Entries in digital (2)


(Dis)Service in the Digital Age

I’m a frustrated and disappointed consumer this week. 

I had hoped that the installation of Sky Multiscreen would migrate my ever-growing children to their playroom so that my wife and I could reclaim our TV and the lounge.

I was also looking forward to super-fast broadband speeds with Virgin Media cable as our current wireless is poor as BT, incredibly, don’t offer Infinity to our road in Finchley.  

Continuing on the subject of speed, I got up at 6am today to have the first in a handful of swimming lessons, designed to improve my lap times. 

The common theme to all of these? None of them happened – and I’ve had to endure a succession of terrible excuses and repeated no-shows since. 

The first Sky engineer wouldn’t climb our roof. Too high, according to him. But at least he said something – the second cancelled without a word, while the final one left our house with a broken TV and cut wiring, then disappeared when we weren’t looking. 

Their customer service was equally hopeless and the agent even put the phone down on me. 

Not that they were alone in struggling to deal with the wildlands of North London: Virgin couldn’t install the cable due to a tree blocking the path. Pathetic.

And with my temperature rising I’ve not even been able to cool off in the pool! The swimming teacher never showed and hasn’t called to apologise.

Contrast this catalogue of uselessness with Uber: on time, cost-effective, always ready and reliable. With Spotify: just when you think it can’t get better, they upgrade and the utility improves again. With Dropbox: simple and free. With Waze: who needs to read maps anymore?

Our service expectations have never been higher as we receive affordable, on-demand digital services that improve our lives. 

So, Mr Sky, why, when my family spends almost £1,000 per year with you, can you not send the right engineer on the right day, or at least have the decency to communicate properly?  

Unfortunately, our digital services depend on the BTs, Skys and Virgins of this world – imagine how much better our digital lives would be if they got their acts together? 

Out with the old… in with the new… bring on the digitals!


Google’s alpha bet: I’m lovin’ it

Surprising but sensible. That seems to be the overriding reaction to Google creating Alphabet Inc – and I wholeheartedly concur.

Our hindsight is a fantastic demonstration of Larry Page and co.’s foresight. It was just the type of bold move that I love to see in business.

The corporate world has always been super-competitive. Innovation, backed by courage and cast iron conviction are now the only way to stay ahead of the competition.

Alphabet allows Google to keep its core function and identity, while creating a broader organisation that will specialise – and lead – in different fields.

It creates independence and enables companies under the Alphabet umbrella to channel Google’s values while being speculative, but planned and considered. By the same token, it significantly decreases the chances of harming the mothership.

Looking at another American giant, McDonald’s, shows that the reverberations from the changing consumer landscape can have major repercussions for any company that fails to keep pace.

For the first time in almost half a century, it will close more stores in the US than it opens this year.

McDonald’s has struggled from competition in the fast food market. One of its reactions has been to diversify its offering. While you must provide choice, McDonald’s has arguably gone too far and confused consumers. Sometimes it is better to focus on your core products and make sure they are better than anyone else’s, rather than trying to be all things to all people.

Pearson is an organisation doing just that. The publishing group has sold the Financial Times and its stake in the Economist it to concentrate solely on its educational operations and it should be congratulated for making such a decisive decision.

Selling one stellar marque worth hundreds of millions of pounds is a big deal. Selling two – in as many weeks – represents a seismic shift in strategy.

Now is a time of transition and adjustment for major brands in all sectors and the battle between old and new is fascinating. Look at Uber attracting a $50bn valuation, for example, and the shake-up it is causing in private transportation.

Predicting and embracing change is key to survival and the betting and gaming industry is no different, with big names undergoing transition and development in order to position themselves for the future.

William Hill – one of the largest and oldest bookmakers – has shown that tradition needn’t be a barrier to agility. It has embraced digital and its Innovation Labs show that it is looking to the future.

The prominence of today’s challenger brands, such as LeoVegas, BGO and Casumo, show how quickly the landscape can be altered.

The map is being re-drawn. Be aware. Be ahead.