Jiva Technology

murdering the english language

As part of the techno-brethren of Bristol, we recognise that we’re members of an industry that has almost single handedly mangled the English language. We put our hand up and admit to being paradigm-shifters, global platform providers and generally solution … solvers.

But wait, we have competition. It appears that if there’s one group that could edge ahead of the techno-brethren, its the MBA-wielding global management elite. And just to confirm our worst fears, the FT has given over a small slice of its global web presence to recording the worst excesses of our well travelled management friends (at least techies save the planet by using Jira and Confluence). Next time you’re stuck at a train station and you’ve run out of Facebook posts to peruse, take a look at the FT Dictionary of Business Jargon and Corporate Nonsense aka Guffipedia. Its just staggering – if you haven’t said, ‘what!’ within a minute, there’s something wrong with you.

Wake up fellow fellow techno-brethren, you’re not trying hard enough. Mangling words to explain things and sell stuff is passé – these people do it for kicks.

Why Collaboration Tools are a big thing.

It took me a while, but about five years ago I realised that for all its rational, think-things-through image, the tech industry was as prone to fads and fashions as … well the fashion industry. As Erlich, occasional wearer of the Steve Jobs turtle-neck on HBO’s Silicon Valley will tell you, there are times when ‘social’ is hot, there are times when B2B is top of the investment pile and there times when its ‘all about mobile’, but there’s always something thats the flavour of the month, the thing to be in.

At the moment, you could say that collaborative tools are one of the hottest spots in tech. Sharepoint has over 50m licenses out there, Slack became the fastest company to reach unicorn ($1bn valuation) status and Atlasssian just got their IPO away to great fanfare. All the old school tech companies like Adobe and Citrix are rummaging through the closet to find product that can be re-purposed as a collaborative platform.

Under normal circumstances, I’d be thinking the only way from here is down. There will be a new ‘hot sector’ along any time soon and collaborative tools will become yesterdays man. But in this case, that would be a shame. Collaborative tools really are a big thing and here’s why: for all the talk of creative spark and the lone genius, the academic literature suggest that most innovation comes from teams, not individuals. If that’s the case, then the more that we can do to help people link together and work together over a distance, the more innovation we will get.

That’s important, because in my experience, if you want to work with people who are genuinely in the forefront of their field, then these days you’ll find they’re spread pretty far and wide. That means you either need to spend a lot of time on a plane (expensive, time consuming and bad for the planet) or you need to work on your remote working skills. Working in geographically dispersed but high performing teams means good collaboration tools. That means the likes of Confluence and Slack have a rosy future (assuming they can execute).

Bristol, British City 1951

Being a Bristol-based company, we’re slightly biased, but for all you fans of Bristol out there, this one’s for you. To say that this is ‘one from the archive’ seems like something of an understatement, but take a look at this film commissioned by Bristol Corporation in 1951, as a promotional tool for the Festival of Britain:

Bristol, British City 1951

Despite being over 60 years old, it’s pretty familiar in many ways. It’s not so much the people or the place that seem like a relic from the past, but the paternal (and the City Corporation were mostly men) attitude of the local government that seems so out of place. The other big change is the amount of manufacturing that took place in the City back then. It makes you wonder how a film of Bristol 2015 would be viewed in 2079. Perhaps it would be amusing for our grandchildren to see all those digital agencies, media companies and hipster beards on show.

Amazon Dash and all that.

Amazon Dash, Amazon Prime, delivery drones and instantaneous gratification. “I want it now” is one of the big trends in tech at the moment, as if waiting a day or so for that new T-shirt is suddenly unacceptable. It feels like the ultimate end-point of consumerism; the asymptote (for all you maths-nerds out there) of a curve that started in the fifties and accelerated with the advent of e-commerce.

Since the mid-nineties, we’ve been hearing of the benefits of having a fridge that will re-order milk and a washing machine that will autonomously replenish detergent. Sure enough, the 2015 version has arrived with a tie-up between AmazonDash and GE Appliances. Both very laudable companies, but this hardly qualifies as saving the world. What’s different now with the 2015 vintage of this trend is the sheer volume, scale and audacity of the ‘instant availability’ industry. I mean, do I really need the skies swarming with drones so that I can get my detergent in under an hour? Especially given that it takes me approximately 3 minutes to get to my local shop (owned by a member of our community) to buy from  a wide range of detergents thank you very much.

I understand that companies like Amazon have to be seen to be delivering the next big thing, but do VCs need to keep funding startups that will do your ironing in less than five minutes (there probably is one, but I haven’t checked)?

There are some serious problems in the world that could usefully harness the best brains and without wishing ill on the instant-delivery industry, I hope that we can get through this fad as quickly as possible so we can get back to the serious job of saving the world…


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