The Change

This is going to be a fairly unusual post in that I’ll be writing about work, but besides my usual disclaimer there’s nothing in it that goes against the company’s rules regarding blogging, a copy of which landed on my desk a month or so back as I was discussing with a bunch of folk what would be the next step in my “career”:RuiCarmo.

The last few weeks have been a blur, but we recently launched Vodafone 360 (roughly a month after the announcement and local press conference, on schedule), and although I had to miss out on the launch party for personal reasons1, a bunch of things began to change from that moment onwards…

In a nutshell

For those of you in a hurry, I’m now the local program manager for 360, having started to take up some of the load during the last couple of weeks. So I’ll be one of the people driving the roll-out and evolution of 360 in Vodafone Portugal at the macro level, and it already looks to be a terrific challenge.

From Small Acorns…

And that’s as far as I’ll go regarding what I’m up to – let’s take a step back and try to look at the bigger picture here.

First off, it has to be pretty obvious to anyone walking the streets, watching the TV spots or keeping track of mobile industry news that 360 is going to be a big part of Vodafone’s approach to the smartphone market for the foreseeable future.

It’s that simple – and people who’ve read this blog for a while know I steer clear of hype and industry punditry and have always been heavily critical of the use of technology for technology’s sake.

Those who know me in person have long taken the extra step into understanding that I value ubiquity, usability and making a real difference in people’s lives above just about everything else, so it shouldn’t be a complete surprise that I’ve accepted the challenge to tackle 360 and social networking on the mobile in one go.

The way I see it personally, social networking has been trying to be too many things to too many people for a good while. 360 goes back to basics and tries the only angle that makes sense to me, (again, personally) – it starts from real people and their real relationships, embodied as (and closely coupled to) the only personal device that people would (by choice) never leave home without: their mobile phone.

What it does besides that and where it will go to is not up to me to reveal – the only point I want to make right now (as I did before while musing about my own attempt at re-prioritizing my idle time) is that it is something that mobile operators need to tackle as the industry evolves.

As to my taking such a role, well… I’ve been spiraling into the project for a couple of years now, and the opportunity arose2 to do what I think I do better – i.e., acting as an organizational interpreter and getting things done, but in a larger and more interesting setting.

Dilbert, Take Your Best Shot

In geek terms, I’m going meta – my job is now all about understanding how best to organize things, meeting high-level priorities, working out better ways to do things faster, and bridge the gap between several teams – as well as providing my peers at Group with insights as to what best suits our market, largely thanks to the doggedly way I’ve been keeping track of a bazillion industry trends in parallel for a good while now.

As material consequence of it all, this Monday I moved to a new desk – it’s roughly on the same place on a different floor3, but physical change is always the one thing that drives home that you’re actually doing something new.

On Impartiality and Permanence

So where does this leave my use of Apple gear? Or this site’s focus? Or even (for those of you in the tin hats) its own peculiar brand of unbiased industry critique?

Well, there are two factors at play here:

  1. I’ve always been a strong believer in not mixing personal stuff with work (that’s one of the reasons I got a Mac in the first place), so I don’t see a problem with things staying as they are, especially since I don’t see any reason for me to stop using any sort of Apple products.
  2. I once wrote that if a company I worked for asked me to remove my web presence (in whole or in part), I’d do it, period.

But from what I’ve since been briefed on and considering that my disclaimer has held up pretty well over the years, I don’t see any chance of this site fading away other than by sheer lack of time.

In fact, it may well be that I’ll have the opportunity to write a bit more about what I actually do, but in another context – i.e., someplace else – and, in the meantime, you’ll see zero further mention of Vodafone 360 here, at least where it regards my role in it.

Time, as always, will tell how everything turns out – even while in an industry where change (and fast-moving competition4) is the norm, I’ve been exceptionally lucky in a number of regards both personally and professionally, and am acutely reminded of it every day.

Which is why I’m taking today off work to enjoy my birthday by being with my kid and family, which is a lot more important than anything else I could think of right now.

1 Life’s true priorities have a way of becoming obvious once your kid comes up to you with a toy car the instant you step into the hallway and pulls you down to play with him. There was no way I was going out to a party and miss out on that.

2 My innate ability at getting along with both telco and ISP cultures and – let’s face it – my habit of getting into trouble by being parachuted into nearly every strategic project to act as a consultant have both also been a factor, of course.

3 Moving to London or Düsseldorf is something I’ve opted out of years back, and I’ve never regretted electing to stay in Lisbon – as the traditional corporate pyramids broke down into a set of matrixes and increasingly flexible groups of people, the belief that you need to have everyone close to you has finally started to wane, so I don’t think anybody can say with a straight face that working for a multinational is only worth it when you’re at the physical center of things.

4 It would be unfair of me to not give at least a tip of the hat to the Pond team for managing to put together an interesting social aggregator on such short notice (duct tape included), and launch its closed beta on the day I take office – it’s going to be fun competing with you (even though there are clearly different approaches at play), and I’m looking forward to it.