Weeknotes ‘258

This week I did:

Understanding problems

I was only at work two days this week due to exams but I was trying to be disciplined with myself about understanding problems before jumping to solutions. It made me stop and step back a few times. And it meant asking more questions, which even though I tried to explain why, I think some people found it annoying. Something to work on.

Last exam

Did my last exam. So that’s all of the modules for my MSc finished. And I got 76 on the last assignment I submitted. It puts me right on the borderline between distinction and merit, so depending on what result I get for my exam, it should push me over the line.

Productising services

Started some more product advisor work. It’s interesting to see organisations thinking about how to productise their services. My sense at the moment is that the majority will settle on a kind of business-process-as-a-service type model that gives some flexibility around people performing processes and the automation of other aspects. The charity and social good sector doesn’t feel quite ready for fully product business models.

Innovation processes in charities

Had a good chat with my dissertation supervisor about the literature review and research methodology I’ve been working on. I have a better structure in mind for the research and feel like I’ll soon be in a good position to finalise my research questions and send out the questionnaire.

Interface Integrate Iterate

I had my first sign-up and I pinned a tweet about my four email series about some of my ideas about the role product management can play in charities. Hopefully I get some feedback on the ideas that helps with my thinking about what makes good product management in charities.

And thought about:

What good product management in charities looks like

How to get the value of product management into charities that don’t value product management? That’s the question. That’s the challenge.


As part of my revision for my exam I read about blockchain being used to provide credit to the four billion of unbanked people in the world. It made me thinking about microloans as a funding mechanism for charities. So, a charity could launch a campaign to secure zero interest loans rather than (or in addition to) donations, use the money to fund recruiting a fundraiser, who then raises enough money to pay back the loans, pay their salary, and fund other work for the charity. I’m sure in reality managing loans is massively complicated, but in my head it all makes sense and seems like a good opportunity (this why I don’t work in finance).

Public roadmaps

I’m a bit smitten with public roadmaps. It isn’t the roadmap itself, whatever it’s format (lets not get into that discussion again), it’s the courage and commitment to publicly state what you’ve achieved recently and will be working on in the future. Organisations that have public roadmaps are up there with remote-first organisations.

And read;

Value creation 101

Jelmer tweeted an interesting thread about value. Although I don’t agree with everything in the thread, for example about value being connected to scarcity and supply & demand, I think concepts like this are important to think about.

Product Management Handbook

I’ve started reading Scot Colfer’s Product Management Handbook, and Lauren Crichton’s Q&A with Scott. I love this quote, “Product managers don’t do anything. We listen. We think. And we talk. We understand other people’s perspectives and find value in the sweet spot where those perspectives converge. Product management is a role based on the power of conversations.” I wonder if its why some organisations, delivery-focused organisations perhaps, struggle with product management, because it doesn’t look like it delivers anything in the way designers and developers do. So the showing value in other ways becomes important, often through tangible artifacts, documentation, etc.

Principles vs. rules

The BetaCodex Network looks really interesting. If you’re into that kind of thing.

The UN Development Goals are addressing the most pressing challenges for humanity. How can blockchain and DLT contribute to the achievement of those goals?

The use of established technology in achieving social good and the sustainable development goals can be generally accepted, but the question of whether blockchain, as a specific and emerging technology, can contribute to the goals is at very early stages of investigation. We should be aware of the risk of blockchain as ‘a solution in search of a problem’ and of being drawn into the hype surrounding its use and efficacy. In support of the use of blockchain, there are opinions that blockchain “has more near-term potential for social impact than originally thought” (Calvert, 2018), and that new technologies being deployed in developing countries means not having the legacy of existing technologies which can hinder adoption. Of the seventeen goals, some lend themselves more appropriately to, and could benefit more greatly from, using blockchain and distributed ledger technologies. 

The World Food Programme has delivered blockchain solutions that contribute to achieving Goal 2: Zero hunger. The programme distributes cash to 28 million people in 64 countries (WFP, 2021) but recognised that in some countries the existing financial solutions were insufficient, unreliable and incurred high transaction fees. The Building Blocks project implemented a private, permissioned blockchain to record transactions made by people purchasing groceries which reduced financial transaction fees and ensured greater security and privacy. 

The WFP’s project provides an example of how blockchain can be used in tackling a very specific problem; that of people in refugee camps purchasing food without concerns of centralised third-parties having access to their personal data or losing food vouchers. In this case, it could be argued that blockchain solves more problems for the organisation than it does for its beneficiaries, as it reduces the transaction fees the organisation pays and provides more accurate data about those using the system. Based on this example we can conclude that blockchain can have a role to play in achieving the goal of zero hunger but has a long way to go before that contribution can be considered significant.

Goal 8: Decent work and economic growth, is another goal that blockchain could contribute to. For the 2 billion ‘unbanked’ people in the world, not having access to financial services hinders the economic growth of individuals, families, towns, and entire countries. According to the central bank of Sierra Leone, over three-quarters of the country’s population does not access formal financial services (Ledger Insights, 2019). In an attempt to tackle this issue and so enable economic growth, the charity Kiva set up a blockchain solution to provide microloans to people who are unable to provide a credit history due to their unbanked status. Kiva reports on the impact of its service as an overall but it is difficult to measure the success of the blockchain technologies, either in comparison to a different solution or in achieving the sustainable development goal of “sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” (UN, 2021). 

Blockchain technologies, among other emerging technologies, have much potential in contributing to achieving the sustainable development goals but must be approached cautiously and with consideration for the unintended consequences the introduction of new technologies can have. The use of blockchain technology can contribute to specific parts of solutions that contribute to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals but to suggest that a technology such as blockchain can achieve a goal alone would risk straying into more hype than reality.

In tackling some of these issues, the Blockchain Commission for Sustainable Development was set up in 2017 to “develop a multi-sectoral framework to support the UN system, along with Member States, intergovernmental organizations, the private sector and civil society in utilizing blockchain-based technologies to develop local, national and global solutions to urgent challenges.” (IISD, 2018). The IISD works to help other organisations better understand blockchain and it’s real world applications, including aspects such as how blockchain fits within a country’s legislation and telecoms infrastructure. These challenges are important to understand when considering how blockchain can contribute to achieving the sustainable development goals as the question becomes less about the application of blockchain technology and more about how to build the national and international infrastructure that would be necessary for blockchain to be implemented in order for it to contribute to the goals.


Calvert, D. (2018). Can Blockchain Be Used for Public Good? Stanford Business.

International Institute for Sustainable Development. (2018). Commission White Paper Explores Blockchain Use for SDGs. sdg.iisd.org

Ledger Insights. (2019). Kiva sets up Sierra Leone blockchain ID system. ledgerinsights.com

United Nations. (2021). The 17 Goals. sdgs.un.org

World Food Programme. (201). Building Blocks: Blockchain for Zero Hunger. innovation.wfp.org

Can blockchain technology be used for delivering public services and for facilitating the engagement of citizens in public decision-making process?

Blockchain technology has a utility of application that means it can be utilised across any sector including the delivery of public services. In 2018, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development studied over 200 public service blockchain projects (Table 1) in at least 46 countries around the world (Berryhill et al, 2018), concluding that whilst many of the projects were aimed at information sharing and exploring partnerships, some implemented practical applications of Blockchain technology. 

Table 1: Use of Blockchain in the public sector

Rank Types of projects (count)Industries (count)
Strategy/Research (42) Government Services (173)
Identity (Credentials/Licenses/Attestations) (25)Financial Services (73)
3Personal Records (Health, Financial, etc.) (25)Technology & IoT (26)
Economic Development (24)Healthcare (23)
Financial Services/Market Infrastructure (20) Real Estate (22) 
Land Title Registry (19) Supply Chain (19) 
Digital Currency (Central Bank Issued) (18) Energy (13) 
Benefits/Entitlements (13) Transportation (13) 
Compliance/Reporting (12) Education (8) 
10 Research/Standards (12) Telecom (4)
Source: Blockchains Unchained: Blockchain Technology and its Use in the Public Sector, OECD Working Papers on Public Governance

The study suggests that an area of public service delivery governments are most interested in is identity and personal records. The Government Office for Science (2016) defines ‘identity’ as a combination of authentication; that you are who you say you are, and authorisation; that you have the permission to do what you ask. A birth recorded on a blockchain becomes an immutable timestamp for the existence of a person and where perhaps ‘age’ becomes a characteristic that is used in authorising when that person can go to school, legally start work or retire. This use case allows governments to make identity management more secure and efficient. As Borrows et al describe (Figure 1), the aim is for governments to use blockchain to move identity management from low user control to high, where citizens will not only have access to the data stored about them, which isn’t the case with current identity management systems in use by governments, but will also be able to control which government departments have access to the data.

Figure 1: Framework of digital identity ownership

Diagram of low user control to high user control for identity sovereignty
Source: Reform, 2018 (Adapted from Christopher Allen, The Path to Self-Sovereign Identity, 2016.).

Figure 1 demonstrates that there are currently no examples of governments providing citizens with a self-sovereign model of identity management, and that the best example we have of movement in that direction is from Estonia. Estonian citizens each have an ID card that is managed using blockchain-like technology and that allows them to access public services, financial services, medical and emergency services, drive, pay taxes, vote and travel within the EU (Shen, 2016). Adoption of the e-ID was reportedly smooth for the government and people of Estonia, but given it was implemented around twenty years, at a time when data protection awareness was less than nowadays, and in a country that has a high level of trust in the government, it remains to be seen whether the same success can be achieved in other countries (Cater, 2021).

Voting presents another opportunity where governments could utilise blockchain technologies to reduce voter absenteeism and increase auditability and so trust in electoral processes (Foroglou & Tsilidou, 2015). Asking ‘why blockchain?’ leads us to ask why voting systems have never been digitised using an earlier technology, and the answer may be as simple as suggested by the Government Office for Science report which said that online voting was too costly and too centralised to be reliable, but that a blockchain solution could provide part of the answer (GOS, 2016).

Columbian expatriates faced these issues when voting on a peace treaty that resulted in only 10% registering a vote. The non-profit organisation Democracy Earth Foundation set-up a blockchain solution that allowed Colombians who lived abroad to cast symbolic votes and tested a new way of validating and authenticating electoral votes (OECD, 2017). Based on the results of demonstration, it was reported that the Colombian Ministry of Information and Communications Technologies recognised how traditional voting systems lack integrity and trustworthiness, and that blockchain solutions have the potential to radically alter voting systems towards using more secure technology (OECD, 2016a).

Counter to the use of innovative technologies by governments and organisations are the realities of the use of technology by people in countries like Colombia where nearly half of the total population is not yet online (OECD, 2016b). Whereas Estonia got the timing right for introducing blockchain to enable digital identity, Colombia could risk introducing emerging technologies too early before ensuring that a sufficient percentage of its population are connected to the internet and have the sufficient skills to participate as digital citizens.

Blockchain certainty has a place in delivering public services and facilitating engagement in public decision-making processes. Justification for using blockchain in the commercial sector oftens falls to increasing efficiency and reducing costs, both of which also apply to the public sector, but the public sector should also hold a greater vision about the use of blockchain to enable and empower citizens, to give them more control over their data and in how they interact with their government in an increasingly digital world.


Berryhill, J., Bourgery, T., & Hanson, A. (2018), Blockchains Unchained: Blockchain Technology and its Use in the Public Sector, OECD Working Papers on Public Governance, No. 28, OECD Publishing.

Borrows, M., Harwich, E., & Heselwood, L. (2017). The future of public service identity: blockchain. Reform & Accenture Consulting.

Cater, L. (2021). What Estonia’s digital ID scheme can teach Europe. Politico.eu.

Foroglou, G. & Tsilidou, A. (2015) Further applications of the blockchain. 

Government Office for Science. (2016). Distributed Ledger Technology: beyond block chain. A report by the UK Government Chief Scientific Adviser.

OECD. (2016a). Interview with the project team of Democracy Earth. 1 December 2016.

OECD/IDB. (2016b). Broadband Policies for Latin America and the Caribbean: A Digital Economy Toolkit. OECD Publishing, Paris, 

OECD. (2017). Embracing Innovation in Government – Global Trends.

Shen, J. (2016). e-Estonia: The power and potential of digital identity. thomsonreuters.com.

During the coronavirus lockdown in the United Kingdom (2020), 45% of workers reported to be working from home (fully online). Using the theories discussed in the module Digital Business, explain the phenomenon from the enterprise digitalisation perspective. Critically discuss the potential outcomes of this experiment


When a large percentage of the workforce adopts an enforced new way of working, the organisations that have the technology in place, are quick to adapt their methods of communication, and understand the impact of such a drastic change on their workforce are better placed to weather the external disruption to their business by minimising the internal disruption. 

Technologies that enable working online

Working from home would not be possible without internet-connected digital tools and platforms that allow workers to connect, communicate and collaborate. These Enterprise 2.0 technologies are networked through internet connections and contain ‘social’ or collaborative layer functionality such as sharing documents with other workers, communicating in faster, less formal ways through instant messaging, and finding information across a wider pool of sources.

Types of Enterprise 2.0 technology

Enterprise 2.0 technologies are defined by their characteristic collaborative layer that increases workers productivity through fostering connected, collaborative ways of working.

The technologies include:

  • Shared documents
  • Wikis
  • Social networks
  • Blogs
  • Video sharing
  • Video conferencing
  • Instant messaging
  • Podcasts
  • RSS
  • Microblogging
  • Tagging
  • Rating
  • Mash-ups
  • Prediction markets

Video conferencing, social networking and collaborative document editing are the most adopted of the various types of technologies. These are all internal working tools, perhaps suggesting that companies haven’t yet fully realised the benefits of using these technologies to create more permeable boundaries between the organisation and its customers, suppliers, other organisations, etc., in order to increase openness and drive innovation.

Benefits of Enterprise 2.0 technology

During a time of global crisis organisations might consider the ability to continue to operate to be a sufficient benefit from having implemented Enterprise 2.0 technologies, but there are also additional longer term benefits. Andrew McAffe says that Enterprise 2.0 “offers significant improvements, not just incremental ones, in areas such as generating, capturing, and sharing knowledge” (McAfee, 2009). 

The top five measurable benefits from technology adoption are (McKinsey, 2013):

  • Increasing speed to access knowledge
  • Reducing communication costs
  • Reducing travel costs
  • Increasing speed to access internal experts
  • Reducing operational costs

Enterprise 2.0 technologies grew rapidly between 2006 and 2013 (McKinsey, 2013) with 61% of companies reporting using video conferencing in 2013. The growth of these collaborative tools had plateaued (McKinsey 2015) but it is not inconceivable to assume that during the lockdown far more companies are utilising the benefits of technology to undertake almost every business task. The lockdown may serve as an accelerator for better utilisation of collaborative working technologies and achieve greater and previously unrealised benefits than if organisations had not been forced to adopt them.

Communication methods that support distributed workforces

The emergence of Enterprise 2.0 as a new form of interaction (rather than purely a technological phenomenon) between workers has enabled those who had to work from home during the lockdown to continue to communicate effectively with colleagues. The new communication methods required acceptance of the reconceptualisation of how information flows in Enterprise 2.0.

Communication networks 

Traditional enterprise communication followed the lines of organisational hierarchy whereas Enterprise 2.0 communication follows the paths of a network and so flows more quickly and efficiently. 

Steven Johnson (2010) suggests that individuals perform better when they belong to more networks as they can benefit from information shared by other people. The more nurturing a network, the more information openly shared, the more innovative ideas that can emerge. 

Collaborative communities

Enterprise 2.0 enables the creation and growth of collaborative communities; groups of people that leverage technology and communication networks to organise themselves around different principles to the traditional hierarchical organisation, in order to have a collective means to participate and collaborate. This means of organising, foregoing the authority of traditional means, would have enabled employees to quickly mobilise to figure out new ways of responding to the challenges they faced during the lockdown.

A collaborative community could include the following characteristics (Savalle et al, 2010):

  • Organic
  • Decentralised
  • Self-organising
  • Autonomous
  • Asynchronous
  • Self-regulating
  • Varied in size

Collaborative communities emerge bottom up when people see the value of their contribution. In this there are network effects occurring as the more people contribute to the community, more people experience a benefit and so contribute more.

Companies benefit from providing the technologies and allowing this type of organisation to prosper as information sharing and crowd thinking can solve problems that traditional siloed team structures cannot, it supports new ideas to emerge, and strengthens social ties.

Ways of collaborating

Different types of organisational structure require different ways of collaborating, especially in a crisis situation such as lockdown. Allowing collaborative ways of working to emerge through communities takes more time than companies may have to enable effective working from home, and so considering the ways in which collaboration can be initiated and supported can speed up adoption among a distributed workforce.

Pisano and Verganti (2008) proposed a model of governance and participation that whilst describing how companies can approach innovation with partners could also be a valid model for describing how innovative ways of collaborative working could be understood. This model provides some understanding of how bottom up communities and top down hierarchies may interact in collaborative ways to develop innovative solutions to problems, such as the pressing problem facing companies at the start of the lockdown of how to begin working collaboratively.

Impacts on employees

Introducing Enterprise 2.0 technologies and ways of working to an organisation carries with it a considerable impact for its employees, especially if undertaken during a crisis such as lockdown. Understanding the social ties between individuals, how they develop social capital, and what motivates them to adopt the new technologies and ways of working can provide some insight into how the shift to Enterprise 2.0 can be more successful.

Social ties

McAfee (2009) described four types of ties people have with others. The ties can be weak, strong, potential or none. Strong ties exist between people who know each other and work together, but it is weak ties that are important for connecting people who don’t know each other very well in order to spread information (Gravonetter, 1973). Enterprise 2.0 enables more weak ties to form across an organisation and so encourage information to flow that might have otherwise if it was reliant on the hierarchical structure.

Social capital

Social capital exists in the relations between individuals in a group. Faraj and Wasko (2001) refer to it as a “collective orientation”, a social system that develops because of “closure, shared history, goal interdependence, and frequent interactions”. When those interactions happen online whilst using Enterprise 2.0 technologies the norms of acceptable behaviour become even more paramount, and the opportunities for sharing information and resources are increased. 


Achieving adoption of Enterprise 2.0 technologies and ways of working requires an appreciation of the intrinsic and extrinsic motivations of the employees, even more so at a time of crisis where they may have additional pressures outside of the workplace. If workers are intrinsically motivated to be successful in the roles, and they understand how new technologies can help with this, they would seem to be more likely to adopt and adapt to the change.


For some businesses the coronavirus lockdown will serve as an accelerator for the adoption of Enterprise 2.0 technologies, new ways of working, and new ways of unlocking value within the organisation. This enforced innovation that is making the organisational boundaries more permeable, spreading knowledge and new ways of collaborating, and enabling employees to make the most of the shift to Enterprise 2.0 has the potential to support businesses to be more innovative and successful.

Using the theories presented in the module Digital Business, critically discuss the differences between a DVD film and streaming services such as Netflix. You must use theories to frame the analysis and discussion.


We can understand the characteristics of a DVD renting service business model and a video streaming service business model using Rayna & Struikova’s business model framework to compare to analyse the business models, and then consider how the characteristic differences between information and digital goods caused a change in the business models.

Characteristics of a DVD renting service business model

Value creation

The value network includes:

  • Licensing with movie distributors.
  • Purchasing DVDs from production companies
  • Renting of shop space.

These complementary assets create a high barrier to entry into the market for competing businesses and ensure market dominance.

Value proposition

Offered the latest movies that are no longer at the cinema.

Implied urgency and limited availability through a fixed number of DVDs.

Reactive pricing with newly released movies are priced higher than older, less popular movies allows the revenue to be maximised.

Value delivery

Shops were the primary distribution channel, although delivery through mail existed for a short period of time.

The target market was people who owned DVD players and watched movies at home.

Value capture

Understanding customer behaviour through sales data which is used to plan the distribution of upcoming movie releases to optimise the number of DVDs available in the most popular shops.

The revenue model involved customers having membership so that the shop could record which DVDs were rented by which customers and a rental fee with late charges.

Value communication

The value communicated was in shops as customers browsed shelves full of DVDs, showing them that a large number of choices were available.

Characteristics of a video streaming service business model

Value creation

Video streaming services attempt to control their supply chain through licensing and then producing content.

The value networks include cloud infrastructure such as AWS for Netflix and Disney Plus, and payment services to collect subscription fees.

Value proposition

Customer’s watching whenever they want using high speed internet connections and mobile devices, shifted the customer’s relationship with watching movies away from something done at a particular time in their own home.

Discovery of new content is made as easy as possible, encouraging more time spent watching, which provides more data, and makes the customer more likely to continue to pay for the service.

Value delivery

The distribution channel for streamed videos is apps and smart TV’s connected to the internet, which creates a low barrier to entry by making them purely technological, requiring only an internet connection and a device for viewing. 

The target market for video streaming includes the majority of adults with an internet connection and a desire to watch movies. Netflix, for example, has 182 million active users. Given the popularity of video streaming and the increasing segregation of content into specific services as those companies attempt to own particular segments of the market, it seems likely that customers will subscribe to multiple services which will reduce competition in the market.

Value capture

Video streaming uses price versioning. Different subscription levels with different features are offered at different prices. This allows the company to segment its customers by offering a basic service that suits the needs of most individuals, along with higher priced options for customers who value watching in high definition or ultra high definition and those who want to watch on multiple devices, often because of multiple users such as a family.

Video streaming enables data capture about customers behavior, including which customers watched which movies, what time of day they watched them, how far through they watched. This data can then be used to recommend other movies 

Value communication

In the competitive video streaming services market, pricing is underplayed to signal to customers that they barely even need to consider the cost because it is so low and because the value they will receive is in being able to watch new movies when it suits them.

Analysis of the differences between business models

Video streaming and DVD rental differs on every element of Rayna & Struikova’s business model framework. The introduction of the internet revolutionised business models. Companies that provided DVD rental services and attempted to adapt their business model by moving part of it online, e.g. ordering DVDs through a website, were quickly replaced by companies that developed business models from an understanding of how the internet changes every aspect of their business. 

DVD rentalVideo streaming
Value creationAggregating assets into a physical location.Segregating assets into a virtual location.
Value propositionRent weekly and watch at home.Access anywhere, any time.
Value deliveryPhysical shops, and home-bound devices.Internet-connected home and mobile devices.
Value captureMembership and rental fees revenue model.Subscription revenue model.
Value communicationDelayed communication through trailers on DVDs and customers browsing availability in shops.New content available every time the customer opens the app.

The only aspect of consumer behaviour that doesn’t seem to have been affected by the shift in business models is that the majority of movie and TV consumption takes place as entertainment in the home.

Business model innovation came through utilising the ubiquitous adoption of internet technologies and mobile devices that enabled the asset (movies) to be shifted from being an information good to a digital good, along with the resulting change in the economics.

Information goods 

DVDs are information goods. The value is in the information contained within the good, whilst the physical item holds very little value. Information goods cannot be replicated but can be copied, albeit with some loss of information that results in a poorer quality when the movie is played. The ability to copy enabled DVD piracy driven by the high price and limited availability of DVDs. Information goods enable the transfer of information, in this case from the disc to the TV screen.

Digital goods

Video streaming uses digital goods, which are intangible, codified, transferable and replicable. Digital goods are the only type of goods to have this combination of characteristics and so create different economics than information goods rely on. Digital goods may have a high production cost but thereafter the reproduction costs are near zero, whilst also being non-rival. These unique characteristics created challenges for businesses and drove the needs for a change of business model.

Analysis of the differences between information goods and digital goods

In addition to the differences in business models, the two services also have considerable differences in the nature of the goods they provide.

DVD rentalVideo streaming
IntangibleNo – information contained in a tangible medium.Yes – information not contained in a tangible medium.
CodifiedYes – the physical medium contains codified information.Yes – contains information and is information.
TransferrableYes – information can be transferred without direct contactYes – information can be transferred in a non-rival way.
ReplicableNo – some loss of information occurs in copying.Yes – enabling retrieval without loss of information.

These differences in characteristics create different economic drives, including reproduction costs, non-rival usage and piracy reduction. Digital goods have reproduction costs at near zero. The usage of digital goods is non-rival because there is no limit on how many customers can watch at the same time. Utilising digital goods enables companies to introduce technical means to prevent piracy through replicating the movies but this drives a different consumer behaviour of sharing account details with friends and family, which causes another technical fix by services controlling the number of devices an account can be logged into.


The widespread adoption of the internet caused a shift from movies being an information good to a digital good which drove a change in business models that resulted in DVD rental services and video streaming service having considerable differences in business models and in the economics that follow from the nature of the goods.