I came across a story today that literally made my jaw drop. It doesn’t happen too often anymore, because after so many years of seeing changes in the space, you almost feel like it is impossible to be surprised. And yet I was.
The reason for my surprise came via the incredibly progressive operator Safaricom from Kenya. Readers of my posts may recall that Safaricom made M-PESA the shining star of mobile payments/transactions in Kenya – essentially creating a solution for millions of “unbanked” people. Last year alone, Kenyans moved over $16 billion via mobile phones - and recall that this is a nation with a total population of about 42 million people.
Safaricom announced that it would stop selling feature phones in an effort to move citizens towards exclusively using smartphones. “Nzioka Waita, Director-Corporate Affairs at Safaricom told the Mobile Web East Africa (MWEA) conference: ‘Safaricom is soon going to stop selling the cheap feature phones in all our retail outlets, as we try to skew the Kenyan market towards smartphones.’” Wow. The reason that Safaricom reckons it can do this simply comes down to the fact that the price of Android smartphones is reaching the point of availability for everyone. We’ve seen this occurring as a mobile team with every trade show we visit. In addition to the big boys bringing out their shiny new smartphone toys, Chinese manufacturers beyond Huawei and ZTE are cranking out low cost Android phones with brand names that are new to the scene. The race to commoditize smartphone hardware is on, and in probably less than 3-5 years time, it would not surprise me to see feature phones literally vanish from the shelves. However, what is interesting is the fact that it is Africa and in particular Safaricom in Kenya that is leading the way. (more…)
I haven’t written much lately on new applications that I’ve been testing, but this time you’re getting this blog post that was put together using the Web Speech API Demonstrator from Google. It’s in the latest Chrome beta release. I love using speech as a natural language interface in products. When I get an idea, I can just start talking out loud and look to edit it into something more coherent later. Google has a number of languages that are available for the web Speech API demonstrator, including several variations of English. This is quite nice, as we know from some of the challenges Apple has had with its Siri product. (Wow it even recognizes Siri when I mentioned it!) Maybe it’s just me, but it feels like a natural inclusion for some of our market segments: a simple way for a lawyer to dictate notes and thoughts or perhaps a financial services professional who chatted with a colleague or read or saw something in the investment space.
One of the Kickstarter applications I funded last year was a product called 1 Second Everyday. I really love this app. The idea is that you can create a montage of the year by capturing one second worth of video content every single day, which can then be strung together into a single video stream. The developer is from Brooklyn and recently his idea was even featured on the BBC. I’ve been using it every day so far, since the product came out, and I’m really looking forward to seeing what happens when I put together my clips from 2013. It is something I think you could actually do over the course in many years as way of going back and remembering cool things that happened in your life. The app is currently available on iOS and it will be out on Android very soon. Check it out and let me know what you think.
So now that you’ve heard what I’ve been using, what apps have piqued your interest lately?
Some products are fairly straightforward to execute. Others, like the one I’m going to talk about today, take you on a roller coaster of emotions. I remember first talking internally about the Wider Image app nearly two years ago, and the fact that it has launched just recently tells you that nothing about it was particularly easy. (more…)
It isn’t a song from the 80s, but I realized that I’ve pretty much avoided my usual pop culture references lately, so I figured my opportunity to take part in our recent Onesource User Conference in London was a great opportunity to bring it back. I had been asked earlier this year by Tina Allen who is the public relations manager for Tax & Accounting if I could present a session on mobile technology as well as finish off the day on a panel focused on some of the implications of policy and technology on the tax professional of the future. It was also a great chance for me to get to spend some time as well at dinner with Brian Peccarelli, the president of our Tax & Accounting business.
I will be the first to admit that I am not an expert at all on tax and accounting issues. In fact, when the panel introduced themselves, they were all standout representatives of this part of the business, including our own Charlotte Rushton. As my fellow panelists introduced themselves and their backgrounds, this was the best I could come up with for myself: “I’m Bob Schukai, and I’m the Global Head of Mobile Technology at Thomson Reuters. And I pay tax!” OK, I’ll admit I’m a little better than that, but I truly was impressed at the many people I met during the day both from within the company as well as partners and customers such as Deloitte and Shell. I do want to tell you about one of the coolest areas that I think we have in our Tax & Accounting group, and it came through an acquisition of a company called Manatron. (more…)
You’ll likely remember earlier blog posts that I’ve written around the Apps For Good program. The format is changing a bit in 2012-2013 to more formalize the experts program. There are now over 100 schools across the United Kingdom taking part, and last year, I had the distinct pleasure of having three wonderful individuals – Margaret Hanlon, Dominique Schreier, and Leila Thomas – serve as mentors. Last week, I visited the most northern school in the program, Wick High School. This is one of three schools taking part from Scotland, and there are 45 kids currently enrolled in the program. It was terrific to see that there were probably just as many girls taking part as boys.
You don’t have to be an expert in mobile technology to join the program. The kids have tremendous ideas, and they are simply looking for someone to hear them out, make suggestions, and provide encouragement and guidance. (more…)
I thought I would take this opportunity to highlight a couple of really great stories out there in recognition of three tremendous leaders we have at Thomson Reuters: Rick King, Susan Taylor-Martin, and Deirdre Stanley. The Minneapolis-St. Paul Business Journal recently honored 11 of the top Information & Technology Officers, and our very own Rick King received the career achievement award. I’ve attached a pdf of the entire story here for you to read.
I love the way this article starts: “Rick King didn’t aspire to become a top technology executive at a $14 billion company when he started his career as a high school math teacher. He was busy coaching school football and baseball teams, serving as a hockey referee and hoping he’d eventually become a school superintendent. It wasn’t until he landed an administrative job as a director of computing services that he started on the path toward a career in technology.”
The work that Rick and his team are doing to achieve our vision for platforms and scale in 2020 are critical to the success of this company. The savings that this team achieves become real investments back into organic development efforts. The article is well worth reading, and it not only gives you insight into the path that Rick took in his career, but also gives a great glimpse into Rick’s community involvement. Congratulations to Rick on this recognition!
The second highlight is one that has been promoted on the blog, but I wanted to again bring it to your attention if you haven’t had a chance to read it. (more…)
What a difference a week makes. Like many of you, I watched the London 2012 Opening Games ceremony just over a week ago – interested, amused, perplexed at times, and always on the lookout for our colleagues that were a part of the event. I wasn’t sure just what to expect in London after coming off a very relaxing holiday and having to get straight back into the craziness that had been projected in the city. The way the newspapers had been going on, it seemed like Armageddon and the Millenium hype all over!
I was prepared for anything on arrival Tuesday into London – and what I found is what everyone else is finding as they spend more time in the City. London is working just fine. I had no wait at immigration. The train into the City, the taxis, and the Tube have all been working well. What’s more, I found myself completely wrapped into the spirit of the Olympics. I came without any tickets to events, and did manage to buy one for the beach volleyball on Friday night (a great party – and after spending almost 3 hours on the tickets website!) and watched the cycling portion of the women’s triathlon after completing my own morning run at Green Park. (more…)
We just launched the Reuters 2012 Olympics app – this has truly been a labor of love, collaboration, hard work, and fun. I remember when I first proposed this idea last fall to some of our colleagues in New York and London following a meeting I had taken with the CIO of the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). I would really like to thank the London team for their “go-for-it” attitude.
Reuters has fewer rights it can exploit – specifically with regard to video content. We’ve had to be very clever to think about what we can show, how we can show it, and how we can think about using some interesting pieces of technology to give the app some unique capabilities. The app was built by our recently acquired Apsmart team, led by Rahul Powar. You’ll see some very cool features that they’ve included in this app including pinch and zoom infographics on certain pictures and sharing of images on AppleTV. We targeted only the iOS platforms out of the gate for one big reason: it enabled us to collaborate with Apple’s user interface evangelists and deepen the working relationship we have with them. Some great work was done by our preferred external design agency Great Fridays (who also did the UI work on Convene) in partnership with Marine Leroux and Daniel Lewington from our side. (more…)
There is a really great article in the current Leadership Issue of Reuters Magazine titled “The Made-In-China CEO” written by Senior Company News Correspondent, Terril Jones. The article looks at the two types of CEOs which now dominate China’s business landscape: the traditional state-owned-enterprise leader who generally favors a lower risk strategy, and the “No-School CEO” that’s big on innovation and opportunity.
Zhang Yue is the featured CEO of this latter category who isn’t afraid to dream big and bold. His goal is to address the challenge of resource consumption and to make the world a more livable place in spite of increasing numbers. Some have dared to call him China’s version of Steve Jobs. After reading the article, I’m not sure I buy into that completely, but you can see that he retains many of the classic “Jobsian” attributes: focus, passion, and drive to see the vision become reality.
Zhang is a leader by example as you’ll see from the article. One of the things that I found quite interesting is that (more…)
On Friday, June 29th, the Barbican Centre in London hosted the 2012 Apps For Good competition finals. The Apps For Good program teaches young people how to come up with and deliver mobile and Facebook applications that can make a real difference in the lives of us all. According to the Apps For Good team, there are currently 40 partner schools engaged across the UK, impacting over 1300 students. What’s more, over 100 schools and institutions are waiting to be involved!
I am unashamedly proud and thrilled to lead our Thomson Reuters efforts. This past year, we directly sponsored three schools in London financially and with tremendous mentors. We didn’t stop there. The kids use the Google AppInventor program to create prototype versions of their idea on Android, and when Google decided to sunset the program and transfer it to MIT, the handoff was not clean. In fact, the kids were going to come back from their Christmas holidays with a system that wasn’t ready. I suggested that we would have a go at standing up the platform, and one of my mobile team members, Kevin Zimmerman in San Francisco, made it happen. I personally wanted to do more, and I was very fortunate to be able to do 2 hour Skype calls each month with different schools across the UK – and even visited one that will always be near and dear to me – Nelson Thomlinson in Wigton, Cumbria.
At the end of the program, there is a wonderful competition that takes place. Teams submit their work to a panel that creates a short list in several sponsored categories. The short list consists of two teams that come to London to present in a “Dragon’s Den” style competition in front of 5 judges. Thomson Reuters sponsored the Information category, while other major companies involved in sponsorship included Dell, RIM, and Barclaycard. Some of the ideas are just amazing. The kids in the program range from 12-17 years old, and here is a sampling of some of the projects: an app that helps you build confidence and work through tough times with motivational messages and critical help if you really hit a low; an app that lets you personally and privately monitor with your teacher your reading progress in books to prevent feeling badly for not understanding what you’re reading; and an app that lets you create visual notecards for studying for exams along with a community where you can share and reuse those notecards with other students. (more…)