New Year, New Start


A year that many people are looking forward too with many hopes and expectations.

People are hoping especially that the financial situation of the world will take a different more positive turn.

Diginomics is also hoping to take a new turn and not only focus on businesses and digital economics but diginomics (digital economics) in general. So even though this space has been a bit sparse of late, it will try to keep you informed of the latest.

If you have any ideas or interests that you would like to comment on or see on Diginomics please mail me at

Happy Investing!

Published in: on January 15, 2010 at 12:39 pm  Leave a Comment  

Competing with the best (continued)

In a Telkom presentation at Rhodes University on August 22, the Telkom media spokespeople spoke about “investing in change”. This presentation continues the idea of competition leading to innovation. There are two lessons to be learned from this Telkom illustration.

Firstly, Telkom, which funded the Rhodes University and Journalism Careers Indaba, elaborates on my previous post, “Competing with the Best”, that competition gives rise to innovation, in the many ways.

In the 1960s, South Africa was connected to 72 nations through Telkom. In the 1990s, South Africa launched its mobile operations, underwritten by Telkom in partnership with Vodafone. This subsidary grew to be Vodacom, which Telkom sold in late 2008 in preference for its own 3G network.

Telkom, which was previously a parastatal company,  had the monopoly in telecommunications in South Africa. Neotel has since come into the mix and has become a major competitor for Telkom.

Naas Fourie, the chief of strategy at Telkom, says “Defending one’s market share in today’s competitive market environment is no longer enough.”

This is one of the aspects that drives Telkom to do better, and develop ICTs (Information Communication Technology). Telkom is therefore promising to adopt new strategies in an attempt to keep their customers. They want to connect Africa to the rest of the world and are in the process of providing more options for their customers in an attempt to keep them from switching to Neotel.

Telkom is also trying to improve their brand and there name and are sponsoring connections to the 2010 World Cup.

Here are some of the promises Telkom has made:

According to Telkom, they have 29 points of presence, 46 mobile broadband transceiver, 31 fixed broadband  wireless access transceiver stations, 17 network centres as well as improving call centres.

  • Telkom is also offering training and bursaries to computer and other electronic engineers to further enhance the skills in South Africa. ICT skills like infrastructure are scarce in South Africa.

The second important aspect of this illustration is going viral and is the ICT adaptation and transformation and what this means for businesses.

Even though there is a digital divide, mobile or wireless access and cheaper ICTs mean that more people can access this facility in an attempt to connect more people.

These changes can only mean great things for digital businesses and the information sector.

If these sectors create a creative strategy and solid business model, this better digitalised economy will be very beneficial and create many other opportunities.

Would Telkom have done changed and innovated if Neotel, MTN, Vodacom and Cell C, had not existed in South Africa? Would they have lost their customers in the rural areas because there is no infrastructure in the rural areas and mobile phones would be a more viable option?

For more information about Telkom and their challenges, ups and downs look at “A moment of silence” and “Odds and Ends” from Cath’s The Next Generation TV show.

TIP: Innovate don’t stagnate.

Like Naas Fourie says, It is not enough just to compete with the competition, but to far exceed them. So look at where your competition is ahead and innovate in order to exceed them.

Published in: on August 25, 2009 at 6:47 pm  Comments (1)  
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Business collapse

Tip of the day:

Jonathan Guthrie from Financial Times says

Business collapses are likely to rise as recovery and healthy growth resumes as businesses tend to take on business they cannot handle therefore leading to business strain.

So don’t take on more than you can handle.

Published in: on August 21, 2009 at 9:58 am  Leave a Comment  
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Competing with the best

Microsoft’s sales plummeted, so in an aim to recovers its revenue they made a deal with Yahoo to try and compete with the Google search engine.

Microsoft and Yahoo created their own “decision” search engine called Bing unveiled in May 2009.

Yahoo and Microsoft make a deal.

Yahoo and Microsoft make a deal.

According to the Financial Times, Microsoft would take on the costs whilst Yahoo would work on attracting consumers.

Another big partnership came when Nokia’s market had declined by 47 percent in 2009, so Nokia decided to partner with Microsoft. This amalgamation would create the Nokia E series which will incorporate Microsoft’s Office Mobile into its phones in order to compete with Google Chrome.

Although this does not tie directly into businesses, this alliance has been talked about and cannot be ignored. It also brings up the topic of competition and how a company, digital companies as well as other types of companies, should deal with competitive markets.

Although competition for Google is good, especially as a consumer it produces many questions.

Competition is important

Direct competition exists where organisations produce similar products that appeal to the same group of consumers. For example two corporations sell the same type of software.

Meanwhile indirect competition refers to when different companies make or sell items which although not in head to head competition still compete for the same customers and their money.

Both these types of competition are vital for businesses and consumers as it ensures that prices are not fixed. It ensures that companies are continually innovating and progressing in order to attract a wider market.

If one company reamins dominant, there would be no substitutes for any products and this would not enable the digital financial markets to flourish as a whole.

And while it is good that Google has the potential competition from two large corporations that do have the potential to compete with Google, how beneficial to consumers is this?

Larger risks
And as we have spoken about the benefits of Google or other monopoly corporations, there is a danger for big companies in trying to become bigger. Larger companies that employ more staff and have an extended reach across borders were affected more adversely by the recession.

For example, the Independent Media Corporation, although not only affected by the recession but other factors, they were left in debt. The Independent News Media owns 430 titles across the world, but lost most of it value and was immersed in 1.4 billion euro debt. They have more titles, more staff and other assets which they need to maintain.

In brief Big Company equals More Assets, resources and larger Markets equals more at Risk.

Risks such as that of stagnating instead of innovating, risks that another market or trade can be decline and directly effect the company.

International bank Barclays was also bad affected by the recession.
I came across an article by Larry Dignan, Sam Diaz, Andrew Nusca concerned with Microsoft search deal risks becoming AOL.

The article says
“Does Yahoo need to own the underlying search technology? Possibly. The biggest risk to Yahoo is that it becomes AOL, a company that’s a gateway to the Web yet a step behind. A company that owns vertical categories such as finance, news and sports, but little else. A company that doesn’t own any content. And a company too dependent on third party technology for a big chunk of revenue. AOL’s search fortunes are hitched to Google. Yahoo’s search bounty will be tied to Bing.”

Conglomerates risk losing their independence and previous structures that held them together. Convergences are important, but it does jeopardise other aspects of the company.

TIP: Think before you Ink.
Consider the negatives and positives aspects of making a deal or amalgamating with another company before making a fixed deal.


Look out for how to compete with other businesses that are similar to your own without overstepping the copyrights and other legal boundaries in business.

Going Mobile

Looking at the market trends made me think of the motto: Work smarter not harder.  The increase in revenue for smartphones and other mobile phones can make doing business easier and well… more mobile.

It has been interesting watching the markets over the last couple of months. The prices of PC’s (personal computers) have dropped, revenue of chips fluctuated and there have been debates about whether or not chips sales will rise of fall during the recession.

PC sales have dropped by 16 percent, however, mini notebook sales have increased by 43 percent followed closely by the smartphone which increased its revenue by 37 percent.

Apple sales earnings increased but AMD’s, a microchip maker, did not meet its estimated sales in July 23, 2009. The following week (July 31) however, saw TSMC chips rise by 88 percent due to new orders. UMC also reported better results in that week.

Chipmakers rebounded mainly because there was a demand for semiconductors across all applications. For example, mobiles are able to use the same chips. Other applications are also adjusting their products to suit the smaller technologies.  Software, such as Google’s Android, Palm’s Web OS and Apple OSX, has been created to work on Smartphones. Nokia and Microsoft have become an alliance in creating software on smartphones, which allow cellphones to double up as mini computers using Microsoft’s Office Mobile Suite.

Mozilla is in the process of creating web browsers for mobile phones.

Even software like Adobe is adjusting to run on Arm, which is the smaller much more efficient chip, on netbooks.

Smartphones come in a range of different styles and functions, but they all share the fact that they are useful in business.

Smartphones come in a range of different styles and functions, but they all share the fact that they are useful in business.

Everyone finds it so much easier to quickly search for information on their mobile phones. Last night a gentleman phoned into a radio station to complain about the service delivery of the fire brigade. While driving he had spotted a burning car and had tried to get through to the fire services on several numbers. Finally he used the WAP on his mobile phone to search for the number.

This not only means that you should go digital, but that you should also adapt to changing platforms. Businesses, especially in the information and information and technology sector, should adapt their content to suit mobiles. Create content to fit approximately smaller more square screens such as 176 x 180 pixels (for a smartphone), smaller file sizes to make it easier to download.

How much easier will getting hold of clients, sending emails, looking for contacts numbers, opening up documents and other important documents, all while being on the move?

Definitely much easier.

I will be holding my breath to see if this rise in revenue will be sustained, but so far it is more effective to buy smaller more mobile equipment, that has the same functions as larger, less mobile technology.

Therefore I see no reason not to invest in mobile technology and adjusting your content and the way you liaise with clients.

TIP:  Get to know and use not only phones, but other mini notebooks and netbooks. Depending on the type of product or service, use the popularity of mini’s to grow your business.

Going mobile means going smaller and going smaller potentially means a larger audience, so adjust online ads and even your Adwords campaigns to suit mobile audiences. Especially in South Africa where 42 million people have mobiles but only have five million people access the internet via PC’s.

Catch more on falling PC prices and Microsoft’s deal to counter this and the deal with chips in the following blogposts.

Bandwidth revolution

The Seacom cable connects Africa with Asia and Europe.

The Seacom cable connects Africa with Asia and Europe.

 By the July 23, 2009 the Seacom optic fibre undersea cable was switched on and ready for South Africa.

The cable, which runs down the east coast of Africa and connects several east African countries and India, offers a higher quality of broadband at the fraction of the cost.

Bandwidth in Africa, and some other developing countries was expensive and slow, so not many people were able to access it.

Seacom CEO, Brian Herlihy said that this was a new era for communications in Africa because it was connecting Africa with the rest of the world in terms of bandwidth.

My biggest excitement was that this meant cheaper broadband. However, it was later announced that prices would not decrease as expected just yet.

ICT analyst Lindsey McDonald, said, “The changes will be gradual. We’ll most likely see better packages, higher speeds and more value in general as suppliers feel the need to compete.”

 “You need to remember wholesale broadband (which is what Seacom offers) is only a fraction of the operators’ running costs, so we won’t see massive price drops immediately,” she said.

The Seacom project was over $600million and took 24 months to complete.

The Seacom project was over $600million and took 24 months to complete.

That aside, what does these undersea cables mean for businesses and business models?

1.According to the CEO of Seacom, it opens up opportunities to network on a global scale. Global audiences mean more business for information based companies on a global scale.

2. The launch of the Seacom cable does, however, mean that there is now some competition in a market that has been monopolistic for years. Previously only companies such as Telkom provided internet services to South Africans.

South Africa has one of the highest Internet and calling tariffs in the world as customers in South Africa were paying approximately R2 for every MB (megabyte). Seacom promised it would assist in bringing wholesale data prices down by 90%.  

 3. Cheaper more accessible broadband means that more people will have access to the internet.

4. More people accessing the internet will mean that businesses will have access to a larger market as more people will be able to access bandwidth needed applications and services.

 5. High quality broadband will mean that new forms of advertising and marketing can be used. Image adverts, videos and podcasts can be used without worrying about bandwidth restrictions and exceeding quotas. This in turn also means that businesses can be more creative in their approaches.

6. Although marketing for every company is important, this is not the only thing that high quality cheaper broadband will allow in South Africa. South Africa’s information related businesses will benefit the most from this.

7. The cable is also offers the opportunity for more bandwidth heavy applications in South Africa, which means that businesses can compete on the same level as global markets in the international markets.

8. Training and education will also be transforming. Local university Durban University of Technology (DUT) was connected with the Seacom cable as the Tertiary Education Network (Tenet) downloaded their first test data over its network.

DUT vice-chancellor Roy du Pre says “The importance of this to our research is immeasurable. Our researchers will be able to keep in constant contact with their colleagues and peers overseas, be able to download the latest data, research journals and other information. Until now, they had to go to the library and find the book they were looking for and often it would be out of date.”

This means that education and training can encourage international teaching standards, ensure that students have access to internet and other important resources. Drawing a random link to business, this means that better education in economics and business sectors will ensure that these sectors will always have fully trained individuals for these positions.  This will greatly benefit businesses in the future.

Rhodes students are also positive about the Seacom cable and it effects on their lives and their futures.

 “From what I’ve heard it’s going to have positive effects. Like more bandwith and faster connections but it sucks that Rhodes is no longer on the list of people that will benefit without having to build their own link to the cable,” said Second year student Tarryn Liddell.

“I think SEACOM’s fibre optic cable is awesome and it’s gonna free us all from the stranglehold that high broadband prices have on our economy,” said Master’s student Ian Sieborger.

The bandwidth revolution definitely offers a sea of opportunities for businesses in South Africa and the rest of Africa.

TIP: Cash into the revolution.

Even though prices have not gone down, get your business geared towards a more information and internet related economy now. Don’t be left behind.

Getting to know Google Adwords

It has been a while since I’ve written on this blog, but in that time I have been getting to know Google Adwords a lot better. I have put together some details of my experience that will hopefully prepare you for the world of online marketing.

As I mentioned in “Sell Yourself” and “Wordplay” eMarketing and online advertising has a lot of benefits which advertising on print media does not. For instance, you can choose to only pay for the number of adverts that interested users have clicked on and not an estimated target audience.

As Google is a very useful tool, and a well known search engine, I decided to use their service which uses keywords adverting.

I firstly participated in the Google Online Marketing Challenge (GOMC) which is a worldwide student competition to see which students use and optimise online marketing the best. The second instance was marketing Cue, the National Arts Festival newspaper.

The GOMC was my first hands on experience with Google Adwords. There is an immense amount of documentation such as handbooks and manuals to enable you to start out with Adwords. After reading these manuals, the GOMC team was confident in getting started, however, the practical work was not as easy as explained and instructed.

The team was unsure of each column in the grid especially when it came to whether or not it was a Cost per Click (CPC) or a bid on buying the actual keyword.

The team had also looked at a certain company that we had thought was very marketable. Unfortunately the company had upgraded their site and changed their domain as well as their Information and Technology assistant, so we were unable to gain access to the analytics of their site. We were then unsure of the effect of adwords on the company and its marketing.

This also made it was also difficult to know whether not the keywords used were effective. Although adwords does tell you which keyword has the most amount of conversions, it also beneficial to gauge from the analytics of the site whether or not the type of marketing done has been beneficial or effective.
Although this experience did not go well it was an enriching experience and prepared me for my second online marketing experience.

The second experience with Google Adwords was a lot more effective and productive.

Trying Adwords again
Having learnt from my previous experience, I ensured that I first and foremost had access to CueOnline’s analytics.

Marketing CueOnline was also easier in terms of marketing it as I knew the product very well. Having worked there I knew what the company was trying to achieve and what the appealing and strong points of the company and its products were.

This made creating and buying keywords easier to find and buy as I knew which aspects to focus on.
The first time the team had difficulty navigating the site, but the second time I found an option on the right hand tool bar for a “New Interface (Beta)”. Clicking on this option changed the interface to a one that was easier to navigate. This had graphs with a better explanation to help you achieve gage how well each campaign and every keyword is competing.

This interface also allows the client to know how much they have spent each day with every click and conversion, depending on the pricing model chosen.

The Cue team also used other online networking and social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter for site optimisation which definitely worked.

The adwords had to be checked very regularly and maintained. Maintaining the campaign means that bids for certain keywords were made higher if it was thought to be more beneficial. In some cases badly performing keywords were deleted in order for it to to give other keywords a chance and not divide the budget further with irrelevant words. Sometime additional campaigns or adgroups were set up in areas we believed needed it.

This in the end proved useful as more impressions were converted to actual clicks, which effectively was what the company had wanted. The ROI or Return on Investment was that we were able to double viewers for the site in comparison to last year.

TIP: Never give up.
If at first you don’t succeed, keep trying. Google Adwords takes a lot of  “playing around” and experimenting with before it becomes a success and even then it needs still needs maintaining.

See the last post to know how to get started.

Google Online Marketing Challenge

My certificate for the Google Online Marketing Challenge.


I mentioned previously eMarketing. One of the ways to market your product or service online is by using Google advertising and one of the forms of advertising is Google Adwords. This post hope to give you simple step by step instructions to get started on advertising online.

Google Adwords was launched in 2000 in order to keep up with the changing face of the economy and of advertising.

The Google search engine identifies words that have been used in the search engine query and then brings out a list of results relating to the keyword typed in. Google uses algorithms to search the indexes of various sites and picks out the words.

This is useful for marketing as the search engine picks up the words used in your advert. For instance, if you are selling insurance and a person queries the word ‘insurance’, your advert will come up in the sponsored list next to the search results. This however, is dependent on the ‘Ad Auction’ and whether or not you bid the high enough for the keyword.

Starting out

1. Get an Adwords account.

2. Before choosing your keywords, it is important to know what your market and where they are located. Thereafter you can choose what type of campaign would be most beneficial your company or product or service.

There are two types of campaigns: a keyword targeted and site targeted campaigns.

 A keyword targeted campaign refers to a campaign which enables the user to access to the advert when they type in certain key words in the search engine. Again, this depends on how high you have bid for the keyword in the first place.

A site targeted campaign means that your campaign can target people in specific areas. For example if you offer a service in Johannesburg, then your advertising campaign will be useless in Japan as they cannot use your service. Therefore, you would target customers from Johannesburg and surrounding areas as your market lies in those areas.

3. Choose the type of advert you would want to place in your adgroup, for instance would a text advert, an image ad or video ad be more effective for your company. Thereafter choose what you want the advert to say. If it is a keyword campaign, decide what words will trigger the advert.

Pricing Models

The pricing model refers to the payment currency and the way you choose to pay for the advertising used and viewed. A business may choose from paying for CPC or Cost Per Click, which means that you pay every time a user clicks on your advert. CPM or Cost Per thousand views means you pay only after a thousand impressions have been made. CPA is the cost per acquisition which implies that only after the advert leads to the user purchasing or using the product do you pay for the advert.

The pricing model also allows the business to decide what your monthly budget will be and subsequently prevents you from overspending on your budget.

 Adwords Auction

Adwords Auction refers to bidding for a keyword.  Other advertisers might want the same keyword, so in order to gain the top position on the search list; you should have a quality advert, great keywords and must have bid higher than the next advertiser for it.

Google considers the higher CPC or cost per click and CTR or Click through rate when deciding which advert is the most relevant to show on the search list. If your maximum Cost Per Click is higher than the other advetisers, then your advert will appear higher on the search list.

There are numerous other things to consider when setting up your Adwords account, so be on the lookout for more tips on optimising your campaign.

TIP: Explore other areas of marketing such as Search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimisation (SEO).

A note of thanks to Marketing and Advertising Using Google by Google (2007) for this information.

Phishing for information

So far offering your customers the best services and protecting their safety, but your own business and assets need to be kept safe too.

Business to business transactions (B2B) and online transactions may be easier to carry out, but they are vulnerable to scams and fraud.

Fellow blogger, cybertreehugs was sent an email telling her that she had won EU250 550 euros. Suspicious, she went to look the company up and upon investigation she found that this was a scam.These tables show the phishing that occurred in South Africa in 2008.

This is a scam called ‘phishing’, which is the act of stealing a user’s identity, is done by phoning of emailing you or your company and asking for certain details such as your credit card number, so that they can access your personal information. This email or site poses as a official email from a bank or credit card company or another type of company.

There are other types of online scams such as auction fraud, investment schemes and stock scams. The United States still dominates sixty one percent of the phishing crimes but phishing has become an increasing crime in South Africa.  Here are several tips to ensure that your online business is not taken for a ride by a con artist.

Looking to buy equipment or upgrade things around the office? No problem, visit an online auction, but beware of scams on online auctions. Firstly, make sure that what you purchase exists and thereafter ensure that the product you pruchased is what you will be getting.

Never give important or critical information to a person over the telephone or via email,  banks and other companies dealing with assets have secure ways of finding and receive these important details.

Read emails or forum messages about fraud and phishing and other online crimes to be aware of scams and the dangers they have, do not delete the email.

Check if the company exists, try calling their telephone number, look for them on the internet, a person can track a person down on Facebook to see their personal information and work details.

There is also an online resource called Register with and then can search to see if the company is a scam. This however, is an American company, so you can alternatively check to see if the company is registered company, look through CIPRO.

Lastly, trust your gut instinct, if something does not feel right about the conversation or the email, you do not have to reply.  

No matter how large or small your digital business, mobile or online business is, it is not invincible or untouchable in terms of scams.

 TIP: Verify, Verify, Verify, and do not be so naïve to freely give out important information to strangers.

Sell Yourself

Socialite, Kim Kardashian, is not really an actress or singer, yet she is everywhere and has fast become so popular. The reason she, along with so many other celebrities who have faded out of the limelight, still have such a presence is because they have branded themselves and marketed their identities well.

 MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, Hi5, Linkedin have all contributed to the online presence of celebrities. However, companies and other businesses can benefit from online marketing and the use of social networks. For example, Ashton Kutcher has over 1 million twitter friends following him. While this is different for companies compared with people and celebrities, online tools, social networks and social media are useful tools for businesses.

Online marketing is referred to as iMarketing or eMarketing.

Blogging is also an effective marketing tool. In the book “Blogging heroes: interviews with 30 of the world’s top bloggers” by Michael A. Banks (2008), he speaks to a majority of bloggers who began their blogs in order to advertise their companies. They have advertised their blogs on various aggregator sites, such as Aggregator and social networks, such as Twitter, MySpace and Facebook,  which have directed the interested audience to their blog. The blog was able to market their businesses and keep their potential clients updated on developments.

Dave Taylor, who was the number one on Bank’s top bloggers list, began his blog when people emailed him the same questions over and over again. He then began his blog The Intuitive Life Business Blog in order to reach his audience and reply to potential clients all at once.

 According to David Taylor, blogs can help you “establish a voice” and identity online, as well as give you an authority in your marketplace (Banks, 2008: 5).

There are many benefits with regards to online advertising for your company. Firstly, there are more options in terms payment options. Secondly, in terms of design and advertising sizes eMarketing is slightly less restrictive than traditional media. Lastly there is the fact that online sites are customisable.

Firstly, pricing is positive in online marketing is the pricing. Previously in analog media such as newspapers, advertising was expensive as it charged (beforehand) according to its circulation figures. There are various pricing options to choose from, for example, if you would rather pay every time someone clicks on the ad (CPC or Cost per click), or whether pay per impression or action. You are able to customise pricing options to suit your pocket and your company.

With regards to design, online advertising allows you to really brand your business and become creative. The creativity lies in creating a name and look that is eye catching, appealing and unforgettable. Every child is able to recognise a Cocoa Cola or MacDonald’s sign or logo, your brand should do the same. You are also able to choose the size of your ad on other sites, for example would a banner or skyscraper ad suit what you are advertising?

In South Africa, which is still faced with unequal internet access and bandwidth problems, online advertising and marketing has not yet taken off like its counterparts in the United Kingdom. In the United Kingdom, online advertising has surpassed television advertising or adspend. But if you look at the growing trend overseas, you should prepare your company for the online marketing wave that should soon to hit South Africa.


Tips: Choose a great, catchy name and tagline

Get a cool unforgettable design to accompany it

Published in: on May 12, 2009 at 4:33 pm  Comments (2)  
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