Monday, 25 August 2008

Musical inspiration

You might have read last week about Tim Wheeler of the property group, Brixton, turning to Dylan for inspiration at their interim results announcement. He quoted from Bob Dylan’s All along the watchtower. Lines like “There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief”, “None of them along the line know what any of it is worth” and “There must be some way out of here” all seem rather apt in the circumstances!

I’ve been using songs in my presentations and analysis for most of the last decade. I won’t claim to be the first (although I don’t personally know of any regular users before me) but I would claim to be the most persistent. Being a teenager in the 1960s, when music came alive, means that music has played a huge part in my life. In the over-used phrase “Music has been the soundtrack to my life’ and, as I’ve always found it impossible to separate my personal from my business life, song lyrics keep popping into my mind whenever I want to get a concept or view over.

I’m thinking of issuing a Holway’s Greatest Hits album which would include all the tracks I’ve used. I've given the track listing above.

I think the first time I actually played a track in front of an audience of 500 was at my “State of the ICT Nation” speech for the CSSA (Now Intellect) in 1999. I used Nat King Cole’s version of There may be troubles ahead. It turned out to be one of my most prophetic speeches. The industry really did have to “Face the music and dance” to a rather different tempo in the year that followed. Indeed in 2001 I used Billie Holliday’s Stormy Weather as “Life in bare, gloom and misery everywhere” seemed to sum up the mood of the time.

Early in 2002, I followed it up with a ‘special’ version of Paul MacCartney’s Yesterday. I had worked out how the net value of the companies when they had attended my 2000 talk had changed in just two years. I changed the lyrics to:

“Suddenly, I’m not 10% the man I used to be
There’s a shadow hanging over me
Oh, Yesterday came suddenly”.

Oh, how cruel!

Later in 2002, I gave my first talk for the Prince’s Trust. It started with a snatch of Rolling Stones IT’s all over now. I predicted that the days of double digit growth for IT were over – for ever – and that we would be lucky to keep pace with GDP. I got more feedback from this one talk than any I have given before or since. The press comment filled a lever-arch A4 file and included “Gloomy” The Times, “Glum” The Daily Telegraph, “In a minority of cynics” Financial Times, “Downbeat” Computer weekly, and (perhaps the cruelest of all) “a surrender to a dotage of Werther’s Orginals” from Computing. I should remind readers that my forecast was far from gloomy as IT has NOT even kept pace with GDP growth in the period 2002-2008.

In 2003 I used David Bowie Ch-Ch-Changes – a personal favorite of mine. I wanted to get over that the days becoming a millionaire overnight from a scam were over.
“Don’t want to be a richer man
Just gonna have to be a different man”
seemed appropriate.

It wasn’t all negative. In 2003 I also used Jimmy Cliff’s I can see clearly now in a speech entitled 2020 Vision which looked forward to the IT world some 17 years in the future. It was all about how the mobile internet would takeover. Five years on and I wouldn’t change a word. In 2004 I used the Beatles Getting Better all the time as the IT industry at long last returned to growth.

In late 2006, I used The Who’s Who are you? and Adam Faith’s Who am I? in a rather personal way at a big presentation at the V&A. I had just left Ovum Holway on the Datamonitor acquisition and I used it shamelessly to hammer home the view that company culture and identity really mattered. Mess with it and the very people who create the culture and identity leave. And so, as they, did it come to pass…

I used John Lennon’s Power to the People in 2007 to forecast the advent of social networking and user generated content – a theme I had first used in 2006.

So to the latest theme which I am using in my talks throughout September culminating in the Prince’s Trust (SOLD OUT) ICT Leaders Dinner atop BT Tower on 25th Sept 08. It’s the Beatles Revolution which, by a quirk of coincidence, was top of the UK Hit Parade exactly 40 years ago in Sept 1968 (Double A side with Hey Jude). In a way it is a culmination of all the themes I have ever used. It is all about how all the many disparate developments that I have previewed over the last 10 years are all coming together, all converging, to create what I believe will be the biggest-ever technological revolution having far-reaching effects on suppliers and users alike. I’ll post more details closer to the delivery date.

Having seen Mamma Mia over the Bank Holiday weekend, I guess I should sign off with Thankyou for the music.

No comments: