the birth control of product development

The start-up generation has infused the world with the can do attitude. Have an idea? Well… Go ahead and do it. What are you waiting for?

The glamorisation of app creation has fuelled this even further. The process has now been edited to, Have an idea you think is freaking awesome, make the app, upload it to the app store, sit back and wait on the InsTwiSnapBook success phenomenon to pursue you, complete with the glory of waiting on that acquisition proposal eMail.

An eMail that you will turn down because no one can put a price on your dream, but still the fact that someone was even willing to offer is enough to fuel your ambition into the birth of another idea.

For some this actually works, we can even speculate on why/how it works; some will claim that it is the network effect (literally walking the thin line between technical know-who and just plain professional contacts) that boosted their success; and others it will just be the timing factor, their idea was born at a time when people just needed it.

For others, that sort of idealism will leave them with the bitter taste of defeat. The idea was great, a business was started out of it, a product in the form of an app was created but the intended audience is simply not interested one bit in what you are attempting to sell to them. In fact, they would rather you kept quiet and just moved on altogether.

This is the harsh reality when you consider that a lot of startups are designed around a single app.

When you have ZERO customer engagement, what do you honestly think will happen? When you have no idea what the agile movement is about (yes, I am a biased member of team agile) and simply look at us techies as tools that you can use in your current get-rich scheme. Okay, perhaps that was a little harsh, but quite honestly it comes across as exactly that. When Human-Centered Design processes to you are akin to the red tape bureaucracy that is characteristic of African government.

Tell me, when you are sick, do you march into the doctor’s office with a plan of how to get better? Are you shaking your head? You think this is a far-fetched analogy?

The vast majority will look for and even court successful people in business to the extent that they are willing to ‘invest’ in getting their opinion. But let your resident developer attempt to explain to you why you need to iteratively involve your target audience in the development process – suddenly, there is no budget for that.

You see that is what the Agile Movement is about (Yes, I am avoiding the word methodology). Scrum is one of the more common ways that agility is implemented within teams. It allows for incremental product development across cross-functional teams. The development process is usually broken up into sprints which are 1-2 weeks. After the 1 or 2 weeks, the team will present a ‘shippable product increment‘. There are three main roles in Scrum: Scrum Development team: As said earlier, this is cross functional: the test, business analyst, domain expert (For example, if your product has something to do with the medical field: paediatrics – you need to find a paed who is willing to take part in the project. ); the Scrum Master and the Product Owner.

Scrum is only one way of implementing of the using agility in your process. Other methods include using Feature-Driven Development, Dynamic Systems Development, Lean Development, Extreme Programming, etc. There is a whole menu to chose from, together with your team, figure out what works for you.

The assumption is of course that you have already gone to a sample of your intended audience with a prototype of your product and tested it on them. Prototype includes the ever inexpensive paper prototype as well. And yes, this is before any form of software development has even happened.

Watch how your user interacts with your prototype, note the questions that they are asking, where do they get stuck, what is easy for the them. Understand what feature needs to be taken out. Do they look excited about it? Do they even think it solves the problem they have?

We are often guilty of giving our users less credit than they deserve.

My point (incase it got lost in this mini-rant of a post), is there is a lot more that goes into creating a successful product, and not just the business/profitability of it but in the actual technical development of it.

How much are you willing to invest?

i swear it’s satan’s jajja #UGBlogWeek

What just happened?

Comprehension fleeing from my sense of reason’s ardent pursuit. I look up and a waiter is coming toward me with what looks like the bill.

Great! Just great! To add to all the commotion, the gudu did not have the courtesy to pay the bill for a meeting he called.

You must think I’m being petty and mean, after all I have never been pregnant. I have never had my water break. I have never walked into a restaurant looking for my baby daddy to make said water breakage announcement.

Yes, I’m allowing myself to get carried away, wouldn’t you? Aren’t I allowed this privilege? After all how many of you would interrupt a ‘friend’s‘ meeting to announce your broken water? All sensitive hormones aside, of course… and yes, at this point I’m doing a hard mental eye roll.

Cold air had hit her hand as he retracted his warmth from her. A sudden look of worry and horror awash on his face. That in itself was a telling sign. That was his child. He was going to be a father. I will not be a home wrecker.

A bitter chuckle escaped my lips as I picked my bag from under the table, home wrecker my foot. The guy wanted a website, last time the world checked, web development is not a contributing factor to home wreckage.

I place the money plus tip into the bill wallet pouch looking thingie and walk out. I’m making a mental note not to get caught in this drama again.

***

He has been calling every two days since 3 days after the meeting. May be it was a hard labour. Lisa, my sister had had one of those. She had been in labor for a week, till the doctors advised her to consider a cesarean birth.

All the more need to ignore these calls. She, the girl, needed him now more than ever. He has no business calling me with such frequency.

It’s been two weeks and I wish he would just stop. Almost as if on cue, my phone lights up, his caller id flashing clueless in kisementi. I turn off the volume and watch it ring until he gives up.

 

until two days from now, I mutter to myself.

I wonder what it is with the number two, why two days? He could choose to call every day, not that that would make a difference but I wonder why two days. A loud sigh escapes my lips, and Dee glances up from her desk.

Crap, mentally chiding myself for not having better control of my emotions. I smile at her then gaze outside the window. Dee knows. She knew about the ‘meeting’, we had oohed and ahhed and sighed at all the probabilities, but none of us had put Website in the realm of possibilities.

Has Jay called again? She asked with a genuine sympathetic look on her face.

Yes, I gave her a different name. No, it’s not what you think, I am not that insecure, that I would give my friend a fake name. No. It’s just that he is Jay, in my head anyway. My short form of Jared. The name that I would end up calling him, only now he will remain clueless in kisementi.

Yeah, he did. I answer while glancing at my phone.

Perhaps you should consider picking up next time. Just listen to what he has to say. She said delicately.

Dee was the proverbial fence-mender, always believing the best in people. That day two weeks ago, I’d barged into her house while gasping and sobbing so hard, she had feared the worst. Nope. Just it was another self inflicted broken heart. I seem to be getting good at collecting these.

Let’s go book shopping today, I say to her purposefully changing the subject.

She gives me a pointed look but I avert my eyes, my tears are closer than I like to admit. I am not yet ready to face or hear him.

I can’t. John has a friend in hospital, we are going to visit this evening. 

John is her boyfriend. They have been going steady for the last 3 months, sadly with my level of self involvement, I have never met him or inquired about him. I make a mental note to get more involved in her life once the Jay Jared matter is put to rest.

Okay. I respond. I’ll just book-window-shop for a little while to get my mind off this.

***

I’m standing by the elevators looking at the entrance of Aristoc. I’ve been standing looking at the entrance for the last 10 minutes. For obvious reasons, I’m failing to go in, a reaction which one half of me finds utterly childish. Almost as if I am stuck in a Disney movie.

I turn back and head back to the ground floor and there is another bookshop in this mall. While their books are expensive, they are a welcome distraction. Yes, I know there are people out there with more serious problems than mine but what gives you the right to sit there and judge me. How would you like to have a moment of crisis and have me tell you to suck it up and move on.

As I walk into New Day bookshop, I am reminded how the last time I was here, I was chased out because I was eating ice cream on a cone. The utter irony is that the place has a mini bakery-style-coffee shop in it.

I avoid the shop attendants, today I am in no mood for small talk. I find 3 Karen Kingsbury books and 1 old Frank Peretti. I made myself comfortable in one of the chairs and started the real book browsing. The two Kingsbury books were a little bit pricy, so I decide to do the Amazon-price comparison. Yes, Amazon plus a ridiculous bank exchange rate would be cheaper for two of the books. I wasn’t really planning on buying…

Paige?

I look up, slightly surprised and slightly guilty. Nothing like being caught amazon-ing a book in a bookstore.

Yes?

I’m Bosco. You don’t know me, but I’m Jared’s friend. He has been trying to reach you.

Wait what? His sentence took a moment to sink in. Jared’s friend. Comprehension and anger were doing a tag team thing, WWF was going down in my head. So the gudu is now sending his friends to stalk bookstores in Kampala? Glad, I didn’t enter Aristoc! He is probably seated up there waiting, in which case, serves him right!

Yeah. I’ve been a little busy with meetings and deadlines, I manage to say in a controlled voice.

Is he okay, I add, feigning concern.

No, he was involved in an horrific accident at the Mwanda-Mulago junction. He was with his …

Everything else he said faded into the background. Accident? The world was tilting precariously to the right, worry and guilt suddenly making my finger tips go cold and numb.

acc… accident… I stutter in a whisper.

***

This is part three in the dandelion series.

Dandelions or Satan’s Jajja as I used to call them in primary school are beautiful and almost have a certain ethereal quality. This, however, does not take away the reality that they are weeds, plain and simple.

If this is your third read, thank you for persisting on this story’s journey with me. As I wrote this, I wondered if Paige’s reactions were realistic – If you were in her shoes, would you have picked up the phone?

Part two can be found here

 

… tell me about tomorrow, today #UGBlogWeek

I’m starting off this month’s UGBlogWeek by finishing off the Vodafone Uganda series. Part one of this series can be found here.

10th November saw Vodafone make some announcements about their strategic change of direction. This blog is going to cover the last two things about their announcement that caught my eye.

Two:  Shifting audience focus to target universities as well as SMEs
Three: Moving away from traditional 2G voice and headed toward VoLTE (Voice over LTE).

VoLTE stands for voice over Long Term Evolution. Utilising IMS technology, it is a digital packet voice service that is delivered over IP via an LTE access network.

Why you will love VoLTE: Ensures that video services are fully interoperable across the operator community, just as voice services are, as demand for video calls grows; Delivers an unusually clear calling experience; Meets the rising demand for richer, more reliable services
Source: GSMA

Vodafone plan to enhance LTE network by deploying wifi in malls, universities, creating a converged network to mirror seamless connectivity for users from LTE to Wifi. These Wifi networks will not require a separate data bundle but will work off the bundle already purchased by the user.

One app targeting SMEs and University students is Chat+. Chat+ is a VoIP (Voice over IP) Application that boasts of HD call quality and messaging features that are found in today’s popular messaging apps.

Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), is a technology that allows you to make voice calls using a broadband Internet connection instead of a regular (or analog) phone line. Some VoIP services may only allow you to call other people using the same service, but others may allow you to call anyone who has a telephone number – including local, long distance, mobile, and international numbers.
Source: FCC

In addition to free app-to-app calls, Chat+ allows it’s users to call out of the application, that is to say to landlines or numbers that are not registered to use the app – users will get charged the normal call rate (SIM call rate).

In comparison to its competition, Chat+ went the ambitious route of offering all key features provided by its competition.screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-1-14-33-pm

One key note though, is File transfer and Video calling are not free due to their large data requirement. The rest of the features are offered Free, where free means you have a valid data bundle (i.e. more than 1MB of data, yeah… that’s right! No data charge unless you are using the two previously mentioned features)

The app also works on Windows, Android, IOS (imagine that!!) as well as a desktop version that is independent of the mobile app (side eye, WhatsApp and your desktop integration).

It has been dubbed the total communication package, for people looking to start a business, for students studying in groups and for people who want to engage with tomorrow’s communication today.

Now, onto the application itself… I’m looking at the IOS version on a 5.5in screen with a 1080 x 1920 px resolution.

I will confess that when I heard about the app, I immediately wanted to put vodafone to task over the fact that earlier this year they talked about putting a stop to their unlimited packages but alas! The fact that there is no data charge on all but two features, is a huge plus for them. Since the intended audience are SMEs & students, this is probably something that will be well appreciated.

<cue subtle plea> Just think of the potential of Chat+ offered together with the unlimited package! Especially for SMEs that thrive on face-to-face video communication.
subtle plea>

What would make this the ultimate communication tool for me? The integration of Stickers and GIFs. Yes! There is a certain app that allows the use of both these things and my friends on that platform know my obsession.

Also, the scale of some portions of the app seem a bit off. Blame the is the newly awoken UI junkie in me for pointing this out. The keyboard and keypad seem a little larger than they should be making the user experience just a tinsy winsy bit jenky.

Cool Fun Note
Have you ever noticed the red open apostrophe in a chat bubble? It immediately brings to mind the beginning of a conversation. Right?

Why then wouldn’t you want to talk about tomorrow, today?

vodafone_logo

This is part two in a two part series about the things that intrigued me about the VodafoneUganda announcement. Have you downloaded Chat+? What do you think about it? Did it still work on 1MB?

*Featured image source: Dignited via Google