Thursday, 29 July 2010

Microsoft and Safaricom- a comparison

Was thinking about these two companies which have become giants in their respective fields over the years and I noticed there are some similarities between the two that go beyond their dominance. So please take a few min to look at my observations.

We begin at the top of the two companies. Both have been driven by leaders who are similar in some ways, Microsoft had Bill Gates as it's founding president and Safaricom Michael Joseph also known as MJ. They're both said to be bullies and driven by results and another vital element is their vision. Gates' vision was to have a computer on every desk and MJ's driving force was to take communication to the people. Largely both companies have succeeded in that and most importantly their strategy was to go for the common consumer while their competitors went for the niche markets- Apple in the case of MS decided to keep their architecture locked up while Kencell went for the high end of the market. So by catering to the masses they achieved their now dominant positions.

Another similarity os found in their early days. When MS- DOS was chosen as the operating sytem for the IBM Personal computer in 1981 they hit the jackpot. This was probably the event that propelled them to the great heights they enjoy today. In essence they piggy- backed on a bigger company and that enabled them to support the other clone makers too. Safaricom on the other hand were also part of Telkom Kenya and had the luxury of using their infrastructure as they were setting up.

Another thing that I've also touched on a bit is their competitors. Apple produced the Macintosh which was generally considered to be technically superior and had a better interface but had the disadvantage of being more costly. Therefore the average computer user stuck to the good old black and white interface of DOS. Closer to home Kencell too had a more reliable and congestion free network but they also suffered the same disadvantage of cost as Apple did and the masses flocked to Safaricom.

The public relations and marketing of the 2 companies is also similar. MS may not have created the graphical user interface but they popularised it as they did word processing with Word, spreadsheets with excel and presentations with powerpoint. They were alble to package and market the products in a format that was acceptable to everybody. Safaricom too were not the first network to offer for example internet services or airtime transfer but with innovative products with catchy names like bambanet and sambaza they endeared themselves to the Kenyan people.

As far as accusations go they have been 'guilty' of similar crimes. Microsoft have been for a long time accused of monopolistic practices by using their market dominance to undercut the competition. A good example was the bundling of Internet Explorer with Windows which led to Netscape's demise. Safaricom have also had their fair share of problems being accused of locking their subscribers in with tariffs that discourage off net calls.

Interesting coincidences can you think of any more?

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

If only I had...

This Sunday in church we asked an interesting question "if only I had 'X 'my life would be complete" or something in those lines. Got me thinking about my focus in life and if I really got what I wanted I'd be complete. Many times in life we look for that thing that will make us happy, complete us or show us that we have arrived. For some it's education, a job, money, a man/ woman or an object such as a house or car. However once you get it you still find yourself wanting something else. FOr example when working you feel that your salary is never enough and keep looking for that raise but at the end of it even when you're earning millions it's still not enough.

For me that thing was a car, to be more precise I thought once I get myself a Range Rover sport I'll have arrives and would just sit back and tell God " I'm done now you can take me home". Looking back that was a foolish thing to say and was thinking- what if God takes that seriously? Not the greatest thing to live for now. Another thing I realised is that what I thought was so great and special is quite common today. I'm even tempted to say the Range Rover sport is the mew Vitz as there are so many on our roads today! Same would be said if I was seeking a mate or a child for example I would just walk down the streets and see lots of people have that too. So I search for something special that not everybody has but is only meant for me- my own purpose from God and once I get that I'll be more fulfilled than anything provided by a material thing or person.

Jesus Christ asked what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and yet lose his own soul(Matthew 16:26) and these words resonate with me now more than ever as I see that it's not all about acquiring more stuff but laying my treasures up in heaven (Matt 6:20) and I pray that I may always have the right focus to seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). Really hard with all these messages coming all around us about what success is.

Be blessed all as you get focused!

Saturday, 10 July 2010

All About The Game

What a month it’s been. The greatest sporting event going on in Africa! The world came to Africa and we welcomed them with the open arms. In the beginning we thought that this would be Africa’s time to shine but turns out that home ground advantage counts for nothing. In any case the wintry weather being experienced right now would be quite hard for us in tropical Africa to handle it I don’t think that’s an excuse. The African football game has come a long way with some of our own plying their trade in the big European leagues and making a name for themselves. Naturally some names like Didier Drogba, Samuel Eto’o and Michael Essien come to mind. So with those stars you would think African teams would have done something significant but we’ve been shown that we need to up our game!

However we can not ignore the great run Ghana had even without their big star Essien. They did us proud by making it to the quarter finals and though there exit was under somewhat dubious circumstances they fought bravely and gave a good account of themselves. What’s more being the world under 20 champions the future is bright and the only way to go is up.

If there’s one thing that has made this tournament spicier than most is the unpredictability. Some who were pre-tournament favourites were bundled out and we had quite a number of upsets in the group stages. The finalists in the last tournament both booked early tickets home, one for a lack of ideas the other for lack of discipline which was a huge shame for former world champions. Ha even a final consisting of Serbia and Uruguay was plausible at some point. At one point the balance of football power appeared to have moved to the South Americans but in the end Europe held their own.

Although football is just a game there are some lessons that can be drawn from it. Forrest Gump said that life is like a box of chocolates, I say that life is a game of football- you’ve got to have the right tactics, wisdom it is called. Comparison of life to sport with life with sport is also found in the bible where Paul says in 1 Corinthians 9:24 “Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.” Similarly on 11th June 32 teams were in contention for the world cup but only one will be crowned champion on 11th July…

In football to succeed you need the right tactics and in life you need the right wisdom which is the most important thing Prov 4:7 “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.” About tactics it’ now obvious that football is very highly tactical gone are they days when people would just kick a ball in the air and somebody would run after it. Also missing which I find sad is the end to end dribbling and trickery that used to be there in the days of old. In fact a few of the early games were boring in that the teams were more interested in not losing than actually winning games! However in spite of that a team like Germany was able to stamp its authority playing positive attacking football. You may keep possession of the ball and have a good defence but in the end the only statistic that matters is goals so you have to play to win.

Another lesson can be obtained from the dismal performance of the African teams especially Nigeria and Cameroon. They play good football but couldn’t pull themselves together in front of goal. A case in point is that of Yakubu Aiyegbeni and his miss of the tournament. Nigeria had found themselves in a very good position where even though they had no points all they needed was a win to take them to the next round but they decided to become their own worst enemies. For African football to get to the next football we need to be more ruthless at finishing like the Germans. So lesson number two is you got to take your chances and well too not having 10 shots on goal and zero on target!

Next up are the underperformers like Italy and France who only have the past to look to. Oh and who could forget England and their favourite song about 1966 the only time they lifted the cup. Italy were reigning world champions coming into the tournament but that counts for nothing on the day and they struggled against lowly opposition such as New Zealand! Lesson number three- the past doesn’t count you have to perform on the day or you start packing!

France made a fool of themselves with their theatrics off the pitch prompting some to say that it was Karma visiting them after that dubious handball that sent them to South Africa. Their display of indiscipline in disrespecting their coaching staff was a blot to an otherwise good tournament. Naturally their lack of discipline translated to poor performance on the pitch. They also had a galaxy of stars but they couldn’t deliver as a team. Contrast this with Germany who were written off by their own Lothar Matthaus as below par without their injured star Michael Ballack. The proved the critics wrong with the best attacking team play of the tournament scoring 4 goals on 3 occasions. Teamwork took them to those great heights; every time they went forward they looked dangerous dues to their speed and accurate passing and good positioning, the hallmarks of good team play. Lesson number four- teamwork will win.

Oh and who could forget the excuses. One given by France was noise from the vuvuzelas keeping them awake. That horn has come up for criticisms from the players saying that they can’t hear themselves or the ref’s whistle. The ball was also criticized for being erratic at times; however I find it strange that Japan could use it so well in set pieces. In my opinion that’s just hot air! When we lose or under perform it’s easy to give excuses but they are not always the reason why. Lesson five- No excuses!

All African football fans will find the quarter final match between Ghana and Uruguay hard to forget. I for one have never been so disappointed by a football match. After dominating for long periods they were given a golden opportunity to win with a last minute penalty but that was not to be. They had been cruelly denied by a hand ball on the line but Asamoah Gyan who was consistent from the spot failed to deliver on the big day. Sometimes no matter how hard you try it’s just not your day but that shouldn’t stop you from trying. Lesson number 6.

We’ve laughed, we’ve cried, we’ve experienced the thrill of the victory and the agony of defeat but in the end only one will prevail. Similarly in life we have ups and downs but we’ve got to keep our eyes on the mark and finish well. In South Africa they are fighting for a trophy that doesn’t last, after 4 years it will be gone but there is another crown an incorruptible one that Paul talks of in 1 Corinthians 9:25 “And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. “

So the question is- are you running after a crown that lasts?