Isn’t it time to reboot our thinking on Policy and Regulation to fit the current global situation?

This story in Forbes just made me realize one fundamental flow in our thinking regarding the regulatory environment we live in today. Should we not totally re-invent the environment to suit the circumstances? Why should we let the FCC trail-blaze in Regulation? What do they know about mobile innovation and regulation? Why are we abdicating our global responsibility from a regulatory perspective when we lead the world in mobile innovation?

Somali Entrepreneur raises $100 million

The world remittance market is $550b. What market share does Mpesa have? Let’s not wallow in the hype and really make it happen. Today one in every three humans who use mobile money is a Kenyan. How does this translate to market share in this global stage. How many Indians/Chinese/Nigerians use Mpesa to remit money back home? That’s the playground we must play in. After all isn’t Kenya ground zero for all things mobile innovation?

The Mobile Money capital of the world

Instead of trying to stifle local based companies let’s give them the boost they require to become truly global.

Here’s what I think should happen. (Forgive me for being presumptive) but The Govt should cultivate BFF Status (my daughter tells me BFF means Best Friends Forever) with the likes of Mpesa, Mode, Cellulant, Pesapal, Jambo Pay, CopyCat, Seven Seas etc and present them as African Champions at every possible regional and Global event. Our very Economic Diplomacy should be anchored in this thinking. If my history serves me right that’s how the Japanese Global Giants were borne. Through a truly PPP & Multi-Stakeholder Model (yes that word again..) Japanese industry became the world beaters they are today. For more on this it would be instructive to read the history of MITI.

The Rise of the Japanese Multinational from the ashes of WWII

Our folly is in thinking that private sector and government are mutually exclusive and that an adversarial stance is best to protect consumers. Let’s expand the pie. There is no reason that Mpesa cannot become the de-facto mobile money system across Africa. For this to happen it would require not thinking out of the box – but reinventing the box. Literally.

As Bob Collymore, Safaricom’s CEO aptly put it – Being dominant is not a crime.

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The Brand Promise: What is it? And what can we do as Marketers to be more in sync with our surroundings?

In today’s hyper connected world Marketers need to become more in sync with the enterprise and its single minded objective – to meet the brand promise that we hawk to our customers. A marketer’s job has in my opinion becomes a lot more interesting and fulfilling if they are willing to get into iit. Increasingly its about KYC (Know Your Customer) in the most minute detail. Mass Marketing has become Mass Customisation. Pioneered (I think!) by Amazon, cross selling through the use of digital outlets and laser targeting (people who bought this also bought that..) has become the nome in getting new customers.

Tools like Marketing Automation or Enterpise Marketing Management have emerged to assist Marketers do their jobs more efficiently. Tech companies like Oracle, SAS, Marketo and IBM are trail blazing in this arena.

When I worked for Wunderman, the digital agency owned by Y&R Brands, we used a tool called the Brand Asset Valutor. What was cool about this tool was its use of data to evaluate the health of Brands. Ultimately a CFO is about the top line and bottom line. Marketers need to balance the science and art of marketing more delicately than ever before. If done well, then I think we will have a new status between the CFO and CMO – BFF (my teenage daughter tells me that means Best Friends Forever!) :)

There are some outliers out there (both at individual and company level) that are shaking up the CMO function and adding a lot of oomph to it. I have in mind here GE and its CMO, Beth Comstock. These two articles below are instructional in how GE has turned the CMO function into a highly strategic role. Of course the jury is still out on whether the company can sustain that beyond Ms Comstock. However, if GE’s track record is anything to go by I can bet on it.

http://www.cmotwo.com/2009/03/06/cmo-20-conversation-with-beth-comstock-cmo-at-ge/

http://4www.forbes.com/sites/avidan/2012/04/19/ges-cmo-beth-comstock-inspires-innovation-through-instigating/

So how can you as a Marketer ingest new DNA into your workspace?

A few pointers:-

1. Embrace Data – really embrace it not just use it as a buzzword.

2. Learn the new language of Marketing – RTM (that’s Real time Marketing), Real Time Analytics, digital, ROI etc

3. Double up on the Basic concepts of Marketing for they will stand you in good stead.

4. Teamwork. Increasingly this means being on the same page with the CFO, CIO and it her C-Level executives.

You get the drift..

Do those and I promise you that you are one step to working yourself out of your current job to the CEO suite.

With Microsoft’s search for CEO dragging on some tough questions for Boards:-

1. When is it ok to recruit a CEO from outside the company?

2. How much leeway should an incumbent CEO have in grooming his/her replacement?

3. What role should the board play to ensure a deep leadership bench?

4. At what point does the board step in and ensure that the CEO has a strong succession bench? Without ruffling his/her feathers?

5. Are head hunters the best way to fill the CEO and other senior positions? Does this allude to a fundamental Board failure?

Continue Reading…

As a former director at KeNIC I have been on record as one of its most ardent supporter and critic and I thought it is incumbent upon me to spare some time and talk about what I witnessed yesterday during its AGM.

From the numbers presented it was evident that something positive is cooking in the .ke name space.

1. Ke registrations rose from 13k in 2011 to 26k in 2012.

2. Turnover jumped from kshs. 29 million to 34 million.

3. Profit from +1 million to 15 million.

Continue Reading…

We are living in interesting times. Headlines and stories across media channels talk about the death of marketing as we know it. Pundits talk about the changing roles of the CIO and the CMO. Some even talk about the collapse of the two roles into one. Here are a few predictions:-

  • In a few years CMOs will spend more on technology – digital marketing, Analytics, BI, Enterprise Marketing Management (EMM) etc. – than CIOs. This you can take to the bank.
  • Globally the $1 trillion marketing industry is feeling the impact of software eating marketing. This is now a board level issue as data and KYC (know your customer) is driving/enabling companies to mass customize products and services.
  • The burden of understanding technology’s impact on marketing, customer experience and leading innovation is now on CMOs and their agencies. This is a departure from the normal practice of pushing everything ‘IT’ to the CIO/CTO. Continue Reading…

Dear Mr. President and Deputy President

As you embark on your journey to transform Kenya into a Digital Country here are a few suggestions, humby submitted:-

1. The idea of giving every child a laptop is a good one but it must be followed by real efforts to encourage and incubate local content otherwise we will loose control of what our children read.

2. We have made great efforts in improving ICT infrastructure but alot still needs to be done. Some great initiatives have already been started. They need your personal attention:-

a. KENET – Kenya Education Network (KENET) is a National Research and Education Network that promotes the use of ICT in Teaching, Learning and Research in Higher Education Institutions in Kenya. KENET is already rolling out high speed internet in Universities. This needs to be expanded to all institutions of learning. It is a shame for example that schools in informal settlements do not have either computers or internet access in Nairobi. I shudder to think what happens when we move beyond Nairobi. Continue Reading…

Voltaire, the Famous French Historian and Philosopher once said

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”

I am writing this post due to the interesting times that we live in. There is a lot of emotions, bigotry, outright tribalism and jingoism being bandied around the country in many channels – Online responses to media stories, FM Station talk shows, social media, work places, bars etc. Whilst I abore the very nature of some of the discussions we have fought too hard for freedom of expression and association to blanketly condemn everything whole sale.

I have just read a story in today’s nation titled ’14 Bloggers linked to hate messages’. Continue Reading…

In mid-December 2012 more than 180 nations gathered in Dubai (Dubbed WCIT – World Conference on International Telecommunications) to deliberate on an obscure treaty last updated in 1988 called the ITRs. In a nutshell the ITRs are supposed to facilitate global interconnection and interoperability of telecommunications traffic across national borders. This scenario worked well when most countries had one or two telecommunication companies that were usually government owned or in the very least heavily regulated and protected. The main bone of contention in the new ITR proposals was changing how the internet is currently operated and governed to give governments the world over almost total exclusivity in managing this very important resource. Continue Reading…

As the debate on whether the current status quo of how the internet is governed (see my earlier postings on internet governance) thought I would pen some thoughts on Net Neutrality as a way to get our minds thinking ahead of today morning’s Kenya Stakeholders Meeting on WCIT-12 (World Conference on International Telecommunications to be held in Dubai, December 2012)at the Grand Regency.

According to Wikipedia Net Neutrality is defined thus:- Continue Reading…

Last week I visited a school run by an NGO called New Dawn Kenya www.newdawnkenya.com. The school is in an informal settlement in the affluent Runda residential area. The appetite for education and knowledge among the students was a thing of beauty to see. These are extremely disadvantaged young people with an insatiable thirst for knowledge.

What struck home for me was that the majority of them had never accessed information on the Internet. This issue is an emotional one for me. As a hyper-connected Kenyan I have always taken for granted access to the Internet for the last few years. Over the last few years Internet usage and penetration levels have increased phenomenally. Continue Reading…