I dug back into the archive this week to see what I wrote for the final 2006 Digital Talanoa a year ago. It turns out that I had identified and publicly declared a list of resolutions for the 2007 new year. What was on that list isn’t important so I won’t repeat that mistake this year.
A good end-of-year list for the Digital Talanoa is the top five technology-related business tools now available to us in Fiji. The results are partially based upon twelve months of user-testing, customer interviews and ICT-related import records from FIRCA. This data is then cross-referenced with all search engine queries from the .com.fj domain using terms that fall within the official information technology industry. That resulting data is then collated and parsed into one single spreadsheet from which I’m able to completely disregard and make up my own list of items I personally think are worthy. That’s how the top five business tools in Fiji list is made. So lets get to it, in reverse order of importance.
5.) Google : Once the purveyor of just search technology, Google is truly an extraordinary organisation. For businesses, they now provide an entire suite of applications including email and website services, a feature-rich (and free) replacement for Microsoft Office and extremely powerful business analytics tools.
One of the key reasons I believe Google offers businesses in Fiji so much value is in large part over the costs associated with licensing software. Combined with powerful services which have been developed to be as easy to use as possible, Google is absolutely a legitimate alternative to each computer running their own set of installed software. Surely many IT consultants and departments will disagree with this as a threat to their existence but the fact remains, the only real requirement needed to use these business services is just an Internet connection.
Google’s services are not for every business but those who they do fit, run with it.
4.) Email : Will 2008 be the year that businesses in Fiji wake up to the power that email offers both their employees as well as their customers? Email has been and for the foreseeable future, will remain to be the Internet’s killer application. Although the services of messaging are evolving elsewhere, businesses in Fiji need to get the basics right before we’re able to move on. This includes responding to customer queries online in a timely manner. That won’t happen until it becomes someone’s responsibility to actually take ownership of email communications within an organisation and in most cases, this should not fall upon the 22 year old IT intern who has “surfing the Internet” listed under hobbies on his CV.
Online support and sales is a proven business advantage and for many organisations, its customers will prefer to to work with them through this channel. Further reductions of Internet access fees in Fiji, a society becoming more and more computer literate each day and even a fledgling push towards ICT awareness by the government will begin to take hold. The time is now.
3.) Macs : The Microsoft Windows versus Apple Mac war is over. Sure, there are more Windows computers in the world but Microsoft’s launch of Vista in 2007 was pretty much a disgrace and the operating system is years behind the Mac. More relevant is how the Mac is becoming more and more the computer of choice by professionals throughout the world. Proof you want? That’s not important and as a Mac-loving creative, I can write things like that and still sleep well at night.
For businesses starting up, consider running Macs in the office over Windows PCs. They’ll cause fewer headaches, run longer and will be easier to learn than the alternative.
2.) VoIP : Voice Over Internet services are not just about lower costs. Price is the most heavily marketed feature but for businesses and professionals, the add-on services is where things really shine. Voicemail messages can be accessible via web browsers from anywhere in the world, advanced call management options that other systems can’t come close to and the opportunity to integrate easily with existing office telephone networks are all possible.
If businesses have partners, customers, suppliers or others abroad, they should be looking at true VoIP for 2008.
1.) Blackberry : The reason I believe the Blackberry is such an essential tool for businesses in Fiji comes down to one of its core selling points, accessibility. Fiji is simply not the customer service centre of the world. Timeliness is not something that is easy to come by. Although the Blackberry is not a panacea for “Fiji time” (nor should it be), it has the ability to keep customers happy and business managers aware of what’s going on. The often used excuse of “I wasn’t aware of that.” doesn’t hold much water in the age of the Blackberry. People can lament all they want about the loss of a time where they were not reachable. Any way it’s looked at, Blackberries are good for business.
Honourable Mention: Nintendo Wii : The Nintendo Wii gaming system is not typically thought of as a business tool. However, it’s sheer power to take ones mind off of business problems cannot be underestimated. The Wii is a marvel. As the frequency of my real-life golfing games have sadly decreased, I can still play a full round on the Wii using almost the same amount of energy. The only problem I’ve found is that I can’t throw my clubs upon hitting a bad shot. It’s a fair trade-off.
Warmest wishes to all the people of Fiji and beyond reading the Digital Talanoa this past year and thanks for all the feedback. May 2008 be a happy, healthy and safe new year for all.
From FijiTimes 29 December 2007
Jonathan Segal is the Managing Director and CEO of Oceanic Communications (www.oceanic.com.fj), an advertising, marketing and technology agency in Suva. Feel free to send comments and topic suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org