I have just returned from the Danish capital Copenhagen where I attended the IDG Product Line meeting, an annual event where the editors and commercial teams of the our parent company - IDG - get together to discuss the opportunities and challenges of the modern media.
As a business and technology publishing company that produces CIO, ComputerWorld, TechWorld and CFO World across European markets, Asia Pacific and the US, there is a lot of talk about technology and a great deal of looking forwards for what technology will do for us as editors, writers and publishers.
Copenhagen is a fitting city to discuss technology and the future; it is also a good city to look at the "old" ways that are still very credible for the modern world.
For those of you who have looked at my personal Twitter feed you will know that I have an obsessive interest in the bicycle. Although there are some very technical and advanced bicycles in existence today using carbon fibre for forks and frames, hydraulic disc brakes, sat-nav and don't get me into conversation about advanced tyre compounds. But essentially the bicycle has remained true to its original form as a simple, efficient human powered form of transport. The diamond frame, pioneered by Rover in the UK has warped a bit on modern road and mountain bikes, but it is still a diamond frame.
The western world is awakening to the incredible efficiency of the bicycle as a form of transport as the Boris Bike scheme in London and similar versions in Paris attest. In the UK the level of cycling is increasing every year and that is wonderful news on every level. Copenhagen is a city that demonstrates how efficient the bicycle is as part of a capital cities infrastructure. There is no war with the car there are plenty of cars and footpaths for pedestrians and the usual public transport infrastructures. By providing every form of travel, whether it be on foot, pedal, automotive or mass public transport the city is relaxed and efficient. Cyclists are not in a battle with car drivers and drivers are not inhibited. The winner is the citizen. In the English speaking world "choice" is a political term for a government that will do nothing, but in Denmark, everyone has a choice and locals told me they switch between bicycle and car as it suits them.
Cities, like our organisations are becoming busier and therefore require greater management. Smart city ideas have been developed by the likes of IBM and I can't help thinking that cities will need CIOs in the near future to keep them working, refreshed and efficient. Just as corporate CIOs know when to keep a mainframe operating because being an old way of doing things is not necessarily a bad way of doing things, cities with CIOs will need to ensure the good old bicycle has a strong place in the infrastructure.
A series of presentations by fellow editors at IDG from around the world reminded me that although the world economy remains very precarious, the technology sector keeps moving forward and because it is addicted to innovation, the business world, and consumers, move forwards with it. That forward momentum will inevitably lead to the world economy improving as it is the nature of business to not stand still.
The social platforms of the internet continue to drive innovation and as all CIOs know, the innovation is also in the hands of the users as well as the providers. There is also a wealth of interesting ideas coming out of the usage of mobile devices, in particular the tablet PC.
Overall it has been an inspiring few days of realising that there are so many new technologies and ways coming into our worlds, and also that old technologies can answer modern problems.