Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Who Would Win a Fight Between a Lion and a Tiger?

When we were kids, I'm sure we all asked questions like "Daddy, who would win a fight between a lion and a tiger?". Well I did anyway. And so did Malcolm, a friend of mine in primary school, who asked really imaginative versions of the question, for example "Who would win a fight between a lion and an eagle?" which seemed obvious at first but as we bent our infant minds around the problem we conceded that an eagle has the capability to strike at the eyes of a lion and so win the contest. These days, when I see how quickly our common or garden pussy cats can move, I'm pretty sure the lion would shred the eagle.

Another example was "Who would win a fight between a lion and an elephant" a classic match-up of power, speed, and aggression against bulk and strength. I've seen this one on film, where half or dozen or so lions - if they're hungry enough - can bring down an adult elephant, and it's horrible to see. Normally, though, a single lion is aware that it could be stomped or tusked and an elephant is wise enough not to push a lion too far. In nature, it appears, good sense prevails and that a victory isn't a victory if you're mortally wounded in the process.

Which brings me to Microsoft, Google, and Apple. All having spats with each other recently, all seemingly determined to fight it out, despite the fact that they all have the power to inflict considerable damage on each other. Hopefully, this is just testosterone at work and that good sense will prevail eventually, because one thing is for sure: the customer, you and me, will suffer if any of these guys go head to head, all guns blazing.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

It's Time for the Nasty Party

Looking into the near future, its becoming increasingly likely that a Conservative government will take the reins of power sometime in late Spring next year; so now is the time to consider the implications for the digital industries.

Tricky one. The Conservatives are the traditional party of business, true, but it's still difficult to predict how they will behave. We can look back to the last Tory government, which allowed coal, steel, shipbuilding, and many other industries to decline (terminally in several cases) without doing anything to support the local entrepreneurship that was needed to rebuild the affected communities. Indeed, the legacy of those times can be seen in the underclass created and the increasing social problems we now face. So not much comfort for business there, then.

But the Tories of today are not the Tories of the 1980s. I believe David Cameron to be an honourable man with a much better feeling for real people than most politicians despite those puerile, outdated taunts about his 'toff' upbringing. So what will happen? Clearly Tories have small government at the root of their belief system, there is a need to cut public spending, and there have been several statements from the Tory front benches on cutting back quangos. So, Regional Development Agencies beware! Not so fast, because all oppositions make noise about cutting quangos, and turn out to be very poor at doing it when in government.

There will be cuts, though, and in my opinion there should be. But we still need to make funds available to good people with good business ideas so that their businesses can grow. There needs to be support for those businesses from the rest of us - local and central government should show the way and use more products and services from innovative UK companies. Looking for good examples of business support, the more I read about the Princes' Trust, the more I like what they do. The Tories will look to partner with charities like this.

What about new markets? I think there will be a certain amount of de-centralisation that will open up some markets, probably in healthcare IT, and possibly in broadcasting. Cameron seems to have a better understanding of the web than others, and so harnessing social media to re-engage the public with politics and decision making could be on the agenda. Changes to the supply chain will be brought about through carbon trading, renewable energy programs, better waste management, sustainable food production, and public transport reform - albeit by looking to the private sector to drive it. These will also provide opportunities for the digital sector.

Am I expecting help for my business from a new Conservative government? Crikey, no. You see, as a true (reluctant) child of Thatcher I have come to believe that no politician can truly help any of us and that our best hopes lie in self-reliance.