Power to the People ….But from Where, When and How ?

It nevers rains but it pours

Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) and Alexander Pope (1688-1744) collaborated on an essay entitled ‘It Cannot Rain But It Pours.’ 

It doesn’t actually do that anymore, rain that is …(he says as he looks through the window and sees it chucking it down). When the Black Eye Peas wrote the song (2009) ‘Power to the People’ they did not envisage the scenario we are all facing today. Well, that is also a little inaccurate, in so far as huge swathes of populations throughout Europe feel disenfranchised politically. This is about the whole issue of energy. There goes another small error, I could not possibly talk about the Whole issue, just what effects our businesses, and the ecosystems surrounding them. Even that’s a squeeze in a thousand words.

Within the last week a number of European states have announced packages to support their populations. The UK has announced a price freeze for two years (6 months so far for businesses). All of this is ok but what has got unnoticed is the issue of whether there is enough energy to keep the lights and heating on all winter. Again, in the UK it has gone very quiet as we have a couple of other Power changes, a New PM and New King. Which has mean that the real issues of power and energy have been replaced by headlines over titular Power.

Whilst I don’t have any insider knowledge, I suspect that the concerns about lack of power are slightly overplayed. That said the policy of capping the price increases of gas and electricity is not going to encourage the judicious use of the energy that we do have. I, unfortunately, come from a generation that experienced the Three Day Week in the UK in the early ’70s. For those who don’t know this was to conserve energy as there was a coal miners’ strike.

Queues at a Bakers 1974 during the 3-day week

The immediate impact within our industry (Party) was that all our customers doubled their normal requirements. It was absolutely bonkers. There were no concerns about shrinking demand but there were huge concerns about shrinking supply. Whilst there is no direct comparison, we are just emerging from a period supply issues, to, once again, the possibility of supply issues. Having experienced a number of pretty severe recessions, I know that the Party market is very resilient. Even if the lights go out people will have parties. More to the point, if the lights go out, they are more likely to have parties. Furthermore, if they can’t afford to go out, they will have parties. Very little of what we all sell, requires any source of power, apart from personal energy in throwing a party.

What has diverted my intention from when I started on this post is the other Power factor that of power by our governing bodies. The UK has just experienced a very unique set of circumstances and Brand-New Head of Government, arrived at by a (very loose) democratic vote and a Brand-New Head of State, arrived through dint of birth. The consequence is a Power vacuum or rather Power inertia for ten days. A large number of Civil servants have been withdrawn from political offices in order to manage the proceedings following the Monarch’s death and Parliament is de-activated in order that the Coffin can lie in state within Parliament and all political activity stops during the period of Official Mourning. Meanwhile the Government’s Bill concerning the energy support programme goes through with little detail and no opportunity to be questioned. None of this is anyone’s fault in particular but it is the result of a system that perhaps needs further investigation.

All of which begs the question facing the UK population, which at the moment, probably does not want to ask, is where all the energy is coming from to power up numerous Royal Castles, Windsor, Balmoral, Sandringham, St James Palace, Holyrood Palace, Buckingham Palace to name but a few (there are 23 Royal Residences). Any one of which would be bigger enough to house the entire Royal Family as opposed to one small part i.e. King and his Consort. A particularly difficult question for the new King as he so dedicated to Climate Change and the environment.


Despite the eye-watering costs, the Queen’s residences have already begun looking for greener alternatives including energy-efficient LED lighting and using hydroelectric power from the River Thames. The research has been released by price comparison website Uswitch.com, with its calculations based on the assumption that the properties in question are running on domestic tariffs. Buckingham Palace, with its 775 rooms, 77,000 square metres of floor space and swimming pool is estimated to be the most expensive royal residence in the UK, costing £1.1million a year to power. Express March 2021 -obviously remove The Queen and replace with the King. And, of course these will be at 2021 prices.

What is the difference between Power and Energy

When work is done on an object, energy is transferred. The rate at which this energy is transferred is called power. So the more powerful a device is, the more energy it will transfer each second.

This all jolly interesting but to all of us wondering where our energy comes from this coming winter, not especially relevant. At this point in time nobody seems to want/able to tell us. In the UK the Powers to be haven’t got the time as they are too involved in ensuring that another level of Power, that perhaps we had all much underestimated has the energy to remain in power. The latter maybe titular on the surface, but the events of the last week suggest that perhaps it runs deeper and is more complex than we had imagined.

So, because of Government, proposals, we have an idea of what it will cost, we know that the energy will come from some sort of Power Station, but we don’t know if there will be enough. But what we don’t know is where the real Stations of Power are and at what Cost they come…

Do you eat too much Data?

Err Yes ….bit of a no brainier really. Or at very least it is for me. Only have to meet three people (data) ,and I would have forgotten the name of two within ten minutes . We are awash with it, data that is .

In any business we are constantly being told that the more information (for information read data , its the same thing) you obtain, the better you can operate your business. There is no doubt that there is an element of truth here, but only an element.

Ever since mankind decided it was jolly useful to write stuff down, we have collected data. How we used it depends on who you were or are. Historically the collection of data was rarely used for the general benefit of society. It was more about who or what you owned and just as important how you can increase your ownership and power structure. Many would say that little has changed.

Whatever the motivation data has become increasingly important to the point that it could argued that power wealth and data are inextricably linked . That said it can be argued that society has benefited from its use within areas such as health, education, technology and well being.

We are awash with it and half the time we don’t know what to do with it and the other half we think we do but we don’t really. I am not referring to those of us sat the bottom of the data strata, I am talking about the data giants, the Googles, Facebooks, Amazon et al. Here’s one of my favourites , or rather personal pet hates ( not ‘pet’ hates , as I love pets but ‘hates’ that I love the most ). The super companies who probably accrue more data together than the rest of the world intelligence services. I search for a new telly . I buy one. Meanwhile the cogs at google have been whizzing away saying that I am wildly interested in TV sets. and send me ads for the next six weeks. But I have bough one and you know that as well so what is the point in sucking loads of dosh from companies who are advertising to sell me one when I have already bough the bloody thing. Amazon admit to some sellers they struggle with the counterfeits as there is so much that goes through their market place. If they struggle what does any mortal company do about it.

Covid seems to be the perfect example of incremental amounts of data with bucket loads of organisations interpreting it all in widely different ways , leading to utter confusion and in many cases poorer decision making.

The above image replicates one of the more everyday, and simpler data overloads that many of us face everyday . Every item of data is most probably valid and legitimate but the method of portrayal, imagery and context is likely to lead to misunderstanding, poor decision making and ultimately much worse .

Some Completely Bonkers Data statistics

Here’s a very simple example I made up myself, which will seem obvious (that I made it up).

Man walks into jewellery shop and buys a very expensive piece . He does not speak to anyone or ask any questions , just takes it to the counter, pays for it then walks out .

That transaction is now a piece of data for that retailer. But what use is it ? What was the purpose of the purchase ?what is the customer profile ?

1. He bought it for his Wife

2. He bought it for his Mistress

3. He bought it for his Daughter

4. He is a cross dresser

The list is endless and without further data is really of no help to the retailer as to why certain purchases are made. Its very simple but by being very simple illustrates how very complex data can easily be misread if read at all.

Data accrues data. It feeds on itself . The more there is the more processes that are needed to make use of it and even to determine if its of any use. Worse still is bad data. The data on its own will not have any indicator that it is bad . It is its effect that makes it bad. Viruses are made from using bits of data albeit in a rather nasty way. Combatting bad data is more ‘good’ data.

In 2018 alone, the development of macOS malware tripled. As much as 250,000 new malicious programs are registered every single day, and there are grounds to assume this number will keep growing. A thorough analysis of scans performed by our users revealed that as much as 62% of Macs are infected with viruses (with an average of five infected files per user)


The flow is relentless and will only increase at an exponential rate . Mankind has becoming data obese. Obesity has many side effects . Data obesity has its own hunger and that is energy . It consumes vast quantities of energy . And this is only the beginning.

Bitcoin consumes a similar amount of power to the Netherlands

This suggests that whilst we may all be trying to reducing our energy consumption , data will be out there having an orgy of eating more energy . I am sure that tech guys will find ways of reducing this hungry beast, but they will need to ‘crunch’ a load more data to find the answers.

Most large organisations have CIO’s -Chief Information Officers who report to the CEO. They know the importance of data but whether they are able to really understand it remains to be seen . There have been too many events within the last 10-5 years when events that have occurred because previous data has been ignored or misinterpreted . The financial crisis for 2008 and many would say our current pandemic, are just two.

The obesity crisis in much of the West has been looming for some time (the data has been there). It can be resolved with education, government policy, time, and of course the will. I am not sure data obesity would be as easily solvable.

Data is crucial to every organisation and increasingly to the individual. What is overwhelmingly important is to the evaluation, sourcing, examination and decision making process involved with that analysis. Even within our own market place I have a seem an increasing number of players starting to use data analysis. My concern it is limited to what is happening today or yesterday but it is not very effective in determining what is likely to happen tomorrow .