There are a 100 days until the General election in the UK……..

As the political parties start their campaigns in earnest what is probably the most unpredictable Election campaign in the history of the UK is just 100 days away. In the last election, 5 years ago, Social Media had just started and the first iPhones and iPads were in use.

So how will technology be used in this election? Well without doubt it will be a mainstay of the political parties attempts to bombard each and every one of us with “facts” designed to steer us one way or another, but it seems to me that in this era of “Apps” we are missing one that allows us to filter the huge amounts of data out there. There are multiple organisations offering us ways of compare providers of insurance, energy etc. So why can’t we have a an independent provider to give us “comparethepoliticalparty.com” or “politicians4u”?

All the data exists – such as the number of times they have attended parliament, how often they have voted, what they have voted for, what expenses they have claimed, what real-life experience other than politics they have. For parties we could have economic performance, tax rates, education performance, health service stats, crime stats and so on.

And with bio-metrics in passports and driving licences, and smartphones with contactless payment, as well as debit cards, why do we use bits of paper to vote still?

It all seems rather strange that this area is still behaving like this but perhaps this is a reflection of the politicians themselves, still living in a time long past and within an environment that is rapidly being bypassed by the social media. Politicians are losing their power through the power of mass independent campaigns initiated simply and easily by like-minded individuals.

So perhaps technology is actually bringing the power back to the people and traditional politicians are under threat like never before. Let’s hope that we can actually filter the facts and hence truth from the mass of “data”.

We shall see in 100 days time.

 

 

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Will anything stop the march of mobile? And would we want it to?

Recently we’ve seen a great amount of news focused on the world of mobiles. While the launch of the iPhone 4S has attracted a lot of attention, yet more has been paid to the troubled iOS5 update and, above all, BlackBerry’s two quite disastrous outages. However, to me what this proves more than anything is the growing importance of mobility to today’s workforce. Even just a few years ago, outages such as these would have been an irritation to businesses: now they could be catastrophic.

As today’s workforce becomes increasingly mobile, so companies such as SAP are recognising that their customers need to access applications on the move.  Over the last 12 months SAP and its partners have started to release a number of mobile solutions, so that workers can access SAP on the go. Of course it is important for organisations to still be able to access on-premise systems : after all, what happens if the mobile network goes down as so extensively demonstrated by BlackBerry? Ultimately the ideal strategy for most organisations will be to support their workforce with a  combination of on-premise, on-demand and on-device applications.

One source of more information for those considering or using mobile SAP apps is this year’s UK & Ireland SAP User Group conference in Birmingham, where we’ll again be running a dedicated stream on mobile. For more information, don’t hesitate to visit http://www.sapusers.org/conference2011/ and keep an eye out for our soon to be released  User Group conference mobile app.

Talking the UK down……….

Today I have spent a few hours amongst the shoppers busily readying themselves for Christmas. It seemed as busy as last Christmas and in many ways it actually appeared busier. It certainly didn’t feel like a recession. Before I go any further I must temper this with the hard reality of all those that have lost their employment over the last 12 months. Yes things are difficult but are they as bad as some would have us believe?

I discovered this piece today on the BBC News website following an article saying that construction is up 2% year on year.

“I don’t mean to sound complacent but, while not good, things are nowhere near as bad as many in the media would have us believe.

UK Govt. debt is currently 59.2% of GDP. High, yes. But still lower than the level in all the other G7 countries BEFORE the credit crunch (source = IMF). True there was a trend of deteriorating public finances in the UK before the credit crunch and there are factors that arguably make true UK Govt. debt higher. But we are in no way in a bad position in global terms, even if certain sections of the media are hell bent convincing us otherwise (probably in order to help perpetuate their self-declared reputation for King-making in UK politics).

As for stimulus, if you look at the G7 nations plus India and China, the UK has the fourth lowest spending on its stimulus package. Only France, India and Italy have spent less. Specifically, stimulus is 1.5% of GDP for the UK compared with 4.4% of GDP for China, 4.8% for the US, 3.4% for Germany, 2.7% for Canada and 2.2% for Japan.

This means that, if it is already out of recession (or close to it), the UK will have achieved this with a lower level of stimulus and a lower risk from negative effects when the stimulus ends than most of our major global competitors.

None of this means much right now if you’ve just lost your job, obviously. But it is important for the future and I am sick of only hearing the downside.”

I couldn’t agree more – so let’s be really clear. Despite the injections into the UK economy it still has a smaller debt than any other G7 country, and we have injected less public money than most nations and our statistics are running a bit behind reality. And all this information is produced by an independent body , the IMF.

So what is going in our press?  Just like the bankers they are all about feathering their nests and are intent on talking down our nation for their own ends – come on everybody, wake up and smell the beginnings of a recovery.

Shai Agassi – speaking about a moral dilemma

I’ve already written about the work that Shai Agassi (formerly of SAP) has been undertaking. Check out a further chance to hear him explain why we only have a few options for our planet. It’s a moral dilemma that we should all be addressing..

Update: 3 years on and all has not gone as well as Shai hoped.

Read this article for the Better Place.