Education – the Trillion Dollar Opportunity

This past week, I had the great honour and pleasure to give a keynote at the Mobile Word Congress‘ hotter sibling that is 4YFN, sizing up the opportunity of the education market, which is something I have been looking at a lot in the course of my work with Emerge Education, Europe’s leading EdTech accelerator, over the past few years.

In it, I have been outlining the immense size of the market at hand as well as the incredible impact startups and investments in this sector can have on the world. I also offered some thoughts on how to work around some of the obstacles that such a traditionally “hard” sector poses.

The video of the talk will follow shortly. In the interim, here are my slides of it. I hope you will enjoy them.

Barcelona, here we come (once more)

It is February, we’re still hanging in there, so we will again be descending upon that magnificent city in Catalunya that is Barcelona (which, of course, is that little bit less appealing because, together with us, there will be a ton of other mobile industry folks in town, so that taxis are hard to get, hotels hard to afford, and parties hard to get into, but, hey…). Because it is the week of Mobile World Congress

This year, I have the great honour to moderate a high-octane panel at the MMIX portion of the Mobile World Congress on a topic that I could call “told you so”. Namely, we will be discussing “Games: the new destination for brands.” I will be joined by some super-cool names in the (pun/no-pun intended) game, namely:

Alas, that is of course not enough. On the very same day and only a short taxi ride down the road, I will have the great pleasure to delivering a keynote at the terrific 4YFN (that is short for “Four Years From Now”) conference, the uber-cool entrepreneurship conference that was the ugly duckling of its big sibling MWC but is soon catching up in size (and has, of course, overtaking MWC in terms of cutting edge ages ago). I will be keynoting with a spotlight on the education sector, urging people to “Change the World: One Trillion Dollar Market at a Time.”

Following my keynote at 4YFN will be a terrific panel on the hot trends in EdTech. It will be moderated by the CEO of Emerge Education (Europe’s leading EdTech accelerator where I am a Venture Partner) and participants will be Jesse Lozano (CEO of Pi-Top), Mads Holmen (CEO of Bibblio), Diego Olchese (CEO of Crehana) and Tom Hatton (CEO of RefMe). Definitely try to attend that one! It highlights the great work Emerge Education is doing and will also expose you to some of the brightest young CEO’s in the space, all of which passionate young entrepreneurs who have chosen to go where they can effect change (rather than puttering about with the 47th something-something-platform-SaaS-something play).

If you’re around, join me for those. It should be great fun! :)

[Disclaimer: I am a Venture Partner at Emerge Education, an investor in Pi-Top and an investor in and Chairman of Bibblio].

Smart Citizens – Populating Smart Cities

I have recently been thinking a lot about the advances we are seeing in the Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Cities. The impact on everyones’ lives will be significant and I believe – this evolves as one of my ongoing themes – that human-centric design will be of the utmost importance in ensuring that the outcomes from this will be accepted and embraced, which I am convinced constitutes one of the most important building blocks in ensuring the efficacy of the technologies we are building.

I was given the opportunity to speak about this recently at the wonderful IoT Shifts conference in Barcelona. The following are my slides from that talk. As usual, they are quite visual (which presumably made Slideshare choose them as their “Top Presentation of the Day“), so please feel free to get in touch should you require more context from me.

A few thoughts on improving learning outcomes & avoiding cognitive biases [video]

When I was recently invited to give a talk at TEDx Education Barcelona, the good folks from the Open University of Catalunya interviewed my on my thoughts on how I would think data and analytics would impact education. Here’s the result…

The full post is here: http://openthoughts-analytics.blogs.uoc.edu/improving-learning-outcomes-avoiding-cognitive-biases/

 

TEDx Barcelona ED – My Talk…

I did a talk at TEDxBarcelonaED on “Learning for the Unknown”. Quite daunting. Quite exciting. I think it worked. Do you agree? Watch it here:

How Not To Do it: the Fallacy of Big Data & CRM (@slideshare @linkedin)

So today I receive an email, subject line "your expertise is requested". The sender? Slideshare. Now, if you read this blog regularly (and, yes, I know that I haven’t been blogging muchly in recent times), you will know that I am an avid user of Slideshare. I have clocked up nigh 100,000 views with the various decks from my talks that I uploaded.

So far, so good. It sounds quite right, doesn’t it? I am a regular (and early) user with a fair number of views. Sounds reasonable that the company operating the platform would be reaching out if they want to carry out some research into improving their product. I reckon I am in the sweet middle of their user base: not one of the rockstars but not one of the infrequent users with few views either.

The email then goes on like this:

"We are inviting you for a survey to find participants for an upcoming study. […] If you are selected, you’ll be compensated for your time (our thank-you gift to you!)."

There is so much wrong with this sentence that I even find it hard to start! Here goes:

I am invited, they say. What they do not say (or not in so many words) is that they are "inviting" me to do their work (find participants). Unpaid. Right.

If selected (what? is that a price?), I will be compensated for my time as a "Thank. You. Gift." Are you effing kidding me? A brief look at your very own bloody site would have shown you what I do for a living (and I’m afraid I am yet to hit levels of wealth that would allow me to do all this for free). Slideshare is owned by LinkedIn where I am also quite active and have a fairly large network there as well as a profile that LinkedIn considers "All-Star" (I think this refers to the tender love and care I applied in completing the profile rather than my actual achievements).

So the data LinkedIn / Slideshare hold on me suggests that they have a pretty darn exact image on who I am (professionally). And they *might* compensate me for my time *as a gift*? Really?

What they achieve is a few things:

  1. They give a hoot about me as a customer;
  2. They demonstrate that they are other careless or incapable when it comes to communicating with me;
  3. They show their utter and complete disrespect to their users (since when is compensation a gift?).
  4. They show they have not understood the first things about customer relationship management (which, particularly in the case of LinkedIn, is somewhat irritating);
  5. They piss me off so much that I write this post.

Grrrreat! Mission accomplished then.

Beat(s) It: What’s Up, Apple?

Hello again.

I am writing to you whilst listening to Metronomy on Spotify streaming from my iPad Mini using a Bose headset. Musical zen, so to speak. Earlier, I had the whole thing running via my Denon RCD-N7 with the Airplay patch (but using Mordaunt-Short speakers). Life is good.

Earlier today, I got my new iPhone 6. Spotify works on it. My Bose headphones fit into the headphone jack (but, why, of course).

What is my gripe about then, you ask? Well, you see, I hold about 5 Apple shares (that’s about it, honest). And said company has recently (well, not so recently anymore) spent some $3 billion on acquiring Beats, “that” company fronted by the much (and rightly) revered Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine, which sells mediocre (sorry, I meant to say, totally friggin’ awesome, headphones to sports superstars (and their fans). Oh, and they also have some sort of streaming service, apparently.

Mind you, my shiny new iPhone 6 nor my equally shiny new iOS 8 show any sign of a music streaming service. Or Beats. Or both. Or either. And today, the formidable (erm) TechCrunch ponders whether Apple may shut down the Beats streaming service (because of said absence of it on the new iPhone and iOS). And the mind boggles.

Let’s have a look at the lay of the land then:

There are a number of streaming services in the world. Spotify tops the charts, undoubtedly (unless your worldmap starts and ends in the US, then it’s probably Pandora). Their valuation is pegged somewhere at North of $10 billion. I do not know a single person that uses Beats streaming service (but then, I know, I am a middle-aged white European). However, my American friends, have you heard of Deezer? No, thought not. Alas, it has 20x the subscribers of Beats though (5m vs 250,000). Could you have bought them for $60 billion? I would guess so. But they don’t have the hardware or brand value, you say. And right you are. But, come on, a difference of nearly $57 billion for this? Really?

I would posit that the Beats acquisition was – a British technical term – complete bollocks. Let’s look further:

Here’s what Apple said (BTW, that Endgadget piece is enlightening on so many levels):

It was a no-brainer for us,” said Cue, outlining the three reasons in more detail. First, Cue says the Beats team is sensational, and will be a perfect fit for Apple; additionally, Dr. Dre is an incredible artist with an incredible ear.

$3.2b for a sensational team with an incredible ear. Yeah, right… Eddy Cue, you rule (or not).

Beats hardware is middle of the road at best (I know Dre would disagree, but he’d have to, no? He’s HipHop’s first billionaire because of it, doh…). For how much could you have had, say, Sennheiser (surely a good fit on hardware), a conservative, German, family-owned company? Would a bid of $3.1b have sealed it? Of off-shore money (which would’ve, what, halved that cost? Mmmh, I wonder (that’s a yes). See, the main (and a super-impressive feat at that) of Beats was its marketing and branding prowess. But Apple really doesn’t have anything it needs in that department, does it? It is the world’s most powerful brand (more than 2x its nearest competitor).

So what is our conclusion, half-way? Apple bought a brand (it didn’t need) that produces mediocre hardware (the one part where Apple always excelled and led everyone else) with the add-on of a also-ran streaming service. $3.2b worth? Erm,  no! And now we are hearing that they’re going to shut down that streaming service (which desperate Apple lovers had quickly termed the main rationale of the genius Apple pulling off another one), You see, Apple has never been great in M&A. T (I’m available). <sigh/>

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