Tag Archives: opinion

Quantified Self Movement Quackery

#quantifiedself #itsallaboutme I feel one might gain more useful self awareness by meditating on self-improvement than minutely recording every little activity of one’s marvellous existence

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Whither the Customer Journey…

As we have discussed before, the “Customer Journey” is a tool beloved of Marketing people: a near biblical process of revelation delivering an earth-shattering thrill and delight to the lucky consumer – in all, the full showmanship to make buying a salad into a creative “event”.  Indeed, this hell of the “in-shop experience” was visited upon me again in M&S at Paddington Station on Monday evening, my bags hanging off my broad shoulders…

You may ask why I carry my bags when I could have all the convenience of a nice little wheeled travel trolley.  And I answer:

1. I am taller than average (although not in the league of Optimus Prime), and the little trolleys give me backache as the handle is designed only for average height mortals and so I have to bend down to pull, an royal ergonomic PITA (or lower back)

2. Only little old ladies pull trolleys around…to go to the shops

…down this narrow alley of snackery and sugar-filled delights holding my pathetic little pile of greenery, sweeping all behind me off the shelves.  Damn it!!!

And I forgot to pick up a fork in my rush to exit from the tills.  So there’s the bug in the experience, the journey was not “joined up”, it was NOT a good experience for me, I was NOT thrilled, I was NOT delighted.

Thinking back across the years about the perennial search for efficiency in its many forms, you can see an evolution in the focus from Functional (early industrial), through Process Reengineering to Customer Experience (with a brief diversion through Excellence and Chaos, courtesy of Tom Peters).

In the 1980s, the essence was this below – joining up the broken bits of process…

Joining up customer experience

…so that a bloke in a blue jersey gets to be deliriously, insanely happy.

But whilst everybody was futzing with their processes, they were missing the big picture and that in some cases the processes where anyway stupid, idiotic and annoying and the organisation just shambled from one disastrous event to another making the customer really unhappy along the way, like this…

totality of customer experience

…because they needed to think outside-in (like the Customer), not inside-out (like a Company).

Then somebody had the bright idea to pull into a bit of control theory and cybernetics, and close the loop, so you get concepts like this virtuous cycle of analytical marketing…

analytical marketing

…and get pestered many times a day to complete yet another bl**dy  survey.

M&S did not close the loop with me in my salad-based experience, their grizzly journey designed by trolls, gnomes and cockatrice, staffed by whey-faced minimum wage drudges and drones, toiling in their engine-room of despair.

Cloudy Big Iron and Big Data technologies now allow the feedback loop to be closed faster and in more ways than ever before, such that Amazon can now start shipping stuff before we know we want it…the Pre-Buying version of “Minority Report”’s Pre-Crime?

So where will it all end?

Maybe we can have Pre-Disposal where they ship the Pre-Broken consumer items direct to landfill…

…and “Pre-Paying” where they truncate the whole process and just take money from your bank for the stuff that you would have pre-bought…

…or there will be some sort of “howl round” when the positive feedback gets so intense the whole world just explodes in one enormous debauched orgasm of retail happiness. Wahooey!

Well, time will tell.  Apropos, Salvador Allende was assassinated in Chile as some of his ideas offended some powerful enemies, thus consigning one of the great experiments in cybernetic social feedback systems to history…so there is one lesson to consider.  And the meltdown of algorithmic automated trading systems, the never delivered promise of B2B eCommerce revenue forecasts from 2000, and don’t forget the weather, never forget the weather – a little bit of Chaos can through a massive stick into the bicycle wheel of predictive progress.

So let us continue this “Customer Journey Journey”, “Meta Journey” , or “Journey ^ 2” where it takes us, stepping out hopefully and with gladness and delight in our hearts, and a little small smile on our faces.

Yes, just like that

Whither or wither Spreadsheets?

Adding my voice to the many past considering the future direction for spreadsheets…


Good question! Well it follows from the thoughts in an earlier post about user interfaces, and I am an avid user of spreadsheets and numerical modelling tools

And what does “spreadsheet” mean anyway?  It doesn’t spread anything? Not like a “word processor” processes words

The term is related to an archaic way of keeping your accounts, on a big analysis sheet. I used to get them from Stores when I was a young engineer, and we would use them as desk covers, to scribble random notes, hold our coffee cups, but never added a number up on one (we had already moved from slide rules to calculators with memories, maybe one or two).  You can still buy analysis sheets at Ryman (or maybe you can’t, if you use analysis sheets you might not have a computer…or Interweb)


Why are you so angry? Get out of my post!

So what should spreadsheets look like in a touch world with rich mobile clients on tablets?

Aside; I once tried a fully laptop-less day out with just an iPaq, Excel Mobile and virtual laser keyboard.  Suffice it to say what with a bouncy train, small tray table and tiny screen I did no useful work that day! (well it was a corporate karting day so I did some bonding instead…)

Excel and similar don’t really work on a small screen, and even in the touch enabled Office 2013 instantiation the interface is just too clunky, and the analysis pad metaphor becomes less appropriate for useful modelling, when you only have fingers and the on-screen keyboard takes up most of your screen real estate making formula entry a royal pain.

Also spreadsheets do just spread… so you need all the screen you can get.  I have a two screen setup with combined width of nearly a metre.   That’s 350 thousand square millimetres, right there, just for numbers…

Looking at developments you now have hipster ‘sheets like Grid.  So hip, in fact, it does not do any calculations!

Lets just step out of the room for a moment and imagine how that VC pitch went…

  • Pitcher: I’ve got this great idea for a new spreadsheet
  • VC guy: OK.  Tell me something good about it.
  • Pitcher: Well, it’s a grid thing that you can put numbers and text into so that you can organise the page really well…like, in straight lines up and down and across the page…
  • VC Guy: So…it’s a table…
  • Pitcher: (breathlessly, jumping up and down in seat) And what is really exciting is that you can paste pictures of all your friends into it too!
  • VC Guy: So…how do you add up pictures then?  (Said languidly but with a raised eyebrow; you see VC guy does know spreadsheets)
  • Pitcher: Oh, it doesn’t do any calculations, but you can put pictures of your friends it!
  • VC Guy: So…it’s a table…tell me something that is great about it…
  • Pitcher: You can put pictures of your friends in it!
  • VC Guy: So…tell me something else great about it
  • Pitcher: Mrmrmmble…you can put pictures of your friends in it
  • VC Guy: So…WHAT? (stands up, preparing to throw Pitcher into a nearby pit of hungry wolves)
  • Pitcher: Did I say it runs on an iPad?
  • VC Guy: Brilliant!  I’m in, put me down for $25 million! (choir of angels sings, sunshine beams down from the sky)

Well maybe, then maybe not, but we can wonder

On the other end of the spectrum, we have Anago Assemble which has the modelling studio interface down pat (pat-ented, too, according to the website), but it is a previous generation web-only, non-touch system and comes with consulting attached, and no downloadable version.

So a touch “spreadsheet” might actually look something like this scribble below…

Touch spreadsheet scribble

…with two views: a model view where you can fondle and dab to make set up the calculations with some nice radial menus, finger friendly szzyzzhing and szzuzzhing of the on-screen objects, carousel effects, and such like, and a page view where you position the output displays (cue more szzyzzhing and szzuzzhing)…but overall it would have to be different, of course, from any patented concepts, which makes it harder…

Not really like the spreadsheets of old, though.  Nuff said.


Well not really, one last thing, just down the page here is a whacky idea which is only very peripherally related to the topic of this post and that I once sent to Mindjet in a geeky outburst to help them add a new feature to Mind Manager…a sort of pivot table for Mind Maps.  It would probably have Tony Buzan turning in his grave, but it did get a bee out of my bonnet.  You saw it here first, everybody will want this…

Mind Map Pivot Table concept