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Very random thoughts on a variety of interactive media topics. Broadly looking at experience design, brand, digital consumer strategies, innovation and a fair dollop of user-facing technology. I'm Experience Director at EMC Consulting and you can also find me masquerading as @poleydee on Twitter.

So long and thanks for all the fish


 Well, this is a tricky blog post to write, but let's cut straight to it. After May 31st 2011, I will no longer be at EMC Consulting. I've decided that after 18 years of working, and 12 years at EMC Consulting (Conchango and OS Integration) that it's time for a bit of a rest!

This company, its people and clients, have been a massive part of my life for the last 12 years, and it's difficult to leave it, but the time is right.

Warning: This is the self-indulgent bit - leave now if you hate that kind of thing.

I have a ton of very fond memories, and I'll recap just a few of the professional highlights: (I'll leave the Christmas Party highlights to the internal email! And I wont' credit all the amazing EMC people who did all the hard work on these projects as there are far too many to not forget someone really important!)

Virgin Atlantic - The first, most amazing, and most long-standing brand I've worked with since 2000. I remember sitting with Breda and Katie at Virgin Atlantic in the 'Dinner Hall' and talking about how we might help them get up and running with an entirely new online reservations and ticketing system, and from there grew great things. Not least of which, and most memorably, perhaps was when we stayed up all night and day in a high tech mission control in Kansas to direct all the web communications for the Virgin Atlantic GlobalFlyer; an amazing experience.

Nectar - Notable because I think it was the first really big competitive pitch we ever entered, and I remember exactly where I was and the exact feeling I had when we were told we had won. For an agency that previously had the reputation of being 'just a tech company' this was our first major brand win against real industry heavyweights. Just after they went live, we went in to help them redesign and rebuild their site. A fascinating industry and a lot learned!

Forrester Wave - Best in Europe at user-centred design - I joined Conchango specifically because I believed that there was  a lack of companies in the interactive sector who understood design and user experience as well as they understood technology and vice versa. I set out to fix this by building what we called our 'Interactive Media' team. The icing on my cake, when I knew finally that we had achieved not only true expertise in this area, but became true leaders, was when Forrester independently audited our work, talked to our clients and looked in detail at how we worked, and in 2006 pronounced us to be clear "Leaders" in the field of user-centred design in Europe. Truly we could claim to be genuine experts at design and technology. Possibly my proudest moment I have to say.

Tesco.com - The Tesco.com board came to our offices some time in around 2007, and we told them what we thought about 'Web 2.0' and the change in consumer behaviours. About a week later, their CEO called and asked if we could come and help redesign their website. This was especially notable for the moment when after we proposed the biggest team we'd ever put on a design project, they said "Respectfully, we think you've underestimated the scale of this" and they were right. We ended up working for over a year on what is now a £1billion online business. I personally was intensely proud to have played a role in that.

 Tesco@Home - The Nick and Paul show - A couple of years ago, I was taken into Microsoft's confidence about a new product they had upcoming; Windows 7, and asked if we could help demonstrate its potential for in-home touchscreen applications. Well, fortunately, we could, and the result was a union with Tesco's famous Nick Lansley. We ran a great little project with Angela and her team at Tesco that resulted in myself and Nick presenting our work on stage at Microsoft's PDC in LA. Something like 5,000 people in the audience watched me waving my hands and coke cans at a screen whilst Nick talked ably about Tesco and our app. The app later went on to form the basis for a brand new Tesco product, that is still to enter the marketplace, so I can't talk about it!

But this was one of a number of projects I did in collaboration with Microsoft that fell in to the broad camp of 'innovation', and neatly takes me on to...

Microsoft - Since Day 1 at Conchango, Microsoft had been an important part of my life. But it was only in around 2006 when I discovered MIX, the MTC (Microsoft Technology Centre) and the DPE (Developer Platform Evangelism) group at Microsoft that this really took off. It seemed that we had the ability to bring Microsoft products to life in a way that made them relevant to the people we worked with; and fortunately built a great trust relationship with Microsoft where they would "open the kimono" (their phrase not mine!) to us on a number of things.

It was firstly truly amazing to be taken into this level of confidence, and even better to be rewarded with the opprotunity to start showing how this stuff worked in real life. Notably we did this with the FT, NEXT, Play.com, Tesco, Ordnance Survey and a variety of other great companies and brands. And to be one of the first people in the UK to take delivery of the first generation Microsoft Surface devices was equally thrilling.

Our most recent endeavour in that field was of course: http://joydefinesthefuture.com/ with BMW. Awesome project to be involved in, and intensely proud that it's one of the three sites that Microsoft suggest you just 'have to see' after installing IE9.

And of course, the chance to present at the MIX conferences. (I think next time you'll have to pay my airfare guys!) Those talks and the conversations afterwards were possibly some of the most enjoyable parts of my EMC life, and pushed me into a whole world of Conference presenting that I have since lapped up!

 Conferences and conference speaking then have become one of my real loves in my professional life and something I will definitely carry on after EMC. (hint hint conference bookers)

Barclays - Can't say too much on this, as all the stuff we did was secret - but suffice to say that they've become one of my favourite clients. The only time I have ever had a standing ovation from a room full of people when presenting the work we'd done. And this against the tide of my old boss who always used to say that he believed I hated financial services! But actually, I've also variously enjoyed the likes of John Charcol, Bristol & West, Lloyds of London and even had an early introduction to the sub-prime mortgage market (not through Barclays, I hasten to add!).

I've also variously loved working with (amongst others): B&Q, ASOS, Virgin Media, New Look, Setanta, BBC Radio, BBC Worldwide, See The Difference, Pru Health, River Island, NEXT, Jordan Grand Prix, (and another current F1 team I'm not allowed to name), DHL, Guinness World Records, BP, Shell, Enron (I know!), Aer Lingus, Jaguar Grand Prix, Figleaves.com, BMI Airlines, EOS Airlines, Haymarket, Emirates Airlines, Harrods, John Lewis, Birds Eye Walls, L'Oreal, Reed Elsevier, Reed Exhibitions, Debenhams, MFI, Vodafone, O2, Virgin Mobile, and even Virgin Galactic.

It's not a bad list is it? Thank you all. You've taught me a lot.

And thanks Mike, Richard, Colin, Richard and Iyas for letting do it in the first place, and EMC for letting me carry on for so long!

You can find me from hereon at LinkedIn: http://tinyurl.com/pauldawson and on Twitter: @poleydee

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Dave S. said:

Sorry to see you go. I'm sure whatever you do next will be worth watching out for.

May 24, 2011 8:23 PM

Phil said:

June 13, 2011 2:41 PM

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About Paul.Dawson

I started working in 'new media' when it was new... around 1996, doing websites for people like DHL and Cellnet (remember them?) as well as CD-Roms for people like Dorling Kindersley. I joined Conchango in 1999 because I was fed up with the conflicts and overlaps between the companies that we tended to partner with to deliver these things. Usually it was a tech company and a marketing agency. Neither had the user's needs in mind, and both were trying hard to take business away from each other. So at Conchango I saw the opportunity to create an integrated team, who as a result of all being on the same side, and following good user centred design process, delivered better stuff for both our clients and their customers. Bizarrely, now that we have teams who truly understand all these aspects of projects, we now partner very well with both tech and creative companies! So we built an interactive media team who do design, branding and user experience, and since 2006 have consistently been rated best in Europe at this by Forrester Research. Which was nice! Since then I've worked on digital strategy and innovation for companies like Virgin Atlantic, Barclays, Tesco and other great clients as part of EMC Consulting. Now I spend a lot of time evangelising to customers and at conferences, about what EMC Consulting do in the field of Customer and Brand Experience, as well as still working for real clients on real projects. The final thing I do is look out for what new user-facing technologies will be relevant to us, our customers and consumesrs. I help shape how we adopt them, and how we apply them, and how we build the skills we need to be the best at them.

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