Wednesday, December 23, 2015

And the winners are....

The magazine supplement for this year's #emmas (Effective Mobile Marketing Awards) award winners dropped into my inbox today from David Murphy at Mobile Marketing Magazine. The awards were last month so some of you will already be familiar with the winners but in case you missed it, it's worth a look.

What struck me most about the range of winners and campaigns is that mobile marketing has grown up - mainstream brands doing large-scale, innovative campaigns. I guess it's about time, 15 years on, that this is happening.

So if you're after some inspiration about what's possible with mobile marketing, then take a look at this year's winners and check out their work.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The Spy Who Scored Me - social media, gamification, data mining & Big Brother

A friend shared this video on Facebook earlier today and it raises (again) many concerns that I've had over the last year or two regarding social media scoring, gamification and how our data is used.

Games, gamification and addiction

I've thought for some time that the flashing lights on our mobile screens are as addictive as slot machines. There are many games that require little or no skill whatsoever but just requires you to push your finger around a screen and in return you get the dopamine rush of a virtual reward. Whether that's a reward in game points, being told you're a winner, it amounts to the same thing - a bit of your screen lit up, and in turn, parts of your brain lit up. A cursory search on Google brings up many articles and research studies about this addiction.

And this addiction is starting at a very young age - children are playing digital games from being toddlers and the addictive nature of these games is apparent when you see how a child behaves when they're told to stop playing or their device is taken away.

At the same time, games can be great fun and are a way for many people to relax. So it's not all bad, as long as we're aware of when it may be getting out of hand.

Social scoring

And then we come on to social scoring. There are several companies like Klout, PeerIndex and their ilk who score people base on their activities on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. I've never been much bothered about my score but these are the social media equivalent of our credit ratings which brands and agencies can use to target for 'blogger outreach' or product promotions. Indeed, I'm sure these scores now feed into our credit rating as well and also feed into job applications and more. I guess that's a feature of living in the modern world and I can't say it's something I'm particularly happy about, nor do I feel I can do much about it either.

Sesame Credit

China takes these two concepts to the next level. Sesame Credit, the brainchild of Alibaba and Tencent, is a combination of social scoring, credit scoring, gamification (or the addictive nature of gaming) to promote and encourage 'good citizenship'. In China, that means compliance, falling in line and not criticising the government or those in power. The video above explains it very well and the BBC covered it a couple of months ago. The Chinese seem to have taken to the system like a duck to water and freely share their current score. Although it's not currently compulsory to participate, according to the video and the BBC, it will be compulsory by 2020.

What about the UK?

Well, I don't foresee that there will be a compulsory system imposed here, but the UK government has been spying on us via our telephone and internet activity for the last 15 years and keeping records on millions of British citizens according to El Reg. I'm sure every government is doing something similar.

Oh, and don't forget that the advertising industry is busy watching us too. Check out The Secret Life of Your Mobile Phone video below and catch the stage show if you can. It's brilliant. There's an audio available of their show at The Hay Festival (£1 to download).

See also You are Your Phone on how the pattern of smartphone use is the pattern of the self.

Big Brother Is Watching You? You betcha. Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Are the Androids Dreaming Yet? Free on Amazon 16 & 17 December 2015!

If you took part in one of mine and Lloyd's Future of Work events recently, you'll have heard James Tagg mention his book: Are The Androids Dreaming Yet? On Free Will, Creativity and Artificial Intelligence. The book has been listed as one of Kirkus Reviews Indie Books of 2015, which is lovely. And to celebrate, James has made the Kindle version free for download today and tomorrow (16th & 17th Dec). So don't delay, get your copy now and have yourself some brain food for Christmas.

Recent event round-ups from my collaboration with Lloyd Davis/Tuttle Club & Truphone.

I recently held a series of five events with my friend and collaborator, Lloyd Davis, at Truphone's rather splendid offices in Canary Wharf. I did a round-up of all the events over on my Heroes of Mobile website so please follow the links below to see the videos of the talks and to find out more about what we covered and links to further coverage and reading.

Future of Mobile:Artificial Intelligence with James Tagg

Future of Work: Artificial Intelligence with Benjamin Ellis

Future of Work: Blockchain with Imogen Heap (yes, that Imogen Heap)

Future of Work: Drones, Robots and Internet of Things with Priya Prakash

Future of Work: Augmented and Virtual Reality with Eva Pascoe

Lloyd and I are working up some new event themes for the New Year. If you're interested in hosting and sponsoring the next series in the UK in the Spring (it doesn't have to be London), please get in touch.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Hello Barbie - Is this the dream toy you've been looking for?

I used to have a Barbie doll when I was a little girl. I also had a Sindy doll and a Tressy doll (I’m showing my age now!) and I used to really enjoy dressing them and playing with them as any little girl would. I used to make them a lego kitchen to play in and I made them clothes to wear and a dolls house out of a cardboard box. I expect I used to talk to them a lot too.

Several decades pass and it’s time for a new kind of Barbie from Mattel. She's called Hello Barbie and is already sold out on the Mattel website. She’s interactive and can converse with children. She uses machine learning to improve on those conversations over time. As you can see from the clip, she does a pretty good job of those conversations too. She’s the first iteration of a robot Barbie, if you like.

For her conversation capability to work, it uses wi-fi and cloud storage and proprietary technology from ToyTalk. It records and listens to the child’s words. Sends that data to its main server, works out a reply and sends the right pieces of conversation back to the doll – all in real time. On one level, this could be very useful indeed to improve a child’s communication and speech skills. But there’s more than a little downside with the service.

Let's leave to one side for now the bit about encouraging children to have a deep relationship with an object.... (Ever seen Ex Machina or Her? If not, you should. Both great movies exploring our relationship with robots.) One of the main concerns for me is the smartphone app that accompanies the doll. As the parent (or buyer), you can set up the accompanying app to listen in to your child’s conversations with Barbie and even share them with other people. This facilitates helicopter parenting at its worst. Just no. Seriously. Don't even think about it. Let children be children. And give them some space to play, to imagine and to be. You really do not need to monitor every word they say or stalk them while they're playing.

This article on The Conversation goes into more detail about the issues around the service, the potential for hacking, the potential for collection of data and misuse of such data, and more.

Ofcom Communications International Report 2015 is out

This is a personal favourite and highly recommend Ofcom’s various communications reports. For those outside of the UK, Ofcom, aka The Office of Communications, is a UK government department and produces a range of reports looking at communications usage across the UK. It’s a brilliant, neutral resource, and what’s more, it’s completely free. Find out more about the data sets and report.
Some highlights from this year’s International Report:
“The communications sector’s total global revenues in 2014 were £1,190bn, growing by 1.5% year on year (incorporating the telecoms, television, postal and radio sectors). Global television industries had the largest increase in revenue in 2014, up by £12bn (5%), to £244bn. Telecommunications revenue, although the largest by a considerable margin, registered slow growth of 0.5% to reach £846bn.
UK communications sector revenues were the fifth highest of our comparator countries and the second highest in Europe. In 2014, as in recent years, the three largest communications markets by revenue were in the US (£316bn), China (£135bn) and Japan (£110bn). Outside the top three, the total UK revenue of £48bn was second only to Germany (£55bn).
4G mobile population coverage (from at least one operator) increased in most comparator countries in 2014, with China having the largest year-on-year increase, rising from 1% to 73%. The UK had 84% 4G mobile population coverage at year-end 2014, an increase of 21 percentage points.
The UK had the highest proportion of total mobile connections that were 4G, of the EU5 countries in 2014, at 28%. Among all our comparator countries, South Korea had the highest proportion of mobile connections that were 4G, at 63% of connections, followed by the US (40%), and Australia and Singapore (both 39%).
Around two-thirds (67%) of UK respondents use a smartphone. This is in line with France, Germany and Australia. Spain and Italy had the highest smartphone take-up, at 83% and 79% of respondents respectively, and the US reported the lowest take-up of our comparator countries, at 57%.
Spain (45%) and the UK (42%) have the highest levels of ownership of connected TVs (either smart TV sets, or sets connected to the internet via another device, such as a set-top box, video games console, or other internet-enabled device).
Nearly two-thirds (66%) of people in the UK had used an online service to watch TV or films within the past week (increasing to 81% in the past month); the highest proportion across all of the countries surveyed.
Around four in ten (44%) UK respondents had used a catch-up service from a free-to-air broadcaster within the past week, the greatest proportion of any country surveyed.”

I highly recommend you download the report and add it to your holiday reading list and gen up for the New Year.


Today, I'm wearing a #TieForHelena. My friend Patrick wrote about Helena last week. She lives in Tooting, which is close to where I live and somewhere I pass through several times a week. She was attacked just yards from her home at 5pm in the afternoon on 9th December. it wouldn't even have been fully dark at that time and the street would have been lit.  She believes her attacker singled her out because she was 'rocking a tie'.
From the Evening Standard article:“Helena Martins, 43, who lost her hearing five years ago to Ménière's disease, was cornered by the man as she walked home through Tooting last night.  
Moments before, she had removed her cochlea implant, which she relies on to hear, as she approached her house.  
The man hit her in the eye and choked her with her polka dot tie, which she believes marked her out as gay, and her implant dropped on the floor.”

Being attacked for who you are or what you’re wearing has no place in London or anywhere else for that matter. And for that reason, I’m joining the campaign and wearing a #TieForHelena.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Call for Interesting Mobile Apps, Services & Hardware in the North of England and beyond

Those of you who know me are aware that I take a keen interest in new apps, services and technologies. As part of that, I've been running demo sessions for 10 years or so - first at Mobile Monday London, and for the last 5 years, under my Heroes of Mobile banner in London and Barcelona. And they're always popular events.

These are not pitch events - they're much more relaxed. Think show 'n tell style with a bit of Q and A thrown in for good measure.

And I have one of these sessions coming up next week in Leeds - Innovation on the Fringe Goes North! - and I'd love to see you participate, especially if you're based North of Watford. Living in London, the local start-up scene is awash with new apps and services. But where are their Northern equivalents? I have a few up my sleeve, but I'd love to see many more. And I'm sure they're out there. I'm a Northerner by birth, I have friends up and down the British Isles and I know there's talent across the UK and not just centred in East London. 

Are you doing something interesting in mobile apps, services, hardware or internet of things? It can be at concept, prototype or fully-fledged stage. Are you available in Leeds on Tuesday afternoon (3 Nov) for a couple of hours to share with us what you're doing and hang out with other entrepreneurs and fellow mobilists? If so, get in touch as soon as you can so that I can slot you into the schedule. Drop me an email or fill in this quick form to tell me a little bit about what you're doing and we'll take it from there. 

And if you just fancy leaning back and seeing what's hot and what's not mobile-wise in Leeds, then please RSVP now.

And if you're not a Northerner, but you'd still like to take part with a demo, you're very welcome to!

The call for apps etc for the Heroes of the Mobile Fringe Festival in Barcelona in February 2016 will open later on in November.

Heroes of Mobile Goes to Leeds 3 & 4 November

I can't believe it's November already and it's just nine weeks to Christmas. Where does the year go? But as the evenings start to draw in, it's time to gather round campfires and tell ourselves stories about the battles we've won and lost, the monsters that lurk in the dark and the bright future that is waiting for us on the other side of winter. 

Ok, so maybe we don't have an actual campfire this time but we do have a beautiful converted Methodist Chapel in Leeds to hang out in. So this means that November is chock full of brain food from the team who brought you the Hacklands festival in August (you missed a cracker if you weren't there) – I'll be working again with Lloyd Davis of Tuttle Club fame, the fab aql team in Leeds and and James Tagg of Truphone.  

On Tuesday and Wednesday next week, we're all up in Leeds for the Heroes of the Mobile Fringe Goes North series – two days of talks and conversations about the future of work and mobile tech with contributions from Lesley Cowley, Bernard Ginns and Patrick Smith and includes the legendary Swedish Beers for the first time in the North of England. I'm also co-hosting a fabulous ladies lunch at Harvey Nicks. Fellow ladies in mobile and tech, you don't want to miss this! 

Come to as many of the sessions as you like, they're all free to attend and our friends at aql will make you very welcome indeed. There's plenty of space to hang out and co-work between sessions too.

10.00 for a 10.30 start to 12.30 Future of Work: Open Space with Lloyd Davis

18.30 onwards Swedish Beers

10.00 for a 10.30 start to 12.30 Future of Mobile: Talk and Open Space with James Tagg and Lloyd Davis

15.30 to 17.30 The Future of Mobile Advertising: Open Space with yours truly and Lloyd Davis

To RSVP, please click on the links above or go to where all the registration forms are handily listed in one place.

And if you fancy making the trip from down South to Leeds, then may I recommend using for your hotel. I got a great deal there when I booked last week. Expedia also had a comprehensive list that included B&Bs and not just the big hotels.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Hacklands Festival of Technology happening on 14 to 16 August 2015 in a field in Kent

It has been action stations at my end, what with Swedish Beers Midsummer Edition in London last month and the upcoming Hacklands Festival of Technology happening next month. In case you haven’t heard about it already, let me tell you a bit more about my new event lovechild – Hacklands.

  hacklands circles plus 1
WHAT: Hacklands is a new hackathon and festival happening on a farm on the border of Kent and Surrey brought to you by Helen Keegan (Heroes of the Mobile Fringe Festival, Swedish Beers and more) and James Tagg, (author, farmer, entrepreneur, physicist and CTO & co-founder of Truphone).

WHEN: From 5pm on Friday 14 August to 5pm on Sunday 16 August 2015.

AUDIENCE: We welcome adults and children who have an interest in technology either because they like building it or because they like to use it and are interested in future uses of technology. Under 18s will need to be accompanied by an adult. You do not have to be a developer to come. We will have sessions and space for both developers and non-developers and can cater for children too.

TELL ME MORE: It is a community oriented festival where we will combine elements of a hackathon (you can code and build stuff), an unconference or barcamp (you can talk about stuff) and a festival (you can chill at our campfire by our stone circle, camp under the stars, talk until the wee hours and enjoy the music and performances).

And we have glamping too courtesy of our friends at Sleeping Bells. We actively encourage you to get involved to build something, talk about something, perform something or learn something.
Interested in doing something - leading a session, giving access to APIs, arts and crafts, something else? Please tell us when you buy your ticket or you can fill in the form here.
WHAT'S ON: We have several areas available to use for unconference sessions, workshops or hacking (that's what we call the software and hardware building bit). There are undercover spaces, tented areas and outdoor spaces. There's wifi across the site (even the fields) and part of the farm is solar powered. We have some flat concrete floors which will be particular good for playing around with robots or landing drones. We have room for camping and plenty space for parking. We can look after 100 people comfortably, and we can make more space available if more people want to come.

Weekend tickets available now with or without camping. Food included in both tickets and a pay cafe bar available outside of meal times.

Find out more at our website, Facebook page, Twitter or our Eventbrite page. You can also buy tickets by clicking below.

If you'd like the glamping option, please find out more here and contact Gavin directly to book. Prices start at £80. Festival tickets must be bought separately.  

See you in August in a field in Kent!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Swedish Beers, London - Midsummer Edition - Wednesday 17 June 2015

Yes, it’s just a few days to go until our next party in London. It's coming up for midsummer so it's about time we had another Swedish Beers party. For those of you who were in Barcelona, it's time to relive some of the memories and for those of you who weren't, then it's time to create some memories of your own in London town.

Drinks are courtesy of Buzzcity (mobile advertising specialists and our lead sponsor for the evening), Inspiring Interns (recruitment agency focussed on graduate roles), Fantastic Services (London’s largest cleaning company who are about to launch their cleaning app) and US Tax and Financial Services (there’s nothing these guys don’t know about tax issues for US citizens in the UK or for UK citizens and businesses headed Stateside).

There'll be plenty drinks to go around of both alcoholic and non-alcoholic varieties. There is food available to buy on the night if you haven't had time to grab a bite to eat before you come.

We're back at our favourite London joint, The Nordic Bar, where Swedish Beers began back in 2001 in the mists of mobile time. Doors will be open from 6.15pm and the bar has a late licence until midnight for those of you who want to stay up late on a school night.

If you haven't been before, expect a friendly crowd, lots of chat about mobile, life, the universe and why Swedish Beers is called Swedish Beers. There will also be beer pong (yes, there's a ping pong table) and, of course, refreshments (soft drinks are available and in plentiful supply) courtesy of our lovely sponsors. There will be people from all walks of mobile life there on the night - be that app developers, advertising, media, mobile marketing, handset manufacturers, payment providers, big data, brands, agencies, analysts, journalists, start-ups, veterans, noobs and much more. There have already been a lot of RSVPs on eventbrite already. Why not join them? Come alone or come with a friend but do come.

Date: Wednesday 17 June 2015

Time: 6.15pm until closing

Place: The Nordic Bar, Newman Street, London W1 (nearest tube Tottenham Court Road, Oxford Circus or Goodge Street)

You can RSVP below or over on Facebook. Either way, it’s free to attend.

Spread the word and look forward to seeing you all soon.


This is a Heroes of Mobile event.

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Effective Mobile Marketing Awards are now open for entries

The 2015 Effective Mobile Marketing Awards are open for business. Brought to you by the Mobile Marketing Magazine team, The Awards, now in their sixth year, recognise excellence in mobile marketing across 35 categories, and have attracted more than 200 entries in each of the last three years. I’ve previously been a judge for these awards.

Mothercare, Tesco, Renault, North Face, IKEA, Subway and Lloyds Banking Group were among the brands picking up awards last time round, while Manning Gottlieb OMD, Mindshare, Mobile 5, Future Platforms and OMD were among the victorious agencies.

In addition to the 35 primary categories, there will also once again be four People’s Choice Awards, with the shortlist drawn up by a panel of industry experts and the winners chosen by a public vote. The cost to enter starts at £175 for a single entry with discounts for multiple entries by the same company.

To enter the Awards, download the Entry form here, fill it in and return via email to before the entry deadline – 5pm UK time, Friday 7 August 2015.

More information about the awards over on their website.

Learn about Accessibility in London on Thursday

Yes, it’s short notice, but one of the speakers of my accessibility sessions from a few year’s back is having an open learning day on Thursday 21st May at his company’s offices in East London.

Professor Jonathan Hassell and Christine Hemphill are the founders of Open Inclusion which is a digital accessibility, US and innovation consultancy. They help clients make beautifully inclusive products – better by design, for better user experiences for all and better business.

Jonathan impressed me with his knowledge and engaging way of sharing that knowledge in the session he did for me all that time ago. That’s why I’m sure his Global Accessibility Awareness Day sessions will be well worth attending. And not only that, they’re free to attend. You can pick and choose which sessions you want to attend. The action starts at 11am and goes on throughout the day covering a variety of topics related to accessibility and design.

More information and RSVP here.

More about Open Inclusion and the work they do here.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Get your free Successful Apps Guide from Apadmi

apadmi apps guide image

I’ve known the Apadmi team for several years now and seen them grow from strength to strength. They’ve been busy building and promoting mobile apps and services for many clients and have now distilled what they, their clients and their partners have learnt along the way into a comprehensive guide. The guide is aimed at Start-ups, App Entrepreneurs and Indie Developers but I think it will also be useful to marketers who are building apps too to get them thinking a bit deeper as to what this app business is all about and how to go about promoting the app. It’s chock full of good advice.

It’s free to read online here and if you ping them your name and email address here, you’ll get a link to download a PDF copy to print off or read on an e-reader which I find easier.


Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Swedish Beers in Barcelona #10 on Wednesday 4 March 2015

Shameless plug alert and for those of you who aren’t heading to Barcelona for Mobile World Congress in March you may look away now!

Swedish Beers 10th birthday in BarcelonaFrom humble beginnings, where about 25 of the London Swedish Beers crowd and their friends got together in a bar in Barcelona  to chew the mobile fat during Mobile World Congress to a big annual event celebrating all things mobile. It’s been quite a ride to get here and we’ve not done too shabbily at all to be on the 10th one in Barcelona! I say ‘we’ because the party would be nothing without the sponsors, helpers, staff and attendees. It’s a collective effort! So let’s make that effort again in March to celebrate our 10th anniversary.

This year’s party will be on Wednesday 4 March at Dostrece. And sponsorship funds permitting, we will also operate a nearby chill-out lounge as well. Want to talk sponsorship? Then please get in touch with Helen to discuss.

Like our previous events, this is a relaxed evening, no formalities, no presentations, no business cards thrust in your face as soon as you arrive. Just come with an open mind, be prepared to see friends old and new, talk nonsense, enjoy a drink or five and have yourself a good time. Oh, and leave the ties, the corporate personas and the sales spiel at the door please. The Swedish Beers crew will be on hand to welcome you as well as the friendliest bar staff in town.

No need to RSVP unless you want to and want a reminder of when and where the party is and to get any updates by email. There’s no official guest list, no tickets and there’s no guaranteed entry. Just come and go as you please.



I do have some lovely sponsors lined up for you but there’s room for more – especially as it’s our 10th Anniversary in Barcelona. Get in touch with me to discuss. And if you’re a start-up, I have a special deal for you to buy a batch of beer tokens without having to shell out for a full sponsorship package.

It is likely to get a bit busy at times. But don’t worry, people will be coming in and out all evening. That’s kind of the point as we know there’s always a lot going on and you might want to check out more than one party. If it’s very busy, there’s no need to queue to get in. Just check out one of the other bars nearby and come back a little later when it’s a bit less frantic.

There is a small cloakroom area at the bar, but it’s not secure so leave the laptops in your hotel room or apartment where they will be safe and won’t get in anyone’s way.

The venue is our favourite haunt with the friendliest bar staff in town, Dos Trece - We’ll be open from 7pm through until the early hours.

Sponsor announcements coming soon….

See you in Barcelona!

This is a Heroes of the Mobile Fringe Festival Event  |



Like us on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter