Digital Catapault and digi.me: a success story!

Whether you’re starting out, growing or scaling up with your tech app, it can be a tough world out there.

We’ve been lucky enough to work closely with Digital Catapult, digital economy specialists who help SMEs grow and scale faster and smarter.

Scroll through below to view the case study we have just done with them:

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What is big data?

Personal data makes up the sum of our lives – but how often do we use the phrase ‘big data’ without fully understanding what it means?

We know – or should do – that pretty much everything we do these days leaves a digital footprint of some kind, but how many people think about or know what happens to that data once we’ve created it? Or that it’s not just what we do online, but offline as well – if it involves carrying a smartphone or using something like an Oyster travel card that knows where you’ve been and when.

Creating more data about ourselves every single day, we also produce an evermore detailed picture of who we are and what we like and do, that is easy for advertisers to track, gather and then monetise, either by tracking us online or selling that data on.

Scary, right? And more than a little annoying. The most obvious manifestation is targeted ads, that follow you around the web once you’ve searched for something.

But, as the advertisers don’t actually know you, although they’re trying very hard to act as if  they do, that information is very often inaccurate – not least if you’be bought a present for a friend or relative of the opposite gender, for example, or for a child.

So big data is omnipresent, evergrowing and often wrong – but what else is it? As a primer, this piece by BBC Radio presenter Timandra Harkness is my new go-to.

Smart on how data enriches our lives while also succinctly flagging up the issues with letting artifical intelligence overtake the human variety, she sums up thus:

“Big data has immense potential, no doubt about that. I met people who are using it to fight disease, to build a global database of destructive and dangerous insects, to prevent plane crashes, and to look into the darkest corners of the universe. But when it comes to human beings, it can be too big for its boots. And the fact we’re so willing to hand over life-changing decisions to big data says less about its true capabilities than it does about our lack of trust in ourselves, and in each other.”

Enjoy!

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digi.me and the ‘single social stream’

We’ve had such an exciting time here of late, finalising our £4.2m Series A funding and sharing our future plans for health and financial data, that you could be forgiven for forgetting just how awesome our existing app is.

So it was great to see it get some press coverage in its own right, from Mike Elgan at Computerworld, who has a huge interest in the whole sphere of ‘lifelogging’ and building a truly connected world.

Riffing on Facebook’s statement from the time of its IPO in 2012 about wanting a more open and connected internet, he laments the fact that Facebook, these days, is actually more about just trying to do that by getting all of the users itself, through organic growth and the acquisitions of both Instagram and Whatsapp.

And that, actually, most of us access multiple sites, maintaining multiple friend lists and interactions with the people on them, rather than being able to do all of this in one place.

But this brings its own problems: “The trouble is, using several social services is really hard — all that switching from one mobile app to the next, and from one website to the next. Each has its own design, menu structure, settings and configuration options, and processes for handling photos, likes and mentions.

“It’s also impossible for someone with a lot of friends to remember which people are on what network. Most people who try to use several social networks end up forgetting about some and spending most of their time on one, or maybe two. So much for an open and connected world.”

But he sees many benefits to a single stream, where all your posts are gathered in one place for insight and convenience, and guess who he has just found out about? Yep – digi.me – and he’s already a big fan:

“So there you go, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs: Digi.Me is a platform upon which you can build a service that achieves Facebook’s mission to make the world more open and connected — without a Facebook monopoly.”

While he sings our praises here – and even more so on his FatCast podcast interview with our founder and chairman Julian Ranger – “the company makes a product that you should absolutely be using” it’s only fair to say that we’re not the total solution to his single stream desire – he wants somewhere he can import the posts of others, too, and a single place where he can interact with them all, and that’s not what we do. (Although in time we expect to become a platform that others build their own services on.)

But we thoroughly recommend both reading the interview and listening to the whole podcast for an excellent and interesting discussion about what social media activity is today, and could be in the future.

And we can only agree that you absolutely should be using digi.me!

 

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What Hillary Clinton as US president would mean for the future of tech

As the eyes of the world look to the US ahead of the presidential elections in November, it’s clearer than ever that where Barack Obama’s successor leads, other countries will follow.

Which, regardless of which way you lean politically, makes Hillary Clinton publishing her tech agenda very interesting.

Technology is at the forefront of many of the big questions facing our world today, and critically important to how people in that world are able to live, work, be their best selves and contribute to the world of tomorrow.

Of course we’re not naive – her agenda is designed to tick all the boxes for all the people, and most politicians worldwide over promise and under deliver – but it’s still a glance into what a Clinton presidency would mean for some key tech issues.

As anyone familiar with us will know, our driving ambition is all about putting data back into the hands of the people who have most at stake in it – ie you – and giving them more control over what they can do with that.

As part of that, what countries say at a top tier level about what they want data to be and do is, in many ways, critical to our business and how we expand across the globe. So Hillary saying that she wants to “harness the power of technology and innovation” as well as fight for privacy and net neutrality speaks to what we believe in, and is very encouraging to hear.

Our Internet of Me vision sees each of us at the centre of our connected lives, gaining greater insight by gathering information formerly scattered all over the web in one place, and then allowing consumers to exchange it for rewards, while businesses allowed access to it can innovate using 100 per cent accurate and rich data sets.

The open flow of data worldwide is a critical part of this, and so commitments to: “fighting for Internet Freedom and insisting on the responsibility of all nations to respect free speech and human rights online, as well as the open flow of data across borders and access to digital markets.” also get the thumbs up.

Again with the caveats that having an agenda, even if elected, is of course no guarantee of action, plans to open up US data sets on health, education and criminal justice and strong protection of consumer values all sound broadly good too.

It’s got to be put in the mix with other policies as well, of course, and America will decide its next President on more than what they will do in the technology sphere.

But it would be interesting to see Donald Trump set out a similar agenda, so we could see where he stands on these critical issues of our times.

 

 

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My son has just turned 3 – and I’ve already forgotten so much about him

My second son had his third birthday recently – and flicking back through old pictures and posts on my digi.me I was struck by how much has already fallen out of my own, non-digital memory.

I’m not an obsessive photo-taker by any means, for social media or otherwise, but as I scrolled back on my phone through happy days out, big moments and things deemed funny or silly enough to snap on the spur of the moment, I was shocked by how many I couldn’t immediately place, or that didn’t quickly spark additional memories.

Partly, of course, this is just life – son 2 followed exactly 23 months after his older brother, so we were busy all the time. Still are, really, as we combine family life with building two businesses and the associated stresses of freelance and contractor life. And let’s not forget a full two years (and counting) of 5am wake-ups. I haven’t – and I doubt I will.

Still, that said, I want to remember, and be reminded of, all the fun I have with my boys, now and in the future – I want the keys to my memory to hand all the time, easily accessible and easy to explore.

For me personally, this ability of digi.me to act as an exterior brain, all-seeing and uber reliable, is my favourite of its features. I love scrolling back through random dates, remembering what I was doing and how small (so small) my kids looked in the reasonably recent past.

I enjoy, too, the flashback pictures and posts that pop up each morning, and the ability to gather favourite pictures from different platforms together on a beautiful PDF.

For my 21st, my parents spent ages going through drawers and albums full of family pictures, to make me an album of my (I quote)  ‘first, great 21 years’. I loved it then and I love it now, not just because it was a labour of love, but because all the best bits and highlights of all our lives are in there, contained in one large album that I can flick through at will.

When my sons come of age, I look forward to doing something similar that they too can keep – but I suspect digi.me will make the job a whole lot easier!

 

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New! Choose the location of your digi.me library!

We’ve just released a new version of our desktop app (v.2.0 for those keeping track) – and it’s a big one.

Now, for the first time, you can decide where your digi.me library will live.

Yes, in what we know will be a popular move, you can now move it to Dropbox if you want to access it from more than one computer.

But we didn’t just stop at library location! Nope, we’ve updated all of our apps so that you can access your library from all of your devices, provided they run Windows, macOS, iOS or Android.

So how does this work? Well, when you open up digi.me after updating you will see a new prompt offering you to move your library to Dropbox, and guiding you through the process. It’s as simple as that.

And it’s not a one-time deal either – you can do this, or change your library location at any time, by going to the General Settings.

This has been a mammoth task by us to ensure that no data is ever lost or corrupted as it is moved

There’s been a lot of work going on behind the scenes, much of which is not visible, but we have also fixed a couple of sync and search issues that a few of you had identified.

Now we’re working on another new version that will look a lot different, with lots of exciting new features – so stay tuned!

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Spreading the joy of tech at MESTival

We were delighted to take part in the MESTival festival at St Swithun’s School in Winchester this week.

With over 1,000 students from years 5-13 attending from across Hampshire, the festival aimed to give those attending lots of information about, as well as inspiration for, the STEM careers of science, technology, engineering and maths.

Our aim was to demonstrate the joy of tech and how rewarding a career where you can change people’s lives can be – and our demo showing just how easy coding can be to get in to went down well.

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Naturally, we also didn’t miss the opportunity to explain why the Internet of Me is the way forward for personal data and privacy, as young people now will arguably be the biggest benefactors of this in years to come.

With exhibitors including the Army and Navy, a host of STEM-related activities including rocket-powered cars, plus lots of information on potential careers and universities, hats off to St Swithun’s for organising an excellent MESTival!

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digi.me iOS app demo (trust us, you’ll love it!)

We’re very proud of our digi.me iOS and Android apps, which are available to download here, and thought you’d like to have a look at all the cool features we’re added so you can make the most of your data on the go.

Everything we do, we do it for you (as Bryan Adams almost said), so sit back and enjoy – and then download!

Have something to say? Simply shake your device to leave feedback – you can’t say fairer than that!

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digi.me raises £4.2M ($6.1m) in Series A funding round

Digi.me, the pioneering start-up revolutionising how consumers and businesses harness the power of personal data, has secured £4.2m ($6.1m) from Series A funding led by global re-insurer Swiss Re.

With the new funds digi.me will accelerate the development and launch of its unique permissioned access platform, which will soon let users bring together wide-ranging data such as health and financial information and share it – if they wish – with businesses in exchange for personalised services, convenience or reward.

Businesses who are granted access to this 100% accurate, rich and deep personal data can develop truly personalised services for their users. Digi.me’s approach delivers a true win-win proposition, enabling a value exchange that is transparent and mutually beneficial, increasing consumer trust as well as opportunities for innovation.

Digi.me founder and chairman Julian Ranger said: “This is a watershed moment for digi.me. Following our extensive work and innovation in the concept of each of us truly owning and controlling our own personal data, this investment enables us to make the Internet of Me available to everyone, consumers and businesses alike.

“This concept, which is better for the individual and also better for businesses who can access rich data with full user permission, while meeting all new data protection rules such as the GDPR, will allow digi.me to accelerate its activities with a number of multi-national companies who we are already working with, and bring further major businesses into our new ecosystem.”

Daniel Ryan, Head of Digital Analytics Catalysts at Swiss Re, said: “People want to be in control of their data, and many have strong views over what they are willing to share and what they want to keep private.  We’re excited about digi.me because it will enable people to go one step further, and provide full transparency over how they can use their data to access services and benefits.”

Digi.me’s current version of the app, which gathers pictures and posts from the major social media networks, already has over 400,000 users in 140 countries. It proved that aggregating personal data streams to bring them to life achieves greater value and personal insight that is impossible to get when that data is scattered across the web.

With the digi.me app, users have their online life at their fingertips with tools including universal search across all platforms, daily flashbacks, the ability to create custom collections of content, data export and more. Soon, it will be possible for users to add their financial and health information. Other streams of personal data will be added in the future.

Digi.me’s unique approach and technology also guarantees that all user data remains wholly private to the individual. Digi.me doesn’t see, touch nor hold any of the personal data downloaded by the user. The app, now available on PC, Mac, iOS and Android, simply aggregates, normalises, indexes and encrypts the data allowing it to be searched, presented and shared in ways that were impossible until now.

The successful Series A funding builds on a very strong period of growth and influence for digi.me. The last 12 months saw the announcements of its partnerships with Toshiba, Lenovo and Evernote and the appointment of Jim Pasquale as Executive Vice President North America as part of its international expansion plans. The company also attracted prestigious members to its advisory board including internet visionaries Doc Searls and Gordon Bell, as well as industry leaders Rafael Marin, Stephanie Liston and Guy Whittaker.

Digi.me, which has now raised £7.1m ($10.2m) since launching in 2009, has huge ambitions and is working on projects with world-leading businesses in the health, finance, FMCG and telco sectors. It is also on course to set up a ‘living lab’ that will be announced later this year.

Digi.me is available on desktop for PC and Mac https://digi.me/download-trial and for mobile on iOS and Android http://try.digi.me/

Journalist? Find our press pack here

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digi.me and the Internet of Me is all about user centricity

There’s been a lot of buzz around ‘user centricity’ lately, as a technology megatrend that will unite all others before it.

It stems from an excellent post by Andy Weissman of USV, where he expands on the theme of people being the CEO of their own health, with doctors as their consultants.

As he says, and we agree wholeheartedly with, technology is becoming more and more personal – and people expect that to extend to every area of their lives, including how they manage their health.

In short, they want to be at the centre of their medical universe – and with an increasing number of phone apps that can do actual medical tests and track the likes of fertility, there’s clear evidence that this is already starting to happen.

Aggregrating different streams of information to provide a whole more useful and insightful than the sum of its parts is our guiding vision here at digi.me.

As part of that, we will shortly be giving users the ability to add full health and financial data to their personal data libraries, making them a more rounded and complete picture of their owners’ lives. And with it the ability to do more with that data as well as be in control of it. More data streams will then follow.

Uniting lots of common technological themes and magnifying them is what makes user centricity a megatrend. So platforms such as digi.me, which unlocks the power of personal data for the benefit of users and consumers, and the Internet of Me which seeks to put users at the centre of their connected lives are both prime examples of user centricity, writ large and actually in existence in lives today.

Andy goes on to note: “What is happening may be that the components of medical care are being reordered into something new – patient demanded and patient centric. Defined by the user and user needs…The thing that ties all these together is putting the user – the consumer of the healthcare – at the center of the universe and building out from there.”

User centricity is a growing trend and belief that we can expect to see and hear more and more of in every aspect of our lives, as industries of all kinds acknowledge the power people have in their phones, their data and the associated personal data stores they create, and work with that rather than against it.

And because user centricity is a trend that each of us will be part of and benefit from, we look forward to that happening sooner rather than later.