Tag Archives: Mike McNamara

Is it a Prise, Prize or Price fight?

This is an interesting time, you see, many will not yet realise it, but we are roughly 19 months away from a game changing moment in our lives. There are groups of people scurrying to get to a virtual starting position, because they have learned the hard way that not setting the stage for the fight means that they will lose out the second time and this time there will be no third round for them. If you are at this point considering that I am kidding or that my statement is over the top, you better reconsider fast, because Orange Poland is now starting to get backers who have serious amounts of cash and last Wednesday, AT&T released ECOMP (their version) in San Francisco. They called it Indigo and it is one of two markers that are now actively in place to set the stage for massive shifts in Big Data. Yes, you are reading this correct!

This is not just a stage of evolution, this is now starting to be a stage of transition. As the people are marketed into a sullied state of dreams, they are tempted to seek what the places bring to them. Places like Tableau relying on AdWords top placement to show how important they are in this industry, with others using the same path on how ‘the magic quadrant of Big Business‘ is the solution, on how we see the ‘Gartner Magic Quadrant Leader‘, but the truth is actually in another direction. Places like AT&T who basically got their asses handed to them as they did not act in the 90’s, they now see that being there ahead of the game is the only move left to them, because AT&T sees that America will not make them great, it will not make them the global player. That is the first shift we see are now witnessing.

In this a very similar view can be found in the movie Assassins Creed. Now, it got written off by a several critics, but the beauty of the product is not in the movie, which is still bringing in a decent amount of profit (millions) for first time producer (and actor) Michael Fassbender. The reason why this movie is so interesting is seen in the revenue. Only 25% came from the US, the rest international. Rogue One: A Star Wars Story does it to some degree where the US and international set is 50/50, the US is no longer the bulk of the income for, a basic issue that now needs addressing, especially by the American players.  That time has gone and these players have caught on that in 22 months the infrastructure is either in place, or they are out of the race. Even as we still see large players (like the Dutch KPN) rely on presentations on how ‘great’ they are. Certain players are realising more that tactics need to change, the presentation is no longer enough, and they need to be ready sooner than ever expected.

This is seen in another way, a way I already saw coming. This time it is the Canberra Times (at http://www.canberratimes.com.au/technology/technology-news/ftc-accuses-vizio-of-spying-on-smart-tv-customers-20170206-gu70p5.html) that gives the goods. We see ‘The US Federal Trade Commission said on Monday that Vizio used 11 million televisions to spy on its customers‘, which reminded me of my blog article ‘The back door‘ (at https://lawlordtobe.com/2016/12/29/the-back-door/), which I wrote on December 29th 2016 with the part “consider the amount of mail you have at present and see what happens when 10 devices are added to your house profile. The refrigerator, your smart TV, your smart recorder, your game console, your laptop/tablet/PC, your 5 smart devices” as well as “A large group of people will get more and more access to your way of life. In addition, there will be an option to influence your way of life, which is a side nobody signed up for“, a stage that is now coming a lot faster than I expected. The Vizio case is only the most visible one now, this whilst more evidence is coming that Microsoft is engaged in similar actions. Is it not interesting that Microsoft is not mentioned? Perhaps that is because they are only doing that outside of the US? What is interesting is that with Vizio, places like Time.com states how to deactivate certain options, there are more and more indicators out there that this is not an option with Windows 10. How many devices use that? The other part we need to know is that the Vizio case started all the way back in 2014. So it took the trade commission well over 2 years to get there, and for how long was data collected? The interesting part is however not there, it is in the quote “manufactured VIZIO smart TVs that capture second-by-second information about video displayed on the smart TV, including video from consumer cable, broadband, set-top box, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts, and streaming devices. In addition, VIZIO facilitated appending specific demographic information to the viewing data, such as sex, age, income, marital status, household size, education level, home ownership, and household value, the agencies allege. VIZIO sold this information to third parties, who used it for various purposes, including targeting advertising to consumers across devices, according to the complaint“. You see, the issue is not seen towards one place, when you consider ‘including video from consumer cable, broadband, set-top box, DVD, over-the-air broadcasts, and streaming devices‘, this implies that Vizio played the field and was also getting the data from Consoles (which hurts Microsoft and Sony) as well as Foxtel (several data paths), so did Vizio get dobbed in? You see, in 2014 this field was in its infancy, now in 2017, whilst data will be the essential centre stage to all matters big data related, now it gets to be a different thing and still the media at large is asking way too few questions on the who, where and for how long. And as our exposure is set to 2014 cases that are only decided now. Even as now suddenly a wave of newscasts is hitting the screens of people on how Microsoft has privacy tools, how Microsoft is trying to quash gag orders. Microsoft is part of all this from the ground up. Whilst within a Chinese wall environment, one side of the wall is boasting that they champion the privacy of others. As we see that there are now Microsoft privacy tools, we see that that part comes with the small quote “coming to future editions of Windows 10“, which is the case because Microsoft and AT&T are very aware that being alive is being in the game and data is the one element that allows them to do it in an affordable way. There is an additional side, which was brought by Forbes. It is just a week old and gives us the consideration we actually need. The part where we get hit with ‘Tempest in a Teapot’, which could just be a storm in a teacup is not that minor an issue. You see Forbes own Thomas Fox-Brewster is setting the stage, but is he doing it intentionally so? consider “Trump’s decision should only affect the privacy of data handled by government agencies, not private companies” as well as “the only way in which the order may affect non-U.S. individuals lies in the manner the Department of Homeland Security handles personal information“, which is actually the part we should not care about. It is the ‘private companies‘ part that is the actual danger. First we need to take a look at the legal part. Now, I can do that, but the experienced people at DLA Piper (at https://www.dlapiper.com/en/us/insights/publications/2016/07/privacy-shield-is-final/) did that and I just hate inventing the wheel twice. Yet in that part the following issue rose, and it did so because it has happened before (and it will happen again). It is seen in this part ‘Secure personal data and ensure the ability to restrict secondary uses‘ and the issue is not because of that part exactly, it is because of the technological side to it. You see the restrictions on data and backup data are not the same, backup data is not seen as data. Forbes actually raised it in 2012 with “First and foremost, IT auditors need to come up to speed on the implications of auditing data that’s beyond the organization’s control and beyond the organization’s home borders. While some auditors are worried, many are more optimistic that these requirements provide business opportunities within the security, compliance and auditing community as organizations move data and long-term storage into the cloud” as well as “When data is moved beyond an organization’s technological and geographic borders, the organization runs the risk of losing control of how that data complies with regulatory compliance. By addressing legal and regulatory challenges up front through technology, an organization can begin architecting an off-premise, cloud-based storage solution that meets the business’s needs as well as keeps regulatory compliance at bay“, yet only now, or better stated only recently do we see a shift that places like SAP are now realising that technicians and consultants have their own agenda’s and an American one does not see things the same way a European technician sees things. Computer Weekly raised it, but they did so with the interesting quote “data analytics technology, will ensure that only technicians in Europe will have access to potentially sensitive data held in its cloud datacentres, if companies demand it“, you see, it’s the ‘if companies demand it‘ part that matters. If provider A has an infrastructure yet it gets its backup serviced by consultancy provider B who uses a different cloud and cloud system, where is the security set when system B is in the USA and system A is in Italy? There we might see the term ‘data safety is not impacted‘, yet it is equally not impacted when Intelligence Agency ‘who gives a damn‘ has mirrored that backup and now has 100% of all data. That is the realistic issue that the Privacy Shield addresses, but does it do that in equal measure for a cloud corporate infrastructure? Is the backup party vetted, or even identified? You see, this is not about paranoia or what people learn about me. This is about large corporations getting an even more unbalanced advantage. That part is not addressed because those supporting large corporation only need to delay things (Vizio 2014 is evidence enough). It is Kevin Werbach from The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania who gives the parts I have been referring to. In a podcast on innovation we get “Companies like Uber and Airbnb are built on algorithms. They’re built on software that understands supply and demand and matches people on both sides of the network“, THIS IS IT!

That is why the players need the data and as much as they can. Do you think that people like Mike McNamara (Target Corp) got a massive oversized budget for the fun of it? No, he realised (and successfully sold that to the board of directors), that if he had the data and the systems in place he can take K-Mart and Walmart to town and take chunks of their share, in the next 6 months we are likely to see the first small victories, small in start but it will be a growing wave, have no doubt about that part. These are the advantages that larger corporations have and some are doing it ethically acceptable. Yet in a similar fashion I see that those taking a different path are not questioned or hold to any level of accountability. How is that for screwed up? I have nothing against these places, but in the global setting, Target would gain an advantage against the Dutch C&A if this continues. I believe that to some degree competitiveness is a good thing, but what happens when the tools available are not available to all? What happens when one retailer is ethically kept blind, whilst the outside competitor has a dataset describing the national population in excellent detail? Where is the fairness then?

So are we facing a fight with three players? That is not a given, there are a few elements in motion over the next 18+ months so there will be shifting. Except those who are claiming and considering not participating, they are pretty much out of the game for good. Nokia is now re-joining the mobile fight, trying to bring a competitor to the Pixar XL and the iPhone 7 to the fight (Nokia P1), what was interesting is that they avoided the one ‘mistake’ the Google Pixar has. It will be one way for people to get a cheap solution this year, but will it be enough?

Not enough data to tell and that is where it sets the pace of the continuing fighters, who has the data? Which might be the premise of a joke. Three fighters were getting into the match. One thought it was a prize fight, one thought it was a prise fight and one assumed it was a price fight.

Which player do you think will be the one left standing in the end?

 

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Tesco, the Lehman way

It’s all the buzz
It’s all the rage
What Lehman did once
On a grocery stage

So cabbage that cherry
and settle that sprout
and if you want balance
you’ll fall on your snout

So be not afraid
for them closing the doors
bring coins to Tesco
250 million and it’s yours!

Yes, another day in the works for the CFO’s of the world. Did anyone imagine, when the Lehman brothers had their methods of inflating their economy it would be all the rage. So much so that it would even come to a grocery near you?

Well, as we see the Guardian (at http://www.theguardian.com/business/2014/sep/22/tesco-investigators-overstating-profit-250m) announces how Tesco overestimated their profit. Let’s be honest, 250,000,000 is just a number, if you say it really fast it doesn’t seem like much (you should actually really try to say it fast 5 times).

Now, they will fork out additional costs as they have requested DeLoite and Freshfields to take a look at all this.

It would be nice to bash them ‘board’ members around a little more, but it seems unfair because when we see Dave Lewis and how open he is on what has transpired, we should wonder what comes next. The fact that he was alerted by the CLO only adds to the confusion here. Not confusion in a bad way, but actual confusion. First of all, let’s have a round of applause (seriously!), for Dave Lewis to bring this out into the open. I believe that it will remove pressures and I feel certain that the body blow the stock gave them will settle and likely return, perhaps even a little stronger. We should expect a Chief Legal Officer to act in this way and seeing it so is just a builder of confidence. Yet, I stated confusion, which I remain true to.

Even though these matters are in place and also the fact that the new CFO is not joining them until December 1st, we should ask what elements were in play with the old CFO leaving. The BBC throws a few more logs on the fire (at http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29306444). There are facts between the emotions of people. When I read “Professor Ajay Bhalla of Cass Business School said ‘things could not be worse for Tesco’s management and shareholders’“. Sounds nice BBC! Was this the only expert you could find willing to speak out? What do the people at the London School of Business say?

I have other questions too. Where were Chris Bush (Managing director UK) and Mike McNamara (CIO)? Did they not notice the 250 million ‘offset’? Let’s not forget that this 250 million pound caper represents 10% of the ENTIRE Tesco Group profit. That is way too large a number to be this unnoticed by too many on the high level. In regards to the CIO questions will also rise on what data was used, how it was collected and how it was ‘mined’ for the ‘information’ nuggets in the end. Be very wary of what I state here. I am not accusing, or considering their involvement or guilt. Yet, if reports are based upon numbers, which comes from data files, how was all this achieved? There is an entire internal track that should be examined and not just by the two fore mentioned ‘guests’ of the Tesco system. The list of the members of the executive committee seems unbalanced as well, we see all these commercial players, marketeers and even a Chief Creative Officer, however on the other end there is only one Chief Information Officer. Where is the CTO? Where is the CDO (Chief Data Officer)? As I see it, when you have your global groceries and your banks, one CIO just does not cut it, you need two more to create a wall to ‘prevent’ these commercial boys (and three girls) into becoming a little too over enthusiastic. Hurray for Dave Lewis (not Dave Allen), for taking the Bull by the horns and acting the right way. The Guardian informs us of a few other interesting choices, but the two parts that did raise a few issues were “He said the problem was not in the ordinary course of events and that rules may have been broken” and “Analysts pressed Tesco’s chairman, Sir Richard Broadbent, about how the accounting problem went undiscovered until just over a week before the planned announcement of first-half results. Clive Black, an analyst at Shore Capital, said Broadbent’s position was untenable because he had left the board without a finance director“.

Was it that simple? You see, the Lehman reference is there for a reason, they did all these naughty things, yet never actually ‘broke’ the law. a better quote in that regard is one I read a little while ago “Just because an action is legal does not always mean that it is ethical“, which is at the heart of this here. There are two sides, not just that Tesco was without a CFO, but this situation implies that those directly below the CFO, who have been there until now (my assumption) is that they either did not know or did not care what was going on. These are questions that clearly need additional investigation. It is also cause for my opposition to Clive Black, the Shore Capital analyst. A good machine should be able to continue running if a head falls away (for whatever reason); if the machine is sound this would not have happened. So as Mr Black looks at one person, it is my personal believe that the machine itself is not up to scrap. This is partially due to the lacking presence of a CTO and a CDO, the last one is essential when you see someone like Tesco, where the grocery and banking branch are now intertwining. That issue will be more and more essential to other areas where larger players are now doing much more, whether it is banking, insurances or mobile communication. The overlap makes the need for a Chief Data Officer more than just essential.

Even though four people have been suspended there is one more person that needs to be looked at. When I say this I mean not as in suspension, but an investigation into her role seems to be essential as well. In this case I am referring to Rebecca Shelley, the Group corporate affairs director. If we look at the Tesco Governance structure where it states “We have two Committees responsible for ensuring that we live up to our commitments and responsibilities. Our Social Responsibility Committee (see below) is led by our Chief Executive, Philip Clarke, and is responsible for driving our strategy and monitoring our progress. Our Corporate Responsibility Committee, which includes Non-executive Directors, defines our corporate and social obligations as a responsible business. As outlined in his introduction to this report, Sir Richard Broadbent has handed over the Chair of this Committee to Jacqueline Tammenoms Bakker“, which is at http://www.tescoplc.com/index.asp?pageid=168. The role of Rebecca Shelley, in my view should have been more central with inclusion in the financial matters as well (perhaps she was). Even though her role would only have been ‘to be aware‘ it is likely that whatever game was played could not have lasted, or remained this hidden if she would have been part of the reporting side. Is that not a corporate affair?

So as we look at what happened and how to stop it, I think it is also important on how things were meant to run and how they should be run in light of the branching of Tesco. It also lights one other aspect. I reckon the outspoken actions of Dave Lewis might be rare, which means that Tesco is not the only one where there has been an issue of overstating. Who else played and how is compartmentalising in these events is a lot more dangerous than people outside and inside the circle regard them to be.

In the end we should all form our own minds on events when they take place and I hope that this blog raised several questions on things some got away with and more important how things can get better when people like Dave Lewis pick up the issues and goes for them, camera’s and image be damned!

 

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