A-Z of Digital – T is for Twenty First Century Digital


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DigitalFollowing on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “T is for Twenty First Century Digital”.

The term Twenty First (21st) Century Digital applies to the current century and how you are using Digital to better your organisation and yourself.

Being Digital is not necessarily about having the latest and greatest gadgets, but how you use the hardware and software within your everyday work ad home life. It is also about a mindset of being Digital and looking at.

How Digital are you? Lewis Richards from the LEF (Leading Edge Forum) has created a Digital Test which shows you how Digital you are.  The LEF also has information that covers the topics of the 21st Century Organisation and 21st Century Human.

What can you do to be more Digital? Here are 8 things to start you off:

1.  Be Social

By far the easiest area is to look at your social presence and how you are using tools such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram etc. Follow people that are digital and read what they are doing. One of the great things about being social is the ability to interact with people. Don’t be afraid to ask questions of people you are following if they post something that peaks your interest.  Develop and evolve your social profile and networks to show what you are doing around digital and don’t forget to post at least twice a week.

2. Use what you have

Look at the capabilities of the devices you have today and look to use them to their full potentials using features such as integrated Voice Activated Assistants.

3. Automate

There are many automation tools available that can be used to create simple automation with. Start with a simple automation one of your daily tasks such as sending a text to your significant other when you have left work.

4. Create a Personal Knowledge System

Using the information on trends and digital shifts in the market place is important to learn what is happening today and future developments and innovations coming out. Creating a Personal Knowledge System will help you manage the flow of this information and filter what you want to know.

5. Develop your  Skills

Create a development plan that includes things to help you become a 21st Digital Human and undertake the training. Put into practice what you have learnt to increase your digital knowledge and footprint.

6. Learn to Program

You don’t necessarily need to know how to programming in order to be digital, however having an understanding of how things work helps with looking at connecting applications together with API’s or scripting a task to automate it. Learning a programming language will help you with this and also with experimenting.

7. Experiment

Experiment and try new things like IoT (Internet of Thing). Computers such as the Raspberry PI are making experimenting easier, and now with the release of the Raspberry PI Desktop with some inbuilt emulators, you can try things without having a PI initially.

8. Use what you have learnt and encourage others

Passing on what you have learnt to others is a great method of checking your understanding of a subject and bringing others up to speed and encourage others around you to become digital.

Consider becoming a STEM Ambassador to pass on your skills and experiences encouraging Young People into STEM subjects.



A-Z of Digital – S is for Social



SocialFollowing on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “S is for Social”.

Years ago people gathered in a market square to hear the latest news and gossip and meet in a tavern to hear the tales of friends and strangers from afar. Nowdays we just pick up our smartphones and have all that information at or fingertips.

Being a member of one of the many social tools available today is seen as the “norm”. The majority of people joining the well known social channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Instagram, or one that’s less well known or used for specific purposes. We publish details of our lives online for all our friends and followers to see what we are up to or use the tools to help gather information and keep up to date.

Being social is not just around how you use the tools and what you communicate, but also what you don’t say and being Social Media Savvy on your communications. What ever is posted online even if its in a private group should be considered to be in the public domain as at some point someone could easily open that communication up outside of your group.

Here are my top 5 tips on being Social Media Savvy

Social Channels – Choose the channels that you want to use and look at the audience on those channels. They type of things being posted. Split your channels between personal and professional work.

Listen, Research, Listen Again – Listening to what is going on in your channels is important to understand the trends and topics being talked about.

Be Authentic And True – Be yourself – don’t try to be someone your not.

Keep It Regular and Relevant – Posting a couple of times a week is a good measure. Making sure that your posts are relevant to what you want to say and what your audience is looking for.  You could always automate your posts – e.g. writing some blog posts and having them published during the week via a scheduler.

Think Security – Would you want anyone outside your friends network seeing that post? Eventually your post could be public as once something is posted you don’t have control on what other people can do with it.




A-Z of Digital – R is for Robots



MachineFollowing on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “R is for Robots”.

What used to be Science Fiction is now reality as robots become an every day part of our lives. Even if you are not working with Robots they still have a big influence on your everyday life by making some of the things that you may use, such as a car or computer.

Isaac Asimov set out “Three Laws of Robotics” which in the main are obeyed by robots:

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.

The exception to these laws at the moment are military based AI robots and there is currently a lot of debate around this subject and how far AI should be allowed to go.

When the term robot is thought about, it most probably conjures up visions of automated arms in a factory plant or a humanoid robot carrying out tasks. Lots of this is influenced by novels and movies. However robots do not always take this form and the term robot is applied to a number of scenarios such as “Robotic Process Automation” (RPA) which takes clerical tasks and automates them through the use of software based robots.

Through learning to program and the use of applications and Open API’s (Application Programming Interface) RPA can be used to automate parts of the business.

An example of RPA: I recently needed my windscreen repaired on my car. Through my insurance companies website (after logging on to verify myself) I started a claim for the repair. The process then presented a number of steps to help identify the damage to the windscreen through the use of pictures and choices. After entering the number of chips and location on the windscreen the process determined that I needed a replacement windscreen (Lots of motorway driving and lorries/cars flicking up stones off the road).

The next stage was to pass all my details to the windscreen company and all I had to do was choose the date and time for the replacement screen to be fitted. The only human interaction I had in this process was when the repair person came to fit the new screen. Following the fitting and signing electronically that I was happy with the repair the process finished by settling the claim (and excess) and sending a survey to complete about the process.

Although there was little human interaction in this process, it was a smooth transaction that resulted in a happy customer experience. There is however always an option to revert back to a human if needed.

Robots and the ability to build your own robot have also become readily available through the advancements in computing and cheap components such as the Raspberry PI and Arduino computing boards. Building a simple Quadruped robot through the use of an Arduino and some programming in Python demonstrates this ability.

Through the use of robots whether physical or software based, business can take advantage of these technologies to help automate the repetitive tasks that employees carry out and let them concentrate on the deeper tasks that need their attention – this leads to the Rise of the Cobots and their ability to help and work alongside employees.

Further Reading:




A-Z of Digital – Q is for Quantum Computing


QuantumFollowing on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “Q is for Quantum Computing”.

A computer which makes use of the quantum states of subatomic particles to store information (Source: Dictionary)

Although still in its infancy, there have already been huge developments in the field of Quantum Computing and predictions are showing a mass market in the future “Quantum Computing Market – Will Reach $10.7bn by 2024‎”.

Today’s computers make use of transistors to compute binary states (on/off, 1/0) where as Quantum Computers are based on quantum-mechanical phenomena, superposition and entanglement. See a colleagues post “Through the looking-glass: Quantum computing 101” for an explanation of these.

So what is special about Quantum Computers? Its their ability to compute data at an exponential rate allowing for quick computing of complex data. This is boosting the abilities of Machine Learning and AI to quickly deliver results and allow for greater computations to take place.

The measure of quantum information is called a qubit (the quantum version of the binary bit). Google already have a 20 qubit processor in test and are working on higher speeds. There have already been large systems capable of 2000 qubits (with a cost of around £15m the system). Higher qubit counts are expected as developments continue by the industry. MIT are looking at how “Ultracold molecules hold promise for quantum computing

The applications for business and industry are vast with the ability to process information quickly, provide predictive analytics and machine learning, tackle cyber threats and provide a system for AI.

It will be a while before Quantum Computing becomes fully mainstream with some analysts predicting this around 2025. In the meantime there are advancements in existing computer methods with companies making new developments around Machine Learning and AI- e.g. “Google says its custom machine learning chips are often 15-30x faster than GPUs and CPUs“.



A-Z of Digital – P is for Programming



code2Following on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “P is for Programming”.

Programming or Coding is something that everyone should learn (How you can begin to code), even if its just to produce a simple programme to print  “Hello World” to the screen.

Why? Because programming/coding is becoming an integral part of businesses moving towards its Digital Transformation. Having an understanding of code or being able to write it, helps understand whats behind as code services, automation and connecting systems together with API’s. The manual tasks of today should be the Automated tasks of tomorrow.

The phrase “Learning to code” may strike fear and thoughts of hundreds of lines text and numbers, but it doesn’t need to. The ability to learn to code has grown with the availability of free resources, books and videos available on the internet that takes you through from a beginner upwards.

Choosing a language will depend on what you are looking to achieve, but if your starting out try Scratch (https://scratch.mit.edu/) as its based around blocks to create a programme. Alternatively there are lots of languages to try and below is a list of the current top 10 languages compiled by RedMonk.

Top 10 Programming Languages from RedMonk (June 2017)

1 JavaScript
2 Java
3 Python
5 C#
6 C++
8 Ruby
9 C
10 Objective-C

Source: http://redmonk.com/sogrady/2017/06/08/language-rankings-6-17/

What language will you try?

Further Reading:



A-Z of Digital – O is for Organisation




Following on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “O is for Organisation”.

The “As Code” economy is growing at a fast rate with computing services being consumed as code rather than physical entities (Cloud, As a Service , etc.) Infrastructure as Code looks at making hardware being able to be controlled at a code level, enabling Micro Services and the ability to consume capability quickly.

This is allowing organisations to grow without the need for real-estate or physical assets such as an office or IT system.  This is moving organisations to the next stage of “Organisation as Code”. Companies such as Airbnb and Uber provide a good example of an Organisation as Code, building services and the supporting organisation in the cloud allowing it to be consumed anywhere by users across the world.

Currently there is still a need for a physical presence, as an organisation grows, to meet laws and criteria for operating a business across the many countries they operate, however some of these criteria are starting to be challenged through automation of processes.  Other demands such as security create a need for staff to monitor, patch and maintain the levels of security required for the code and organisation, drive the need for staff and ultimately an HR person or department.

AI bots can be used to interface with the users of the system and employees, but ultimately there is a need for a human at the some point in the conversation.

It may be some time before we see a fully coded organisation, but we are moving that way in small and big steps over time.

Digital Transformation is after all a Business Transformation activity not just  Technical Transformation. One aspect of business change will always be organisational change.



A-Z of Digital – N is for Networks



Network CablesFollowing on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “N is for Networks”.

Networking in general is well known and understood as its an integral part of the worlds infrastructure today. In this post I will cover two areas at a high level where there is significant developments going on – Neural Networks and 5G.

Neural Networks

A Neural network is a network that is modeled on a biological brain and nervous systems pathways (synapses) that allows computations to take place at speed and across many nodes.  Neural networks have been used across a vast number of tasks but are probably best recognised  today as the underlying network of AI (Artificial Intelligence) and Machine Learning.

You are using neural networks in your every day lives without knowing it with things like the voice activated assistants Alexa, Siri, Google Home, Cortana, which deploy neural networks at the back end to provide the basis of the AI and machine learning algorithms that take your voice commands and transact the outcomes based on the instruction. These networks are constantly being developed and improved to provide the services of today and tomorrow.  There are lots of other services that we use daily that have neural networks behind them.

Businesses are looking at neural networks as part of their move to AI and machine learning, especially as neural networks are becoming easier to use with availability via online services for developers, scientists, companies or even a home user to start to consume.

A great site to play with a neural network and look what they can achieve is at Tensorflow (Google).  http://playground.tensorflow.org/ Here you can operate a neural network in your browser and increase and decrease the input and hidden layers to change the output.


Further Reading



One of the latest developments in networking and mobile communications is 5G (the fifth generation of wireless systems). A set of criteria that 5G should fulfill has been set out by the Next Generation Mobile Network Alliance:

  • Data rates of tens of megabits per second for tens of thousands of users
  • Data rates of 100 megabits per second for metropolitan areas
  • 1 Gb per second simultaneously to many workers on the same office floor
  • Several hundreds of thousands of simultaneous connections for wireless sensors
  • Spectral efficiency significantly enhanced compared to 4G
  • Coverage improved
  • Signalling efficiency enhanced
  • Latency reduced significantly compared to LTE.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/5G

There are currently field trials of test networks across the world operated by some of the telecom providers using the 28GHz spectrum band and development in to using Drones across the 5G networks.

5G will not only provide improved bandwidth to mobile devices, but provide the next generation communications infrastructure to things like autonomous cars requiring a low latency (around 20Gbps download, 10Gbps upload speeds and 1ms latency) and the IoT (Internet of Things) allowing a greater performance for large scale deployments.

The timescales for 5G are expected around 2020 for a release of the networks following development and testing till then.

Further Reading


A-Z of Digital – M is for Machine Learning



learnFollowing on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “M for Machine Learning”.

Machine Learning (ML) allows a computer to learn and act without being explicitly programmed with that knowledge. For example, if you get a computer to recognise a picture of a car and show it some examples of a car, it will then be able to recognise cars going forward and apply what it has learnt against new pictures shown.

Machine learning tasks are typically classified into three broad categories, depending on the nature of the learning signal or feedback available to a learning system. These are

Supervised learning: The computer is presented with example inputs and their desired outputs, given by a “teacher”, and the goal is to learn a general rule that maps inputs to outputs.

Unsupervised learning: No labels are given to the learning algorithm, leaving it on its own to find structure in its input. Unsupervised learning can be a goal in itself (discovering hidden patterns in data) or a means towards an end (feature learning).

Reinforcement learning: A computer program interacts with a dynamic environment in which it must perform a certain goal (such as driving a vehicle or playing a game against an opponent). The program is provided feedback in terms of rewards and punishments as it navigates its problem space.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Machine_learning

Machine Learning has opened a lot of uses and applications within business and industry such as a manufacturing process that looks for defects in products by telling the computer what good looks like, with imperfections being identified for further investigation.

One common place for interacting with Machine Learning is through the use of Chat Bots. You may have used a chat bot without knowing it, with machine learning helping to provide the answers to your queries.

An interesting chat bot to try out through Facebook Messenger is Keiko, a people search droid. The search can provide a series of questions to help narrow the search to who you are looking for. Yes you could do this through a normal search engine, but the thing I like about Keiko is the ability to interact and respond to the query with additional questions or suggestions for the search. Keiko can provide other functions other than just searching for a person. Search engines themselves have a lot of machine learning involved in ensuring that the results returned are the best match to the person searching and the search criteria.

If you want to have a go with a Machine Learning program try Googles Autodraw https://www.autodraw.com/. In this application you can draw an object and Google will try and suggest clip art that is similar to your drawing. As the program is used it learns from the drawings and selections that people make.

Further Reading


A-Z of Digital – L is for Legal



Following on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “L is for Legal”.

With the increasing about of things interacting with our daily lives, the area of Legal and Security play a big part.

The most common of these is the Terms and Conditions (T’s and C’s).  We are presented with a myriad or applications each with their own T’s and C’s to tick a check box to say we have read them when we install or update them. Most people will just click the box and accept them, but when was the last time you actually read the Terms and Conditions and you have just signed up to clean toilets for a couple of weeks? Makes you wonder what you have actually agreed to in all those T’s and C’s previously accepted!

With further adoption of the as a service economy, it is important to  read the T’s and C’s and keep up to date with any changes that are made to them as they are updated. Changes could mean that your data can be used by the provider – e.g. Robot vacuum company mulls selling maps of homes.

One of the next big legal items to come along is GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation);

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) (Regulation (EU) 2016/679) is a regulation by which the European Parliament, the Council of the European Union and the European Commission intend to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the European Union (EU). It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. The primary objectives of the GDPR are to give control back to citizens and residents over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU. When the GDPR takes effect, it will replace the data protection directive (officially Directive 95/46/EC) from 1995. The regulation was adopted on 27 April 2016. It becomes enforceable from 25 May 2018 after a two-year transition period and, unlike a directive, it does not require any enabling legislation to be passed by national governments and is thus directly binding and applicable.

Source: Wikipedia

GDPR will introduce one of the biggest shakeups of data protection in years. Understanding its impact on your businesses is an important role for legal, IT and the business to ensure compliance going forward when it takes over the current data protection laws on 25 May 2018.

The main points of GDPR cover new rights that need to be considered include:

  • Valid consent must be obtained to store data
  • Right to be forgotten
  • Access to data and sharing and portability of data
  • Protection of data by design and default
  • Obligation to notify of any breaches

Are you ready for GDPR?

Further Reading



A-Z of Digital – K is for Knowledge


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books-2158737_1920Following on from my blog post outlining an A-Z of Digital, here is “K is for Knowledge”.

Understanding what is going on in your streams, market places and industries is a big task. We can be deluged with information, news and articles coming in on a daily basis through many streams/channels (as well as all the work emails you get in a day)  means that we tend to drink from the fire hose and not be able to assimilate all of the data coming in.

One way of helping is to create your own Personal Knowledge Management System, that will help navigate the sea of information and pick out what is key to your requirements and what can be dropped.

Here is my updated Personal Knowledge Management System that I use to sort and store useful artefacts, blogs, information, inspiration, articles and bits that get in a day.

Personal Knowledge Management System

Personal Life

Personal Journal

Journalling in both a Personal and Work life is a useful tool to keep notes on your thoughts and ideas. In my personal life I opt for recording these in a Moleskine – See my blog post No batteries required for further details.

Social Media

I separate from my work life from my personal life using things like Instagram and Facebook for friends and family with appropriate security settings in place. Even with those settings you still need to consider that once something is online, it could be public in the future.

Work Life


This is split into several areas and these are a few of the inputs that I use to grab information, feeds, data from:

  • Podcasts
  • Audio subscriptions
  • RSS Feeds
  • Web Searches
  • Blog Posts

Podcasts cover both Audio and Video casts that I watch/stream online or download to my Media Player (Audio and Videos) to listen to on journeys (Audio)


Flipboard provides another stream of data that I consume bringing in news feeds from many sources around a series of topics. It does work well on a mobile device allowing you to flip the pages through the articles.


Feedly provides an aggregation tool which I use to collect the stories from blogs and web sites I regularly pull information from.  This provides a list of stories that can be scanned tin a few minutes on a single screen without going via multiple sites. Clicking on a story will bring up a snippet from the source site and provide the link to read the source article if required. Using a series of key strokes you can read the headlines, then move down the articles at a reasonable speed, stopping and opening when needed.

Sources can be categorised to allow an all view or just whats new in a category.  There is a new noise filter to take out articles that are not relevant which I will be looking at shortly (paid for version).


Instapaper is one of several tools I use to store the articles I need to keep to refer back to and want to save. There is a link from Feedly to provide this (paid for version) which saves the articles. Instapaper then tweets the link out on a separate @Hemingwayreads Twitter Account when I want it to.


IFTTT (If This Then That) provides a level of automation to my lists from saving articles to creating alerts on topics and triggering different actions as needed to my devices.

Thinking Time

This is where view the data streams through the tools and assimilate and think about what has been reported/said.

Blogging and Being Social

From thoughts and research I will write about things through my blogs and publish these into Social Media streams such as Twitter, Linkedin and G+/

Future Tools

Future additions to my tools will probably include some machine learning and further automation to bring out more of the articles I am interested in and filter out the noise. Then bringing in a voice based capability to read out targeted articles to me when I am mobile and travelling.

Do you have a Personal Knowledge Management System or using tools not mentioned above?

Further Inspiration from others

Some other good Personal Knowledge Management Systems from colleagues: