I’ve not written much lately around user design, largely because I’ve been really pleased with the changes that the company has made in regard to taking design seriously in my 3+ years here. When I joined, there were a ton of apps I felt I had to apologize for when meeting customers; this is no longer the case. I owe a lot of this to the work of Marine Leroux, Andrew McGrath, Daniel Lewington, Chris Bassett, and Erin Feller. They have been real champions for the mobile team in setting standards, engaging with the business units on design, and helping build great products across the board.
I came across a really good article on the subject of design that I think illustrates exceptionally well the challenge that user design faces these days; the notion that great UI “looks great.” In other words, as the article puts it:
“Too many designers are designing to impress their peers rather than address real business problems…[with] perfect pixel executions of flat design, but work that doesn’t address real business goals, solve real problems people have every day, or a take a full business ecosystem into consideration.”
I could not have said this better. (more…)
With the start of another school year underway, the Apps for Good program has also begun. I had the chance to spend some time at the Stratford Upon Avon Girls Grammar School where 18 (yes, 18!) teams are taking part – the same number as last year. The head of IT at the school, Simon Reid, has done a terrific job of getting the girls excited about the program, and last year, five teams were selected as finalists, producing one winner. (more…)
This year’s 2013 Apps for Good awards ceremony took place at London Symphony Orchestra, St. Luke’s music education centre. Thomson Reuters sponsored the Learning & Information category – helping others learn and using information for good. 24 teams from across the UK presented in six different categories out of over 400 teams in this year’s program. I was thrilled that two of the schools I visited in person this year, Wick High School in Scotland and Westfield Juniors School in Yateley, Hampshire, placed fifth and second respectively in the finals.
In our category, the four finalists were: (more…)
Each year, Mary Meeker from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers issues her State of the Internet report. It’s a must read for everyone in the space, and without doubt, you’ll probably read stories which analyze, debate, and dissect her report. The stats that she presents are just insane.
For example, on slide 41 (of 117!), she notes that there are 1.5 billion smartphones out there with 3-4x growth still to come!
Or maybe you’ll like slide 17 where she points out that nearly zero video was being uploaded to YouTube six years ago; today, 100 hours PER MINUTE is being uploaded! (more…)
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…)