IP and property intellectual landscape challenges in a world of big data: interview with Lyall Timmons – Part 2

IntelligentHQ Part 2  interview with Lyall Timmons, an international IP expert and entrepreneur. IP intellectual property landscape challenges are a critical theme for businesses in a fast changing world of big data, copy rights and patents. The big data and social media technologies and platforms are creating new astonishing new amounts of data and Intellectual Property concerns that open new challenges and opportunities. 

Lyall Timmons advises large multi-nationals and SME’s on business intelligence and the benefits that data can provide when managed properly. He also brings his thoughts to market in the form of disruptive IP, consumer goods, INTERNET platforms and a few “crackers” as he calls them.


IntelligentHQ – At the moment the Pieces of Hardware relate with Pieces of Software and Apps to support data, how do you see the IP role on this specific interrelated ecosystem?

L.T.: One cannot co-exist without the others to give the user the maximum benefit.  Very early on we solved a problem, that was the easy bit! Monetising the problem and making a sustainable business model has been the slog.  When we launch our business we need to be in the position to port and scale quickly so putting in the extra work has been beneficial to this process.  People need to think like McDonald’s.  If McDonald’s wanted to open a restaurant in, let us say rural France, then I guarantee that they could do it within 30 days as they have the ability to pick up their business model and put it anywhere they want to.  Do you understand? We solved a problem but our test bet said “this is great, well done……but it is kind of boring to do” so we listened and started to piece the puzzle together where it was an enjoyable user experience.  It comes back to the fact that data is not fun – if you think it is fun, then you need to go in the back garden and give yourself a “slap”.  It is mind-numbingly boring and repetitive, which is why so many leave the profession as they are frazzled.  Visualizing data is quite nice and I love the way info-graphics and info-charts have injected “sexy” into the industry.  We are not going to do a Microsoft and release something where we know it needs add-ons then charge for them whilst having V1,2,3 ready to publish.  That is against my morals and it is cheating on consumer.

IntelligentHQ – Where are the borders of Fremium, Premium, Enterprise version data models and where is the final frontier?

L.T.: I like to think of our business translations as –

FREEMIUM – All the tools you need to give you a result, everything you need to not feel cheated by the experience

PREMIUM – The tools you need to make money.  If you are making money then you can afford to pay for the service and to provide the service we have to spend money

ENTERPRISE – The tools you need to service your business and make it function with many users. You may want changes to things like UI to make it simple to integrate into your day to day running.  This is very much large multi national organisations.

Many companies give you a “trial” version – I hate these – hardly any transfer into subscriptions or upgrades as they keep the juicy stuff for later.  Why do companies do this? Do they think that their users are stupid? Well they are not.  We want to get to know our users and provide them with the tools they need to be better and in order to do this, I believe, they need access to everything that we can possibly provide at a sustainable cost – otherwise our business will not be around for long so it defeats the purpose.

What I can say is that, if any, nearest competitor to us is 400% more expensive.  When this drops, heads are going to turn because we never came at this from a development background and haven`t been clouded by opinion.  We knew what we wanted to achieve and got the best guys in the world to help us translate this and cover up all the things that make data complicated.  This again is not the answer to everyone but we will define/re-define landscapes and give the user something they haven`t had before – control.

IntelligentHQ – IP and open source are one of the biggest challenges for business. What is your position?

L.T.: We are open source, the more we know the better we can all learn.  One of my challenges is to redefine this landscape with my future business offerings.  I firmly believe that if we are better educated we are better equipped to make decisions.  That education comes 10% in house but to learn from it you need to have an overview of what the rest of your market segment is doing.  Something as simple as not publishing company names but just quantified and accurate results goes a long way to sorting this out

IntelligentHQ – Social media data has augmented IP questions and intellectual property, how do you see this issues?

L.T.: It comes back to my IP issues.  Social media sites are great when things are going well for you as it is a good promotion for you and your business, but the minute you don`t like something, then everyone screams “IP invasion of privacy”.  I call Facebook and Twitter etc “begfriend”.  There are not “meaningful” relationships, they are advertising tools and ego strokers.  Don`t get me wrong, I love what they have both achieved but they are only Phase One of the web.   What we are going to find is the Web1.0 was all about connecting people.  Web 2.0 is about delving into those relationships and making them meaningful.  Linkedin, and I say this all the time, was light years ahead in solving the problem, if you think that platform has had explosive growth then just watch what happens over the next 5 years when we begin to really drill down into relationships.  Here is my take on it all.  You have 4 sub sections of your life –

  1. Social Relationships
  2. Work Relationships
  3. Family Relationships
  4. Sporting Relationships

I have split 1 and 4 because they are a huge markets and need a more user driven platforms. Some have been covered very well, others are terrible and we will not figure them out for the next few years but that is where it is heading.

So, getting back to the IP question my answer is – if you post something for the world to see, you give it to the world to use how it wants.  Call it “open source”.  Lock your tweets and facebook status then it is “closed source” and you are indicating that you do not want opinion or the world to see.  It is easy to understand, isn’t it?  Why don`t we have a problem with “bloggers” on IP issues?  Because they get it, they put their thoughts or comments out there for anyone to use how they see fit.  I have a saying that people hear me go on about on a daily basis.

It is “opinions are only valid when i ask for them”.  This comes from everyone being a bloody expert on every matter.  Sometimes you don`t want someone’s opinion and if haven`t asked for it, but if you tweet about something then you will get “opinionated” responses back.  Lets just stop moaning about it, unless you moan, because you want attention which is clever.

The problem in the market is this:  Let us say a bank employee tweets “after working on the desk today i have decided that leggings should be banned on fat people #fatty” and a customer stumbles upon that tweet and thinks “right, i am going to sue the bank for that”.  Well, that is just ridiculous – its is not the bank that has tweeted that, it is the individual, but the bank gets the blame, because it is a huge business and the customers see pound signs by suing them!!

My point is that you should be held accountable for the actions you take, not your employer because they have a few quid in the bank.  You are seeing more and more “these views are entirely my own and not the views of my employer” because this type of problem is surfacing a lot.  Simple remedy is to sign two contracts.  First is a normal employment contract and second is a social media contract that lets you know boundary’s in the workplace.  I know it sounds crazy but would solve a lot of problems, wouldn`t it?

Social Media does not need to have augmented IP questions.  It just needs common sense which unfortunately a small minority do not have.  We should also be mindful that out of the billions and billions of social media users today we are talking about a small minority that raises the issue. Go and Google “Douban” or “Sina Weibo” or even “Habbo”.  They do not have those issues, so if you don`t like one social media website you have loads of choices – you may have to learn Chinese however to get a peaceful one!

I like to blame Mark Zuckerberg on the hope he reads one of my interviews and we can meet then I can sort his dress sense out! So, Zuck, if you are reading this hit me up – i forgive you! Facebook is a company that has grown quickly and crosses into B2B and B2C without a true identity but you know what, just now, our world COULD NOT exist without Facebook – could you imagine if they pulled the plug.  I hear the Winklevoss twins are now VC`s!Cracks me up that – who wants to be associated with the Decca Records of our generation.  Can not see that working and talking about VC`s, i am sure angel list have something to say about the Winklers current business proposition.

IP theft is a crime.  If you steal £1000 from someone you will most probably go to jail but steal someones IP and it gets discussed in court without police action – this is wrong and needs to be addressed and the individuals involved held responsible.

People often ask what educates me? Who do you learn from? I have many sources that I like to relate to but none more than a design studio in London called UsTwo.  One of the founders constantly talks about succailure (a mixture of success and failure) you see they have a small team that develop their own in house IP and by all accounts they haven`t hit the margins they may have expected.  What “Chief Wonka” does well, and there is no-one in the world as honest in my opinion, is share the learning experience with everyone. They aren`t frightened to say “we got this wrong and it costs us a lot of money” and here is what we did.  I can safely say I have learned more from this individual than any convention or course or real life experience I have encountered.  My point here is no-one in the social media space ever says they got it wrong, everyone gets it right, or has an excuse.  Here we have an example of an “innovator” and someone so brutally honest in an industry with fudged figures that it actually has enhanced their profile greatly and they work with a number of high profile clients.  Check them out, seriously, have a look at all aspects of what they do and learn from it – I do it all the time.  I have never met “Chief Wonka” but if I am ever in his company I will thank him and his team for the lessons I have learned by the mistakes they have made.

IntelligentHQ – Who owns the data and IP published in social media platforms and respective crowdsourced amplification?

L.T.: We own it, but we publish it, otherwise no-one would ever get investment because Silicone Valley has created a culture of “you must own your data” and the rest of the world has said “well okay, if they are doing it then we must have to do it as well”.  That filters through like Chinese whispers and gets diluted to the point we are at now.  When signing up for the platform we will be very upfront in telling users what and why we have ownership over their data but re-assure them that we will never sell it on and they can access it at any time.  I have already started scripting the first line of the disclaimer – “Dear User, Mark Zuckerberg screwed this up so we have to ask that you tick this box, so we can pretend to own your data”.

IntelligentHQ – Data and IP at the moment are measured by algorithms. How do you see this at the present and in the near future?

L.T.: This will change greatly, i don`t know how but people are smart and have come up with very complicated ways to “cheat” them.  This happens mainly in the financial sector as well and there have been many examples recently of “trading” irregularities.  Problem society faces is as soon as something is built the thought process by many is to break it, open it up or exploit it.  This needs to be a results-based industry and I hope that it is the measurement rather than the back-end stuff.

For the near future, I think the industry will go back into itself a bit and then come back fighting.  There are so many great systems but coupled with so many bad systems that it is effecting the ecosystem.  The bad ones can not last for long and can not compete with only one service offering.  It is only a matter of time that the business model will head towards mainly freemium in my opinion and the vast majority of revenues are collected from engineers being paid by the end user to service the platforms.  Let us get rid of the bad and embrace the brilliant – then we can truly move forward.


Lyall Timmons  Bio

Timmons left Dundee in 1996 to embark on his one ambition of being a professional tennis coach and by 2005 he had set out to do everything he wanted to accomplish. A “Life changing chance conversation” turned him into an entrepreneur and advisor. 3 years ago he entered the world of big data with no experience. Nowadays, Timmons advises large multi-nationals and SME’s on business intelligence and the benefits that data can provide when managed properly. He also brings his thoughts to market in the form of disruptive IP, consumer goods, INTERNET platforms and a few “crackers” as he calls them.His consultancy relies on “word of mouth” what is considered by Timmons the main reason he gets so much business without trading on other names and keeping everything in house. Referring to his years of professional tennis coaching he describes the main lesson he transfers to his clients is the saying “the hardest think in sports is to admit and show your opponents you have a problem, then people think you are mentally weak-it’s the same in business”.He is based in rural Cumbria which suits him as he can “just be dad and the dishwasher/dog walker when home”.


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IP and property intellectual landscape challenges in a world of big data: interview with Lyall Timmons – Part 1