Customer Requirements and complexity

Mark Cathcart wrote on his blog about complexity and completeness and I quote one statement he made:

The real challenge though that IBM faces, is not the complexity of our products, but the complexity of our customers.

This is so true.  How often does we not stare us blind against the complexity of products (anybody that has worked with WebSphere know what I talk about)? Sometime there is a very simple solution to a customers complex requirements.  The customer does not care how complex your product or solution is, all he cares about is whether his requirement is met and his business problem is solved.  In the end it is all about customer satisfaction!

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SCS to IBM in couple of months

As mentioned before, Safmarine has outsourced their computing requirements to IBM and in the process sold all of SCS to IBM.  Now that includes all the people of which I am one.

The official date when we become IBM’ers, as it is called, is 1 Dec 2006.  Up until 30 November we are in a process called transition.  That basically involved getting everyone changed/moved/converted to the IBM Medical Aid, IBM Pension Fund and all things IBM.   So this means that we are bombarded with information so that we can make informed decision about we going to structure our salary package and IBM needs to make sure that none of us is worse of than we are at the moment at SCS.

One thing I am really looking forward to is having access to the vasts amount of information and knowledge that is available in the IBM organization.  I am a real information junky, you have to see what my RSS reader looks like.  Oh and not forgetting all the training and courses that is available, most in an online way to be done when it suits you.

On the downside is that IBM SA headoffice is in Jhb which means I have to travel to Jhb from time to time — in fact will be spending a couple of days in Jhb coming week.

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Eskom and Power from Koeberg

This is now getting ridiculous. Now the government (Alec Erwin) claims that is was sabotage that damages the one reactor at Koeberg to disrupt the elections of today.  Well this is just bullshit and does not make sense since the reactor was damage during November last year — a whole 4 months before the election.

This is a classic case where the government is covering up incompetence at Koeberg but what do you expect with all the affirmative action people that was appointed to run these critical organizations.  I have heard a little birdie whisper that the guy running Koeberg (yes he is an affirmative action case) earns in the region of R900 000.00 per month.

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FNB and their service

Currently I do some of my banking with ABSA and over the last couple of weeks I became dissatisfied with their service and their costs. I decided to go and see what a bank like FNB can offer me and since I spend about 90% of my day on Internet related work, I wanted to do the whole process over the Internet.

I am already an FNB Internet Banking customer since I have a FNB Business Account and a Discovery CreditCard. They have an on-line real-time application for a FNB Checking Account. On 29 May 2005 I completed all the on-line forms and also requested an overdraft facility. Remember this is a real-time facility which meant that the application should have been completed to a certain extent in real-time.

Since I asked for an overdraft I expected not to have that granted in real-time since they probably had to have some human made some decisions. Well at the end of filling out the forms nothing was done in real-time. Not even the creation of a normal check account. All that was said is that the application was referred and they will get back to me in 2 business days.

I gave them time till 2 June which was 4 business days and then phoned them. The person on the other side of the phone said that he will escalate it and somebody should phone me within 24 hours. Guess what, 24 hours later and nobody contacted me so I phoned again and again the same promise. Well it is now a couple of days later and I have not heard a whisper out of First National yet.

I cannot understand how a company can operate a business like this. Absolutely no idea what service is all about. No interest what so ever in what is best for the customer.

Well I know where I will not do my banking and I will not recommend First National Bank to anybody and I am seriously considering moving my FNB Business Account to somebody else. Just one problem that the other banks in South Africa is just as bad if not worse.

Open Source and Business in South Africa

During the last week I was asked the question whether Open Source is a viable solution for Business here in South Africa. My instinctive answer was yes but after thinking about it for a while I have my doubts.

Technically the answer is a yes … Open Source solutions is technically just as good if not better than most proprietary solution out there. I then asked myself the question why does Business then not use Open Source solutions and after talking to some businesses (both small and big) I came to the solution that it is all to do with professionalism and maturity in the Open Source community.

What do I mean by this? One big business told me straight that if you look at The Shuttleworth Foundation (TSF – which is suppose to be one of the biggest evangelists of the use of Open Source) and see the way they operate then I will understand. The impression is created that TSF promotes Open Source that is usable in schools and for the geek that wants to play around with it at home. They talk about things like Freedom Toasters and all the fun that can be had with Open Source. But when you ask them about how Open Source will help a business they do not seem to have the answers. Very few if any of the people at TSF knows or have any experience of what happens in the business world and how technology influence Business.

If this is true or not does not matter, it is the impression that is created that is important. As long as Open Source gets seen as the playground of youngsters/geeks and only usable in the education fields then business will not take it serious.

It is time that a forum/organization get established that has its aim and goal to further the use of Open Source in business. Even better is to add to an existing establishment like TSF to solely concentrate on the business world. But it must make sure that the people that is put to do that knows what the priorities and problems are in the business world and then come up with Open Source solutions that addresses that.

We have very credible and professional support companies in South Africa like Obsydian and products like Ubuntu but until we have a professional spokescompany to promote Open Source in the business world, it means nothing and proprietary software will be continued to be used.

Why does business not pay?

I am a Small Business owner and provide services to other businesses. My biggest problem in life is to get money that people own me. Surely the right thing to do is to pay one’s outstanding accounts.

This is why I am going back to the corporate environment where I do not have to chase companies to get them to pay me a few hundred bucks.