Nothing is promised or remains as a given in the competitive business environments that we all exist in. I did highlight that everyone and everything is game, where even the disruptors get disrupted within fairly short life-cycles. The truth is also that the lines have blurred as to whose customer is it anyway, and conversations are now about how to collaborate to create a combined value pool that benefits all the collaborators.
In early Q4 2016 week I attended the Africa Developer Day hosted by Oracle and Kenya Commercial Bank on 20% time where a different sort of hackathon is being held over 4 days. Different by way of it not just being an empty, open ended hack but one that was informed from research done by business units at the bank and its foundation identifying a need, with the assurance of capital and business support for the top idea(s) that would hold most promise. The bank has been seen hopping around Silicon Valley building networks for what looks like a most interesting time in 2017 for a global facing product line but it is also looking deeper in country to ignored and unexplored segments where possibilities of real growth exist.
What made this an unusual alliance is that a multinational bank, a tier one global IT solutions and infrastructure company that has been focused on B2B and government was cozying up to developers pushing them to innovate around an identified pain point. KCB understood that its thirteen million strong customer base is asking for more beyond the current flavor of financial services and Oracle is looking to be the number one cloud service provider in a space where Amazon and Google are invested and had a head start. For indie developers or developer teams that represent companies such as mine, the visions of building solid businesses at scale was a tasteful proposition.
As little as five years ago, this coming together of possible collaborators would be unheard of as executives drank from different social and business pools with a palpable snobbish airs. The techies feeling like misunderstood rebels and the enterprise having been refined by processes that created silos. Necessity has since merged those pools.
My team, code name Kazi Kasi came out tops and it has been an interesting few weeks getting immersed in the “problem and opportunity” mix and working actively towards a service pilot in Nairobi mid Q1 2017, in a way back to ground zero startup mode with all the highs and lows that come with it. I think we have figured things out but we will soon know for sure. There was no cash prize or trophy at the end of the 4 days, but the real opportunity to spin off and build what can be a truly transformative business, and for us that is getting to imagine the future of work…blue collar in particular.
I hope more enterprises regardless of industry, and governments too, jump on this model of engagement as it offers better chances of success for any problem statement presented.