Technology & Politics

You may have noticed recently… there’s been alot of interesting items that have been happening in the world of politics.

Starting with Trump winning over in the USA. We currently have the build up to the French elections and for us, here in the UK… Theresa May went and did this…

It got me thinking, how is technology being used by politicians.

There are several examples available of how Trump really used his Social Media presence to drive support – one tweet, one message, one sentence… could potentially reach all of his 28.3 million followers. On top of that, his physical presence – he was flying around the States, holding rallies and talking to people. To be fair, he put the effort in.

It must be difficult to fly around a country. Be present at multiple rallies. Talking to crowds and supporters. Sometimes, i’m guessing, many politicians wish they had a duplicate – so they could be in two places at once!

Wouldn’t that be amazing. Talking to twice as many people, as the same time, and you’re there at both!

Well, that happened recently.

Jean-Luc Melenchon used mirrors, glass, lights, projectors, etc.. to make himself be in seven places at once!

That’s right. To the average person, this could be called a Hologram (technically it wasn’t because a Hologram is a 3D image, and this was a 2D and there’s other differences, but for the moment i won’t go into the detail and will save it for another post!).

Everyone was impressed. The candidate, is in seven places at once, to address big crowds of people and get his message across, in person!

Now, for many – they couldn’t tell if it was really him or not.

They knew it was him there. They knew it was him talking to them. They knew he was in real-time.

This technology helped him increase his ratings which was reflected in the polls. The polls showed he gained more popularity, more people willing to vote for him…

It’s not the first time this has been done. Narendra Modi did something similar in India a few years ago, addressing a few rallies at the same time – though to be honest, you could kind of tell it wasn’t really him…


I feel technology will play a critical role in politics and in the up and coming UK election.

This technology could be used – maybe not to address rallies up and down the country, but to have in place, around the country, address local supporters in a more personal manner than just handing out a leaflet.

I see more being done on Social Media to address questions and provide information to supporters. We could see more on Instagram and the other platforms… or even having live broadcasts on YouTube, Facebook and Periscope (for Twitter users).

Maybe, in the future, we could use Virtual/Augmented Reality to see what Britain would be like under a particular political party… Imagine that!

Quality Control

There’s a lot been going on recently. From the advertisement Pepsi did with Kendall Jenner to the United Airlines fiasco…

Now, the reason why i’m sharing these two is because there were some key mistakes made. Key, fundamental, school-boy errors. I’m not going to list all the errors, as these have been covered by various other folks and websites, but there’s one that I would like to highlight.

Quality control.

Yep. Quality control. Before you get into a place to take off, there’s a hundred and one checks made. Why? To check everything is correct.

Before a car is delivered to a new customer, there’s a number of checks made. Why? To ensure everything is correct, in order and maybe checked against a check list, so the customer has the best car, best experience, best… everything! Because that same customer will more than likely come back if everything is perfect.

This then begs the question, where was the ‘quality control’ when United Airlines first had to take passengers off the plane? – or should i ask, HOW they take them off the plane.

Then came the CEO and his ‘announcements’. Where was the ‘quality control’ in ensuring what was being communicated echoed the companies core principles –

We Fly Together
As a united United, we respect every voice, communicate openly and honestly, make decisions with facts and empathy, and celebrate our journey together.

Let’s switch to Pepsi. Where was the ‘quality control’ over the advert? – didn’t someone check to ensure it would not hurt feelings, it was communicating the right message? Was it just one person checking it? – remember, this is where diversity comes into play. Different background and different cultures provide different views, which should all be valued.

The levels of Quality Control differ from industry to industry… I remember whilst working at GlaxoSmithKline – a large pharmaceutical company, you can imagine, the QC was number 1 priority. Everything was controlled. Everything was checked. Everything is verified. And there’s good reasons for this to happen.

You many not have this level of quality control in, lets say, if you’re a music producer. Not being experienced in this field, but i’m guessing, you make a track, play it to a few people, get a few thoughts and reactions, make sure it sounds good on a variety of speakers (headphones, big speakers, etc…) and then release it. But then, i have heard some terrible songs, and i do think what happened to the honest feedback (or the Quality Control by the record label).

So, whatever you do… think first, check second and feedback third. Put in whatever quality checks, controls and measures you need so you don’t end up doing this…

First Attempt In Learning (FAIL)

I’ll put my hand up. I’ve made a few mistakes in my time. There’s a few memorable ones.

The one that really sticks in my mind is when I was at Kodak.

I was a young graduate, fresh out of University, and on my first project. Being led by an amazing Project Engineer by the name of Malcolm Hart. The project was to part-project manage a new machine installation into one of the areas of the huge Kodak site, in Harrow, UK.

So, with most projects, there was a testing phase. We were to fly out to Italy to test the machine before it came over, so if there was something not so right, it could be rectified there and then.

I was told, make sure you get some ‘test product’ over to the facility in Italy, so we can test it with our products and record the results.

I was on it! I got a variety of material, packaged it all up nicely so it doesn’t get damaged and put it into a pallet and marked it for shipment to Italy, and with the address of the address facility. I also then, devised the testing, which products we’d feed through the machine and how – and the results that should be recorded and even a little graph to show if they were in specification or not. If not, then why not and we could do some root cause analysis.

Malcolm and myself travelled over to Italy, Bologna. We got there, mid-afternoon and went to the facility.

We saw the machine, it looked awesome.

Right, Bal – let’s test it. Sure, Malcolm… and then I turn around to a local engineer, can we have our product I sent over to test please.

No. No product of yours arrived.

What? – you can imagine at this point, the heat had just been turned up a notch!

What do you mean? I sent it, with my own hands, from Harrow to Italy. To this address… it must be here. Could you please look for it.

After some time investigating, we tracked the shipping company and it was sat in a postal service warehouse, which was now closed and not open till the morning, and they required some paperwork.

I learnt a valuable lesson. Make sure, if you send something, confirm they receive it!

In this case – we managed to get the material late the next day, but lost a day of testing. A valuable lesson indeed.

I can assure you, anything I planned from that day on… and till this day, is like a military operation.

So, if you do fail or make a mistake. Learn from it…

Big Data.. It’s Big and it’s Clever.

I often get asked about Data, Big Data… and how it’s changing our lives. How it’s able to know more about me, than what I know about me!

Having data is one thing. Analysing it, is another.

With data, you want to be able to find out what happened and more importantly, why did it happen? Then you would be moving in the realms of predictive analysis and prescriptive analysis (what will happen and how can we make it happen).

As we share our information with  more and more companies, mainly through purchases we make (both, online and in-store), they are using that information and data to learn about us. Learn about our patterns and how we behave. How is Big Data impacting Sales, was also a question from the audience at my recent keynote talk at the Sales Innovation Expo in London last week.

The easiest to describe it, would be in my opinion, with an example. So here goes…

I go to Boots (the Chemist) at most lunchtimes for a Meal Deal. (I’m going to share some intimate detail now…) I go for the triple chicken sandwich (the one that has chicken and bacon, chicken and salad and chicken and stuffing). Along with that, I get a fruit juice, usually the SaVse green one, and then a packet of crisps, usually a packet of Kettle Chips, sweet chilli flavour. I swipe my Boots loyalty card and collect my food. Now, admittedly, this is not on a regular basis, but it is at least 2-3 times a week.

As I did it today, I spoke to my colleague and said… I had to queue and wait for someone to serve me. They could have one or two self-service tills – now, I know Boots have these in other stores and I’m sure they are rolling them out. But the store I went to, they didn’t have any.

Then my ‘Lean Thinking’ kicked in. That could, and probably is, one way to save time for the customer. But what about, they used data on their e-POS (electronic point of sale – the tills where they scan the items and take my payment), to learn about me. For example, in this example, they could easily, put those items I buy for lunch, into a bag, in the fridge section, ready to be picked up and taken away. That would save even more time!

Once again, I’ve seen similar things in other stores, where they have the sandwich, drink and snack already in a small bag, ready to take rather than having to pick the individual items up. It’s all about saving time. But then, a good question… how do they know when you’d be in and when you wouldn’t?

Well, data… once again, could tell you which days I’m in most regular and what time I’m making my purchases. On top of that, they could even text me… Bal, we’ll prepare your lunch, are you coming in today? – Reply with YES or ignore if NO. I could reply back with YES, and guess what, they know Bal is coming… wouldn’t take too long for someone to put the items in the bag and in the fridge section.

But what if someone else takes it? – Well, that’s only a good thing! Why not build a little bit of inventory. I’m sure I’m not the only person having that combination. Why not upsell, or get me to try a new juice, some different types of crisps – and this could be something Boots could discuss with suppliers.

On top of this, you could really get connected. Boots could connect with my calendar. In my calendar, they could see where I am and where my meetings are taking place. Then they could feed this back into their system, and they’ll know when Bal is coming in and when he isn’t. This is now getting into the predictive analysis. Boots knowing where I am, what I’m doing, and then being able to influence my decision in what I buy for lunch. They could leverage Google maps, and at 11:50 send me a message – Bal, we see you are travelling but there’s a Boot’s 5 minute walk from you, where you can pick up your usual lunch.. and don’t forget your Advantage (loyalty) Card points!

So, that is Big Data. It’s Data that is big and can be very clever. Hence you’re seeing more and more organisations and companies learning more about you and your preferences. Many of the times, it should be making a process easier for you, or simpler. For the company, it’s another sale.

Because that’s what it’s all about. Selling.