Smart421 were delighted to again be invited by Brendan O’Rourke to sponsor the annual Telefonica O2 Online, Integration and Product Design (OIPD) team event this year. As with the event we supported last year it was held at the very impressive Emirates stadium in London and was a mixture of team building activities, guest speakers and some great eating/drinking. As a key partner of O2, we support their events quite frequently – for example see this, this and this blog post.

Throughout the day we ran a demonstration of the monitoring dashboard of our SmartIntegrator product, which amongst other functions we use for O2 to provide a robust, high performance gateway for all EPOS prepay transactions. This supports millions of payment transactions a day and so it made for a great competition – guess the £ value of mobile phone top-ups performed during the event. We held a prize draw with some bottles of champers for the closest three guesses during the day – most people came in too low as the volume and total value of prepay transactions handled per day is immense – measured in the £m. Here’s a deliberately obscured screen shot of the monitoring dashboard that allows us to monitor transaction and £ volumes in real time, and the health and throughput of the various components of the architecture…

SmartIntegrator Monitor Screenshot

The guest speakers included an Olympic rifle athlete Ken Parr who is being supported by O2 throughout his training. His level of commitment to training was phenomenal, and yet he was quite realistic about his chances of selection for London 2012 – he didn’t expect to get selected despite being a Commonwealth Games silver medal winner. Apparently age is a good thing in his sport, and so there’s always the next Olympics to aim for…

Author of “The Undercover Economist” and FT columnist Tim Harford was the second guest speaker (see picture below) and gave a very entertaining talk on the barriers and enablers for innovation, coming at it from an economics perceptive. He managed to weave together the history of the Spitfire, philanthropic funding bodies and medical research to support one of his key arguments – which was that to some extent innovation requires a “bubble” to operate in, otherwise the prevailing consensus acts as a brake on creativity. He also convincingly argued that over-management of innovation efforts (e.g. setting short term targets rather than “playing”) tends to prevent significant break throughs and and leads to smaller incremental innovations rather than ground breaking changes.

O2 2012 OIPD Event

From left: Brendan O’Rourke, CIO Digital at Telefonica UK, Tim Harford – Senior Columnist at Financial Times, Robin Meehan, CTO at Smart421

The final speaker was Julian Douglas from O2’s brand agency VCCP who walked through the various adverts used to support the O2 brand journey for the last 8 years or so. This was a fascinating insight into brand creation and development and showcased how the various strategies used have evolved over time to meet specific internal, competitive and market challenges – including sponsorship of the Dome, Priority Moments and er…the fawn. A key takeaway for me – Sean Bean’s done nicely out of it :)