Friday, 26 October 2012

Have an Opinion!

In a recent blog entry I spoke about the need to be careful with what you write in Twitter because of its public nature, and the lessons that can be learnt from high profile cases of those in the public eye. The flipside of this is that actually having a strong opinion can also be a very positive thing. The fear of being harshly judged publically can be off-putting for any organisation looking to run a PR campaign, but there is nothing wrong with having a strong point of view (perhaps even a controversial one!) if it is backed up by a strong argument and sensible reasoning. Naturally, the Press love a ‘maverick’ and a badly judged claim can backfire on you, but if you have a ground-breaking product or development idea then why not shout about it? Apple is a good example of a company that dared to be different (bucking the trend for a traditional all-PC market), offering a great alternative that caught the consumer market’s attention. But any excellent idea that goes against the status quo will make editors sit up and take notice (and probably your potential customers and competitors too) and is likely to see your reputation grow as an expert in your field. You just need to find something that fits the bill now!

As mentioned in an earlier post, Apple announced its iPad Mini this week. Proving it still intends to be a big player in the IT market, Microsoft Chief Steve Ballmer has also suggested it intends to push towards hardware as well as software, as reported by the BBC news website this week. The company is already pushing hard with the launch of Windows 8, which, being touchscreen-based, is also leading Microsoft’s foray into the tablet market with the new Surface product. It will be interesting to see if Microsoft will be able to gather a strong consumer base by offering a third option against Apple and Android – going back to what I spoke about at the beginning of this blog.

Being able to record what you see through the day has been a favourite ‘what if’ for years (well certainly a pub-type discussion anyway!), but it would seem the wonderful world of IT has answered this need, as reported in the Daily Mail this week. The Memoto camera – billed as the ‘Lifelogging camera’ – is a small digital device that clips onto your clothes and effectively takes snapshots of your daily life and automatically uploads them to a webpage. It also tags the location and time – the makers say it goes to an encrypted page that only the user has access to, thus addressing privacy concerns. It makes the mind boggle as to what the device would record – presumably the average office worker would have a fairly similar set of images sat behind their computer all day. And what happens when you need to ‘pay a visit’ for example? Would you actually want all these images? It’s certainly an interesting concept though.

Thursday, 25 October 2012

The Pleasures of the Press Office

MCC Director Graham Thatcher reflects on a Trip to Brussels for the Information Security Solutions Europe annual conference this week:

 © CAE

For more than ten years MCC International has been running the Press Office at ISSE (Information Security Solutions Europe), an annual conference and exhibition. This week was its 13th year and whilst it may be unlucky for some, for me it was the best yet.

This year we decamped to Brussels along with more than 250 IT security professionals (vendors, users, academics, government representatives and of course media) from over 30 countries, to spend two days discussing the current and emerging trends, the risks and how to mitigate them.

Joining me this year was the crème-de-la-crème of the IT security journalist community from the UK, Belgium, France, Germany and as far afield as Japan. We always receive a positive response when the invites go out in late Summer and one journalist was horrified that he was booked for a conference in Las Vegas and couldn’t make it! He even sent me a note just before the start of ISSE reiterating his disappointment. It was great catching up with familiar faces and meeting new ones. There was certainly a real buzz in the main conference hall and the seminar rooms, and I was delighted that many of the journalists shared my eager enthusiasm for tweeting throughout the sessions.

The Press Office is always a great place to be (not just for the Nespresso machine and indulgent chocolate brownies for breakfast) but talking to people about the sessions they were going to and then, upon their return, hearing their views and watching the frantic typing to try and be the first to file the story. It really made me appreciate the buzz I continue to get working at the coalface. This is why I chose a career in tech PR.

We also spend a lot of time chewing the fat over who is doing what, the state of the media and how important it remains - in an information rich world - that we have journalists who have specific industry expertise, who can help to place everything in context for the rest of us.
There are many people and organisations involved with making ISSE the success it is but I must single out EEMA (celebrating its 25th anniversary) and Revolution Events, as these are the two with whom we at MCC International work with, to give ISSE the exposure it deserves. They make sure that everything runs like clockwork, will always go the extra mile and always do so with a big smile.  But it isn’t all work and no play and dinner courtesy of Revolution Events on the first night was a real highlight, followed the next evening by an exclusive tour of the Magritte Museum. It seems that IT security professionals know their art history almost as well as their threat landscape. 
It was at the museum that I had the delight to see EEMA, Executive Director, Roger Dean, receive (to his great surprise) a lifetime achievement award.  He has been at the forefront of IT security and identity management for his entire career, and it is a little known fact that he introduced the first commercial email system to the UK. He was joined by Kim Cameron from Microsoft and between them they have made a significant contributed to security and identity management.

So, as I a write this story on the Eurostar back to St Pancras I reflect on a great event, shared with some great people and some excellent results, as well as belly full of chocolate and the odd Belgian beer.

I am looking forward to ISSE 2013.

Do I max out on an iPad Mini?

MCC Director Graham Thatcher looks at the new Apple iPad Mini and wonders if the price will be the crunch factor for its success:

 © Apple

On Wednesday evening I, along with the rest of the IT world tuned in to listen to the most eagerly expected launch from Apple, the iPad Mini.  But unlike other Apple product presentations it wasn’t the all new features that we were all waiting for, but the pricing model.

Rumours were around the £200 mark for the entry level model, putting it at half the price of the iPad, but the big surprise was £269 for the 16GB Wi-Fi only version.  Immediately the online chatter began and battle lines were drawn between those who adore Apple (probably already have an iPad and will no doubt buy the iPad Mini to complete their ecosystem), those who hate the company (typically the open source brigade) and people like myself who are somewhere in the middle.

Adding fuel to the fire was the further surprise that the iPad itself would be getting an unexpected upgrade. This won’t be good news for the wife of a chap in HMV, who I overhead last weekend saying: “Go on, treat yourself, buy the iPad, you know they won’t be releasing a new version any time soon.” I would love to be a fly on that wall!

For people like me, Apple has created a bit of a dilemma with this launch. The iPad Mini looks great it can do everything I want from a handheld tablet, but I was expecting it to be more competitively priced. It is already a crowded market and there are already some good products available, particularly the hugely popular Google Nexus 7 which you can pick up for a little over £150, albeit with 8GB storage (although this is rumoured to be discontinued in the next few weeks, with the 16GB replacing it as the entry level model, making it even better value), or even the Kindle Fire (even if some people do think of it as just an Amazon shop window). Of course, it is hugely cheaper than the Microsoft Surface with its unique Touch Cover, but it would only be fair to compare that device with the higher specification iPad.

So, now I have a head or heart decision to make. I don’t have a preference over iOS or Android (which reminds me I must get round to upgrading my iPhone to iOS 6) and the features are all very similar, but as we know, Apple have the knack for just making you want it. One thing is for sure, the queues will stretch far out the door when it goes on sale early next month. The question remains as to whether I will be in it.

It would seem that my only hope is for Santa to make the decision for me!