Figure Out the Changing IT Landscape by Checking Out High Tech Jobs

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

I get very confused sometimes by the flood of ‘strategic’ information flowing down the Twitter ‘Fire Hose’.    When I need something to grab hold of – to get a better picture of what is actually happening – I’ve found it helpful to find out what sort of jobs are being created by the very fast moving companies in technology.

Recently I noticed a tweet on Mashable

Sorting through the wheat from the chaff – or to be fair – the best wheat from the wheat I settled on Shopkick.    As an Foursquare early adopter I’ve been curious about the way that location based social networking is going to play out.   I visualized coming to a training course or meet up and using Foursquare, Twitter or  Facebook  geotagging to improve the way that I use that space for networking.   It hasn’t happened yet in any big sense – but this feels like a real growth area.   Anyhow look at this ‘cool’ job description for Shopkick

Interaction Designer (mobile) for Shopkick

Shopkick is a young fast growing Silicon Valley-based company funded by apple (iFund), Kleiner Perkins’s (EA, google,, AOL) and Reid Hoffman, founder and Chairman of LinkedIn.

Shopkick has already partnered with Best Buy, Macy’s, American Eagle Kraft Foods and Procter & Gamble, Citi.

We provide full 360 marketing and interactive service work field (print, motion design, 3D, design objects, atl/btl communication: interactive (mobile web), guerrilla, social, viral etc.) and a award winning creative team (4 cannes lions, 2 emmys. Worked on CBS, coke, mtv, adidas, Vodafone, sony, pixar, mcdonald’s, Buena Vista, CBS, L’oreal, Wrigley’s). And a leading edge Tech and Business team.

Our service is set to intersection of mobile and physical world for shopping.

We’re looking for outstanding creative people that help shape this new brand and service with us to become shopkick the benchmark.

You will work from day one on the real stuff and see your work live within the first month guaranteed.

Education Requirements:

    • Design must be your passion not just your profession
    • Must have a background in street art or cartoon/illustration and enjoy new media
    • College degree in Visual/Graphic Design, Human-Computer Interaction, Interaction Design and/or related field preferred
    • Must have solid understanding of application design for smart phones esp iphone and android devides.

Experience requirements:

    • Exceptional design talent and strong conceptual skills and proven ability to create graphics and designs that are leveraged across mobile, web, and other interactive platforms.
    • Must be wildly creative and obsessively meticulous.
    • Must understand user behaviour and its implications for design as well as marketing and business matters and how they can be addressed.
    • Proficiency using Photoshop, Illustrator, Print Layout Programs (InDesign, Quark…) are a must.
    • Experience developing creative work for interactive entertainment websites, mobile applications, interactive creative agencies, games.
    • Demonstrable mobile application design skills with ability to show relevant work.
    • Solid understanding of mobile technology.

Role & Responsibilities:

    • Design the hell out of our mobile application.
    • Help to develop our style guide find ever new solutions for marketing and user problems.
    • Help to develop the brand and service of shopkick.

Please provide your portfolio:

    • Demonstrates a passion for design and creative problem solving for interactive problems.
    • Show us stylistic bandwidth, attention to detail, and balances beauty, innovation and usability.

This is the kind of job that makes the difference between ‘old’ IT and digital media real for me.   Essentially a designer (perhaps) but with highly developed – and pretty uncommon IT skills.   We are going to need thousands of these people going forward.

I really got something from thinking about what this job was about.   It made the distinction between ‘old’ IT to the new world of digital media much more real for me.

Categories: Miscellaneous

Haiti Earthquake Has Lessons

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

Some from the heart comments were made at the beginning of the ‘Real Time’ Web segment at the recent DLD (Digital_Life_Design) Conference by industry pundit Jeff Plover.    I’ve written about the need to bear in mind current themes in order to get your value improvement strategy right.  In this case Jeff is talking about the speed at which things are changing – and he highlights this in a very straightforward – but passionate way by an anecdote about the Haiti earthquake.  It ends up being four minutes and thirty four seconds of highly condensed wisdom.   The story powerfully illustrates his conclusion that “we are living in this world where things are different”.   Keeping with the ‘disaster theme’ he went on to say that one of the great takeaways from 9/11 was “we need to communicate better”, that all of the different responders on that day Fire, Police, FBI, the Civil Authorities – were all on different frequencies.  They all wanted to help but that was frustrated by the communications problem.  “Now” he argued “everyone is on the same frequency” and in this circumstances “great change can happen”.

With a couple more examples to support his case – the way that Twitter can raise large amounts of money super fast, and how Finance needs to be more alert to the challenges of the Real Time Web -he ends up by saying something like:  “It was (the case) that our Internet experience  was going to search engines and asking questions, now with our voices amplified – we can stand up and change things now by sharing where we are.”

Categories: Miscellaneous

Memorable Facts

November 28, 2010 Leave a comment

“Facebook, the mammoth social-networking site where 500 million people now spend 700 billion minutes a month”.

“As at June 2010 59% of Americans did some banking online

Categories: Miscellaneous

New Academic Research Helps SME Owners

October 20, 2010 Leave a comment

There are many benefits in being an ‘independent’ consultant.  One of the disadvantages is professional loneliness.  Belonging is such a strong need and in London these recent weeks I’ve been trying to find a bit of nourishment.  In my search I took a bit of an interest in the Cranfield Business School website and found it to be the source of much interesting debate and information.

As a ‘small’ business owner myself – and having run businesses of between twenty to sixty people over the years – and advised many more I’m aware of how important your ‘strategic mindset’ is.  In particular whether you are emotionally committed to looking farther afield for opportunity or more focused on the relative competitive position of your own business.   For many years the work of Michael Porter in competition theory some twenty five years ago dominated the debate, in particular the ‘Five Forces’ pretty gave a strong framework to any serious discussion about competition.   Basically the idea was that it was critical to continually work on your own competitive position in order to win.     This idea gained wide acceptance.

Recently this  consensus on the competitive framework was rocked by the book ‘Blue Ocean Strategy: How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make the Competition Irrelevant’ Of course if you don’t have to worry about the competition then there’s hardly any point in having a competitive strategy that seeks to beat them!   Like many new ideas this one had fierce advocates for the end of  competition as we know it.

So if you were an SME owner working hard to beat your competition – and putting most of your resources into this – it became very tempting to stop that rather tedious work and pursue new pastures.   As this debate unfolded I had always felt a bit uncomfortable it seemed a bit too glib.  But then again – in the age of Facebook  – who would be brave enough to argue?  I can tell you – this actually gave me a lot to think about over the years.

So – as I scrolled through the Cranfield site I was delighted to come across a couple of links and a video interview with an academic Professor Andrew Burke who as you can see here: just completed – joint research on this very topic.

Like so many things the research shows that both sides have merit.  This research indicates that it is true that pursuing blue ocean has potentially great benefits – but there’s a catch!   First mover advantage in this space is a risky position to be in.  It is suggested that second or third arrivals do better.   Similarly, in terms of improving your business through innovation and strengthening your competitive position – this is still a very coherent strategy.  The adoption of new ideas and approaches in an industry takes quite a long time – fifteen years or so – and hence there is a lot to be gained by chipping away at improving your business.  Your competition will take some time to catch you up you can still ‘win’ for a while.

What’s really interesting is that “Blue Ocean” is not unimportant either.   I remember my early days in IT where – unbelievably in today’s paradigm – we were the only firm that understood and were selling and supporting a mail product.  In this case ccmail.   I can remember a senior government executive (some 1,500 people in his team over a dozen locations) telling me that “email??  We’ve looked at it and well, to be honest we would simply have no need for it!”.    Oddly enough he did have a PhD.   So the market was not only uncontested it was pretty difficult to whip up interest.   However, the knowledge that we gained in selling and implementing that product became the engine for our business two years later – and a bridge to our entry into ‘Advanced Systems’ (as we then rather grandly called ‘`Networks’ at that time.     Blue Ocean thinking paid off for us.

Maybe this research is just combines the number one rule of investment – ‘don’t have all your eggs in one basket’  with ‘Go West Young Man!”.

Categories: Miscellaneous

In Search of Excellence

October 18, 2010 Leave a comment

Years ago Tom Peter’s wrote ‘In Search of Excellence’ – identifying eight principles that made up outstanding companies. See for an opinionated review of this book. The book claimed to be evidence-based yet as the years went by the thesis was undermined as one – and another of these ‘excellent’ companies ran into trouble.

However, the first one of these principles was ‘A bias for action… doing something…anything!’ has always made sense to me. Re-reading this my guilty conscience must have been pricked. It’s been nine months now since I started to market my business using social networking: Yet, lthough either Paradoi – my consulting firm – or me personally is now a WordPress, Posterous, You Tube, LiveStation, Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare or LinkedIn user, all lack substantial original content, and there is little alignment between any of those platforms and my business strategy. I don’t think procrastination is one of my problems – so what’s going on – and what experience can I pass on to my SME clients as a result?

I think that one cause may be the abundance of new products being launched. In that sense it’s nothing more than the ‘Boston Box’ experience. Lot’s of question marks trying to become stars. Loads of new products and businesses. Which one do you choose? Which one will win? Yet that doesn’t seem to really explain the problem for me – because it isn’t as if this hasn’t happened for each of the last twenty years!

I think it’s about the privacy. Every time you join a social network you enter the unknown as far as where this information is going to end up. So I’ve found a tendency to be over controlling about what I put on the web. However, if I look at my efforts these last twelve months it’s a bit of a disaster. There’s lots of information about me and my business – but very little of it at a standard that I’d allow on a brochure that I published. Yet the reach of this material is potentially vast – and to be honest – I’m not sure that I’m stuck with it forever!

Well – today is a new day – and a new social media strategy beckons. I’m encouraged by a comment in the Jeff Jarvis book ‘What Would Google Do’ that in years to come we are all going to know so much about each other’s business that a more tolerant and forgiving attitude to each other will emerge. Let’s hope so.

Categories: Miscellaneous

Value Improvement

January 9, 2010 Comments off

What We Do

Paradoi is a business that manages companies in the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) sector to improve their value prior to sale. We work with and for owners of businesses who are looking to retire or move on.

Increasing Value

We believe that many small and medium sized businesses offered up for sale are significantly undervalued. Our core competency is to release that value for the owners whilst presenting the company as a good value buy for investors. We do this on the belief that the market for SME’s in Australia is inefficient with a poorly developed mechanism for releasing value. For example in Australia it is usual for SME manufacturing companies to sell for approximately three to five times earnings on a trade sale whereas recently listed manufacturing companies on the Australian Stock Exchange claim twelve to fifteen times earnings. We aim to close this differential by doubling the value of our client businesses based on an independent valuation at the start of the project and the eventual sale price.

Personal Approach

Our business works with owners, management and staff to improve the value of a business from an investor perspective. We have a strong record of building value in the SME sector and work with no more than three companies at once to achieve these aims. Experience shows that the optimal time for our involvement in an enterprise is on a medium term basis of between one to three years.

The process begins with a diagnostic that identifies key areas for value improvement. We agree on a value improvement plan with clear quarterly milestones through to the eventual sale of the business. The value improvement plan is an important guide with clear quarterly performance targets during the life of the project. As one of the first targets for business improvement will be corporate governance – achievement is reported back to your Board that meets regularly during the process.

Our business builds relationships with a network of investors who are looking for high quality enterprises. These include individuals, family trust companies and both listed and unlisted investment companies. From time to time, we make equity investment in our client companies. We work with any business sale agents employed by you and your professional advisors in legal and accounting.

How it Works

Our fees are essentially performance-based – determined following the diagnostic and clearly set out in our final proposal to you. The business diagnostic is a team effort and is usually completed within thirty working days.

Categories: About Us