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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

What Really Counts?

This week many of you, if you are a Kenyan, have been busy filling their taxes- or getting someone to do it for them, and for the first time since the new Government came to be its been really down played, no big adverts telling you to pay your taxes, no desks outside supermarkets collecting your tax returns. The revenue authority even introduced a new way of making your returns and did not even bother to advertise it as much or talk of the training they are giving- introducing a system that no one knows to use is hard enough without even training and marketing it. May be the revenue authority got its budget was slashed for not meeting their targets who know.

So it got me curious about what is happening in our country, if we the revenue authority is doing this on the down low, kind of makes me feel like we are going back into the old day of nobody talked about taxes, of course it was not a joy to file returns, since no services came out of them, the social contract was so bad we just went about our own business in our infamous portal riddled roads- remember that. With a new government coming in and everyone was so energized with the possibility of change- It was said Kenyans were the most optimistic people in the world at the time the year 2002- now 8 years down the line and its almost as if nobody cares about us again and we have fallen back into the old ways.

Then I came across this video below on TED2010, and it got me thinking what really counts? The Government is busy making serious KES 1 trillion budgets that nobody cares about it anymore- Even the President and the Prime Minister went to watch the WorldCup!!! We are all busy filling our taxes on a new system, nobody again cares- are they all busy watching the worldcup?? We are always busy measuring things and counting things in our lives that nobody really looks at what counts any more, busy balancing your check book, Counting your pay, trying to out do your neighbours financially, Kenyans are at the point where they no longer buy cars, but the latest Vehicle registration plates, just to compete with one another thing we have to count KBK, KBL, KBL Z. So who is looking at what really counts, with the recent debt crisis going around the countries in Europe -God Forbid it spreads round the world, the premiere are looking at new ways of keeping their economies a float- Ask Nicholas S. and David C of the Tricolor and Great Britain respectively, by not Counting their national  GDP(Gross Domestic Product)- another system at breaking point. For years its been all about whose GDP is the highest and doing this at any cost, now thats going burst a new world measure seems to be coming up GDH (Gross Domestic Happiness).

Ask any CEO today and you will learn that the measure of  many companies has stopped being about how much money they are making to being about, how they make their customers feel. Its become such a big thing that its actually started going into the balance sheet of companies the Brand Value. What do your customers feel when they see your brand, are they more likely to buy or think its another reap off, do they want to be associated with you, its intangible its all about how those you are serving feel about your company, and if this connection is strong you make profits. Its such an odd thing that those things that really count can't be really be counted.

If your going to offer a service to anyone or a product there are a couple of things you must ask, how do I make that connection? How do I make my customers loyal? Are our Governments doing the same, doing a simple self evaluation of how their citizens feel about them, how loyal they are to their countries? Nobody likes to pay taxes and least of all be told to account for them, but if they are happy citizens you will not have a problem with getting them to do returns or bridging the National deficit, or keeping up with Austerity Measures and High taxes.

I will leave you with some wise words, call it food for thought, "Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted"- Albert Einstein.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Innovation or Daylight Piracy ? Take a leaf from Apple Iphone

I know we are in third world country, and trying very hard to be self reliant - Finance Ministers Uhuru Kenyatta 1 trillion budget . However this does not mean that you take advantage of your fellow Kenyan in the most blatant of ways possible, even though we have high poverty levels and the largest slum dwelling in Africa, every mans intellectual property is worth protecting.

I've seen some noble efforts in our country today trying to protect and breed talented new developers, new innovative ideas and growth in the ICT industry such as the IHUB project, which gives an incubator to ideas to grow and lets enterprise firms pickup ideas and develop them in conjunction with the developers. Should I go on again about how ushahidi.com was an idea born in African and now its being exported, this are some of the ideas being born in trust and shared out, for the good of man kind.

Now just because your racking in the largest profits in Kenya's Economic History i.e. Safaricom 21 Billion Kenya Shilling profit, does not account for anything if you cannot help your fellow Kenyan and promote them to think and Payup or share in their good ideas that may help your organization to propel into greater prosperity call it Corporate Social Responsibility.  Its only common sense that if your going to ask a bunch of human beings to innovate on your behalf so that you can further use this item to make muller, that you at least compensate in cash on in kind(not everyone wants money). Please Safaricom do some research on the internet on how IPhone Apps have become such a hit from enabling developers make money of its. I'm particularly taken aback by your resent terms and conditions on your innovation site Safaricom innovation , if you want developers to innovate kindly give them some sort of motivation or at least help them feed their families, and uplift the lives of many.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sales Perception and Reality

Is it a sale or have you been talking to an individual who just likes talking to sales men. One of the things you must get away from when making a sale is the making of patterns in the air and the importance of telling the difference between false positive from false negative. Personally I believe every sale is different, depending on the level of trust and perception especially how your perceived, so all the Sales Funnels and Sales Processes can't help, it experience that counts. Making a sale is not about how good you are in identifying your users needs and requirements, it's about chemistry how well you relate with a buyer, digging up of his/her business aspirations, ever heard of the old saying people by people and not things and Items.

I especially like the short movie below which I stumbled upon on my exploration of TED, and how the propensity to make patterns self deception increases with the increase in difficulty one is faced with. I especially like the bit about false positive and false negative the difference between what you perceive and reality and how your judgment of that situation can get you into or out of serious situations. Click on below:

Monday, June 14, 2010

Marketing Your Business by influencing people

Found this bit of video really entertaining and educational at the same time, a true thinker who has mastered what Marketing is all about. I find a lot of organizations go out of their way to build huge Ad campaigns around their products, while it would only take that one simple idea to get people talking and following your products, Virgin Group is one such example of a Business built on this principle. see the video below and get some insight on influencing people and keeping them thinking and talking of your product.

Chrome,Safari, Mozilla, Opera, IE 9 and HTML 5

I have many at times met various business partners and acquaintances and they've asked me a number of questions from what is XML?, What is HTML? to Which browser should we standardize on Chrome, Mozilla 3.5.x, Opera, IE 7, IE8. This has lead to many interesting conversations and many call backs with many of my not so young friends still labouring to understand, all this acronyms and the speed of new developments in the ICT Industry. With some conversations like trying to explain what is web 2.0 ending in total confusion, and all together ending up in lack of interest and moving on to other topics(bad for business if your trying to sell something on the internet).

I have severally found it hard to get started with various concepts and the latest one I've decided I have to read wide and understand is the new HTML 5, which even Wikipedia does not do a very good job of explaining- guess the contribution was done by some developer. But you can't explain HTML 5 without going back to the advent of the internet in the  year AD1990 and the invention of HTTP , by one Tim Berners-Lee who developed the concept of machines communicating with each other over the internet and being able to link pages together, by simple clicks. That must have been was the advent of HTML 1, which was a simple markup language that could be transmitted over the internet via a procal HTTP(standard) to various computer and read using the browser and the idea of the Wide World Web was born and the world has never been the same again.

Now 20 years later and true to the ICT tradition of constant evolution, super rate of development and the ever greater push for more to be done on the internet and browsers, have now lead to the growth of the young infant HTML 1 to early adulthood and hence HTML 5. Of course you cannot have such an invention as the internet and browser and through them it into the melting pot that is the world that would definitely have a billion or so different players(e.g. soccer) in the field and not have a governing body(e.g. FIFA) to ensure fair protection of the players, spectators and the game. Hence the creation of a consortium W3C, who would be charged with keeping the standards on the world wide web.

And as a definite you will always find a few hands of god(Maradona's famous Goal using his hand) on the pitch who will ensure that their products score the winning goal and hence the advent of the browser business and wars to win more players(i.e.developers) and Spectators(i.e. you and I) first was netscape with java scripting, followed by Microsoft with HTTPXML and Google with AJAX, all doing the same thing i.e. reading HTML, but with a special flavor to push their own Agenda.

The upside is innovation and the spectators having rich media i.e, videos and flash images and super developed products such as Google Apps and Microsoft BPOS, the players getting various development platforms and languages to learn and hack, now that's about as far as the honey moon goes. Now the downside is several Browsers to make a decision on chrome, mozilla, 8 IE flavours, opera, safari, you can call it options but I call it a waste of time as you have to download at least 3 to work on the internet smoothly and switch between them(a headache for corporates with various web apps), keep downloading a never ending barrage of plugins and installations for your to view different websites. I can only imagine the poor players(i.e. developers) who have to constantly redevelop their websites to be viewed on all this different stadiums(i.e. browsers), and pray that their viewers are educated enough to be able to download the plugin and buy what they are selling.

Now this is where HTML 5 comes in its supposed to bring some sanity to the field and ensure that all gets fair treatment as we enjoy the innovative ideas, by way of developing standards and you better believe it W3C is pushing it and the ever growing number of browsers are trying to adhere to this standards with Microsoft Internet Explore 9(next release of IE) being the first to comply and the rest catching up. Lets hope this will come to pass and we will all reap the benefits some day of watching a world cup of the internet without so much suffering to much.




Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Create for Dummies

Marketing something you've created is one thing, making it sell is another thing, I've always been a firm believer of developing and creating for dummies. What is that you ask? what has made Google Web applications sell over Yahoo(my first public email was on yahoo and I believe for almost everyone at least born before AD1985), why more and more users prefer the latter and fundamentally they are the same, email is email, Chat is Chat. Some years ago Apple was a none existent company but now its the largest technology company in the world surpassing Microsoft in the stock market two weeks ago simply by selling Hardware!. You can say they have large marketing budgets- okay that's true they are money rich, however you can put up the best Ads on the web and billboards, get people talking about it but it never sells- oh and by the way they did not start out money rich.

I believe in living by one simple principle as my Computer Science Teacher once said "Keep It Simple Stupid" KISS, programming 101 don't over think the solution there is always a simple way out. Now back to Google and Apple, the main reason that their products sell is the simple fact they are easy to use, no training needed you just buy one and get on with it emailing, chatting, itunes, texting. look at the iphone, a recycled HTC phone but with no buttons no crazy OS running on it , no stylus, just simple.

Corporates have for years suffered trying to upgrade their staff from Office 97, Office XP, Office 03, Office 07 and now Office 10, don't get me wrong,  I love Microsoft products they make the best office productivity tools in the world, but they can be so dumb complicated some times even for a developer it takes some serious will power and time to get moving or even change over (we know everyone has a degree of resistance to change- rule of thumb). Half of you reading this Blog have either a blog site, twitter accounts or are a Facebook account (oops! apart from the security settings craziness), why? because they are simply made any dummy can use it.

So next time you Develop or Create anything keep "KISS" as your motto, remember your trying to create a solution not another problem, so invest in some good User Inter-phase.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Definition of Success

I just picked this up on TED (nurturing new technological ideas) and though all you out their looking for that new idea might live by it, if only everyone could live by this values our world would be a better place. The true definition of success is not in A's or B's, or how much wealth you amass, or whether you win or loose, its not about competition with others, its about giving all to any situation you can. To all you start ups, new entrepreneurs in Africa its about giving it your all and the rest shall fall in place. click away below: