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From Benoni to Footskating: Making Movies in South Africa

FootskatingThis past week was a very big week for the footskaters.

Yes, the M word is my starting point for today’s column. M as in movie. As in magic.

And there’s also something else that’s even more special with an M, but that we will leave for another time and place.

Yes, this past week we tested the new Footskating movie; the all digital guerilla style adventure that was made with a handful of crew, a fist full of dollars, and a lot of heart and soul. And the good news, we passed the test. Keep reading →

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Posted in the category: Insight

MySpace Not Our Space

In one of my earlier columns I touched on the phenomena known as MySpace. There has been so much global media attention on this web site that I thought we should spend a bit more time exploring what exactly is going on here.

MySpace has more than 90 million active users (over 200 million as of Nov 2007) and is growing at an overwhelming rate, with 280,000 new users joining each day. Daily page views are second only to Yahoo with over one billion impressions per day. And consider, all of this without any marketing campaign. So, let’s have a look at the picture behind the picture. Let’s think about what this means for this online magnet’s new owner.

MySpace was bought my Rupert Murdoch‘s NewsCorp for $580 million not so long ago. Murdoch said:

“Technology is shifting power away from the editors, the publishers, the establishment, the media elite. Now it’s the people who are taking control.”

The users of MySpace are different to the mass consumer audiences that characterize the old media domain – the MySpace members are participants. This site is not all about connecting people and products, it is about connecting people to people. MySpace provides its users with a cool set of online tools that allow people to interact, share ideas, pictures, music, humour, etc. And, with enough critical mass, it must be the answer to selling media where audiences, not corporations, drive the action. Keep reading →

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Virtual Networking with a twist

Ronnie AptekerOne of the great things I love about the Internet is virtual networking. You know, the ability to make contact with people you never really meet in person. E-mail can be such a brilliant tool, if used appropriately. It can also be quite destructive if emotional elements creep in. Never have a fight via e-mail. Never curse or rant or argue using e-mail. It will only cause you further headaches. Trust me on this.

E-mail allows you to share things. Information, news, ideas, events, diagrams, pictures, sounds, songs, and so much more. And it allows you to entertain. Yes, e-mails can be pretty funny, especially if you send out jokes.

While I sometimes get overwhelmed with the amount of e-mail I can receive in a day, and while sometimes I wish some of the jokes I get weren’t so lame, I typically get delighted when a fresh funny story arrives in my inbox. I love nothing more than to pass it to those who I know will get a boost from it. Yes, sharing a good joke is a great thing – it is one of those things that make life special.

Storytelling is a fundamental part of all good leadership. The ability to connect with people, to inspire them, to capture their imaginations, and to provoke them, are all necessary to facilitate growth.

Everyone likes a compelling story, and we all love a good joke. So, in an effort to spread the love, and with the aim to inspire anyone who is reading this, here is a cool anecdote that I have cherished over the years. Please indulge me – I have been doing some soul searching of late and humour is one of the best ways to appreciate the journey.

So, here is a colourful corporate lesson, with a funny twist, that an inspired friend of mine sent me many years ago. Lesson: A man is getting into the shower just as his wife is finishing up her shower when the doorbell rings. After a few seconds of arguing over who should go and answer the doorbell, the wife gives up, quickly wraps herself up in a towel and runs downstairs.

When she opens the door, there stands Bob, the next door neighbour. Before she says a word, Bob says, “I’ll give you 800 bucks to drop that towel that you have on.” After thinking for a moment, the woman drops her towel and stands naked in front of Bob. After a few seconds, Bob hands her 800 bucks and leaves. Confused, but excited about her good fortune, the woman wraps back up in the towel and goes back upstairs.

When she gets back to the bathroom, her husband asks from the shower “Who was that?” “It was Bob the next door neighbour,” she replies. “Great,” the husband says, “did he say anything about the 800 bucks he owes me?”

Moral of the story: If you share critical information pertaining to credit and risk in time with your stakeholders, you may be in a position to prevent avoidable exposure.

If you have a good joke or an inspired story then please send it my way. And, if it strikes a chord with me, I will pass it on to the next person. Yes, this is the power of virtual networking. You got to love this technology!

  • Ronnie Apteker is one of the founders of Internet Solutions, the country’s largest corporate Internet service provider. He is also a movie producer, an author of two books and sometimes a stand up comedian.

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Posted in the category: Insight

Queue no more

HelpFast food just got even faster.Mobo, which stands for “mobile order”, is a new American venture that has hit the streets of New York. Using mobile technology, Mobo aims to save time for the city folk who are always hustling and bustling.

The idea is to avoid queueing and to streamline your visit to the local coffee shop or take-out spot. The Mobo team is also developing platforms for other services where people have to queue, as in say, the transportation and entertainment sectors. If there is a queue, then Mobo is going to be there to try and help.

HelpIn short, Mobo allows you to order and pay for food with an SMS – yup, via a text message. This means that while you are travelling, for example, to your local Starbucks, you can order your coffee and your sandwich and when you get there it is ready for you and you don’t have to stand in line to pay. You skip the queue and the food is fresh.

The way the service works is that you have an application that runs on your cellphone that pops up a food menu of what’s on offer at the restaurant offering the service. You select what you want and you press send.

GoMoboYou’ll then get a confirmation message back with the exact minute your order will be ready. And what’s amazing is that you don’t pay any extra for the service (besides the cost of sending the SMS message that is generated and sent by the application that runs on your cellphone).

It is built into the price of the food that’s being sold – the restaurant absorbs this nominal technical overhead in an effort to provide a better customer service and in turn, allowing the business to move more product. Each Mobo-affiliated restaurant has a special Mobo express counter so that you can quickly collect your order while it is fresh.

GoMoboWhat’s cool about having an application run on your cellphone is that you can customise the software to save, and order, your favourite things. In other words, there may be a certain lunch meal (for example, a Greek salad, a coke and a brownie) that you love having and you can save this as a “Fave” on the application which means one touch ordering – fast and effective.

Payment on Mobo is simple. When you sign up with the service you enter your credit card details and the rest is as you would expect. You can even tip the staff of a restaurant by adding a tip option when you customise your order.

In the olden days, well just a short while back, we could use our phone to call up a restaurant and order. But that always meant having to wait for someone to answer the phone, and then having to be put on hold, and then hoping that they got your order right, and a whole bunch of other stuff. You know what I mean.

This new approach always you in effect to pre purchase your food and it cuts out delays and human error.

Mobo users can also log on to Mobo web site and order online via the Internet.

  • Ronnie AptekerRonnie Apteker is one of the founders of Internet Solutions, the country’s largest corporate Internet service provider. He is also a movie producer, an author of two books and sometimes a stand up comedian.

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Posted in the category: Insight

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The Big Change is a business strategy blog and newsletter published by Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, a leading technology research organisation based in Johannesburg, South Africa.

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