Aug 202015

One of the defining features of the next decade’s successful businesses is how they manage data. No company has a greater challenge in dealing with information than Google.

In a feature tracking Google’s evolving data centres, Techcrunch describes how the company has dealt with the challenge of being the web’s repository.

The challenge has been huge, Google’s current Jupiter network delivers a petabit each second, a hundred times more capacity than its first-generation network and in 2005.

Google boasts 10,000 of their servers are capable of reading all of the scanned data in the Library of Congress in less than a tenth of a second.

While most businesses won’t need that sort of capacity in the near future, the exponential growth Google has dealt with is the same issue facing most managers and business owners as more devices, staff and customers become connected.

For most organisations, dealing with that dramatic growth is almost impossible and this is why automated services running on the cloud will become even more a part of daily working life. Those services will be running on the technology Google is developing today.




Aug 072015
the web is new neon sign

Michael Rubenstein, President of AppNexus is the first interview for a while on the Decoding the New Economy channel.

Rubenstein joined AppNexus as employee number 18 in 2009 and has been part of the company’s growth from a small startup to a global technology company with a workforce of 1,000 professionals.

AppNexus is one of the new wave of companies managing and programming online advertising, helping advertisers and publishers target their products better while giving ad tech companies deeper insights and data.

In this interview, Rubenstein discusses some of the forces changing global advertising along with the challenges of dealing with a high growth business.

Apologies for the bad hair on my part.

Aug 052015

“The days of getting a PhD to get your businesses online are over” declared James Carroll, GoDaddy’s International Executive Vice President last week on a visit to Sydney.

GoDaddy is the world’s biggest internet domain name registration service and Carroll was in Australia to promote the expansion of the company’s local operations.

Australia’s a prime target for the company with nearly half the nation’s two million businesses not having a web presence. “I think there’s an awareness issue about the skill that are needed to get online,” says Carroll.

GoDaddy’s Australia and New Zealand country manager Tara Commerford suggested two reasons why small businesses aren’t going online, “I think it’s lack of awareness and people don’t know how to do it”.

Commerford suggests that simplified online tools are making it easier along with the easy access to other platforms like social media and location online services.

The problem though is these tools are not new, this blog has been discussing how companies need to get online for years and yet the proportion of small businesses getting a web presence has remained fixed around the fifty percent mark.

One of the barriers to getting online is confusion and the new top level domains haven’t helped this by muddying the message about which domains they should be registering under. This is only increasing the fear among small business owners that going online is complex, expensive and risky.

It’s understandable that domain registrars like GoDaddy would push the new domains given the industry’s low margins and need for scale, but that’s not the problem for smaller operators.

The problem for small businesses is getting the basics right with with a mobile friendly website, particularly for hospitality and tourism operators. Having the right domain name is an important first start of an important journey for most businesses.

Jul 222015
radio programs for techonology, web, social media, cloud computing and computer advice

Security problems with smartcars and dating sites along with asking if a new version of Microsoft Windows matters any more are the topics for July’s Nightlife tech spot.

Paul Wallbank regularly joins Tony Delroy on ABC Nightlife on to discuss how technology affects your business and life.

If you missed this month’s show, you can listen to the program through the ABC website.

July’s Nightlife

A decade ago people lined up all night for a new version of the Windows operating system. Next week Microsoft will be launching Windows 10 to an indifferent market place, does what was once the world’s biggest software company matter anymore in a world of smartphones, connected cars and cloud computing?

Some of the questions we’ll be answering include.

  • So what are Microsoft announcing next week?
  • What happened to Windows 9?
  • Does Windows really matter any more?
  • The internet has changed things but not always for the better. What about connected cars being hacked?
  • Is this a bigger problem than just connected cars when we’re seeing things like kettles being wired up to the internet?
  • Of course it’s not just cars suffering problems on the Internet, adult dating site Ashley Madison has had potentially 37 million customers’ details leaked online.
  • Could this happen to any business? How do we protect ourselves?

Listeners’ questions

A few of the questions from listeners couldn’t be answered on air.

Running Flash of iPhones and iPads: Steve Jobs’ hatred of Adobe Flash was legendary and as consequence iOS devices like the iPhone and iPad don’t come with the ability to run the software. That’s a problem for those who need Flash for some packages.

The Puffin web browser gives iPad and iPhone users the ability to use Flash on their devices and is available from the iTunes store.

Securing Android: While smartphones are less prone to viruses and malware than personal computers, they still are at risk. For Android users there is no shortage of choice for security packages, some of which include;

Android power hogs: A downside with smartphone apps is they can drain battery life. One excellent feature on Android phones is the ability to easily check what’s using your juice.

  • Open device settings
  • Scroll to “about phone”
  • Click on “battery use”

Join us

Tune in on your local ABC radio station from 10pm Australian Eastern Summer time or listen online at

We’d love to hear your views so join the conversation with your on-air questions, ideas or comments; phone in on 1300 800 222 within Australia or +61 2 8333 1000 from outside Australia.

You can SMS Nightlife’s talkback on 19922702, or through twitter to@paulwallbank using the #abcnightlife hashtag or visit the Nightlife Facebook page.


Jun 162015
Should we be watching more TV in the Internet age

“We seek news on Twitter but bump into it on Facebook” points out the Reuters’ 2015 Digital News Report in its analysis of global media consumption.

The broad trends from surveying over 20,000 online news consumers in the US, UK, Ireland, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Denmark, Finland, Brazil, Japan and Australia are clear – social media is becoming the main way people are finding their news while television is slowly declining.

Probably most concerning for the television networks how younger viewers have turned away from TV with only a quarter of those aged between 18 and 25 tuning in as opposed to two thirds of those aged over 65.

Given the aging of television network audiences it’s not surprising that last week Australia’s Network Ten, part owned by Lachlan Murdoch, found a lifeline from the country’s main cable network as the broadcaster is finding revenues declining.

The question is how long advertisers are going to stick with television as audiences increasingly move online creating a revenue gap estimated by analyst Mary Meeker to be worth around thirty billion dollars a year.

For the moment, the great hope for the online world is Facebook with Reuters finding the service is dominating users’ time. In that light it’s not surprising the company has such a huge market valuation.

The competing social media services are still facing challenges, particularly with Twitter showing a far lower level of penetration with the general public, leading Harvard professor Bill George to speculate the company risked becoming the new BlackBerry.

While the online services struggle for supremacy and television slowly declines, the real pain continues to felt by the newspapers who continue to find their relevance erode and few of their readers prepared to pay for their content.

The Reuters report confirms the trends we already know while giving insights into the unique peculiarities of each market.

Jun 042015

Five years ago I did a presentation describing how a website was essential for every business’ online strategy.

The Business Cornerstone was delivered at the time where many advisers proclaiming Google Places and Facebook as adequate for building an internet presence.

Over time, the importance of having your own domain and website has been proved as different platforms have messed users around with changing terms, arbitrary rulings and often simply closing down services.

The importance of doing things your own way was underlined yesterday with the announcement by Medium, and Twitter, founder Ev Williams that the company is restructuring and shouldn’t be considered a publishing platform.

For those who’ve published pieces on Medium that the service is not a publishing platform would have come as a surprise given the company has spent the last 18 months encouraging people to contribute to their site.

That Medium is pivoting into something else – a Facebook, an Instagram or a Google Plus – shouldn’t be surprising but once again it illustrates the interests of this services are not necessarily the same as yours and when they conflict it’s your interests that will come off second best.

While platforms like Medium, Facebook and LinkedIn are useful for distributing your message, the best long term online presence you can have is your own website. It’s a lesson those who rely on free third party services keep having to learn.

May 162015

One thing that’s becoming clear in researching and writing on the Internet of Things is how three distinct strands of the concept exist due to the different needs of industry and the marketplace.

This is articulated best by Bill Ruh, the Vice President of GEs Global Software Center, who in an interview this week – which I’ll post later – suggested the IoT is best divided into the industrial internet, the enterprise internet and the consumer internet.

At the base level the consumer internet includes the bulk of startups and the devices that get most of the publicity; the Apple Watches, Nest thermostats and smart door locks.

Largely operating on a ‘best effort’ basis, consumer IoT vendors don’t guarantee service and security is often an afterthought. This is going to present a few challenges for both consumers and retailers as the inevitable problems arise.

Catering for the enterprise

The IT industry vendors are at the next level, the Enterprise internet, where companies like Microsoft, Cisco and VMWear are adapting their businesses to the cloud and Internet of Things.

At this level, which Cisco calls the Internet of Everything, the security and reliability challenges are understood and the practices of the IT and communications industry lend themselves to the widespread transmission of data from smart devices.

Similarly most of the telcos with their machine to machine (M2M) technologies fall into the enterprise internet camp.

Driving the industrial internet

While the enterprise vendors are providing robust systems, the IT industry levels of service don’t quite meet the needs of mission – and often life – critical applications found in jet engines, precision manufacturing and most industrial processes.

Providing that level of security, precision, reliability and low latency is where the industrial internet is applied. This is where the companies such as GE and the other big engineering companies come in.

At the industrial internet level it’s far harder for startups to disrupt the existing players as it requires both specialist knowledge of their industry sectors and deep pockets to provide the necessary capital for product development.

However the existing industrial conglomerates don’t have all the skills in house and that’s an opportunity for smaller companies and startups to enter the industry.

The long product times are another aspect of the industrial internet, as Rue points out, GE are still supporting equipment that is over eighty years old. While that equipment will probably never be connected to the internet, the machines being designed today will be expected to have similar lifespans.

While the three different IoTs have their own characteristics, and in many instances overlap, all three are opportunities for savvy developers and entrepreneurs.

The difficulty some businesses, both as vendors and customers, will face with the IoT is applying the wrong technology set to their problems and industry.