Actions, not words

Some quick thoughts on the Telecom -> Spark thing.

Telecom’s biggest challenge has always been doing less. Like any incumbent telco, it has no end of systems, processes, technology and products that keep getting in the way of having a product line up that’s simple and complete while still innovating at the pace demanded by the telco industry. And despite all that, they’re doing a pretty reasonable job, potentially enabled by the energy injected by new leadership. Anyone paying attention can see that Telecom is moving in the right direction and out-thinking the brash up and coming ISPs and telcos that were doing so much chest beating in the last few years. You don’t hear much from them these days.

On the back of today’s news, marketing chap Jason Paris says in the NBR story comment thread: “…there are still key, fast growing customer segments that tell us they will always just out right reject the Telecom brand.” I have to say I dealt with enough people with long memories in my time there to say with confidence that people have long memories and no-one is going to forget that Spark = Telecom, especially after the front-page stories, tweets and Facebook comments exploding today. And isn’t it Skinny or another of the sub-brands’ jobs to reel these folk in?

Why not just show people that Telecom is able to listen to customers and give them what they want at a reasonable price with great associated story than bet the farm on a new name? This process is well underway already. Why not wait a while and see if it’s still necessary? I mean, today Telecom has announced a pretty interesting foray into TV, precisely the kind of thing you want an innovative, data-driven telco to get into, but the fluff and froth of the rebrand is getting the headlines.

Anyway, it’s happening and I sincerely hope it goes well – the people responsible for pulling this off have a lot of work in front of them. I understand the organisational transformation that started before I left has continued and is making good progress, I hope the re-brand helps rather than hinders the pain and effort everyone’s gone through to get this far.

Would also hope the folk in the shops and call centres are front and centre in everyone’s thinking and there’s more in it for them than a launch party and (another) new set of posters. As we all know, the folk you speak to when your phone or broadband needs sorting out and what they’re enabled to do by the company’s products and processes are far more responsible for a company’s brand than an advertising agency run by one of your board members.

Like I say, good luck to everyone concerned. The last thing any company needs is a clever dick ex-employee banging on about stuff like this, especially without the benefit of actually working at the company and knowing what’s actually going on, which is always vastly different to what you see from the outside / gets reported. I hope that in five years time we’re remembering the awesome products and service coming out of the organisation rather than the name shuffling.

 2011-08-05_09-47-14_549
 Not a Photoshop BTW.

Misc. thoughts:
– Not having the @sparknz Twitter handle among other things is a bit of an issue, but I imagine a large corporate wanting to obtain a punter’s dis-used Twitter handle is not that big a deal to quietly sort
– I await the new branding with interest. My personal opinion is that the agency’s track record is not great when it comes to Telecom and hope they can do better and more sustainable than previous efforts. Let’s face it, the Telecom marketing campaign everyone remembers is SPOT, can’t you guys just, erm, come up with something like that? I joke
– Troy has been kicking arse on the Twitter
– Lance Wiggs’ article is worth a read

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Actions, not words

You don’t really need a Wolfram Alpha strategy

There’s a school of thought that says whenever two chaps in a garage get a 0.3 beta of a social network out the door, digital folk everywhere should drop everything and get on it.

This is bollocks. Your valuable and limited time, energy and resource is best spent on Twitter. Or Facebook. Or the platform(s) that work best for your customers / fans / etc. When an organisation proudly lists all the platforms they’re on (and the list could be pretty long by now), the question is ‘are you any good on them?’ and probably ‘do your fans care?’.

How many times have you heard ‘this could be the new Facebook’, only to struggle to even remember its name weeks after the initial squeee-ing dies down? I really question the need to spend time building up a platform whose goal might ultimately be to be brought by Facebook or Google when they get popular enough.

You won’t miss much in the early days of a new platform – often you don’t get a fair reflection of what the platform is going to be like because there’s simply no-one on it yet. You’ve got plenty of time to make ground up if you don’t get in on the early days. Take Instagram – for a long time, people on Android, the world’s largest mobile OS couldn’t even use it – folk seemed to catch up just fine.

As always, you need to figure out what platforms are the right fit for your organisation’s fans or customers and what’s right for you.

Some social platforms are more useful as handy places to store your content – think Flickr for photos and YouTube for video – and sharing your content somewhere more suitable, like Twitter or your website. Honestly, no-one really enjoys YouTube for its social functions.

Remember, tthere’s questionable value in getting involved in non-social platforms like Snapchat (where content can’t be shared or even allow a link back to your website). Sure you might get some street cred points for being there, but it feels a bit dad-rock to me if it’s not the right fit for your organisation.

In short, what I’d do when a hot new platform comes along is:

a) register your company name, because 1. it might come in handy one day, and 2. it stops the hilarious pranksters from nabbing it, and
b) keep an eye on it. You’ll know when it becomes right for you

Remember, channels are channels – don’t throw your strategy out the window because someone invites you to a pets-only mobile app.

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You don’t really need a Wolfram Alpha strategy

2013 in mobile phone pictures

Third instalment of mobile phone photos of the year, here’s 2011 and 2012. Big year this year, with new job and a big work trip, and trying to fit everything in.

You can click all the pictures to make them bigger.

2013-01-09 10.05.54

I changed jobs in February…

Ibanez Talman

…and turned 40 in February also. Quite a month. I had a lovely party with friends and family all in attendance. This axe was my mid-life crisis acquisition – it’s been loads of fun.

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The new job’s offices had a pretty different vibe to the last one, in fairness.

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I spent a lot of time this year watching cricket and tweeting about it, happy days.

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This is a traffic light that looks like a TIE fighter.

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Straight to the pool room.

2013-06-30 08.44.36

Wee fella.

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Wee fella and wee girl. Family is going great.

2013-12-08 19.21.45

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So this was dinner

I tried to lay off the bad food photography this year, but… you know.

Fire walk with me.

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Most bad-ass birthday cake awardee here.

We got serious about lego this year.

Quick selfie

I got right on board the selfie boom.

2013-10-10 16.30.40

So I went to Bangladesh with the BLACKCAPS. This was Chittagong.

2013-10-14 07.30.05

I never get tired of posting this – signing a bat at Hotel Agrabad over breakfast.

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2013-10-21 14.32.35

I saw a number of cool modes of transport in Bangladesh.

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Dhaka.

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This was my last meal in Bangladesh. Bloody good it was too.

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Someone did some pretty sweet burnouts on our street.

2013-11-23 09.22.10

Colleague sorts out hipster DJ at Christmas party.

2013-11-23 17.40.05

Watching the Ashes while BBQing was a bit of a highlight. Merry 2014 all!

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2013 in mobile phone pictures

What’s In Your Bag, Bangladesh edition

I’m a big fan of features like The Verge’s What’s In Your Bag? and The Setup, where folk share the stuff they use everyday in a cheerfully narcissistic fashion.

[Get the full run down on the Bangladesh trip over at sportreview.net.nz]

For the last month I’ve been in Bangladesh with the BLACKCAPS, writing for our website, live-tweeting matches and taking photos and video. This is what I’ve been using – click the picture to see the full size version.

Whats in my bag 041113

 

A - Timbuk2 Messenger. These are bullet proof. I’ve had mine for almost ten years, in which time it’s seen regular use as a cycle-commute bag, and it’s only just starting to show wear now. It’s roomy, it has not-too-many and not-too-few pockets and it has a well-padded shoulder strap, handy when you’re lugging a whole lot of heavy crap around. Recommended.

B – Power board. Plug local adapter into power board. Plug your phones / cameras / computer / iPad into power board. Charge all the things.

C – 3rd generation iPad. It’s an iPad, you know the deal. This is my personal one, and it’s 16GB, WiFi only and white. Mail, Tweetbot, Twitter, Facebook Pages Manager, Chrome, Dropbox, PlainText, CricInfo and Instapaper are the go-tos.

D – 5th generation 120GB iPod classic. I like to take all my music with me. It also holds podcasts and full-res copies of  all my iPhotos as a backup. Comes with in-ear Sennheiser headphones and ancient neoprene Body Glove Palm III case.

E – Cables n USBs n stuff. USB – mini USB, USB – Samsung charger, USB – iPad, iPad wall socket, 2 x 8GB USB drives, Bluetooth headset and a Mac – Monitor adapter which I haven’t used. All these go in a handy neoprene pouch, which it appears I have a thing for.

F – Samsung Galaxy S3. Bloody good phone this, I’ve used this as my main personal and work phone for the last 18 months. Camera, Twitter, Carbon, Instapaper, the Camera, Dropbox, Mail, Chrome, CricInfo, Voice Recorder and pictures of my kids are what get used the most.

G – Samsung Galaxy Mini. Work phone with local sim card. Gets used the most for hot-spotting data.

H – 320 GB Western Digital hard drive. Nothing special. Contains Time Machine backup files and TV and film entertainment.

I – Fossil Blue watch. Nothing special. One thing with cricket is that using phones is banned in the dressing room and viewing areas during matches. Considering I use my phone as my watch normally, the wrist watch has made a come back.

J – Apple Magic Mouse and no-name mouse pad. Nothing like your own mouse and pad to make you feel at home. Good mouse this, and a good size. Say no to painful-to-use ‘travel’ mice.

K – MacBook Power cable and carry case. No matter how carefully you put a power cable inside your bag, when you open it up at the end of your journey, it will have unravelled and tangled itself throughout all your crap and take 15 minutes to pull out. If you take anything from this whole naval-gazing exercise, my tip to you is to find an appropriate carry case for your power cable if you go mobile a lot, it will make your life at least 4% better. You’re welcome.

L – Pens and a notepad. My #1 pen is a Pilot Dr Grip ballpoint with the fine blue refills and my backups are Pilot SuperGrip ballpoints in the fine blue versions. Not anal at all about this stuff, ah har.

M – Panasonic AG – HMC41E and Sony mic. I’m new to shooting video, but this camera does a really solid job.  I don’t really put it in my bag, it has its own one on wheels, plus the tripod.

N – 15″ MacBook Pro. 2.6GHz with Intel Core i7.  Work laptop. I love everything about this machine, with the weight the only quibble. Chrome, Opera, VLC, Text Wrangler, iMovie, PhotoShop, Dreamweaver, Audacity, Dropbox and Quicksilver are the most-often-most-recently-used.

O – Canon Digital Rebel EOS 40oD with 18-55mm and 75-300mm lenses. My personal one. Like video, I am only a very amateur photographer. Luckily the pros stepped in for this tour, but I managed to get some OK shots in the meantime.

 

That’s about it – not pictured are hand sanitiser, insect repellent  and bottles of water, all of which I’m going through like nobody’s business. The only thing I think I’m missing is some kind of bluetooth speaker arrangement for the hotel room.

Luckily, not all of this gets humped around at once, on match days I take the laptop and training days the iPad comes instead etc. It’s been a lot of fun figuring out what is needed when and working completely mobile. The WiFi has been excellent at the grounds and everything has worked, no tech disasters so far, touch wood.

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What’s In Your Bag, Bangladesh edition