At the close of last year, I readily admitted that staffing had been my greatest and most enduring challenge running a technology based business. A recent conversation with an associate who is now the chief technology officer at a celebrated and fast growing not-so-startup enterprise had me realize that the problem is more pervasive than I thought. The question often comes, “Do you know any devs?” Dev is short for developer, a writer of code or orchestrator of infrastructure; an important cog in the wheels that make for a technology business. The curious answer to the question posed is, “Not at the moment, I am also looking”. Underpinned by the fact that one would not want to see talent flight whether on contract or payroll, it points out to a festering issue that we need to address quickly lest we face the fate of the local advertising industry – musical chairs, that have resorted to a numbing of creativity and replication galore, especially in light of weak IP protection or respect for the same. Continue Reading…

Fortune favors the brave, and we need to see more corporate leaders take calculated risks and leave the let’s wait and see members club. It is unfortunate that in many sectors, a form of corporate rigor mortis sets in resulting in slow adoption of new trends or the creation of new models and ways of business with a most annoying mirroring of services once traction is achieved or promise becomes evident. Three sectors that serve as good case studies are highlighted below. Continue Reading…

First, there was the Facebook paper that sent global media houses into panic mode as the access to their audience and resultant revenue streams came under threat from a company that has hitherto been considered an ally, driving readership through network effects. Locally, the switch from analogue to digital transmission has taken residence in the courts with the three musketeers (who control 87% TV market share and 80% radio audiences) managing to stay on air through a series of court decisions in their favor. The unfortunate prognosis of the events unfolding, paints a picture of a reactive and ill-informed strategy by the stakeholders of the African Digital Network whose take on co-opetition seems to be stalling the migration up and until they all individually get a proper sense of direction in-house. The play by the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation and PANG was clear and it is surprising that the three biggest media houses as measured by both reach and revenue chose to sit in the sidelines almost as if betting on clout to maintain status quo.

As of Monday, 12th January…

A consortium made up of Kenya’s three leading media houses has placed orders to import digital TV set-top boxes that are set to retail for as low as Sh 2,000 each.The Internet-ready set-top boxes are expected to arrive in the country in the next three weeks.The Nation Media Group (NMG), Royal Media Services (RMS) and Standard Group (SG) have placed orders for 150,000 of the devices, which are set to be the cheapest free-to-air digital converters in the market.“These set-top boxes will be quite different from what is already there in the market. The devices will be sold at a one-off price of between Sh2,000 and Sh2,500,” said the NMG board chairman Wilfred Kiboro. The three companies, under the Africa Digital Network (ADN) consortium, also disclosed that a million more of the devices are expected end of March.

Continue Reading…

I live a life of frustration and this is a direct result of things that I interact with daily, unavoidably. There is no excuse worse than that of habit to perpetuate behavior that both irks and causes inconvenience. Unfortunately, many innovative deployments in Kenya meant to bring about efficiencies or other societal benefits are stuck due to habits, solidified over years of repetitive expression. Think of the current cash-lite drive by government that has faced pushback from literally all publics because it represents a major shift in our ways of work and also breaks cartels that thrive on chaos. Continue Reading…

Pundits argue that Africa is the next big thing, with a myriad of challenges that reek of opportunity just waiting to be exploited. The buzz has been on everything from commodities to technology with millions of dollars invested, mostly in the former; understandably so because it is an obvious path underpinned by Africa’s growing population.

What about technology?  Over the past five years, from a mix of experiences spanning global technology meccas and emerging hubs across Africa, first as a participant from a win at Pivot25 – a local technology showcase to an enabler as DemoAfrica’s event director, I can say that there is still a huge knowledge gap that exists in the African opportunity.  Continue Reading…

Mbugua Njihia new year

We are smack in the middle of what is the world’s peak consumer spending season, and many are still rattling their minds on what to get their loved ones, or business associates. Technology does not fall short on options with a slew of new or upgraded product releases having headlined throughout the year. The trick however is to seek out items that have everyday use and would add real value to the party being gifted, more so if the recipient is a business associate, a potential partner or client.

Tasked by my team with figuring out what we would be gifting this year, I made a short list of some of my favorite tech things, with two key factors guiding my choices. First, business intelligence and big data form the backbone of decision making and many business executives appreciate having actionable insights. Second, the busy lifestyles of many executives have them pressed for personal time, with the need for entertainment or downtime ranking highly on many wish lists. Continue Reading…

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Here’s to wishing all my clients, partners, colleagues, associates and readers a blessed festive season this Christmas.

The evolution of markets is something all businesses must prepare for especially if the field is rapidly changing such as the technology sector. When it was made known that two undersea cable projects were good to go with heavy capitalization from different consortia, the market hummed in anticipation of the possibilities more so after the “overnight” success stories of silicon valley based garage startups that quickly picked up venture capital funding with obscene valuations with some getting to the holy grail that is an IPO, making headlines.

Nowhere else was the fever highest than in the mobile sector where the old song that is Mpesa gave us global recognition, igniting dreams to the next big thing that would be really Kenyan, drawing to the fact that Kenya only provided an excellent test bed with a most peculiar breed of consumer, leading to worldwide acclaim of the now almost ubiquitous mobile money service.  Continue Reading…

Traditional media as we know, is being disrupted and this move had been seen and known to come, with the curious wonder being why the incumbents are taking their time to mitigate the onslaught. Only last month did Facebook, currently the world’s largest social network announce its work on a newspaper type product build atop its news feed feature with a deep understanding of what its users like, respond to and the social graph that we continue to feed daily via the numerous tools Mark Zuckerberg and team have churned out. If this move by the social media giant will not trigger action from the incumbents, then surely their time has come.  Continue Reading…

There are many things that a technology revolution will help us achieve and the benefits will have us looking behind, trying to imagine how we made do with what is now or what will become a defacto part of each and everyday life. We have seen technology change lives in; agriculture – allowing for higher output per square meter under management using scientific methods, in healthcare – enabling access to pre and post natal services to mothers, thereby reducing child mortality rates, in financial services – throwing the net of financial inclusion wide restoring dignity to many by way of access to credit, in governance – through tracking of activity at the August house driving accountability, through open data that reveals insights that have driven interventions where once only guesswork and gut feel prevailed among other benefits that make life that much easier. Continue Reading…

Big transformational projects are seldom conceptualized or actualized by a single entity. Vision 2030 and the current government’s digital manifesto are indeed transformational and require the orchestration of multiple partners from different sectors and agendas, which can easily create an environment for a lot of talk and no action. Headline projects have been identified, private public partnerships forged and project plans laid out with some already well underway.  Continue Reading…

The Chief Information Officer and the Chief Marketing Officer are arguably the most important resources in a business seeing as they are tasked with the last mile that is critical to the survival of any enterprise which is consistently moving product or service. In my interactions with many of these executives from different big budget enterprises, I have noticed an inward facing focus that in my opinion is skewed leading to higher operating costs. At the core of this “misplaced” focus is the assumed ownership of the customer and many times an uneasy silence will meet the question, “Whose customer is it anyway?” Continue Reading…

Over-the-top content platforms (OTT) such as WhatsApp, We Chat, Mxit, Viber, Line, Skype, Facebook Messenger and a host of others have over recent years taken a big bite from mobile network operator revenues globally. At last count the number of on-device installations topped 2 billion; and even when watered down by the fact that one device may hold two or more active accounts on these platforms, that figure still accounts for a projected $ 14 billion negative impact on operator revenue this year as released in Juniper Research report in late October 2014. Continue Reading…

The 4D’s of Big Data

November 6, 2014 — Leave a comment

Big data is nothing new only that recent years have given it prominence and focus pegged on the need to achieve competitive advantage and service efficiency. At its very basic state volume is not definitive of inherent value and more or bigger is not necessarily better. There are other characteristics of data that must be part of the big data orchestra to create harmony. Continue Reading…