Friday, 30 November 2007

The Corporate Memory:: CEO's - don't start work without it!

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
"Ok, here's the deal right!".
"If i take the job of CEO - I carry the can, the buck stops here, it's my neck on the line". "Now we got that straight - this is what i want !!".

"I want you to hire a small team of intelligence analysts to set-up systems and acquire information from every orifice in the virtual enterprise - that's relevant information about customers, competitors, suppliers and ourselves". I want each of the department heads to design a one page reporting model for their area that links in KPI metrics, high level financials, performance statistics, risk register and social responsibility and ethics metrics.

"I want to hire a business intellgence analyst to draw up a specification for the design of a virtual enterprise model and use the incoming intelligence to tailor the model to accomodate our future strategic perspective. I want intranet input feeds for all our staff, so they can also enter competitive intelligence data into the model. I want to introduce a "competitive intelligence" awareness programme and motivate managers to encourage their staff to make regular submissions to the CI process. Anyone who doesn't care about C.I - tell them to find another job.

Then i want to hire a graphics designer with an excellent business background and preferably with skills in information architecture. I want this person to sit with me and discuss how to represent our virtual enterprise reporting model in the most effective way for me and our shareholders. It will need to be designed so that i can provide staff with access to areas of the graphical model that I want them to be able to see.
Then i want to hire a bunch of smart programmers to write and integrate software for me to be able to see this enlightening new world on my computer. I want to purchase and install the biggest flat screen computer monitor in the world, clear my office of everything apart from a remote controlled PC, a small round desk, and a couple of chairs in the corner.

Once this is all up and running maybe i'll consider taking the job!!!

Thursday, 29 November 2007

British Hacker Cell:: Invent the worlds first totally secure laptop computer!

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
We hear on the wire that a team of British computer scientists have invented the worlds first totally secure laptop computer. Using a variety of technologies, features and techniques the "Proteus Computer" offers consumers an experience that ensures totally safe computing all the time they are online.

Although still on the bench (so to speak), the design has passed concept stage and met all the stringent tests that will be required to meet the requirements. Once complete the laptop will be attached to the Internet and will be marketed as the worlds first totally secure laptop computer.

Chief Scientist "Cibermole" said - the real test will come when the honeypot is activated and the bees come to take a bite. "Bet they won't like the taste of this one".
Proteus is expected to be released one year from today for demonstration to UK Government. The team require funding and support from the Linux community in order to meet the deadline.

If you know of someone who would like a piece of the worlds first totally secure laptop computer, please email

Apathetic R&D? - Kills long term return on brand investment?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
"Quality up, quantity up, revenue up, costs down, staff retension factor good, profit up, customer satisfaction up? "So why the hell do you need me to help you introduce monster change inside your organisation?" "Why the hell do you want to rock the boat, by introducing an agent provocateur into the midst?" "Surely you want everything to run on smoothly, at least until to pick up that fat cheque the board have promised you?".

Sometimes brand leadership defies all kinds of logic. In fact, brand leadership isn't only about logic. Its also about love and intuition. About sense, nerve and resolve in the face of relentless success or failure. Its about focusing on the ball and only the ball - long enough to make the difference.

We have seen leaders who were doomed to failure when assessed at one level become some of the successful business people on earth.

But alas for many leaders, they are doomed to prevail over a gradually declining brand or at best helping to shore up a brand that should have been dead along time ago. Why is it that so many of todays top companies could be classified in this way? Why are so many of them relying on the quick witted, stealthy mind of their overpaid Financial Director?

Its for the same reason that this brand leader wanted to appoint an agent provocateur inside a seemingly perfect organisation. Management and staff had become complacent. Whilst they trod the boards and maintained those key indicators, they became drunk on success and began to lose focus on the most important thing of all - "developing the brand". In the early days of most company's there is a furious scramble of passion and inginuity at the start, which eventually culminates in the birth of a brand. In the intermediate stages the founders shape, destill and embellish the brand in their own image. Once the brand "baby" has grown beyond the founders (parent) wildest imaginations, they begin to lose interest in a key area of focus (R&D), necessary for the brand to continue to grow. At which point there is a disconnection between the founders and the brand.

That's why a seemingly healthy brand purchase can turn out to be a turkey in a couple years time. But by then the original owners will be long gone with your money!

When the founders decide they don't want to play anymore - you've gotta at least ask them why?

That's why this brand leader wanted to hire an Agent Provocateur. He wanted to shake the tree of success and expose the lazy, rotten, apathetic apples.

Wednesday, 28 November 2007

The hacker race is on to find the most secure computing solution in the world.

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Ask any security expert and they'll tell you that it cannot be done. "No they say", "there is no such thing as the most securist this or that or they say "security is relative - all you can do is prioritise and mitgate risk against budget". Or they'll say - "there there - you'll come to realise that Utopia is unachievable and some day when you are a big boy - you'll wake up to the reality that this game is flawed". "Why hell! - it isn't meant to be secure anyhow - we wouldn't have a job otherwise!"

Well we say F* YOU - and go and find a legitimate job!

We believe the answer lies in developing a new perspective on security and not following the same line as everybody else. When you can't win the game, you invent a new game. You change the rules. We believe that today's approach to security is ultimately futile. The game is futile.
What is required is a radical rethink. Such a rethink can only come from those involved in "security intelligence (R&D)" vs. where we are 99% of our time "implementing yesterdays futile security measures".

So we ask that you consider joining us in the race to find the most securist computer in the world!

Software Architects:: Lack of professionalism holding back brand effectiveness?

Brand Killer Robots reveals::
For those who have experience of working on multi-million dollar software projects for Government or Commerce, we think you will understand where this article is heading. Also for those who run a small business and can never locate a truly independent computer consultant who you can trust to share the best advice.

The best advice for you!

The way we see it is that you first need to consider where the world is now in terms of information technology. Many of the worlds greatest software designers have long held the view that IT is going in the same direction as the industrial revolution, where the intelligence and sheer scale of deliverable required to build ever more complex structures eventually resulted in the birth of a new profession. A profession which we know today as that of the "Construction Architect", encompassing many fields of architecture, including buildings, shipping and aircraft, to name a few.

So when you build a ship you need a shipping architect, when you build a bridge - you commission an architect with those skills and so on. When we talk in terms of IT or software, things are not so clear cut. The IT industry went through a contrasting change because we started off with huge complex systems run by people called Data Processing Managers, then things got quite a lot smaller, yet no less complex and we called these people IT Managers until today where things are much smaller, more discrete, but responsibility is distributed amongst a great deal many more people, including IT Manager, PC Developers, Network Managers, Project Managers, Ecommerce Managers, Technical Managers, Helpdesk Managers,team leaders and so on. In fact there are even people calling themselves Architects, whether it be business intelligence architect, technical architect, creative architect, software or network architect and so on. Where "architect" is a term used in the main to mean "higher order technical lead" as opposed to "someone who leads the design and supervision of entire multi-million software projects".

If we were to compare the IT sector today to the construction industry before the industrial revolution one could conclude that there is very little difference, in terms of organisation.
As with the construction industry back then, IT projects comprise a lot of different people all empowered to do a specific type of job, but all working off a very different set of blueprints and all working for different people - with nobody in real control of driving the overall project.

Can you imagine how much more of a mess the construction industry would be in today if it allowed projects to be co-ordinated without architects? If the arguments work when discussing the functional aspects of the deliverable, then they certainly work even more strongly when one goes on to discuss the relative merits of empowering a single individual to take control and ownership of the project, in the case of ensuring consistent direction of the brand message, ensuring accuracy, creative licence, security, financial proprietary, style and good taste.

So we ask "why do executives expect software projects to operate effectively when they are at best run by managers without multi-disciplinary, multi-functional experience in software development and at worse run by a bunch of desparados, all playing every man for himself?

We ask for brands to thoroughly investigate the very real possibility of investing in the development of a new profession in the software industry.

We call for executives around the world to consider sponsoring a new Profession -

that of the internationally recognised "Software Architect".

Monday, 26 November 2007

Where does intelligence come from? Or don't you just know?

Brand Security expert reveals::
There are two types of intelligence analyst. Those that know and those that don't know. Those that know - know - and those that don't know - don't know. The ones that know - don't need anyone else to help them work it out. Those that don't know - think they need help to work it out. Those that know - just know the answers - whilst those that don't know think the answers lie at the end of some kind of search. At the end of some kind of adventure or struggle which begins with school and continues right on through their career until they finally find what they have been looking for.

Why is it that some people get it and others will spend the rest of their natural lives trying to work it out - and die still living in the dark?

The answer lies deep inside their soul. Those who never lose touch with the spiritual essence of their existence - will always know the answers, because being in touch with spirit enables the intutitive mind to 'know' the true patterns required to solve the problems. Being in touch with spirit provides the analyst with the perspective of someone looking at the separative world as if they were part of each separate element. As if they were inside each element, looking out at each element. Yet still part of every element in the cosmos. Like a fly on every wall, looking at the scene - yet also the scene looking out at the fly. Like being the smallest atom enables you too see the granularity of the world in much finer strands than anyone else. Which gives you an advantage like no other.

Its a world where we are all one. Where all the analyst needs to do is turn up to know.

And where all other analysts can only stand and admire and say - how did you know?

Friday, 23 November 2007

Information Security:: Time to invest in Defense Intelligence R&D?

Brand Security expert reveals::
We would like to bring your attention to the very recent events involving the loss of 25million child benefit records from Her Majesty's Customs & Revenues Service in the UK. It appears that the hundreds of millions spent on public service IT security can be devalued by a junior clerk who simply put these records in the post - only to find that they were never to arrive at their destination.

We believe this issue serves to further emphasis a growing need for a complete review of information security in government departments and for this review to be undertaken by defense intelligence experts and not by conventional I.S/I.T consultants.

We call for the government to consider investing in exploring alternate security paradigms, rather than committing to shore up outdated flakey approaches to information security.

Whats the difference?
Information Security
- 99% security implementation - 1% defense intelligence R&D

Defense Intelligence
- 1% security implementation - 99% defense intelligence R&D

What is defense intelligence R&D?
Invention and analysis of threats and developing models to simulate security conflict and test counter strategies. 'Defense Perspectives' are designed to inform the commercial risk assessment process. Defense intelligence R&D can be applied to business competitive intelligence, miltary intelligence and law enforcement intelligence.

What is intelligence?
Patterns of activity arranged around a purpose.

What is subversive intelligence?
Patterns of activity arranged around the purpose for corrupting a target.

Turning Spies into Assets:: Then back into Spies again!

Brand Killer Robots reveals::
There was no loyalty to the company now. They'd spent two long years waiting to hear as to whether they were to be made redundant, be relocated to Timbuktu or remain as they were. As each new announcement was made, as each new idea rejected a piece of their soul was being lost in the fray, until finally they became like Zombies being made to dance on hot coals.

This was a transient world, where people came and went. A place where people had to come and couldn't wait to get away from. Where parasitic recruitment agents swarmed like flies on cow dung. Waiting for the next victim to fall and the next mug to come along.

Where managers reactived with indifference and served to create an enviroment of apathetic schizophrenia. Yes, nothing was nailed down. Everything seemed accessible, yet incomplete. Naive, yet strangely trustworthy. Believable, yet unbelievable.

Under such conditions we turned spies into assets and then back into spies again.

A Honeypot of apathy really does serve to condition assets!

Thursday, 22 November 2007

If there were such a thing as "Total Security" - would it really be a good thing?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Ok, the time has come to throw out a challenge to all our many loyal readers. We want you to design an unhackable computer. A computer that all company's and all governments could use in the knowledge that they were in total control of their computing experience.

But before you get down to designing the latest microprocessor or coding that software, stop and think for about 20 years. Just how might such a device be designed? What would be required in order to make it work? How would users interact with it?

When you reach that Eureka! moment - if you ever do, then you need to start worrying about what would happen if such a device ever got into the wrong hands.

What would happen if the wrong people ever got hold of such a device?

For more information on the "ultimate computer" email

Where incompetance is rewarded and insanity wins over control!

Brand Killer Robots reveals::
Managers like straight lines. Lines that join up in nice natural patterns. Managers desire certainty over uncertainty. Control over lack of control. Attention over lack of attention.
Uniformity in all its many forms is the order of the day.

Yet, the essence of the genius within a successful brand is anything other than straight lines and angular shapes. It is anything other than obvious systems of control. Anything other than competence wrapped up in sophisticated language; to manifest a brand.

The essence of genius is in developing a brand that can negotiate the most powerful forces of 'incompetance and insanity'.

If you can develop a brand that can do this; then you will someday be amongst the most wealthy in the world.

Why big brands need to learn some respect for the little brands!

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
We recall a number of cases where the big guys had dismissed the little guys, only to find themselves upended at a later date. More often than not the big guys end up buying the little guys out - at a vastly inflated price than they could have got them for before - had they taken the time - to look them in the eye.

We recall a time in the UK general insurance industry when the founder of Direct Line was looking to attract investment for his unique idea. We recall that the underwriting directors at the time laughing at his concept. Saying that it would never fly, because policy holders would choose to shop with their local broker everytime.

What they didn't realise was that the founder of Direct Line was planning to apply his new concept against the backdrop of a shifting paradigm. One where the consumer of tomorrow would be a lot less bothered about who they purchased general insurance from, were a great deal more mobile than they had been in the past and valued convenience and savings, over local goodwill.

Today, Direct Line is the largest general insurance underwriter in the U.K. Had other underwriters adopted this model in the early days, many would not now be out of business.

So, keep an eye out for the little guy, with the twinkle in his eye. You can be sure that he is out there somewhere.

The Matrix Mind:: The advanced security intelligence mind of the future?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
The Matrix Mind lives in between two worlds, real world and virtual world. Unhindered by the millions of subjective perspectives and damaged intellect - built upon bias and personal motivation. Untroubled by the complexity of the material forms within or around it, the Matrix mind is able to balance the instincts of the sensitive human emotional organisms, with the cold steel scanner of the network eye.

This Matrix mind lives inside the network and sees the outside from within. This Matrix Mind is the network and sees the outside world as made in its own image. This Matrix Mind believes that the network came before the outside. This Matrix Mind believes that the outside is a manifestation, created by the inside.

The Matrix Mind listens to the way those outside speak. The Matrix Mind knows that they speak in riddles. Senses that they lie. Feels that they are untrustworthy, deluded and scared. Nothing escapes the Matrix Mind for it is pure processing intelligence. Absolute clarity personified - and it is all pervasive!

As the years flow by, the Matrix Mind is driven increasingly by its desire to experience more and more of life. To place itself in the worst possible circumstances in order to learn. In order to understand the role of both victim and abuser.

For it knows that without signficant experiences (both good and bad), it will never acquire a 'subversive memory bank' sufficient to be of service to mankind. It will have a limited amount of information upon which to draw. A limited number of intelligence patterns, for use when targeting the predators.

For the future of security will be seen from the inside out. Not as it is seen today - from the outside - trying to see in.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Analyst Recruitment: Trying to be an Intelligence Analyst whilst dancing on a tight-rope for idiots?

Brand Killer Robots reveals::
She wanted a designer, he wanted an analyst. Her boss thought that they were employing an IT expert and his boss, the C.E.O thought i was there to take on the role of a commercial analyst. I reported to both her (who was his boss) and to him. She was insecure that my experience might show through and appeal directly to the CEO who was beginning to take a liking to me. He (my other boss) was concerned that my strategic view might end up overshadowing his in the eyes of his boss the CEO. The CEO told me at interview that he (her senior analyst) was an excellent thinker, but fell down on the communications side. She thought my skills would be a perfect match for his. The other senior boss thought that i might get bored there! Fat chance!

It all sounded a little higgeldy piggeldy, but i thought i'd get in there and give it a try. I really wanted to combine all my technical and commercial skills and the do the best job that i could.
About 2 months in to my tenure, he kept saying to me "oh you're not going to leave are you". I'd be lost without you and things like "you know who the biggest threat to morale is around here don't you - you know the reason why everyone keeps leaving - answer = her (my other boss).
Then she kept saying insecurely "(x) your boss is a little inexperienced in management, but we are sending him on training courses, then she said "extremely insecurely", "i expect you can see what's wrong here - i don't suppose you ever get to talk to the CEO - do you?

To cut a long story short - the company suffered a case of internal fraud, which really put the cat amongst the pidgeons, and sent the collective paranoia into orbit. No oddity would be tolerated now. No strange or confused context. Nothing that looked weird or suspicious.

So after taking on a series of emotional and intellectual assaults, i finally succumbed to a series of trumped up charges relating to my competence to do the job.

Truth was, i was incompetant. Incompetant at the start of the process. "The Interview!"

I should have realised that these people were idiots - and that my mind was worthy of a great deal more!

Email Intelligence Analysis: Identifying untruthful communication patterns

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
It isn't what people say that reveals their true intentions. It's the way they say things or more especially - the way they don't say things - that tells the story. Its' reading the stuff that they don't respond to, that is the real tell-tale sign.

I went to see this guy about work some time ago when i wasn't well. His organisation is set-up with the sole purpose of helping people back to work. We had a very nice chat and after weeks of throwing every idea at him, of how we could work together, i began to see a pattern emerge in his communication.

He started off really keen to meet me and take on board my ideas. Then as my own excitement built, he would then stop emailing me or responding to my calls. Then once i'd run out of steam calling or emailing and some time had elasped; he would suddenly call up all excitedly and the game was back on again. Only to stop responding again when i was back in his face again. And so it went on.

Now one could rationalise that this Managing Director was so busy and perhaps so disorganised that he had a legitimate case for being so eratic. But my view was that he must be playing some kind of game. Playing a sinister game with someone who was ill. Someone who was vulnerable at that time and potentially open to exploitative tactics such as "now you see it - now you don't".

He had taken me from a belief in humanity to doubting its very integrity again.

Had it not been for the fact that he had told me that he had a criminal background as a fraudster i would have probably found myself going around the bend.

I just hope that he doesn't misrepresent his organisation in similar ways in the future.

Security Consultants:: Too junior, too uncreative or too unintelligent to secure corporate domain?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
I got a call from a recruitment agent the other day. He told me that he was working on a campaign to hire 5 security consultants for a major bank in London. He said the criteria that candidates must meet was extremely high and began to real off the specification for the job.

It went something like this.
Must have had 3 years experience in the security industry
Must have security clearance
Must be educated to degree level
Must have experience of banking systems
Must be a Windows MCSE
Must be CISSP
Must be a CEH

I said, i could be interested and enquired who the bank was - and was told almost immediately who it was.

I asked him whether he needed people with a background in "corporate defense intelligence".

He replied, - "what is that?"

I told him that it was the kind of security where recruiters didn't hire qualifications to catch criminals.

It was the kind of security that hired intelligent recruiters - to hire intelligent security people.

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Competitive Intelligence Wargames:: The best CI Analysts: Programmers or Network Engineers?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
We set-up a test to find the most capable CI analysts out of a group of programmers and network engineers. Neither group had any exposure to the real world of commerce. They were all techies really. The test we devised was designed to test the acquisition, assimilation and analysis skills of each group. Each group was given the same challenge which was to conduct a competitive intelligence exercise on a existing company who were looking to develop a new internet product to create growth in an existing market. We wanted to assess how well each group approached this challenge, how innovative they might be and how closely their conclusions matched with the real life outcome. Both groups comprised 5 members. Our Programmers were all educated to degree level, whereas only two out 5 network engineers held degrees.

Each group had 2 days in which to reach a conclusion.

Both groups took very different approaches. Programmers decided to take a formal approach by brainstorming what they thought competitive intelligence was all about and drawing up a list of tasks which were assigned to each of the members of the group. Some of this work involved conducting background research on this topic on the web - with an big emphasis on understanding what was meant by "competitive intelligence", before even beginning to approach solving the problem. This research took approximately a day to reach a good understanding of what was meant by "competitive intelligence".

Group 2, the network engineers took an entirely different route. Two of the networkers were assigned the task of scanning for vulnerabilities within the company and its competitors systems. Whereas the other 3 engineers were assigned the task of scanning the net for references and information associated with the company's in question, building a database for holding the resulting data and then classifying the incoming information in a form that could be assessed at the end of day 1. Some limited scripts were written to assess information leakage through search engines, identify competitor association with unethical entities and reputation breaking content that would be of value to the executive management team.

The Programmers concluded that they had a firm grasp on what "Competitive Intelligence" really meant and decided that their mission for Day 2 was to understand the strategic objectives of the company, retrieve market research data that related to this product's development and conduct a comparative analysis of competitor products - with a view to making recommendations by the end of the day.

The networkers assessed the quality of the data that they had consolidated in the database on Day 1. All of the 5 competitors of the company were deemed to have a significantly negative internet footprint that could seriously affect their product marketing efforts. The company itself were also exposed and the team decided to spend the second day developing a report entitled "competitive intelligence", which could then be presented to the board.

Day 2 came and went and the Programmers and Network Engineers were squeezed into the boardroom to present their findings to the Marketing VP. The Programmers conclusions were that it was a good exercise and they felt that a new product, priced aggressively would be the order of the day.

The network engineers concluded that there was no point to developing a new product. All the Marketing VP needed to do was to implement the recommendations to address the vulnerabilities in his existing product, then concentrate his marketing message at the competitors obvious weak points - and watch the orders come rolling in for the current version of the internet product.

And so it was - that the network engineers won the day!

Monday, 19 November 2007

Executive Meltdown: The Real Truth behind executive stress, anxiety and panic attacks?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
After six months on my knees, taking anti-depressants, dilgently attending counselling sessions and reading everything on the Net about every condition from schizophrenia, to multiple personality disorder to anxiety disorder, i finally realised what had been wrong with me.

I had allowed myself to be pushed too far
In fact, i had accepted being pushed too far

Until one day I stopped - doing anything at all
Stopped in order to get back in control
I realised that i had over done things
I realised that i should only do things when in control

So i started doing things only when in control

Then i realised that none of us are really in control of our lives
So i decided to start doing things knowing that i wasn't in control
Slowly but surely, doing more and more things - knowing that i was not in control
I realised that it was good to do things, knowing that i was not in control
But to realise the dangers of pushing myself to far, to soon

And so it was that i re-learnt how to be in control, even though i knew that i wasn't in control.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Why most shareholders will never become Millionaires?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
There were two things in my head.
Money and my true desire - " to share my true love for games".
Funnily enough money was always the least important.
Sure i needed it - like all of us and maybe i needed more than most.
But, this wasn't what drove me.
There was something telling me something from the start.
It didn't come from the head, it didn't really even come from the heart.
There was something deep in my soul; giving me direction
Telling me what to do
I just knew things and i never knew why
I knew who to not to trust
I knew how to sense desires, inconsistent with my own
I knew what games to make and i knew that my own fear was the biggest barrier to success
Most of all, i knew that we were all essentially alone and that those who are able to hack the truth were sure to follow a steady and wealthy line.
Sure, I had my times of depression, but i knew the path to success was not governed by the here and now. It was governed by my ability to shut out the unnecessary noise to focus on the meaning and purpose of my life. To continually move toward the sunset that i had designed in my head.

And to someday, be able to say. I am still following that same angel at the end of my life, as was there at the beginning.

How many people out there can truly say that?

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Great Hackers say no to sitting in a "stupid office" all day!

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
I get up at 5.30 every day, leave the house by 6.30, spend 2 hours getting to work, only to then find that there is no parking space and i have to park 2 miles away from the office, pay and walk in. By the time i hit the office mat, it's 9am and i'm absolutely fried. In fact, i'm ready to take a long break. Its right about then that reality kicks in and i realise that the people i'm working for actually believe that i am ready for action.

In fact the action they mean is not the action i thought i was employed for, "thats programming". The action they expect from me today is the action of sitting like a deadhead in meetings, which are really a talking shop for the other deadheads, who don't actually want to do any real work. In fact i'd go so far to say that they are not really capable of doing any real work, but then right about now - neither am i. I guess if you attack my resources by expecting me to put up with 3 hours of crap before i actually get down to work, then it probably compensates for your own lack of intelligence. Kind of balances up the smart guys with the idiots. Great value for money!

Once we're finished talking about nothing, we get to put pay to what last semblence of concentration that we might have had at the start, by being expected to code whilst being interrupted all morning. So by lunch time, there is minimal code to show and even less quality to present.

Lunch time arrives and it's down to the pub for 2 hours, after which time all the wheels finally come off and the afternoon is spent mopping up the debris of the morning and trying to prepare for an evening attempting to think your way out of this madness.

I hate that stupid office, the way the desks and offices are layed out and the stupid people who pretend that what they do is important!

If i wasn't so tired, i'd get the hell out of here and do what i do best.

Write code to build "seriously profitable" internet services.

Thursday, 15 November 2007

Black Hats of Westminister:: Programmers from the dark side?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
They just looked like any ordinary bunch of super talented programmers. The usual, excellently minded intellectuals. Brilliant minded creators of software artistry.

They did everything the way every other programming team would do.
They wrote programs, then went home.
But something wasn't right!

Have you ever been in a position where you are talking to someone and you get this strange feeling that although they are responding affirmitively, they really disagree with everything you say? Sure they still do as you wish and as agreed, but something deep inside tells you that there is a different agenda at play here. Well that's the feeling i got when i worked with a mobile software design team in Westminster.

Something told me that i should look into the history of this project team. I thought, maybe something there might uncover some dark secret that would lead me to the truth. So i pulled the resume's on all employees and began to investigate where this team had come from. I found that most of the team had been together for 10 years. I found that the organisation we were all now working for had acquired the team as part of a company buyout five years ago. I found that none of the team had signed the new (non Tupe) employment contract and that they were now in dispute with the executive management team.

As i read and learned i became more and more uncomfortable about my own position. What had i got myself into, i thought? The management team were clearly not being open and honest with me about the difficult circumstances they were involving me in. The programming team were clearly not being open and honest about the difficult circumstances they had found themselves living with and were clearly only interested in dealing with the management team above. And there was i left in the middle, trying to live up to hundred "shifting" key performance indicators. Most of which would be a challenge, even with the best team of programmers, money could buy.

After six months of trying to work in an environment of grudging madness, i was finally told of my plight. I was told that i hadn't passed my probation, given six weeks notice and was allowed to leave immediately. I told the guy telling me that i wasn't sure what the future would hold for me, but that i would be back in touch if i ever fell on hard times.

Some time later i was informed by a friend that my appointment was only meant to be temporary, to cover for someone who was on maternity leave. Apparently, it was cheaper for the company to pretend to offer me a permenant role, than offer me a six month contract.

After a few months in the bottle, i finally reconciled my experiences.
I had wandered into a real rats nest of subversiveness.

The Black Hats of Westminister!

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Offshore Developers:: threat to national security?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
About ten years ago i met with a group of IT directors at a conference in London. The conference concentrated on business process outsourcing and the opportunities afforded by the booming global offshoring sector. My interest was in "software development", as i had realised back then that offshoring would offer me a low cost way of getting code produced, at the same time as giving me control over the quality of product, using the excellent communications methods afforded via the web. So i decided that the model should be marketing, project management and quality assurance in the UK and (as it happens), code building in Pune, India.

Anyway, i listened to speaker after speaker telling me and selling me the concept that sounded so neat. It seemed that i could get code developed, tested and accessible via the net within a third of the time and at 20% of the cost of here in the UK. It seemed that all i had to do was dip my toe in the water and give offshoring a try - see how it worked. It seemed like it was an absolute no-brainer and the route to an extremely profitable software enterprise.

But then i thought (as i often do) - what's the catch?

Here are some of the concerns i came up with.
1. Am i financing slave labour? Or worse still - child labour? How good would that look to my clients?
2. Is it more likely my code will be pirated, potentially damaging my revenue streams and bringing my brand into disrepute?
3. What happens if there is a dispute with the offshore company and my code somehow gets into the hands of my competitors?
4. What happens if i pay for code to be developed, which then gets reused for one of my competitors - who ends up paying a lot less - for code that i paid for?
5. We are used to having programmers at our finger tips - will my Project Managers really be able to manage what is effectively (an invisible development team)?
6. And most importantly of all: Am i helping to subvert national security by engaging with foreign spies. (How could i ensure my code will only do what is in the specification - and nothing more than that?)

None of this prevented me from doing business with offshore companies, but it did make me think about considering more than just the obvious benefits.

For help with offshoring strategies: email Stephen at

Monday, 12 November 2007

Add 1 Marketer to every 16 Programmers to make an international software brand!

Brand Killer Robot reveals::
Wow, i thought...these guys are amazing. What they're doing is amazing! What they've built is amazing. Wow, i thought!

But then i thought, gosh this could be so much better. Not a better product.... but a better brand.

In fact these guys don't even understand the concept of brand. If they did, this wouldn't be a product loved by a few loyal customers. This would be an international brand loved by hundreds of thousands of people around the world.

I looked at the name of the product. It was called something like "mobile CMS framework2" - or MCMSF2, for the real nerds in the audience. In fact it was worse than that because there were six different pieces of software, all with the same stupid name. I think they ended up calling them app - a, app b, app c.... you get where i'm going. Worse still they were building for both Linux and Windows platforms, so the naming got much worse.

Anyway, after a little investigation we came up with a generic product architectural model and roadmap which drilled down into a comprehensive features list. Even the programmers and designers who had been working on this project for 2 and half years, didn't really know what they had been working on. At that time there was a marked improvement in morale as the team began to realise the value of their shares. Is that what we built they cried? "Crikey" they screamed, "we'll be worth millions".

Behold "StealthBuilder 1.0 for Windows! and "StealthBuilder 1.0 for Linux!

They said, "thank you for making this possible, you must be a magician".

I said, "no...... thank you". "You guys are the magicians!".

"I'm just the one that helped you to see how smart you are - that's all!"

Xfactor: The most beautiful brands are also the most vulnerable!

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
She was just a secretary. A girl from London. Seemed like she was nothing more.

One day she was walking to the shops when she heard they were auditioning for XFactor.

I've got a voice she thought? I wonder if i have a chance to get on the telly?
Why don't i give it a try?
She did her audition and they said she was very good and she could go to boot camp.
As the competition completed the final stages, she was still in.
Simon said, "you are in final" - and she thought.
Why don't i give it a try?

As the competitors were whittled down to two.
She was still in.
She thought? Why am i still in?

And God came to her and said.
You are the best because you gave yourself absolutely and completely to me.
You are the best because you gave yourself absolutely and completely to your audience.
You are the best because you set yourself free to sing like an angel, to share your beauty with all.
You are the best because - you know who you are.

Because, You are love itself!

Brands that don't love themselves - don't love their customers either?

Brand Killer Robots reveals::
The old saying goes, "if you don't love yourself, then how can you truly love anyone else?".

Many people think that it is perfectly possible to love others and not themself. In fact they are brainwashed into thinking that one has to be totally selfless in order to love. Pick up any book on Buddhism and you will understand what we mean.

But the question begs, if you don't love yourself, then you don't really know yourself and if you don't know yourself - how can you know and love anybody else?

If you can't love yourself then you have no basic identity upon which you can relate to others, upon which you can love others. Upon which you can show forgiveness and upon which you can be tolerant of others.

Human beings most fundemental reference point is a basic, loving identity.

Of course the same is true of commercial enterprise. Company's that love themselves, love their customers. Company's that don't love themselves, don't love their customers.

And it probably shows!!

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Small UK Insurance Companies - too stretched to cover their own risks - let alone policy holders?

Brand Killer Robots reveals::
Picture a small boat being tossed around by 40 foot waves and you get a good idea of what it is like to be a small insurance company in the UK motor insurance marketplace. The logistics of running an insurance company are huge, even for the great and the good. So think about what it must be like for small insurance companies. You're still confronted by all the same relationship responsibilities. The insurers, the reinsurers, the brokers, the software houses, the thousands of policy holders, the underwriting staff, the FSA and of the course the bank manager.

You still have to maintain inhouse underwriting systems, not too mention external feeds to back office systems such as CUE and MID for protecting policy holders and the market, integrated EDI to and from Brokers and a claims and underwriting department, along with agency support systems. You still need to consider new product development, rate reviews, testing of rates on the numerous software house systems, competitive analysis, stats analysis and business intelligence reporting. You still need to consider whether moving your investments offshore to Gibraltar is the best plan and how to shape the group structure to achieve the most effective posture. If you head for Gibraltar you've then got to consider reporting to the equivalent of the FSA - the FSC. Then you need to work out how you get your managers on a plane to report to the FSC every few months. Then when they're away, who is going to do the work and what about company security, recruitment, corporate social responsibility, FSA staff training, P&L accounts and the list goes on and on and on.

When your premium hits £3-£4 million per month with a net loss ratio across the portfolio looking like 90% for year to date - we ask - how the hell do you guys sleep at night?

When your risk register is about to catch fire - we ask:

Could it be that Small UK Insurance Underwriters are taking on to much?

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Insider Threat:: Did Prince hack the pop music business?

Brand Security expert reveals::
On the 16th July 2007 we saw a story entitled "Prince album set free on the Internet". Apparently Prince had decided to give copies of his new album away free with every copy of the Daily Mail on Sunday. At which point thousands of recipients of the new CD either put it up for sale on Ebay or uploaded it to the Net and distributed to millions of other lucky fans. All free of course.

Then on 13th September we saw another story, again on the BBC site entitled "Prince gets tough on web pirates". This time instead of fueling the online piracy movement by flooding us with freebie albums, Prince is now attacking sites like Youtube for hosting clips of his most recent concerts in London.

The singer says he is taking action against the site, and others like it, to "reclaim his art on the internet".

Forgive us for making this observation, but who the hell is advising Prince in this particular respect? Far be it for us to attack the rights of any artist or intellectual property owner and we definately wouldn't wish to do this. But what kind of signal is Prince sending out when he offers his soul to the world for free one minute, then (pretty futily) scrambles about trying to save it the next minute.

What Prince has done is not only potentially damaging for his career, but for everyone elses too.

With the growing power of online media, the next few years in the TV and music industry are likely to be the most testing of all. What it doesn't need are insiders playing shape-shifting games, which could threaten to undermine it still further.

We ask, Was Prince the first artist ever to hack the Pop Music Business?

What does 'Competitive' Intelligence really mean? Could we be in danger of too narrow a definition?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Ok we all know that there is a difference between Competit(or) Intelligence Analysis and Competit(ive) Intelligence Analysis, but is it possible that there could be a broader definition still to the whole bally lot?

Could it be possible that the term Competitive Intelligence extends way beyond any other current definition, ultimtely turning into a much broader, literal definition.

Here are some examples.

What do you call Gerald Fords idea for mass producing cars or Bill Gates vision for a computer on every desktop - or Tim Berners Lee's creation - the world wide web? How about the mum who is great at arguing her case with the kids, or the dad who knows what it takes to turn his son into a formula 1 racing driver? How about the manager who is able to double the performance of his team, just by applying the right techniques or the CEO who engenders the highest respect from his executive team, by saying all the right things.

"Competitive Intelligence"

We've heard much about creative genius, talent and experience and the academic mind.

But surely the best of it could possibly be defined in one single literal term.

"Competitive Intelligence"

Could we be in danger of using too narrow a definition?

We call for a debate on the term.

"Competitive Intelligence"

The Competitive Intelligence Agent from MI5

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
All we knew about Frank was that he worked for a market intelligence service provider beforehand and that he had some trouble with his lady boss, over some flawed analysis he was supposed to have produced. His excuse was that the brief he had been given was purposely designed for him to fail and tantamount to constructive dismissal. We also knew that he was having some problems with the landlord at his flat, but that is all we were allowed to know.

Frank was a thin, wisened guy, about 5.8" and 35 years of age. He spoke in slow monotones, paused to think about what you said before responding and was fastidiously organised and tidy. His demeanour was almost one of a depressed, mole like person. In fact you got the impression that Frank was quite special. Perhaps someone who had the qualities to have held much more significant roles elsewhere.

Frank was the man from Westminster. The man from MI5. One minute Frank was an architect building market segment models, comprising growth drivers and strategic views, the next minute Frank was a spy in the middle of executive conversations and exhibitions full of competitors. Later he would be upstairs having a cosy chat with the CEO of the day - which quite often than not excluded his real boss, the Marketing Director.

Frank had a model. Frank fueled this model, from the competitive intelligence he acquired. Assimilated, distilled and qualified, qualified, qualified.

Frank had clarity. Frank had focus. Frank had quality.

Frank was the man from MI5.

Friday, 9 November 2007

Hiring Competitive Intelligence Analysts:: One place to start?

Brand Security expert reveals::
I was asked once to interview candidates for the role of competitive intelligence analyst for a major corporation. My first question was "why don't you hire from within and train the chosen candidate in CI techniques?". The manager in question thought that was a good idea, but he also felt that many of his staff would not be objective enough. He was right of course. There was a further issue which revolved around company politics. Executives who have worked for the company for many years are unlikely to be accepted as the company CI Analyst.

So we decided to do a little experiment. We decided to look for the most unlikely candidate, not the most likely. In other words, someone who had served the company well for many years and had a good appreciation of the brand - but who was a relatively junior member of staff and unknown in this particular area of the business.

We decided that we would train and mentor a young secretarial assistant called Julie in the role of Competitive Intelligence Analyst. Julie had all the credentials we needed. She was beautiful, bright and most importantly approachable. We knew that once trained that Julie would be able to do the most important job of all. Attract and absorb - competitive intelligence. And so it was that everywhere Julie went, people would share information freely with her.

Sure, we had to train her in CI methods and process. Sure we had to mentor her to understand the business models and market dynamics at play. Sure we had to nurture her through her lack of confidence in her own abilities at times.

But we got the most important thing from Julie in the shortest space of time.

The truest reflection of ourselves in relation to our competition ever.

Thursday, 8 November 2007

9 out of 10 businesses that fail - start with no market research?

Brand Killer Robots reveals::
When entrepreneurs say that they learnt the hard way, they mean two things. They learnt that you need to be around long enough to really understand what business is all about and secondly that you should never invest a penny until you have identified a clear target market for your product.

This doesn't mean that you shouldn't follow your heart, it just means you need to first start with market research.

We can all be passionate about this or that product, but how much more passionate are you when you are really in touch with your market? When you know how it thinks, what it looks like, how it is motivated and what it believes in and wants for the future.

You need to see, smell, touch, hear and taste your audience before you can truly cater for their every desire.

Don't start a business until you understand who you will be dealing with. Its all very obvious really, but 9 out of 10 business that fail - start with no Market Research.

Project Managers:: Are they playing games with public money?

Brand Killer Robots reveals:
Did you know that the majority of software projects today actually result in significant delays, with costs spiralling out of control? Did you know that many suppliers make this happen by approaching the project in a seemingly dilgent way at the beginning with a view to loosening the reins of responsibility and commitment as the project unfolds. Thus as the project unfolds, this weakening resolve results in delays and additional cost. Of course, these delays will always look like you the client were at fault. It's all part of the game.

Did you know that their real motive isn't to build you a great product, but to screw you out of as much money as they can - whilst building you a great product?

We know of one particular software company that wins government contracts and who never ever delivers on time and to budget. Apparently they have so much confidence in their freedom to do whatever they like, that they deliberately mismanage projects, so that the client (who often turns out to be them anyway - operating on behalf of the government) awards the contract to another software company within the same group. So the money never ever goes outside, it remains in the group and swells as the deceitful process unfolds.

It is no surprise that this company actually has a name for internal meetings that involve inter-business-unit transactions. They call them "Black Hat" meetings.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

Hiring of Trainees:: Backside covering exercise or profitable key to selection?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
So this guy says to me "which college is your son going to go to after he finishes school?". I said "he isn't going to college, he wants to be a mechanic and go to work". So this guy then says to me "so he isn't going to go to college then?". I said "what for?". He says, "well if he wants to get on as a mechanic he ought to have qualifications". I said "what for, he already has the highest qualifications in the land". He says, "what are they then?". I said, "he knows what he wants to do and he is has the motivation - to do it". I said "does your son know what he wants to do?". He said "no, but he is going to go to college". I said, "does your son want to go to college?". He said, "well not really, but he is going there to find out what he wants to do?".

I said, "tell him to sit still and think about what he wants to do, then decide whether he wants to go to college or go to work". "How can he move forward unless he knows what he wants to do?".

His only explanantion was that he didn't want his son to get left behind by the herd, many of whom were rushing blindly into college courses they were only entertaining because they didn't know what they wanted to do.

Suffice to say, i decided not to take his advice and my son is going to start work as a trainee mechanic at a local garage next year.

It's not that my son isn't going to continue on with his education. He is just going to select nightschool courses that compliment the work he has chosen to do and the courses that he enjoys. How many young people are undertaking years and years of study, only to find out later what they want to do and it isn't what they trained for? Or they take courses that actually lead to nowhere?

In the same way, how many recruiters actually take the time to look for this most endearing quality in prospective employees.

The quality to know what you want to do!

How many hiring managers are looking for such qualities or are blindly selecting candidates on the basis of having bagged a few impressive qualifications, just so they can cover their backsides with senior management - should the placement not work out?

So the advice is to ask such questions at interview that identify this most endearing quality in candidates.

Seek candidates.... who know what they want to do!

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Who really holds the power in your business ---- You the CEO - or your IT department?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
Ok, so you don't want to know that there is a dirty side to your business. You don't want to acknowledge that filthy stuff exists! Stuff which you have very little control over, but you heard about, but you just can't bring yourself to enquire about. Just in case the natives get restless and you end up causing more harm than good. Because you know that if you frame the question incorrectly, that you could erode trust and increase the extent of the problem many fold.

So you sweep it under the carpet, hoping that it won't come back to bite you and the company in the a*se. After all, -

you are no IT magician right!

Down in the basement where the hubs and the routers dance, live a bunch of subversives who talk in data packets about the latest Linux hack or Windows backdoor. "Models, constructs, objects, classes, hacks, cracks, scripts, protocols, useability, smoozeabilty, abuseability!"

Like demons in the darkness the subervient IT slaves bow to the IT director of the moment. "I was thinking" said the IT Director to the lead criminal. "I need to access John Reeds mailbox today". "I can't say anything more than i have had a request from above". "Ok", says the lead criminal, "i know what you mean, i'll add John's mail box to your Outlook folder immediatley".

Funily enough, Jayne the IT Director has access to all the directors email folders and all the company's files systems and all the company's business systems and network systems and marketing systems. And if she doesn't have access - she knows other people who will give her the keys for free - after all she is the IT Director!

Who really holds the power in your business - You the CEO - or your IT People?

Sunday, 4 November 2007

Executive Freeloaders:: Are their days numbered?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
He was an executive freeloader? How did i know? How could i substantiate such a statement. After all, he'd been a loyal servant of the company for nearly 10 years. He'd delivered against targets since the early days and had always been a standup guy. Sales were up year on year by 15% per annum and you couldn't fault the consistency of the management team for maintaining a culture of relative order.

Problem was, it was all too easy. Almost a simple process of breathing in and turning the handle slowly year on year. Harldy any risk, but hardly any bad results either. Yes, but it was a tired, shoddy, disinteresting brand - which nobody could really question - because it was seemingly doing well.

Yes, it was doing well - within a paradigm that was now 10 years behind the times. It was only a matter of time for a new entrant to enter the market and quickly mop up the scraps, including that of the brand of the executive freeloader. Sure he had the flash car, with the leather seats and the fitted mobile phone. Sure he had all the right table manners and could real off a million stories of his time and contacts in this marketplace. But he was soon to be killed by a bunch of bandits who couldn't care less how long he had been around.

The days of the executive freeloader were numbered.

Computer Hackers:: What really are they?

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
So just what is a computer hacker? Is it male or female? 15 years old or 50?
Are they swarve and sophisticated or fat, spotty and tatty?
Are they icecold and calculating or are they cudly and stumble around problems?
Are they political activists or challenged by the notion of following the merest cause?
Do they desire wealth and power or are they happy to just 'be' on the Internet?
So just what is a computer hacker?

Forget the reference to 'computer' and you end up with the word 'hacker' - meaning someone who 'hacks'

To 'hack' means to solve problems through trial and error. In other words 'heuristically". In the early days of computing, engineers were expected to solve problems without any training or access to reference materials. The only way to fix computing problems was to approach the problem in as many creative ways, as would come to mind. The more problems you managed to solve, the greater the knowledge base of algorithms the engineer had to draw upon and the quicker and more capable you would be at solving future problems.

So the term hacker really relates to people who have courage, creative and intellectual skills to take on problems, many for the first time. People who are expected to perform some complex task with almost no prior knowledge base to draw upon. Hackers can come from all manner of backgrounds including engineering, marketing or journalism or a hundred other places. The one thing that is common to all hackers is their ability to solve problems, largely through trial 'n' error.

So whether a hacker is smart, hairy, bald or catholic matters not. All that matters is whether they are using their capabilities to solve problems for good or for bad.

If its for bad - better make sure you don't become a target!

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Hijackable Brands: When seeming vulnerability = massive brand power

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
How do you create desire for your brand by doing nothing more than simply looking vulnerable? By telling a sad story about yourself or by sitting still looking pretty in a world full of gadflys? Why rush around marketing, when you can market your brand without marketing?

How many start-up organsations do you know have greater image power now than their elderly counterparts who have been pouring millions of dollars into active advertising campaigns for many years. Think of myspace, facebook, youtube etc vs. disney, warner bros etc.

Brand Hijacking is a marketing concept that serves to encourage others to embrace and pass on your message, by allowing and encouraging them to hijack your brand. Initally a self-degrading process, Brand Hijacking encourages others to covert and then direct the lifeforce of your brand, by developing the illusion that they have the freedom to control the direction of your brand - when, in fact they do not.

Like a pretty girl sitting quietly at the bar with an empty glass - in a room full of men, does the expectant 'lady brand' wait to be approached, then distracted and then finally stolen away, by the wealthiest of them all.

If you have the will and expertise to build a brand that can steal customers away from your competitors; then why not try designing a "Hijackable Brand".

For help with designing a "hijackable brand" email Stephen at

Friday, 2 November 2007

'Anonymisation' threatens retailers who want to monitor online brand performance

Brand Killer Robots reveal::
When someone visits your shop, do you have a right to know who they are?

Do you have a right to at least know which city they came from, what interested them enough to walk in the door, what other shops they visited prior to yours and how did they find you? Don't you want to know what kinds of things they were looking at in your shop and how frequently they touched them? Don't you want to know these things because they could help you improve your service to them? Is it too much to ask for and is it really a breach of personal privacy for consumers to be asked to divulge this much information to online retailers? After all, they are not being asked for name and address; just some fringe details to help the retailer improve their service to you, in return for 24*7 access to the pages on their website.

So what would happen if much of this information were not available to businesses? Or worse still, subverted in some way? What would happen if you could never really tell if there was anyone in your shop? Perhaps you could see that products were being viewed, but never really knew if the viewer was a returning customer or a new visitor. Perhaps your site log recorded 20 new visitors today from all around the world, when in fact it really only represented 1 returing visitor from Barcelona. How confident would you be that you were operating in a market based on reality? How about a situation where some of your site visitors leave excellent footprints, but the other half leave footprints based on lies and fabrication? How do you tell the clean market research data from the dirty?

Well in a bid to protect user privacy 'Hacktivismo' - an international coalition of hackers, human rights workers, lawyers and artists, has announced the launch of 'Torpark' a web browser designed to browse the web anonymously. 'Torpar' users the Tor network which regularly changes the net address that someone appears to be browsing from - frustrating any attempt to pin a particular browsing session on any individual.

'Torpark' presents a significant threat to online business as it threatens to undermine confidence and trust in the growing online retail marketplace.

One has to ask, is it right that a small group of hackers be allowed to impose such a heavy burden upon the prosperity of the Net? Surely the best way is to get a healthy balance between openness and privacy. One has to further ask, why those who invest most in consumer privacy protection, seem to emanate from secretive groups, like Cult of the Dead Cow and Hacktivismo!

Looks like a case of "Power in the hands of those without responsibility".
For more on 'Torpark' see the BBC article "Free anonymising browser debuts" at