We have had to warn customers not to use certain browsers and devices in order to access the files. This has greatly affected the ease at which these files are accessed. It has also adversely affected the competitiveness of the service. Many users have complained bitterly about these constraints. To the team, this was like a case of bad migraine that was going nowhere.
It wasn’t for want of effort that the status quo was maintained. We had reached out to some recommended web and mobile application developers specifically in Nigeria and Kenya. The general consensus was that short of creating the files again from the scratch, it was mission impossible. Recreating thousands of files would take more than one year to conclude. The cost would be way too high for the business. The cost of lost business for an entire year might spell the end of the service. We could not afford the wait.
We then turned to popular freelance sites. Weeks later and after a lot of hot air, we were still back to where we started…nowhere.
By now the service had received a better than expected uptake but users wee still groaning. About 70% of support issues were usability related. We really needed a solution and very fast.
If there is anything I have learnt from years of developing and managing digital projects, users are increasingly using smartphones and tablets to access content online and offline. Little wonder IBM research says that 20.4% of shoppers in United States who bought things on Cyber Monday 2014 did so using their mobile phones. Mobile matters!
In October 2014, when all hope seemed lost I reached out to Collins, my one and only mentor in the Information and Communications Technology (ICT) space. Some of the best ICT lessons I received have been from him. He’s proven to be a better teacher than the many workshops I have attended. The foundation of this one-sided knowledge transfer was established over a six months period when worked side by side as colleagues. It was Collins who taught me the tips and tricks of using advanced Google search. When we were faced with exporting email addresses from tens of thousands of Microsoft word and Pdf files, conventional wisdom was to get a group of interns to manually extract these email addresses over a number of months. This costly operation was all set to begin until Collins suggested the use of an email extractor tool.
Less than 30 minutes later and after spending less than forty dollars, all the email addresses were extracted. I am not sure Collins received the recognition he deserved for this feat. However, that incident indelibly cemented his digital leadership status in my mind. He has been instrumental to the various productivity apps and tools I use on my smartphones. Providing me with secure, affordable, effective and relevant ICT tools and solutions is a priceless gift. We all need our own version of Collins wherever we can find them. Moreover, he is one of the continent’s leading information security experts. I also enjoy reading his thoughts on his blog, eBusiness Journals - www.ebusinessjournals.com
True to type through the journal he sets out to continually help everyday non-technical users understand the role and application of technology in order to improve their productivity.
Now you understand why in a last desperate effort I shared the challenge with Collins. He directed me to Ola, who runs a mobile applications development firm out of Lagos. I was already aware of three of the mobile applications Ola had developed for the local market. These apps have continued to receive rave reviews. From what I gathered, Ola had a reputation for being very professional and humble. What excited me was not the acclaimed competence of Ola’s team. It was how flexible, affordable and reliable they were as an organization. In this environment many of these much-needed qualities are sadly in short supply.
It is less than two months since I first shared the project’s deliverables with Ola. The more we spoke about it, the more he was able to tease out the minutest of details regarding our specific requirements. True to type he promised no quick fixes. After a few weeks of research, he came up with a number of options that looked promising. Our team was convinced that we were on the right track with the right team. Less than three weeks later we formally engaged their services. I am pleased to report that Ola’s team delivered the project on schedule a few days ago. It took less than one month to develop, test and deploy the solution. The files are now responsive on a wide variety of operating systems (android, iOS, nokia, blackberry, etc). The files look great on desktop, laptops, tablets, phablets and smartphones. The icing on the cake is that the solution has some exciting monetization streams.
I have highlighted the story of Collins and Ola for two reasons. Firstly, if you are an individual or a business in the ICT space, it is time to raise your game. While there might be famine in the land in 2015, the opportunities are there. Secondly, with the devaluation of the naira and the attendant slow down in the economy in 2015, many organizations will be on the look out for smarter, more affordable and more efficient ICT solutions. Like us they might be tempted to believe that the best solutions are abroad. The solution Ola’s team delivered exceeded our expectations. There are several Collins and Ola in this environment that can compete with the very best in the world. We all need digital mentors like these. Don’t go into 2015 without your digital mentor!
P.S: This article was also published in the 3rd of December 2014 edition of the Punch Newspapers. Click to Read