, passed a copy of our 12 page work to one of the entourage. His VP said to him, well, say I wanted to buy VAX ELN to run on my VAX-11/785 – what’s the part number and price? His direct report, who’d been in possession of the guide for 2 minutes and had flicked through it once, from cold, said “oh, here it is” and rolled off the correct part number and the local price. I think they understood pretty quickly why that software operation was growing like topsy, and why even customers would throw orders into us, correct part numbers and pricing on board, for over 90% of our order volume. Simplicity Sells.

Meanwhile, back to today

Sometimes termed “Opinionated” interfaces, the central theme is that rather than adding extra buttons to any hardware, or one-plussing the number of software User Interface options you confront a user with, or giving people a thick book containing every imaginable option available, that the antithesis is usually much better design. To boil things down to the core tasks the user wants to implement, and to do that one thing really well, without unnecessary distractions. And despite knowing this for a long time now, the Mobile Phone Software Industry is very much stuck in the “let’s give them the kitchen sink” mind set, or to let functionality of their app get one-plussed to death in a mission creep into adjacent “wouldn’t it be nice if” task types. Two recent personal real life scenarios:

Scenario 1

First is that i’m in a Coffee Shop while my wife is shopping. I get a text from her saying she’s in the last one, and will be ready to leave soon. Message comes up on my iPad, so I pull my Nexus 5 phone out of my pocket to tell her i’m on my way. Sequence goes something like this:

Google Hangouts Initial Screen

Google Hangouts Second Screen

Google Hangouts Tell Jane i'm on my way

Having selected the Google Hangout app (the default way of sending SMS’s in stock Android), I flick it’s startup screen to the left, select her picture (there as I talk to her regularly), tap in “on way” and hit the button to send it. Done.

I get to the last shop and she says “Did you get my text?”. I said yes, and that i’d replied to tell her that I was on her way. She said she’d not received it. So, I replay the sequence, look how I sent it, click on her name and see this:

Google Hangouts - Who did I send the message to?

WTF! The Hangout app decided that my default action was to have a face to face video call with her, and it appears to have sent a notification to the Hangout app on her iPhone inviting her to this meeting. One which she didn’t get a notification for. Note to self – remember to select her name, choose the SMS number, before sending a text next time.

Scenario 2

We’ve had a day out with my sons kids, whose school has had an inset (teacher training) day, walking (according to my Fitbit) around 5 miles around Legoland Windsor. Get in the car at the end of the day, get to the road outside, and think – hmmm – I think we turned left somewhere further up this road to aim home, but not sure where. Let’s play safe. Pick up my Nexus phone, and say “Ok Google”. Up pops the speech input on the launcher. “Navigate me home”. Beep – up comes a display showing that it plans to send me from my current location, and lists the ultimate destination as my home postcode. Then sits there like a lemon with a display that looks like this (i’ve just done this one from my home, asking it to navigate me to a local supermarket, but the screen layout is identical in structure):

Google Maps Navigation Screen


Given the phone is sitting there like a lemon and the car is moving in traffic, I hand the Nexus 5 to Jane, and ask if she can see what I need to press to make it start giving directions. The first thing she says is “it appears to be having difficulty loading from the Internet” – given in a browser, there is a blue line that gradually moves left to right as the page loads. The Maps UI appears to be stuck at around 25%. It’s only later I realise that Google have just underlined the mode of transport (by car) with a blue bar, and this isn’t a progress bar at all.

Next, she can select route options. Then we are given some alternative ways of getting to the destination, just like the two listed above (shortest and fastest route). Though I can swear that the words “Start Navigation” were not visible at all when we were in motion and the map around Windsor was displayed. So, Jane says she can’t see where to press, the phone is sitting there like a lemon and roads passing me by with the car in motion. So I make a guess. And get it wrong, and have no idea which way we’re headed. A couple of miles on, a plane outbound from Heathrow flies over us, and I suddenly have a clue that if that is going East to West, I need to turn right to approximately head north back to the M4. This I do, travel another mile and then we get signage to M4 junction 6. And the phone is still sitting there like a lemon.

When I tried it today at home, it did an automatic hop, skip and jump into telling me how to start my journey – something I wished it did yesterday when I needed it to. But didn’t.

I’m far from alone

I’ve heard similar rants from one friend about how Apple iTunes has now turned into an ungodly and complex mess. Also quite a nice rant by Marco Arment about unnecessary bundling of unwanted components to his Amazon Prime Membership supporting a price increase (to support their online video business, that he has no interest in subscribing to). Marco then goes further with the one-plussing of Facebook and Twitter apps to start treading into each others core business, and losing their value to him along the way by doing so. See his blog post entitled “Wrong“.

So, quite a widely used and unfortunate trend. I guess the good news is that where vendors start doing this, it opens up an opportunity for other vendors to more closely align to the basic brass tacks most customers value. If the network effects are strong enough to enact this sort of revolution, we’ll all be the better for it, so – out with the coding pencil!

Footnote: The Seminal “Removing the Buttons” is here: Page 1 and Page 2.



Ask not what your mobile phone can do for you, …

John F Kennedy Photograph (JFK)

Last nights Gillmor Gang felt like it arrived at a conclusion that the next big frontier for mobile platforms was the message bus that is notifications. From a consumer perspective, Google are good at this, albeit Google Now and Google Plus tread over each other occasionally, and Google Plus’s Circles quickly fall into disrepute. Apple’s notification system is mostly empty and unused. It was perceived that Microsoft didn’t have a strategy at all. Meanwhile, the messaging vendors running across multiple platforms are lined up for a battle royal to keep their respective user bases growing, and applicable in their niche use contexts (WhatsApp, Line, WeChat, Hangouts, Skype, Linc, Secret, Snapchat, Chatter, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc).

For me, interesting and pertinent comment tends to come from Feedly (mainly RSS feeds), my DoggCatcher Podcast consumption, a couple of mailing lists and the occasional post on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and very rarely, in LinkedIn. For the most part, all of these social apps shift ungodly amounts of pollution in my stream, and are systematically getting worse. It really doesn’t surprise me that Twitter have had over 1 billion registrations, of whom only 1/4 are regular users now; the daily requests to add more suggested users does nothing for my feed quality – and in fact precisely the opposite.

My Nexus 5 with Google Now already flashes up a bus timetable and next bus eta when I walk past a bus stop. It has all the performance of the stocks I own already tabulated. It tells me the result of Aston Villa’s last match (1-0 against Chelsea – must be a bug there somewhere) and soon will tell me the next match due, along with the relevant league stats of both teams. And at the moment, it will throw in the name of someone from Google+ whose Birthday is today, although i’ve never heard of any of the folks listed in the 5 months since i’ve switched to Android. And if I have worked out how to integrate my calendar, it will tell me if I need to leave early for my next meeting in light of the current traffic conditions.

With that, most of my future use cases that help *me* are largely covered. Improving the efficiency of me recording my food intake and exercise routines may help; i’ve logged all my food intake and have it summarised as carbs, protein, fat, calories and exercise calories expended by day, every day since June 3rd 2002. My weekly weight readings go back that far too. My fitbit does a reasonable job counting my steps and I get a £5 book voucher to spend every 4 months or so for the privilege of admitting my exercise stats. So, an Apple iWatch with heart rate/pressure monitoring may add a bit more data meat for me to have graphed. So, what’s next to help… me?

The industry is now off the starting blocks and into the calls of “Big Data”, “Internet of Things”, “Sensors everywhere”. My phone already knows the time, my location, who i’m calling, who’s calling me, how fast i’m travelling, where i’m headed (be it in my calendar or set as my navigation destination) and where I have notification of tracking data for an inbound package from Amazon. Some data based on data clues i’ve shared with Google (location, searches, Chromecast media consumption) and Amazon (purchases). I wonder if any Visa/Mastercard data makes it back. And now that the role of “information hub” has escaped from living room Games Consoles and into that Smartphone into my pocket, what value to I get back from it now?

A lot of the benefits are going to accrue higher up the food chain – in which case Steve Gillmor’s words may (as usual) be prescient.

One of my previous employers had over 10,000 staff, thousands of suppliers and a large number of B2B customers. One system there collected the metadata from email on who was conversing with who; anyone could go onto the system and see (in priority order) who was engaged with a specific supplier, or all the touch points into large enterprises they serviced. That speeded up the engagements (as it would do in any knowledge based business). That may also work for phone calls made or received on the company mobile in the future.

The same company also have high water marks in various business processes, so if an iceberg is heading your way that will break the customers SLAs, the management chain get the needed urgency and corrective actions instilled – before the customers notice. However, it is silo’d on specific tracking systems that managers have to dip into regularly.

For an Enterprise, one of the keys is to be able to link business processes and the exception handling flows so that the relevant people know whatever is important to them, when it is important to them. Some of my previous work was to graph important things simply to show, for example, what the flow of incoming cash was, it’s sources and any queries that may impale the chances of a customer paying their invoice(s) on time. Very much like the sort of card dished out by Google Now, but with some limited interactivity to dig down deeper into a prioritised list – to enable fast spotting of the root cause to address. It worked spectacularly well to help eradicate potential problems and to markedly improve DSO.

(For what it’s worth, once I could reach the database tables I needed, I prototyped the reporting needed to address the business issues very quickly in Tableau Desktop Professional. Then in line with corporate reporting platform decisions, self learnt then reimplemented the whole lot in Microsoft SQL Services Reporting Services (aka SSRS) – a very bitty, detailed and long process – where the reports still run to this day).

Some time ago, Facebook provided an alternative UI that made your friends the centre of your mobile experience. This largely fell into disrepute as many of the apps on a phone are gateways into simple process tasks, and the entry point wasn’t specific to a designated “friend”. John Borthwick wrote a piece on Medium about which Mobile apps appeared on a wide variety of home screens. Yahoo bought startup Aviate who provide a launcher that moves icons to the home screen – for immediate availability – based on the context of where you are and what you do regularly. I’m yet to see any analysis that segments which apps are used, when and how often; that would be a useful base to ask further questions.

In the meantime, linking apps into appropriate notifications from Enterprise systems may well be a useful thing for mobile applications. That historically has been the domain of Microsoft applications with custom extensions written in VBA (Visual Basic for Applications). It’s probably a sign of genius that you can do likewise with Google Apps now (Chrome Extensions were announced last week) – with add-on code written JavaScript – the most popular programming language in the world.

The main downside is that, for a business process, JavaScript (as indeed is true of VBA) is akin to writing stuff in very basic assembler. Mind bogglingly long winded and subject to excruciating minute detail. I think there’s probably a lot of mileage in being able to provide Google Now type cards with graphs and data you can drill into out of the box – all thrown into the notifications stream with an interface not unlike IFTTT (If This then That – one of John Borthwicks companies) to deliver the information to the correct people, at the right time, only.

I’m just waiting for the first signs that the Enterprise Software vendors will start putting the hooks in to enable Google to undertake the assault on this hitherto Microsoft stronghold using Chrome Extensions.

In the meantime, I also ask myself how folks like SAP and Oracle survive with their very clunky ERP software, all of which looks ripe for disruption with modern open source based software – but that’s another story about money, customisation and organisational inertia all by itself.