Wow what happened to 2010? As the years go by they seem to go more quickly. The faster they go the more I try to cram into them which makes them go even faster! You have to do it -we’ll be a long time pushing up daisies!
With so much happening it is difficult to pick out the wood from the trees (I can see this post is going to be riddled with clichés). In fact as CTO of an ISP I am having to be more and more of a generalist because our world is now filled with so many rapidly changing issues and technologies that trying to keep up with developments is a full time job.
Keep it simple stupid
So really I have to keep it simple and stick to big messages. This is something I learnt during the year in my involvement with UK internet politics.
Politicians want naturally to govern and control. That’s why they become politicians. So they see this huge entity called the internet and think “ooo – I’ll have a bit of that”. Bit of a simplistic viewpoint I know but we are trying to keep it simple here.
Politicians are continuously being bombarded with information by attention seekers – the successful ones are those whose ideas are simple and stand out .
The problem for ISPs is that everyone is pitching simple messaging to politicians who are then, due to the nature of the beast, running with these “good ideas” and trying to make new laws based on them. All these laws involve trying to take control of the internet.
In 2010 we saw this done with great success by the music and movie industries when they managed to hijack the Digital Economy Act. We will all pay for it – you and I, unless the ongoing BT/TalkTalk judicial review puts a stop to it.
We also hear talk of blocking websites from a number of quarters. It’s based on good intentions but also reflects a simple lack of understanding of how the internet works.
2010 therefore for me was the year I realised that we, the technology industry, need to work a lot harder to help our political lords and masters steer their (our) ship. If we don’t we will be heading back to the dark ages – or the rocks – pick a cliché.
Headline technology developments in 2010
Technology big messages are easy to pick out for 2010. It was the year that bandwidth became a lot cheaper. We also used a lot more of it than we had previously done but that was partly the effect of the reduced cost prompting greater use. The year saw a number of new highs in terms of bandwidth use – US President Obama’s inauguration speech, the last UK Labour Government budget, the Football World Cup and then the day after the General Election.
The lower cost of bandwidth also triggered a change in the way that business uses technology and we will really start to see the effect of this in 2011.
This year also set the scene for a massive change in how we access the internet. For example the Davies household (6 individuals) now boasts 6PCs, one iPad, an iPod Touch, 5 smartphones (2xSymbian60, 1 x Windows Mobile 6.5, 1 x Android and 1 x iPhone 4G) a Wii and an Xbox. That’s 15 WiFi connected devices. An unscientific survey tells me that at any given time (evenings and weekends) most of them are switched on and online. It’s no wonder our electricity bills are so high!
It won’t be long before most people won’t be seen dead with a phone that isn’t a smart phone. Like it or not the same applies to tablets – I have lost count of how many iPads there are in the Timico offices. 2010 was really just the start of all this.
Social media starting to show results
On a personal basis 2010 is the year I also saw the possibilities with twitter. My Facebook usage has dropped right down but the number of tweets is shooting up (all very concise and relevant of course – @tref if you are interested ).
I have met many new people during the year using twitter – some of whom I have been pleased to subsequently meet in person. These people are like minded persons I might have taken decades to get to know or never have done so at all without twitter.
The power of the blog as a tool for business has also been apparent. In 2010 the number of visitors to trefor.net grew by 333% and the average time spent on site rose by 36 seconds to 1 minute 49 seconds. Whilst this blog promotes my own independent views I am able to write it because of my position as CTO of Timico, one of the country’s largest specialist B2B ISPs.
During 2010 trefor.net was, according to Google Analytics, linked to by 600 external websites. These include the BBC, Guardian newspaper, Daily Telegraph and many technical sites such as thinkbroadband, pcpro, the register, digitalspy, ispreview and Slashdot et al. Interestingly twitter was the third biggest referrer to the blog.
The knock on effect of all this is that the online exposure received by Timico has shot up, all with very positive results.
The year in business
The last two or three years have been very tough for small ISPs – I look at the accounts of a number of businesses and many of them are flat or in decline. With the advent of “the cloud” we are currently going through a wave of investment in technology replacement.
Also because users are becoming increasingly more reliant on their internet connections and services they are beginning to place more demands on their ISPs. Demands for faster response and more reliability, ultimately without paying any more for the privilege. The only way to do this is more investment in systems and automation which represents a glass ceiling for many smaller ISPs.
I am fortunate to work at an ISP that is continuing a planned phase of investment and growth that has allowed us to buck this declining trend. In fact Timico has smashed the glass ceiling and continued to grow during the worst of the 2009 recession and the subsequent belt tightening times of 2010. Our success in 2010 has positioned us well for 2011.
All in all we live in very exciting times. Our world continues to change but this creates opportunities at every turn. 2010 was a good year. I believe 2011 is going to be a great year.