Silicon Crossroads and Silicon Crossroads VCT – Lichfield, Staffordshire

Posted by Chris on March 25th, 2012

Silicon Crossroads is the High Tech. business area established between Lichfield, Tamworth, Sutton Coldfield and Walsall in Staffordshire, England, U.K. The crossroads referred to is the ancient crossroads of Watling Street ( the A5 ) and Rykneld Street ( the A38 ) which cross one another just below Lichfield.

Notably Tamworth is dominated by Tamworth Castle and Lichfield by Lichfield Cathedral and these are ancient seats of power in Middle England.

The recent discovery of the Staffordshire Hoard may well add to the evidence for the Lichfield and Tamworth area being an area of influence and innovation and Silicon Crossroads and the Silicon Crossroads VCT continue this tradition.

The Silicon Crossroads VCT is a High Tech. Investment fund with a particular focus on areas like Social Media, Inbound Marketing and Cloud Computing.

We have established strong connections with entrepreneurs, business angels and venture capital funds in some of the main innovation areas in the U.S. and Canada like Silicon Valley, Boston, New York, Vancouver, Austin, Toronto and other emerging High Tech Innovation areas like Baltimore.

Aside from Early Stage funding the VCT provides support for start up and early stage companies from the U.S. and the U.K. Included in our support services is ” Outsourced Business Development ” to assist companies to identify target customers and sectors  and to establish contact with them using state of the art Marketing techniques like Inbound Marketing, the creation of Internet Marketing Ecosystems and therefore the use of Social Media and Social Business Media.

It became obvious a few years ago that the rise of companies like Salesforce ( SaaS CRM ) , Google ( Search and Social Media ), Facebook ( Social Media ) and Twitter ( Social Media )  would give rise to other companies like HubSpot ( Inbound Marketing ) , Hootsuite ( Monitoring multiple social media channels )  and Twylah ( Twitter brand pages ).

It was less obvious that there would be such huge angel and venture capital investment in the U.S. but there has been and it is only increasing.

There has also been a revolution ( from necessity ) in funding methods for start ups in the U.S. with companies like KickStarter and the concentration of Angels and so called Super Angels onto lists like AngelList.

In addition companies like SecondMarket have created liquidity in markets like pre-IPO shares and debt.

You can get more information on some of these companies via this blog and my Twylah page   http://www.twylah.com/cwindley.

This is a holding page for more information on Silicon Crossroads and the Silicon Crossroads VCT and websites, blogs and Twylah pages will be developed for these over time.

My contact information is on this blog on the Contact page.

What is happening in Telecommunications? – the view from Burton on Trent

Posted by Chris on March 24th, 2012

From where I sit near Burton-on-Trent nothing much has changed in ICT and Telecommunications solutions for 10 Years or so. Rubbish you might say – loads of things have changed. Part of my problem is that Voyager Networks – the company that I sold in 2000 – was way ahead of it’s time. We were a Voice over IP provider when it really was a new thing ( In fact I remember Cisco buying Celsius – whose equipment we were already using – to build some of the first VoIP systems ). We were a Managed Network Services Provider when it was a nightmare to be one ( by this I mean that there were all sorts of ” New Telco’s ” claiming to be ” better than BT ” when in fact they were much much worse. ( The problem was that we had to try them before we could find this out ). We had a ” Network Operations Centre ” ( NOC ) when this was a really cool thing to have – it even had a ” Bridge ” – and it also had some super cool software ( InfoVista ) to ” pro-actively manage our customer’s networks “.

We were only able to build and run these Managed Networks because we had some really great technical people who overcame all the technical issues that arose from being a leading edge Data Networking and Telecommunications Solutions Provider.

In fact the world has got a lot simpler in the last 10-15 years – nobody really disputes the fact that VoIP is the way to go. All the main ” telephone systems ” companies are now VoIP Solutions providers ( well actually they are Unified Communications providers having been Converged Solutions providers along the way ). Most of those Telcos are now dead and gone. ” Consolidation ” has happened big time in the Telecommunications Provider market. Network and device management software has got better and cheaper.

A look from Burton on Trent at my old companies website http://www.voyager.net.uk/partners/ serves to emphasize what I am saying – hardly anything has changed ! All of these products and services/solutions  http://www.voyager.net.uk/solutions/ were there years ago. The only hint of a change is in ” Mobility “.

A look at 365iT’s website is the same http://www.365itservices.co.uk/ ( 365iT bought 5i Limited a few years ago ). Can we find ANYTHING different ?? The only thing that stands out for me is ” Virtualization “. Server virtualization is a pretty hot area with VMware being a hot stock  http://www.forbes.com/sites/tomtaulli/2012/03/23/3-stock-picks-from-tech-ceos/ .

With nothing having changed I think one thing is certain – competition is fierce !! Which means price erosion.

If we look at Node4′s website http://www.node4.co.uk/ ( Node4 are Headquartered in Derby ) there is an indication of one of the main changes that have happened – Cloud computing. Words like ” Hosting ” and ” Co-location ” are prevalent on the Node4 website. Virtualization is also there.

In this article http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/vmware-cto-virtualization-is-swiss-army-knife-of-it/72151 Virtualization, Cloud Computing and BYOD ( Bring your own Device ) are the areas mentioned as being important by corporate, Revlon.

I think the real clue as where ICT and Telecommunications is going is in the phrase ” Any information, anywhere, on any device, at any time ” and the challenges that this brings both to the user ( who will have multiple communications streams coming through to whatever device they are using – more of which soon )   and also in the types of information and data that the user is accessing.

The drive to achieve this level of communication is what will drive and shape the infrastructure and Telecommunications solutions requirements.

Many companies are in denial over the use of social media ( and I am greatly amused by this as it seems to me that company management have not read or remembered their – recent – history. In our memory people have refused to accept that the personal computer would become ubiquitous, the mobile phone, emailing, texting etc etc and of course they have grown to be huge industries. Perhaps when Facebook IPO’s for $75-100 Million in the next month or so some management will start to take it and other Social Networks seriously ).

Personally I think that people will use social ( and social business ) applications alongside corporate applications and so for example the stream of communications to their smartphone, iPad and Laptop will include the ” Unified Communications bit ” ( voice calls, text and email ) and the ” Social Media bit ” and this will require the integration and control of all of those streams. Of course this is already happening for many people and it happened with the smartphone first – as looking at my Blackberry demonstrates – Messages, Text/SMS, Calendar, Phone, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+ etc etc.

As Revlon chief information officer David Giambruno says this demand for information drives certain infrastructure elements -e.g.  virtualized server farms, security to protect those servers, storage farms for the all the data – including back-up data, smartphone and iPad compatible applications N.B. The rise of companies like http://www.apperian.com/ who specialize in ” Mobile Application Management “.

Telecommunications solutions will be driven by the need to fulfill our desire for ” Anything, Everywhere ” communications.

Chris Windley, Burton on Trent.

The Internet Marketing Ecosystem – This is the way it is !

Posted by Chris on March 12th, 2012

For a change I am not going to write this blog with a view to it getting found ( recently I was talking to someone about the fact that – for those in the know – most content is ” written to rank ” – in search engines. ) I have loads of content on here that is written to achieve a ranking objective.

I also saw recently some debate about the fact that a website should be built to be found ( for the products and services that you provide ) with some people saying that a website was for ” validation ” rather than being found via search engines and converting visitors into prospects and later, customers. Frankly I think that is ” tosh ” and anyone who builds a website and does not want it to be found is crazy !!

There are still loads of people who think that the only thing a website needs to be found for is the company name – LOL !! ( If someone knows your company name then one of your other marketing methods has already worked ).

The fact is that it is not even about building a website any more it is about building an effective Internet Marketing Ecosystem ( as I call it ).

If we consider what one of the leaders of ” Inbound Marketing ” ( HubSpot ) has done then it has moved from providing software that graded the effectiveness of a website ( Website Grader ) to software that grades the effectiveness of the Internet Marketing Ecosystem ( Marketing Grader ).

An effective Internet Marketing Ecosystem will comprise of the following components:

A ” website “.

A blog.

A number of Social media accounts ( Linkedin, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Google + etc etc )

These are the basic requirements. Knowledge and membership of other sites is also required/advised like:

Internet Press Release sites.

Digg.com

Various ” Bookmarking” sites.

Twylah.com

The website and blogsite ( which may be one and the same ) should be based on a ” powerful platform “. WordPress would be a typical example of this. ( WordPress ranks 18 on Alexa so you are building your content on one of the most powerful platforms in the world ). Platforms like HubSpot’s are also becoming important ( for a variety of reasons including being ” powerful ” ).

If you build your website on a “powerful platform ” and then get the on page SEO right ( Titles, tags etc  ), populate it with relevant ( keyword and phrase aware ) content and then keep blogging on a regular basis you will get noticed by the search engines ( spidered ) and you will start to collect links ( from other websites ) to your website.

( In doing the foregoing you will have fulfilled most of the conventional requirements – On page SEO, Relevant changing content and a start on backlinks ).

If you build networks on e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Google + and YouTube then in addition to the engagement that you can achieve with fellow members you will be able to post items with links back to your web and blog sites. Whilst the value of backlinks from Social Networks is debated ( amongst SEO types ) there is a value and in any event prospective customers are being driven ( led? ) back to your web/blogsites.

Of course there is a way to build networks ( on social networks ) which will be covered elsewhere, but the fact is that they are a necessary part of the ” ecosystem “.

In order to ” convert ” all the visitors to our website and blogsite into prospects we will need ” email sign up box’s ” and various ” Call to Actions ” e.g. sign up here and you can download a white paper. You may even have a ” Buy one now ” button where appropriate.

Finally you will want to know what aspects of the ” ecosystem ” are working best in terms of ” Being Found and Converting visitors to leads “. Are they coming from you being found in search engines ( for your keywords and phrases )?; are people just typing in your company name or url?; are your email marketing campaigns working best?; is Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin or Google + the best at sending you new visitors.

This requires an analysis system like Google Analytics ( plus other apps ? ) or an ” all-in-one ” system like HubSpot.

Social Business Networking Titan based in Lichfield

Posted by Chris on March 1st, 2012

The Sunday Times Social List told me yesterday that I was 790th ( and rising ) in their list of the U.K.’s social business networkers and I was pleased to be able to say that I am based in Lichfield which is quietly becoming the ” Silicon Crossroads ” of the U.K.

The Sunday Times actually said Congratulations Titan! You tower over the world of social networking like a colossus. Even the most opulent Oligarch envies your standing ” which I thought was nice but a little weird  ;-)

Titans – 12 Gods that ran the Universe.

It also got me to wondering that if was described in this manner how were some of the people described who were above me in the Sunday Times list ?????

For example Paul Steele – a travel blogger from Oldham who heads the Social List and Thomas Power ( co-founder of ecademy.com ) who is the top friend that I have and 6th on the Social List. If I am ” towering over the world like a Colossus ”  what are they doing ??

The Colossus of Rhodes

I do know that they have enormous ( global ) networks. Thomas is certainly up there with the leaders in the world so Paul must be aswell.

How they manage their networks is another interesting question. ( I happen to know that Thomas has multiple phones in his bag and goodness only knows how many email addresses he is managing ).

According to the Sunday Times to get higher in the List there are a number of things that I can do ( and in Italics what I think of them ):

1. Follow lots of people because then they may follow me.

This is great except that I have max’d out the number of people I can follow on most networks ;-)

2. Make connections with everyone I work with.

This is very important – the people that I work with is a very extended, global network of people.

3. Be the first to share new things

I agree with this but it is actually difficult to be the first to ” break the news ” as I guess journalists know !

4. Make use of all four networks ( Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Foursquare )

Hmm !! There is little chance of me using those networks like Foursquare that tell everyone where I am – no thanks. ( I do however have extensive networks that they do not monitor e.g. Google + ).

5. Update often

People tell me that I do that too much already !!

6. Get into pictures and then  get tagged in them

Oh! Like jump into people’s way when they are taking photo’s and ask them to tag me ???

7. Tweet big, Tweet often

Well now – using Twylah.com I can Tweet bigger than most and often !!

8. Accept event invitations

Oh !! Goodness me – some of them look pretty boring !!

I am going to be working on my tips for myself ( and others ) to not only get higher in the Sunday Times Social List but also to become more effective at social business networking – stay tuned !!


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