Following the annual tradition on this site for the last post of the year, here is a list of my personal favourites from the last twelve months.
Favourite new gadget
In late November I received the new Microsoft Surface Pro 3. It’s an amazing piece of kit. However I’ve excluded from this post because I’ve only had it a few weeks, and I still think I’m in the novelty period (it sounds so wrong describing it as a ‘honeymoon period’ for a laptop). Early in 2015 I will publish a comprehensive review.
If this award goes to the gadget that I use the most, it would most definitely be the 4-way PortaPow USB charger in our kitchen at home. The unit can charge four devices simultaneously, which is great for my family with our myriad of iPod Touches, iPhones and S4s. I’ve recommended this unit to several friends and family. There’s now a newer version which improves the charging time for iPads – not a major problem for my family because we don’t have one.
However the winner of this category is Google Chromecast. The unit is an exceptional piece of kit which ticks all the right boxes – it’s easy to use, economical and great quality. Our home TV isn’t a smart TV, so Chromecast allows the family to watch Netflix, BT Sport and NOW TV (see below) from any of our devices, from iPod Touches to our smartphones.
It’s a tough decision this year because I’ve read so many good books.
My favourite business books have been Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint, Drive, The PR Masterclass and most recently I finished Essential English for Journalists, Writers and Editors. I recommend them all.
I thoroughly enjoyed The Snowden Files, which I only read because I wanted to understand why The Guardian newspaper is such a staunch supporter of data privacy. My view on the government reading my personal data hasn’t changed, but I now think about The Guardian and Snowden’s viewpoint when I see headlines on the subject.
My favourite from this top picking is Real Leaders Don’t Do PowerPoint by Christopher Witt. It has changed my entire approach to presentations. I’m surprised that Witt has only written one book because his writing style is smooth and informative. You might also want to follow Witt on Twitter for further advice on speech writing and techniques.
Some close contenders in this category are:
- Uber – which would win the award but I don’t need taxis very often! I like the user interface, the localisation depending on which country you launch the app, and the payment method. Uber is one of the shining business examples in the digital transformation world.
- BT Sport – we moved our home broadband to BT at the start of the year. The BT Sport app contains comprehensive content and has a nice design. My son and I use the app with Chromecast to watch the Premiership and MotoGP.
- Now TV from Sky. Now TV is Sky Sports on a daily (or weekly) basis or Sky Movies on a monthly basis. We cancelled our Sky Sports contract at the end of the Premiership last season and in September I said to the family we’ll use Now TV instead, also watching it through the Chromecast. We’ve watched as much football as we want, and it’s worked out cheaper than a Sky Sports subscription. The only feature we miss is pausing live TV, but there’s something more ‘traditional’ about watching sport when you’re unable to!
My favourite app for 2014 is actually a Google Chrome app. Since I installed the Google Analytics app, I use it almost ‘naturally’ on our customers’ websites. If you use Google Analytics, I strongly recommend you install it, especially as it becomes more feature rich on what feels like weekly updates.
For the second year in a row, my favourite award is the eConsultancy Top 100 Digital Agencies. Last year I said I was proud of the Endava team for reaching 17th. This year we reached tenth and I’m even more proud of the team for achieving such continuous, great growth.
A special mention goes to two particular colleagues, Ben and Martin. In October we celebrated ten years of working together. Since 2004, each of us have had a few different roles at IMG and now Endava, and we’ve seen each other get married and have kids. It has been an honour working alongside them for so long and I look forward to continuing what is a great relationship.
This leaves me to wish everyone who reads this site, and your family, a wonderful holiday period, together with a healthy, happy and prosperous new year.