While sleeping giants lay...
Apr 24, 2013
The rise of the disruptive FinTech start-up
"Necessity is the Mother of Invention"
Wikipedia attributes that proverb to Plato. Plato knew a thing or two about innovation. Apparently so do the growing number of FinTech organisations who have started-up in the past five years. London is the hub of Europe for such organisations - over half of companies on the 2013 FinTech 50 watch list are headquartered in London.
Let's start with the basics.
Continue reading While sleeping giants lay...
Why 2013 could be the year for Alfresco!
Mar 27, 2013
As a company, we are constantly on the lookout for market trends and changes to the fastest growing industry worldwide... technology.
As evangelists of the best technologies; the introduction of new and the growth of existing technology to the UK market does not go unnoticed by us.
I spoke to Alan Pelz-Sharpe - Director of Research in Content Management at 451 research who wrote this report, Linsey McNew - Sr. Manager, Global PR + Social Media at Alfresco, and Aingaran Pillai - CEO of Zaizi to find out more about one of my most recent fascinations - Alfresco.
Who am I?
My name is Hugh. I work with and evangelise Java and Alfresco.
This is convenient because these two market leading technologies go hand in hand. To help you put a face to writing... I am the grumpy consultant sat outside a restaurant in the middle of a London winter dining "Alfresco".
Yes... I know I used this pun last time, but aside from a little known 1980's comedy sketch show of the same name, it's the best I can do at adding a little name related entertainment... I digress... Despite the grumpy face, Alfresco is something I am still excited about. 8 months ago I wrote this article.
I am setting out to find out what's happened since and what the future holds for Alfresco...
What is Alfresco?
Quick recap; Alfresco is a market leader in open source Enterprise Content Management (ECM)... right... still none the wiser? ECM is a formalised means of storing a company's content. Alfresco is the market leader in open-source ECM; in the words of John Powell Co-Founder of Alfresco, "the largest private open source company and the fastest growing with the most installed ECM in the world". In its simplest form, Alfresco is an enterprise "Dropbox" (a popular file hosting tool) but it includes content-rich features and much more...
... So why don't companies use "Dropbox"? Alfresco has varying uses surrounding content management, ranging from document management (the most widely used functionality), to Web Content management (used for managing websites), to collaboration for sharing team based collaboration projects and the most recently added functionality - Mobile access. Their enterprise service offers superlative SLA support, scalability, integration and ease of use... end of discussion.
When Alfresco was conceived, the goal was not to produce a very expensive niche based system; it was to produce the most ubiquitous easy to use ECM system globally. To allow people to have a choice of the technology stack they use and to be one tenth of the cost of the traditional ECM's like Vignette, Documentum, Sharepoint etc...
So, 8 months on, what's the craic? What's changed?
Last time I wrote an article on the subject of Alfresco, the state of the UK market was quiet; a sleeping giant if you like. One thing I can safely say is that more people are exposing themselves... to Alfresco.
Last time I reported that an all-time CV search on one database produced 255 candidates; I am pleased to write that this number now sits at a healthier 355. This is reflective of the overall ECM Market, it's definitely growing. Research shows that over the next 3 years, the market is predicted to increase from $4.4 billion to $7.5 billion.
One thing is for certain. Businesses need to continue to innovate, or they will die; case in point being Nintendo, Nokia, Kodak, Jessops and most recently HMV etc. The recent implementation of mobile and cloud accessibility demonstrates that Alfresco are continuing to innovate.
Mobile functionality is something which is now more prevalent than ever and it's plain to see just how useful this will be to the consumer... for example, Cloud based file synchronicity ensures that you can access all documents on the move on an IPod, IPhone, mobile. Which, when you discover that a key UK user is the NHS, gives you an idea of just how advantageous the practical benefits are. The days of sending yourself an email to store documents (although I must admit I still do it) are long gone!
John Powell recently stated that their biggest achievement of the last 12 months was in launching cloud functionality. In an internal communication he continued "over the next year the focus is building a hybrid cloud ecosystem of partner solutions". Aingaran Pillai CEO of the UK's largest Alfresco consultancy, Zaizi said "2013 is when organisation's adoption of cloud becomes a necessity. Alfresco with its hybrid approach will enable organisations to start collaborating in the cloud. More and more employees are choosing to collaborate online using their own mobile devices" Cloud is the future and the future is now. With all indications pointing to an IPO in the US market in this year or the next, I think we could see a rapid expansion among companies who have a need for content 'on the move'... just about everyone then!
Possibly the biggest change has been happening in real time; literally as I type! John Powell is going to be stepping aside from the position of CEO to make way for the arrival of Doug Dennerline. Big shoes to fill as John had successfully led Alfresco to 24 straight quarters of back to back growth.
It was also announced Alfresco will be looking to IPO in New York within the next 24 months. Doug Dennerline, a 25 year veteran of Silicon Valley, and a US based CEO, has extensive experience working with content and the cloud, and could be the ideal candidate to lead Alfresco through this next phase of expansion.
Is Alfresco something that should be on all our radars?
Last time I wrote, I was uncertain as to why the UK Alfresco market was stuttering in comparison to its huge growth and popularity in Europe, Asia and the USA. John Powell recently commented "Alfresco offers a modern ECM platform in an open source model. Open source was first adopted and became mainstream in Europe and the USA. In the UK, the market control exercised by Microsoft and Oracle created a barrier to adoption (FUD - Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt), which is only now crumbling." ... so imminent change on the horizon then?
Alfresco are not unique in this method to market. There is a long history of technology concepts which have been conceived but not necessarily grown in the UK. Content in particular has been bountiful in the UK due to a strong presence of publishing and media companies which drive demand.
The UK is however a small and notoriously conformist market which can be difficult to break into. Alfresco realised this early on, sold globally to create references and case studies and are now perfectly positioned to attack the market on the home front!
So yes! It should be on your radar!
By adopting a business centric approach, Alfresco can ensure it targets the correct customers, and ultimately the ones which will bring in a steady stream of income. As an Enterprise Content Management System, the big rewards are going to come from the big complex and ongoing projects. Ones where support will always be required; for example, a credit card processing management system on an e-commerce website.
Its position in the market as an affordable alternative to Documentum or IBM Filefinder will leave it in unique and enviable state which simply relies on its ability to sell itself. Aingaran Pillai reflected this sentiment "Alfresco is in a unique position to provide the best of breed solution. 2013 is definitely the year for Alfresco".
Alan Pelz-Sharpe who has been working with content management for 13 years tells me that although growth is expected, he doesn't see the product and technology functionality changing much. "The real money is in document management and always will be... It does what it needs to do now... It's all about them selling..."
The ECM market is the place to be right now! After recently going through a period of consolidation, there are only really 7 or so big players in the enterprise market and at only 7 years old, Alfresco have done an impressive job at competing for and winning a good proportion of the big business.
Ultimately, this is how and where Alfresco will be successful. Unlike Drupal (where the concentration is on high volume and smaller accounts) Alfresco has a business centric approach which is ideally suited to focus on larger accounts; as a free piece of software, their value is in large scale enterprise SLA accounts.
In my opinion one of the key contributors to the continuing growth of Alfresco is for the business to tighten its focus on a specific market and work from there.
History states that Alfresco has tried to be something for everyone, which in theory, works; however, this approach can sometimes dilute their impact. My understanding of the market right now is that growth in the UK depends on Alfresco's ability to identify and reach out to their target audience. Everything is in place to make 2013 a very big year.
If you have any questions, or would like to talk to me in more detail about any of this, feel free to try to find me, in London, outside and in the cold.
Continue reading Why 2013 could be the year for Alfresco!
Mortimer Spinks and Harvey Nash mission to Offshore software development centre, Vietnam
Dec 3, 2012
Vietnam is one of the most exciting growth markets in the world. It is in fact the second fastest growing economy in the world and with 5% growth rates, it's a heady prospect for most countries! There is no better way of understanding the opportunities & building long lasting relationships than to spend time in the country. It was my goal to ensure I was there in Vietnam on our mission, living the dream; networking with CIO's, learning more about our world class offshore proposition and soaking in the culture and of course sunshine!
As part of the Harvey Nash Group, Mortimer Spinks offer the stability, infrastructure and quality of a major Plc and we have long promoted opportunities for British business in Vietnam. The country has a 'can-do' spirit with friendly, smiley people and growing middle class. Vietnam is easy to do business with thanks to its young, educated population, infrastructures and its low-cost economy.
I invited a number of clients and took the opportunity to support "Global Reach", a Financial services firm, whose objectives were to understand the IT capabilities, to explore how it differentiats from other offshore destinations such as India and to identify the opportunity for collaboration & partnership with Mortimer Spinks to offshore their IT development needs.
"I was pleasantly surprised with the operation that Nash Tech have implemented in Vietnam; we are frequently approached by outsourcing providers that promise the earth but when explored further have failed to substantiate their claims. Nash Tech are a refreshing change to this trend and based on the information we have been given and what was witnessed firsthand on the Trade Mission we believe with some further exploration that there could be potential for us to work together in the future on a variety of projects. The hospitability provided by Harvey Nash was first class and the mix of delegates from different backgrounds and industries gave us a great opportunity to network and socialize with some extremely interesting characters. I would personally like to thank Laura Robinson (our Harvey Nash representative) for inviting us on the trip and giving us the opportunity to meet the Nash Tech team and experience this amazing country".
As part of a group of 20 delegates, we had time spent over one week to meet other CTO & CIO's from varying business sectors. We were all very excited about the 'fully expensed' agenda presented, giving everyone time to relax, soak in the Vietnamese culture, visit world heritage sites, gather at the British Ambassador's residence for drinks and nibbles, whilst also gaining fantastic insights into how we work, meeting our staff and visiting the HN offices. The general socializing, the all essential beer (or 2!), B52's, tequilas and the wonderful Vietnamese food definitely broke the ice forging long term relationships for future business.
With first hand experience of visiting two development centres - Hanoi & Ho chi minh city, it was evident that we have close ties with the Vietnamese government & emerging IT sector grants access to a highly talented, constantly growing pool of professionals. Within the complete workforce, we employ over 4'500 IT & software developers and support a vast range of clients globally within varying business sectors including banking, ecommerce and Telco's to name a few.
Whilst gaining the opportunity to meet new people, network and cement existing relationships, a few notable points that stuck out to me were;
With a 90 million population whose 2nd language is English, 83% of students study IT. Our resource pool is therefore great for business in emerging markets.
Over 60'000 of the Vietnam population are IT grads, growing at a rate of 10'000 per annum and 50% are under 25 years old!
My visit has re- affirmed my belief that from a group perspective, Mortimer Spinks can provide a reliable outsourced solution to integrate with existing software engineers and play an integral role in IT development. If you are interested to explore opportunities, to evaluate various options available to resource technological initiatives please join us on one of our missions to Vietnam in 2013! You too will learn that we have deep domain expertise with a comprehensive range of software services including software development, support and maintenance, testing, BPO and R & D whilst using a UK centric engagement model. Our large Vietnamese IT workforce is definitely world class!
Laura Robinson, Head of Technology Recruitment, SE Region
Continue reading Mortimer Spinks and Harvey Nash mission to Offshore software development centre, Vietnam
Evangelists and Entrepreneurs
Oct 18, 2012
I'm proud to say the 2nd Mortimer Spinks Technology Event was another huge success with some passionate speakers, excellent debate, an overflowing auditorium, the ever popular "Mortimer Spinks Fish & Chips" canapÃ©s, and this year there were even Refresher chews in the sweetie bag - my personal favourite!
Continue reading Evangelists and Entrepreneurs
My Mother now has an IPhone...
Sep 25, 2012
My mother; the woman who will send you a text, then call you to check you've received the text and then text you again and then call again if you don't reply to the text.
My mother; the woman who tried to upload pictures on Facebook without actually logging on to Facebook!
Yes, my mother; the woman who now has an IPhone. Why an IPhone? Because she loves Apple products. If Apple built houses then she would be living in one! And it got me thinking. She grew up in a different era, an era without mobile phones, without internet, without Google! (It makes me shudder to even think of such morbid times.) But yet she's so passionate about Apple. All her friends have IPhones and now she has one. So what makes people chose Apple over other products? People that aren't necessarily tech savvy?... Marketing of course!
"Without the brand, Apple would be dead. Absolutely. Completely. The brand is all they've got. The power of their branding is all that keeps them alive. It's got nothing to do with products." Marketer Marc Gobe
I don't think anyone can deny that Apple as a brand are brilliant at marketing their product which in turn contributes to their success. They've managed to establish a special relationship with customers due to their distinctive marketing and attitude towards their visual design. Just look at the interface, the iOS is much more user friendly than most.
And then there are the Apps. The Application selection on Blackberry is nothing compared to the plethora of free Apps on IPhone. Application development on the IPhone is said to have been one of the highlights of the device from the very beginning. I have a Blackberry and its not all bad though do I know that browsing the internet is not a task for the faint hearted!
So I guess that's settled... It was traumatic enough for me when I had to show my mother how to use her Blackberry and now I have to show her how to use the IPhone... surely there's an App for that?
Continue reading My Mother now has an IPhone...