A trip from a Digital Ocean to Orange’s Plaza [by Franck Martini]

[This is a Tech Days catch-up of my very best friend Franck Martini @franckmartini who roamed in the Microsoft Tech Days in Paris this week. Franck is intranet manager in gemalto, comics lover, smart guy, … but married.]

Day three of the Tech Days 2013 and today the focus is more on “the business”, read non IT people. As a consequence the amount of women has dramatically increased (over 60 to 70! which is ten times more than the day before)… If politics and companies top management are two very masculine domains, we can safely add IT to the list. My personal feeling is that it’s probably one of the jobs that most need a more feminine touch. And I’m not even writing this because this post is hosted by my good friend Virginie…

An ocean of Big Data?

The intro keynote was mostly devoted to Big Data even if its misleading title (“Welcome to the Digital Ocean”) could have implied many other topics. Other will explain better what Big Data is all about but some figures in the introduction were pretty striking:

  • 1/3 of babies have an online life before being born
  • Digital birth online is at the age of 6 month.

Which means that a baby has a digital identity long before he gets regular ID papers… and an online footprint long before he/she has the ability to become naturallysocially active?

There is no real novelty in this as a fact, but the statistic behind can be seen either as extraordinary or scary…How long before someone invents the concept of ‘Parental branding’ or ‘Online Parenthood’?

For the rest of the day, I focused on topics that pique my interest as Intranet Manager : BYOD and mobility, Company Social Networks.

BYOD, ATAWAD, CYOD, COPE… who wins the acronym war ?

As an intro the BYOD session, some elements were quite noteworthy:

  • On average a Smartphone owners checks his/her mobile 150 times a day. Question: does playing to Angry Birds for 45 min count as one time?
  • 45% of employees use their personal device at work or for work purposes.
  • 75% of exempts work outside of working hours (and very frequently on personal devices)

BYOD has several aspects: it can have an impact on a company image; it has ties with HR policies, trade unions matters, definition of working hours etc… Yet it also means advanced legal elements and big headaches for IT teams in terms of data security and device support. Data security is obvious but why support? Well simply put, when one considers the variety of devices, how often new products appear on the market and the updates of mobile OS and apps, it seem that supporting all these devices compared to today’s armada of Dell computers is going to be a major issue or can be seen as virtually impossible.

Social Networks – ‘We do not have all the answers’

Moving on to Enterprise 2.0 or Company Social Networks, one classic argument remains, the techno gap between external tools (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr etc…) and what is happening behind the firewall. Experts say that IT departments will have to become more and more agile to fit with new needs and the speed of the external tools (the topic of Day 2’s keynote).
What also appears from the various presentations is that the aspect of personal branding is still essential and that a user will only contribute internally if there is a sort of payback for him.

Feedback and quick-wins also presented mentioned important money savings (ROI Finance guys! Yes, that’s possible), lots of problem solving, bugs identification, good company positioning, improved image for managers who ‘play the game’ and finally something that we’re all waiting for: less emails and less meetings.

The final and main message that I identified is that no matter all the plans for such a project, all participants agreed on the fact that it is a jump into the unknown as it’s the users who will define its use and not its creators. And this is the scary part of the story that you will not tell to your boss when you discuss the perspectives of such a project.