Get rid of the Security Ivory tower

In the old days you could buy some firewalls and declare your company to be reasonably secure (assuming you had actually set-up some useful rules on the new firewalls).

About 10 years ago you would typically set-up a discrete security function that would take on the increasing governance requirements, define policies and expect the supporting Tech teams to enforce the policies.

Now with the software revolution in full swing, the vast majority of the cyber attacks are either based on social engineering, infrastructure weaknesses or software design exploits. I've been lucky enough to have obtained a number of security related patents and I can sympathise with CISOs who are finding it challenging to deal with the increasingly complex and more frequent cyber attacks.

Today, organisations are beginning to realise that cyber security is a collective capability. This requires a different approach to cyber security. You need to encourage everyone in the organisation to become your first line of defence. This requires cyber security education and changing security from being a barrier to an enabler. It sounds easy but for established organisations it can be challenging changing the preconceived ideas of how cyber security operates.


Digital hype or improve productivity?

If you're not from a software engineering background, the new digital and big data technologies can be daunting. This year I've been engaged to help an established company figure out how it can adopt new digital, IoT and big data techniques without breaking the bank.

The term Big Data appears to be the best at generating confusion. If you have over 500,000 rows or you're regularly quering over 1TB of data, it's likely you can gain some operational benefits from adopting a database technology like AWS Redshift.

If you find that you're investing in high CPU cloud instances for data processing, then maybe it's time to look at data pipelining via tools like AWS Kinesis.

You will be successful in adopting Big Data technologies once you clarify what the measurable benefits will be and ensure that your organisation has gained the required skills to operate the new solutions.


Digital transformation

Established businesses will only continue to be successful if they embrace digital technology efficiently and with a clear strategy. I've helped a mixture of large corporates and newly acquired businesses to re-focus their approach to technology and to get some stunning results.

One well known brand obtained 140% website traffic growth as a result of the changes I put in place.

Taking the mystery out of software development

Here are some videos of the advanced apps I've helped with and an AI that tells you what to read!

iPad with Freedom Devices website

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Sun mobile video poster

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Resolving Software Development Issues

In other engagements I've been asked to rebuild the software engineering capability. Typically these engagements are stimulated by either poor quality software being delivere or a perception that the software engineering function is not working hard enough.

Unfortunately, there is no universal answer to speeding up software development. There are however a number of common themes:

    Poor requirements capture by the Product Owner that leads to confusion and delays. It's surprising how many Product Owners don't really know how to articulate Agile requirements with acceptance criteria.
  • Developers love to test the 'happy path' or fixate on unit tests. How much real world testing have you actually used to pick up those embarassing customer facing issues? One remedy to this particular issue is to reach out to a crowd based testing service.

Who is accountable for the digital products?

A simple question yet it's odd how the answer varies depending on how well the digital product is actually performing.

It's fair to say I've seen numerous examples where software engineers end up thinking they are wholly responsible for the product. Even though the same organisation has a Sales and Marketing team and the occassional Product Owner.

The best digital products are delivered by integrated teams that are empowered. This allows the software engineers to be fully utilised and minimises the misunderstandings between the various legacy organisational departments. In some cases the improvement has seen feature delivery take 300% less time! Thus, it's not something that can be ignored.


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Most Read
A Product Roadmap is a friend not a chore

When you create your start-up it's easy to assume that your small team all understand the product your building.

However, when you hit the funding round and investors start asking about the future direction of the product, things might get a bit shaky. Sometimes you can be sitting in front of a group of founders and they actually start arguing over how the product is going to grow over time!

The Product Roadmap is often looked at as if it's a piece of bureaucracy. Instead view the roadmap as something that you would give to a new employee and you get the reaction

"Ah, I get it. That is going to be awesome."

Start with a quarterly roadmap; just jot down the key features that you are going to introduce. Then put a £ sign next to each feature.

  • £ = customers will use this feature once a week
  • ££ = feature is used by the same customer three times a week
  • £££ = the customer enjoys using this feature every day

Then take a step back and ask your team if they agree. Stick the roadmap on the wall and place a pad of stickies next to it. Hopefully your team will feel like adding some helpful comments and ideas! Start-Ups 1 Week Ago

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Agile is a mindset not just a methodology

The word 'Agile' must be the most misused and misunderstood term in software development. To non-tech people 'Agile' implies speed and immediate satisfaction. Unfortunatey this generally leads to disappointment and conversations that include:

"Can we have 1 day sprints?"

Agile is iterative development, and sometimes it's the non-tech teams that struggle with this the most.

  • How do you market an interative relase?
  • Why does the Dev team keep releasing stuff into production?
  • Contact centre staff scripts need to be continually updated!

The point is, to make the most of Agile, the company needs an Agile mindset. Iterative development on it's own leads to frustrated staff and confused customers. Product 1 Hour Ago