of geeks and men … a case of “us and them”

I spotted that picture (or rather, my wife did, let’s be honest) posted by Physicisttv on their Facebook page last night and I couldn’t help share it with you on this blog. The fact is we could change the caption for almost any kind of job that you/others/we (change pronoun) don’t – quite – understand.


Very often I have seen “business” people label their digital experts “geeks” while meaning “martians”. Even myself (roarrrrrring laughter!). Conversely, programmers see users as dummies (remember the intelligence chart in the Dilbert Principle in which Dilbert descibes end users as more stupid that hammers  and “silly putty”?!)


 [in Dilbert Principle]

After all, I could well place an accountant in that chair and I’d see him as a martian because I never understood what these guys were up to. A case of “us and them”… a bit like what’s happening with helpdesks …


5 major trends for the future of IT and the Web – #blogbus

imageThe Orange Blogger bus tour – of which I am the organiser on behalf of Orange of which I am the Director of Internet and social media – was stopping by San Francisco today and the whole day was hosted by Orange Silicon Valley

Georges Nahon delivered a very inspiring keynote today before our panel of bloggers in which he shared his vision with regard to what is happening in IT in general, and in the Valley in particular. I will begin my account of Georges’s visionary presentation by detailing his conclusions. As I always do, I have taken detailed notes of the pitch and they are made available at the end of this piece. If there is one thing that should be remembered from that pitch is that the Web is everywhere and in everything that will be happening in the future. Something which established players don’t like according to the Head of Orange Silicon Valley. However, Nahon insisted on the fact that it won’t be the same Internet we used to know.

Facebook will be “Yahooed!”

“Social” has been going through a rough patch over the Summer, with the now infamous Facebook IPO, dubbed “IPOcalypse”, IPO meaning “It’s Probably Overpriced” Nahon said facetiously. Yet, Europeans are wrong when they interpret these issues as the end of social media, Georges Nahon said in essence. Social is here to stay, and beyond, it will change everything which takes place on the Web, even though Facebook itself will probably be “Yahooed!” Georges added.

But the worrying thing I got from his pitch is that, according to his analysis, next to the World Wide Web that we all know, an increasing number of companies, including Amazon, are creating a “non-searchable adjacent Web” which sounds very much like the end of the Web as Chris Anderson announced in Wired a few years ago. I think Georges is right indeed, there is a growing concern that Net neutrality is being sacrificed for the sake of user experience. Time will tell, but there are indeed worrying signs.


Georges Nahon, head of Orange Silicon Valley, on the first day of the blogger bus tour

Here is how I summed up Georges’s 5 trends for the future of IT:

  1. Tech is all about mobile: “Twitter is a mobile-first company” and thriving he said, “Facebook isn’t and is suffering”. 10% of Internet traffic is made of mobile traffic. Yet, 25% of US users are using the Web from mobile only, but in Egypt, this number soars up to 70%, and India is close to 60%! And 68% place their mobile next to their bed while sleeping at night.
  2. The default is now social: and social meets mobile (over 50% of smartphones connect to Facebook). Social graph (Facebook), interest graph (Twitter) and influence graph (Klout) are the new frontiers of the Web and “they are here to stay … for a long time” Nahon said. For many, Facebook is the new web (“find us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter). What is the future of search? it is social and both Google and Microsoft are working on it… “and Facebook search is coming fast” Nahon added.
  3. Another Web: At the same time, traditional web development is slowing down, and Apple, Amazon, Facebook and Mobile will continue develop their “non-searchable adjacent webs” as Nahon called it.
  4. The Cloud as a new frontier: “The new guys are Amazon, Zynga, Rackspace and even people like Google were taken by surprise” Nahon said. But there are even newer guys you may never heard of such as Bluejeans, Alfresco, Joyent and many many more. Explosive data growth is also forcing companies to develop solutions for data reduction. And “the next big thing isn’t Software, it’s data” Nahon concluded on that subject.
  5. All video will be on the Net: most players in that field are coming from the Internet world, not the media world. “We think that the future of TV is to be streamed” Nahon said. There is more innovation than ever before in that area he said. Nahon added though that the concept of app-centric TV on smart TVs wasn’t entirely convincing. Time Warner see their future in apps but another trend is Social TV (described by Nahon as “a descendant of interactive TV which never worked”. 85% of tablet owners use their device while watching TV he said. What are they doing? Social websites, Zynga, Search, Craigslits (an old web survivor!) according to Nielsen.

the future of the World Wide Web

So, what is the future of the Web? Georges Nahon highlighted 10 trends in that area too:

  1. the web is becoming data centric
  2. apps will rule consumer and entreprise innovations and html5 will infiltrate apps and web services
  3. non searchable adjacent webs will continue to develop and the web will be fragmented and site-less (mobile, apps)
  4. the web of sites is dead and Facebook like buttons are the new hyper links
  5. Real-time multi-user game cloud platforms will influence enterprise cloud technologies: the main issue will be “latency” ‘as already explained on that blog)
  6. 4G/LTE (which we all were using to day via local mifi devives) will trigger innovation
  7. mobile payment will kick off from 2015
  8. all video will be on the web
  9. Enterprise IT will shift to the cloud.
  10. Facebook will rule the web during the next 2 years and Google will be in catch-up mode and within 3 years they will be “Yahooed!” Nahon said
  11. Amazon will continue to diversify and will create more online commerce/entertainment clouds and mobile devices (tablets/phones). “Amazon is belittled in Europe” Nahon added, “and it should be considered as a major player, for Bezos is the new Steve Jobs”.

Started as an R&D organisation and evolved towards what they are today (scouting organisation). 60 people, 40 of  which are in a position to file patents and they file 20 per annum. Often, it’s about reviewing the strategy. Statement from Prussian general “no plan survives contact with the enemy” e.g. 5 years ago, no one had seen the iPhone coming. Even analysts. An none of these people has seen Apple becoming a major player in the Telecom industry => be prepared for the unexpected. There were times in which you telcos could go to the ITU organisation and get things sorted but this isn’t the case anymore.

Essentially Orange wants to get prepared for the future. One of the key elements for Silicon Valley is capital investment. In Bay Area only, venture investments represent $3.2 bn 46% of total investments in the USA (San Jose chronicle on Q2 results). Texas only represents $ 179 m (3%) despite the huge tech firms in that state. The core subjects is ICT and media but not only.

The software industry in Q2 of this year received the highest level of funding. (34 out of 39% other source) $2.37 bn i.e. 32% of the total.

Market capitalisation: Apple + Cisco +Oracle +Google +Intel have a total of $ 1,261.82 bn (IBM is only $236b or FTE $37b). What this hides is the myriad of small companies which help these companies become what they are.

Read More “5 major trends for the future of IT and the Web – #blogbus”

Engine Yard’s Dillon: “a private cloud is an oxymoron”

eye-largeAs I was in San Francisco today, I managed to squeeze into a meeting with some of my former partners of the IT press tour organised by my friend Philippe Nicolas. Today we visited Engine Yard, a new player at the forefront of the implementation of platforms as a service (PaaS, i.e. the infrastructure side of cloud computing) for start-ups and Fortune 500 companies. Engine Yard’s CEO, John Dillon (our photo), shared his thoughts with us on the future of cloud computing with a panel of international journalists.

“The most important change in IT since the invention of the PC!”

John Dillon started his visionary presentation with a very straightforward statement: image“Cloud’s the most important change to the way we do computing since the invention of the PC” which address the points made by many of the detractors of cloud technology in the past few years. “All revolutions in IT start with listening to the user and what works is what starts small, in a trial and error sort of way, and then deciding what really works” he went on. “The cloud is scary is disruptive” he said but “it has the possibility to change the landscape for ever, and we are part of that change”

Describing himself lucky, Dillon said they had built a marketplace for the cloud and that they have two kinds of customers:

  • on the one hand, 2.0 start-ups who are looking to be the next Facebook. Dillon went on saying Engine Yard has 2,500 customers in 58 countries although they barely leave San Francisco. They can help our clients with the technology, but not with their business models.
  • Engine Yard’s other clients are Fortune 500 customers but it’s not about core IT, it’s about experimentation and innovation: and it’s working.

“We are very early with the cloud” John Dillon added, but “Corp IT are still trying to figure out what it means but most of the innovation is happening at the fringe, with systems that couldn’t be done 5-10 years ago” and “if it doesn’t work you can throw it away because it doesn’t cost much money” he commented. Most business executives who want to innovate turn to IT and that’s because of  the cloud. the impact will be profound and substantial. The pattern that the cloud is following is similar to past successful innovations I have witnessed in the past. “Big IT shops are nervous about the future” he said provocatively and with passion, “but the change will come and we’ll have to be smart and not tear up the current systems that work”. CIOs beware, “the tsunami is coming” he even added. Not surprising they are reluctant to jump on the bandwagon …

evolution or revolution

It is often asked whether cloud computing is an evolution or a revolution. Dillon’s answer is loud and clear: “If it’s evolution and it’s very fast, sometimes it means that things get broken. The consumerisation of the cloud is happening everywhere and some will see it as revolution, others as evolution. Some IT executives are very positive and embrace the change rather than fight it. A whole bunch of customers 1 mile from here are doing very crazy things [by that he meant Silicon Valley start-ups] but “most of the business done with cloud will eventually come from big businesses”.

IT departments are not liked

But there is one think anyone who has worked more than one week for a large company knows, and that’s the fact that “everybody hates the IT department” and Engine Yard’s CEO thinks that this is also the reason behind this (r)evolution: “users are fed up of asking for new things and IT departments answering either that you can’t have it or that you will have it next year” he added.

To him, a good IT department should say: “we should do something about it and use the new tools”. “A powerful IT department is one that is at the service of their users and shift more investment into innovation from 20% to 30% or even more” he concluded.

A statement no IT user would disagree with.


a private cloud is an oxymoron

But the other problem with cloud computing is the “old sheep in new clothes” syndrome, which we described lately in an interview with a Sugar CRM executive.

“If you a re building a private cloud, you are just shifting the budget from one department to another and it’s only a way for the IT department to survive”. he bluntly described.

However, Dillon is no IT department hater, he is merely trying to wake them up to innovation. “We are planning to become a very strong partner of IT departments in large enterprises” he said, “but they won’t buy anything now, it’s too soon; within 5 years from now, they will!”

The cloud is a paradigm shift

“When there’s a paradigm shift, legacy start denying it, then they try to highjack the idea (stating things like ‘the cloud is just like it used to look’) and eventually, changes will come”. “Some big IT vendors will make the transition, but the sales model familiar to big IT vendors in which you sell very expensive proprietary products, very complex and with add-on prices so high that the sales person can buy a new BMW will go!

This is the same thing that Dillon experienced whilst he was working with Salesforce. “10 years ago he said, CIOs wouldn’t want to talk to us, now they all do!” Having said that, cloud computing will not solve integration issues, and this is where IT departments will have an important role to play.

[photos, cc, 2012 by Yann Gourvennec http://bit.ly/picasayann]

Kaspersky: “we will soon witness cybercrime explosion in the mobile world” #MWC #MWC12

This post was originally written for the Orange Live Blog, reporting live from Mobile World Congress in Barcelona

On Tuesday February 27th, I had the opportunity to attend a Press conference organised by Kaspersky security. Eugene Kaspersky himself was present for this big announcement in mobile security. The firm is already widely known for its PC protecting suite and today it made a few important announcements related to its release of parental control suites for mobile devices as well as an advanced protection suite for Android devices. In a flamboyant presentation by one of the Press’s preferred showmen of the software industry, the Russian expert and businessman highlighted the risks that mobile users are facing in the near future. Yet, there has also been criticisms in the industry for scare mongering on the part of security software editors …


Cybercrime will soon be too big to be ignored

15 years ago, Personal computer users didn’t have a clue about cybercrime. Viruses didn’t exist, or were in limited supply, and when they did exist they tended to be rather harmless. Similarly, as of today, many users are still wondering whether cybercrime is real or not when it comes to mobility. Nowadays, PC users aren’t questioning that “malicious software” (aka malware) exists nor that it is a real threat. We all know it’s there and that having a proper antivirus installed and regularly updated is a must-have.  Such was Eugene Kaspersky’s introduction, meaning to announce that cybercrime is just about to soar in the mobile industry.

”IT will split into 2 environments : Android for the home environment and Business with the Windows environment” Kaspersky announced, even though Windows and Nokia my prove him wrong soon as it happens; but we understand what he is hinting at: open environments like Android are easier to pry into and are the prime targets for cyber criminals. “No safe zone will subsist” he added.

Going back into the history of computing, viruses like Chernobyl in 1998 were  so fierce that they made infected machines unusable. The virus would go and reprogram the BIOS (the basic software below Windows which makes your machine work) and damage it beyond repair. This virus and others like Melissa or “I love you” changed people’s minds about cybercrime for ever Kaspersky rightfully remarked.

Cybercrime is moving into mobiles


The Russian expert’s theory is that mobility is going the same route as computers a few years ago because, in his mind, “there are fundamentally no differences between computers and mobile devices”.

“The number of computer threats has reached a plateau” he went on, so there are few or no new players in the PC cybercrime space or otherwise, they would  need to be extremely professional. The computer crime scene is therefore mature enough and there are also other non malware related scams which work well in that space (SPAM, phishing, pharming being the most frequent ones). “Online banking only started in 2001-2002 and this is the reason why crime soared too after those days”, now that mobile equipment is booming (in 2012 there will be more than 484 million smartphones worldwide) “we will witness mobile ‘malware’ explosion” Kaspersky warned while showing us a chart (see picture above) with some very worrying numbers.

“75% of malware is targeted at Android”

image“Cybercrime in the mobile industry started as soon as 2005” he added, and Android is now becoming the dominant mobile malware platform. (sign of the times, Android went through 1199 modifications in Dec 2011 because of security threats). Eugene Kaspersky said that he was expecting this to happen and he is now “sure that the trend will follow that of computers in 2000 and beyond. “This is bad news for smartphone manufacturer who will need to add extra processing power to cater for security” he said and added facetiously “this isn’t my fault!”. As the above chart shows, things started to get very bad in 2010 and mostly in 2011. And it’s not just mobile devices and tablets he concluded but all connected devices such as TV screens namely.


But it wouldn’t be right to scare all mobile and tablet users without giving them good and straightforward advice with regard to the protection of their devices. And apart from the security suites sold by Kaspersky (and its competitors), common sense is a good method for keeping your mobile data out of harm’s way. Here are Kaspersky’s recommendations:

  1. lock your mobile screen
  2. use security software (of course, you would expect that coming from a security software editor)
  3. back up your mobile data
  4. use encryption whenever possible
  5. beware of what you install and don’t click on dodgy websites
  6. do not jailbreak your device as you would enhance the capability of malicious software to damage the core of your mobile device
  7. do not connect to untrusted Wi-Fi points
  8. do not skip updates of your OS when they are available
  9. do not assume that your mobile device is safer than your PC

2012 predictions

Kaspersky and his teams fortunately do not predict that a mobile IT apocalypse will take place in 2012 but they are pretty certain that Android will be the main target for massive attacks and that 2012 will see the rise of the first massive worms for Android as well as ‘malware’ in official market applications.

scareware for charlatans”?

A critique of software security companies’ approach to malware protection on mobile devices (not just Kaspersky’s) was fuelled last November by Chris DiBona, leader of open-source software at Google. Kaspersky’s Denis Maslennikov dismissed DiBona’s claims by saying that Google had launched their own anti virus solution soon after. A complete thread of the Kaspersky/Google story is available at this url. It’s a bit early to tell who is right and who is wrong however even though there may be a bit of truth on both sides. Time will tell.

About Kaspersky security

The Russian federation is known for its high concentration of online crime perpetrators but also for being the home of some of the world’s most revered security experts. Kaspersky, named after its founder and CEO Eugene Kaspersky, a math lover who used his skills to make surfing safer is one of the leaders in that space. You can find details about their offerings at Kaspersky.com

Welcome to the API jungle – part II – what Brands should do

Welcome to the API jungle or why developers must learn how to find, select, integrate APIs and contribute to their improvement and evolution (part II)

by Martin Duval, CEO, Bluenove

imageThe API landscape is extremely dynamic. The following 2 diagrams taken from ProgrammableWeb describe the most common APIs which are used in order to build mash-ups. They show the dominance of major historic players (check the “see all time” diagram) but also the more recent rise of new players such as Twilio in the recent past (last 14 days), as well as the convergence of Cloud Computing and Telecom.

There is yet more evidence of imagethe emergence of this new ecosystem; it is indeed interesting to notice the emergence of new players offering the technical support to manage API infrastructures such as the new Application Enablement Services Business Unit from Alcatel-Lucent (the one that acquired ProgrammableWeb in 2010), Mashery, Apigee, Aepona or 3Scale.

But let’s come back to the relationship between Apps and APIs.

After all, aren’t applications mere channels? To support their promotion, we can reasonably bet that Brands will also create APIs in the future, with probably a more obvious way to demonstrate Return On Investment through the number of innovative apps created by third party creative developers than through the number of downloads KPI[7] of their own app. Brands could therefore propose APIs in order to extend the reach of their products and services.

Here are some suggestions for a few popular Brands[8].

  • Nike could create a “Just Size It” API that gives the perfect shoe size from the photo of your feet,
  • Evian could create a hydration API that calculates the quantity of water a person needs to drink daily and reminds her when rehydration is needed,
  • Netflix has proposed an API to tap into its customers’ creative capabilities, and even organized a contest [9] so as to crowdsource ideas leading to the improvement of the algorithms of its movie recommendation engine,
  • French off-licence chain Nicolas could create an API that allows its customers to find and leave recommendations about the wine they buy.

How could these companies support the use of their APIs, and therefore the promotion of their Brand? This would be done by the developers who would make sure to make APIs accessible by the end users on different interfaces, and who would find ways to remunerate themselves through the proposition of new business models.

Of course Brands can still develop some specific applications themselves, but the decision to propose an Open API will offer an unparalleled way to boost exponentially the reach of their promotion.

A lot of marketing managers are sometimes the victims of the ‘gadget syndrome’: they follow the trend getting on board the last fashionable feature to include into their marketing plans. One year it is the ‘Facebook Page’, or the ‘Twitter account’, and the year after the ‘Mobile App’.

But as part of a more sustainable marketing and innovation strategy, the best solution may very well not be an application but rather an Open API.

Another trend to take into account as a booster for the number of APIs, is Open Data. The opening of public data by the administrations (After initiatives in the US with Data.gov and in the UK with Data.gov.uk, Etalab[10] is also about to launch the Data.gouv.fr portal of data sets in December 2011) and French cities such as Rennes[11], Paris[12] or Montpellier[13] have already exposed some data sets with some of them as APIs.

Open Data for businessese

The concept also appeals to businesses as shown by the Bluenove white paper (in French)  entitled “Open Data: what are the issues and the opportunities for the enterprise?” with sponsors such as French railways SNCF, French Post Office Group La Poste, SUEZ ENVIRONNEMENT and the French confectionary giant Poult group. The Civil Service, local governments as well as businesses will have to learn how to attract, engage and manage a community of developers but also of entrepreneurs, researchers, academics, students and companies from other industries to motivate them to use their APIs and boost their innovation.

as a conclusion: the fundamental role of developers

Martin Duval, CEO of Bluenove
Martin Duval, CEO, Bluenove

One the one hand major platforms continue relentlessly to open themselves to to more and more end users thanks to more open developments. On the other hand, developers will try to invent new applications but will also have to use an increasing number of available APIs and use new skills to detect, select, integrate them but also contribute to improve them and even ask for new ones.

One sees new types of requirements, services and skills emerging which keep the collaboration and innovation momentum going between the members of these complex ecosystems among which developers have a fundamental role to play.


[7] KPI : Key Performance Indicator

[8] Examples from this article on Mashable by Adam Kleinberg : http://mashable.com/2011/01/04/brand-open-api-developers/

[9] One of ’the 12 levers of Open Innovation’ : see http://www.slideshare.net/Bluenove

[10] EtaLab : http://www.etalab.gouv.fr/

[11] Rennes Open Data : http://www.data.rennes-metropole.fr/

[12] Paris : http://www.bluenove.com/publications/revue-de-presse/bluenove-fait-parler-les-donnees-de-la-ville-de-paris-et-le-web/

[13] Montpellier Open Data : http://opendata.montpelliernumerique.fr/Le-projet