Shaun Mccran

My digital playground


A career change, a blog hiatus, but I’m back to it now

It has been a while since I wrote any blog articles with any consistency. Like so many things in life, it was not a conscious decision to stop blogging or sharing knowledge. More that my day to day activities changed, and, as many of us do, I found new opportunities to drive myself forward that did not necessarily align to my historical skillset.

The hands-on work started to take a back seat in my day-to-day timetable. Coding, Information Architecture and User Experience design. All these things started to get left behind, while I moved through Architecture roles, eventually leading teams of people in the roles I'd previously held. The things I really enjoyed during previous roles became hobbies that I practiced in the evening, such as mobile development and JavaScript apps.

As you distance yourself from skills you used to use on a daily basis, skills you used to teach others through mentoring programs, the opportunity to blog about them became smaller, and my focus turned to driving my new skills to a point of maturity.

The process of becoming the trainee again, in new skills, such as understanding team members personalities, defining Enterprise Strategy, effective team management and successfully engaging with C grade stakeholders was a great personal challenge. The opportunity to step outside your comfort zone and learn new things is something I've always relished, but it does lead you to a place where you have a sharp learning curve, and you are no longer a master in your field. That tends to impact on your ability to blog on a subject with authority, or as a subject matter expert.

So! Its been a long journey. I've moved across several new disciplines, and now I'm getting that nagging feeling in the back of my head again. I've got views to share, best practices to push into the public space to talk about, and collaborate over. Its time to start blogging regularly again.


How Swindon Inchcape Audi destroyed my faith in the brand, and that specific dealership

How my Swindon Inchcape Audi meeting destroyed my faith in the brand, or at least that specific dealership. - Friday 17th January 2020

To set the scene, I'm 3 years into a 4-year PCP. this is the first Personal Contract Purchase vehicle I've owned, so its all a new experience, and as it's a premium brand, I'm was expecting an actual 'Experience' rather than a basic journey through facts and figures. With that in mind I booked an afternoon appointment to go through figures and options for a 3-year-old PCP, Audi A4, and look at booking in a set of test drives for replacement vehicles.

Our appointment was with a salesperson that we didn't have a previous relationship with, as ours, Richard, left a few months after selling us the car. Let's call the new chap Lee, that was his name, so let's use it. We sat down and had a brief intro, I asked him if he was having a good Friday, as typically people find Fridays to be a happy day of the week, to which he replied, 'it's another day, at least its not the weekend'. So not a glowing start, and a slightly weird beginning to the conversation.

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MIT autonomous Cheetah running and jumping over obstacles

MIT University recently released a video of their Cheetah project jumping over obstacles. The Cheetah project started a few years ago, the aim was to develop an autonomous robot that could perform under difficult conditions. Every now and then MIT release a video showing their progress with this.

The most recent video shows the Cheetah detecting the distance and height of an obstacle and adjusting its step length to accommodate jumping over it. You can view the Youtube video here.

This is pretty amazing stuff when you consider that this is entirely automated, it's a self-evaluating robotic Cheetah. This really shows that with a dedication of focus, thinking in the same direction, for a dedicated period of time, people can really bring something exciting and innovative into being. What will happen next to the Cheetah? Where will the MIT team take it? Well I'm excited to find out, and so should you be, as I think this could develop into many different industries and technologies, and bring about real, significant change to robotics and logical thought processing.

Read more about the MIT Cheetah here:


EE creates multi-tiered customer experience with 50p call queue-jumping charge

The mobile operator Everything Everywhere has recently caused a bit of controversy by introducing a 50 pence call fee for customers who want to jump the call waiting queue. This is available for Pay monthly (Contract) and sim only customers.

This raises some interesting questions and issues, specifically about the split in the customer base because of this. EE have effectively created a tiered customer service system with this move. Intentional or not they now have priority customers and second class customers.

Why not allow this for all your customers?

This is likely due to the spending profile, when you look at the different spending profile for Contract and pay-as-you-go customers the latter are far less likely to spend money on a premium service. Their PAYG habits mean that they are less likely to require support, and far less likely to pay for it, it typically has a more independent nature.

The dangers of a two tiered customer experience

Allowing some customers to jump the queue raises difficult questions around customer priority, and service levels. If I already have a contract that I am paying reasonable money for, why should I pay more for a support service?

Also is this queue jumping pushing other customers back? Probably. At the same time, if this is viewed as a revenue stream to EE, doesn't that encourage them to present the outward view to the customer that they are very busy, and that you should be paying for a premium service? Chances are the call centre staff are being measured on how many 'paid customers' they service rather than 'free' this will be a new KPI. By creating a bigger gap between the paid and non-paid service they can outwardly justify the fee. You can call them and receive free service, but you might be waiting a REALLY long time.... Or you could pay 50p to skip the REALLY long queue and talk to an agent sooner.

Whether this is real or not is debatable, but it does show that by creating two customer experiences ('we a care a lot because you paid' and 'we don't care because you're free') you are creating a dangerous class divide.

I'm really hoping that this isn't a trend and that other call centre providers don't follow suit. News article here: