Posts Tagged ‘MIT’

The Trouble with AI

August 11, 2021 Leave a comment

The global pandemic made remote working a necessity for so many people, and like many others, I also embraced remote learning as a key antidote to professional development inertia. Choosing a course was the easy part – I’ve always wanted to do more with Artificial Intelligence, and to better understand its role in evolving business models, so when a colleague mentioned  a certain Exec Education course at MIT, I was hooked, and 6 intense weeks later I’m hopefully now somewhat better informed about the subject matter. 

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Leading Digital In Practice

May 14, 2015 Leave a comment
I had the opportunity to read and review the book “Leading Digital” by George WestermanDidier Bonnet & Andrew McAfee, and as you might guess from the review score, I thought it was an excellent book. However, there’s nothing quite like putting something into practice to get a real feel for it, and I was able to do just that on a couple of recent occasions. Read on for highlights…

LD Book sm2

If you haven’t already read the book*, I can assure you it is chock full of common sense and great ideas on how to go about transforming your typical large, non-tech organisation into a digital master. However, as with most things, the theory can be vastly different from reality in practice, so below are a few observations from recent experiences where we tried to put into practice some of the wisdom from Leading Digital:

1. Not every organisation is geared up to do this right away – Even those organisations perceived by peers to be ahead of the pack may just be ‘Fashionistas’ at heart (i.e. very quick to try out shiny new digital toys without adult supervision). To gauge readiness it is important to understand where an organisation sits in the digital maturity quadrant**. Some organisations believe they already know the answer, but it’s always advisable to verify such a crucial starting point, in order to work out their best route to digital mastery.


2. Engage both business and technology communities from the start – Anything else is just window dressing because, although either group can sell a good story as why they’re critical, neither side can fully deliver digital transformation without the other. It really is a game of two sides working well together to achieve a single outcome – no short cuts allowed.

3. Ground up or top down is great, but together they’re unbeatable – Every organisation must address four interlocking*** areas of: Vision, Engagement, Governance & Technology to stand any chance of leading digital. Many often have one or more of these areas needing serious intervention to get up to speed.


4. Employees know their organisation better than anyone – This may be stating the obvious, but on several occasions we found critical knowledge locked in the heads of a few individuals, or that departments don’t communicate enough with each other, (not even those using the same systems / processes / suppliers). It is therefore a vital step to unearth such locked-in knowledge, and to untangle any communication gridlock.

5. Using the right tools in the right way pays off big – The Digital Maturity Quadrant or Digital Maturity Assessment exercise are great tools for stimulating debate, conversations and mission clarity. However the readiness of an organisation may impact how such tools are perceived as well as their effectiveness. In such situations, we need to reassess the best way to achieve a useful outcome.

In conclusion, I’d encourage all large, non-tech firms to look for opportunities to put some of the book’s wisdom into practice. The pay off is well worth it, and besides it’s never too late to start on the transformation journey because, as author Andrew McAfee puts it, when it comes to digital, “we ain’t seen nothing yet“!

*Source: Leading Digital by George Westerman, Didier Bonnet and Andrew McAfee
**Source: Capgemini Consulting-MIT Analysis – Digital Transformation: A roadmap for billion-dollar organizations (c) 2012
*** Source: Capgemini 2014

In Search of Mash-Up Licensing

June 23, 2009 Leave a comment

Every so often I am fortunate enough to be invited to participate (as speaker or facilitator) in a conference or summit that is focused on rights and licensing within industries outside of the usual suspects of music and media. However, it is generally pretty much the same in terms of the key challenges with getting stakeholders to agree the best ways to tackle this most pressing issue. So what was so different about the recent OGC Summit at MIT in Boston?

For one thing it was pleasant surprise to discover a sincere effort, by the good people of the Open Geo Spatial Consortium (OGC), to open up the debate to outsiders like myself and such experts as DRM Guru, Bill Rosenblatt; XACML Evangelist, Hal Lockhart; and other key speakers from related communities like the Science Commons and W3C. This was done deliberately to inject external but relevant perspectives into their deliberations (I think it has to do with the “Open” in their title). In any case I found it an interesting day’s event, full of enthusiastic participation by delegates and speakers, with some key take-outs, from my point-of-view, that include:

  • GeoData Exploitation – GeoRM poses unique challenges to the established world of Intellectual Property, eCommerce, Usage and Control, mainly because Geographical Data is a specific type of factual data, which is not in itself liable to copyright protection. However, the packaging, presentation and application of the data (which extends to the exciting world of Location Based Services) is definitely worth protecting and exploiting, hence the efforts by the OGC to nail this area before it becomes fragmented and uncontrollable is too late
  • Mash-Up Licensing – The direction of progress, in all likelihood, points towards a definitive move away from static to dynamic content usage, and from paper-based to electronic rights management (as highlighted by Graham Vowles – chair of the GeoRM WG in his opening address). This indicates a forward look towards the potential to licence dynamic electronic applications and usage scenarios which are as yet undreamt hence the term “Mash-up licensing”.
  • Shades of control – after much debate over the impracticality of predicting future user intent or consumer behaviours, it quickly became clear that the issue of managing access to Geodata would require a gradient or shades of access and control that varies from consumers (i.e. lower controls) to more rigid forms for commercial enterprise / professional / government users. This neatly helps to focus efforts where the value lies (i.e. commercial usage), and to maximise the viral / social benefits derived from ordinary users (i.e. free advertising / capturing hearts & minds)

The second part of the day was devoted to finding the best ways forward / next steps towards establishing and developing a standardised model for encoding Geo rights models in a way that it will enable interoperability between the diverse licensing models used / required by different communities. The consensus was:

  1. to open up the debate via a forum that promotes greater dialogue between communities, and which will not just focus on technology but also the business requirements;
  2. To create a test bed for trying out these candidate models in a safe and trusted environment; and to create use cases for each domain in order to identify commonalities that would be used to make up the standard.
  3. Finally, to acknowledge that although a difficult undertaking, it is well worth it, even if it is “just for the common good” –a sentiment / motivation that the scientific community would certainly subscribe to!

So in all, it was a very useful exercise and one which when kicked off will possibly lead the way for other industries to emulate in resolving rights management issues from the front. If the only thing that results from this summit is the adoption of a bill of rights on geospatial data, (e.g. see O’Reilly’s post on Health Data Rights here) then it would be a job well done.


Note: This post was previously published on my BCS DRM Blog, where you can find the original post, and reader comments, in the archives.