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  • Will SA’s unbanked masses embrace M-Pesa?

    On paper, the argument for embracing M-Pesa, a mobile-phone based money transfer service, is a compelling one. But implementation needs to be perfect if it is to gain traction with wary South African consumers. Cellular service provider Vodacom, in conjunction with banking giant Nedbank, have finally begun rolling out M-PESA to South African consumers, having seen the critical role it plays in the Kenyan economy, where it is reported that almost 20% of all transactions are done through M-PESA. Days after I interviewed Mark Taylor, MD of Vodacom Payment Services, I received an SMS telling me I had received...

  • #CapeShame bakkie found by e-tv reporter

    The bakkie at the centre of the #CapeShame saga was discovered at 6PM on Monday evening by e-tv investigative reporter Lester Kiewitt, but Kiewitt reports that the driver of the bakkie was "not at home". E-tv reporters are keeping the address to themselves in an effort to avoid emotional scenes of "vigilantism". The saga all began on Saturday afternoon in downtown Cape Town, when a group of (probably) drunken, (definitely) idiotic young guys sitting on the back of a bakkie summoned a Big Issue vendor over to their vehicle. Florence Godonwana, a single mother of three, approached the vehicle with the...

  • Google Instant and the long tail

    The web is ablaze with analysis and opinion about Google’s latest change to their search offering – Google Instant. If you just got back from a round-the-world solo boat voyage, allow me to fill you in. Google Instant serves search results as soon as you start typing into the search box, continuously changing to reflect results according to what you enter. Most people’s first impression is that it is amazing for Google to be serving search results on the fly like this. There is no doubt that, in a large number of cases, it will enhance user experience, and...

  • Startup GetAGreatBoss fills a gap in the recruitment process

    The dearth of systems to rate and recognise great bosses prompted Gavin Symanowitz to create GetAGreatBoss.com, a rating system that helps job seekers to identify companies that have exceptional leaders. Symanowitz launched the startup in 2009 from Johannesburg with the belief that "people join companies, but they leave bosses." The site is not a recruitment portal itself, but rather targets six different groups of people that work in the recruitment field: Career-seekers looking for great bosses, recruiters, online job portals, HR professionals, executive coaches and great bosses themselves. According to a Gallup Organisation survey of one million people, ''what...

  • How to decide between Joomla and WordPress

    When creating your new website, you face three broad options: A choice between a static HTML site, a dynamic content management system-driven site (CMS) or a Flash site. Static HTML is old-fashioned and perhaps suitable for smaller, low budget sites. Flash is beautiful, but becomes inflexible when building large sites. This then leaves a CMS-powered site as your key choice. Once you've decided to go the CMS route, you face another significant choice between the two biggest players in this field: namely Joomla and Wordpress. I've developed using both, and in a nutshell, it can be summed up like this:...

  • Google redefines search, yet ignores advertising

    The launch of "Google Instant" represents the single largest change to Google's search services in its history. "For the first time search is interactive," said Othar Hansson, a senior Google engineer. The company said it performed extensive studies of users and how they interact with Google Instant plus extensive eye-tracking studies. They all showed a much improved user experience and a lot less time spent searching for the right page. Google says it now has one billion users per week and that the time saved by users worldwide from using Google Instant is 11 hours per second. That's the equivalent of...

  • Six technologies that could murder the mouse

    On the eve of its 50th Golden Anniversary, the humble computer mouse is staring extinction in the face. Steve Prentice, an analyst at consulting firm, Gartner, predicts the death of the computer mouse within the next 3-5 years. Douglas Engelbart, at the Stanford Research Institute, invented the first mouse prototype in 1963, with the assistance of his colleague Bill English (who went on to invent the trackball mouse). The first prototype was made out of a wooden shell, a circuit board and two metal wheels. Since then, the humble mouse has been the primary interactive input device for computers, but...

  • 10 social media etiquette tips for businesses

    Embracing social media requires fresh thinking from companies wishing to promote their brand successfully. But when using these channels improperly, things can go horribly wrong very quickly. Conversation and interaction is at the very core of social media, so just pushing sales and marketing messages onto users doesn’t work. It’s a two-way dialogue and businesses must be prepared to commit to the conversation. Social networks are successful because they bind people together through (often anonymous) interaction, stimulating a sense of personal belonging within a community, where speech, debate and opinion are free. Facebook has more than 500 million active users, and users...

  • Microsoft bigwig to headline Durban tech conference

    Sun, sea -- and a hall filled with 2 500 technology geeks. That was the deal clincher for Microsoft’s chief technology officer (CTO) of Worldwide Services, Norm Judah, who has been confirmed as the keynote speaker at this year’s edition of Tech-Ed Africa 2010 in Durban. Tech-Ed Africa 2010 is Microsoft’s premier event for IT professionals and developers, and runs from 17-20 October at Durban’s iconic International Conference Centre (ICC). Judah is no stranger to South Africa: He earned his first degree (in electrical engineering) from Wits University before heading abroad. He has worked for Microsoft for the past 20...

  • Mobile marketing needs a great leap forward

    Around the world, people are increasingly conversing using SMS, and making fewer and fewer voice calls, particularly in the youth market. A recent Washington Post article looks at how the “texting generation doesn’t share boomers’ taste for talk”. It is a fact that consumers are having interactive and fulfilling conversations via SMS. So why are so few companies really engaging with their customers via this channel? Too often, the mobile component of a marketing campaign is tacked on at the end, rather than being carefully considered during the entire design process. As a result, the immense power of mobile marketing...

  • Should you be using ‘official’ or ‘community’ Facebook Pages?

    You can call Facebook many things, but “simple” is no longer one of them. In the last three years they have piled on the features and, in doing so, cranked up the confusion. If you’re an online marketer you probably already know to avoid the most common mistakes when adding your brand presence to Facebook. For 90% of marketing initiatives, an “official” Facebook Page (aka fan pages or brand pages) is the best choice. But be aware that official pages are actually quite limited in scope. They are only for use by “official representatives” of one of three narrow categories of...

  • Will Google Instant distract from Google Ads?

    I went to the launch of Google Instant yesterday morning. It's a major overhaul of Google search in that it seeks to lessen the time people spend typing in their search queries by trying to guess what the user wants. It's a glorified "I'm feeling lucky" button without requiring a click. But will this interactive search function distract users from Google ads? During the 90-minute launch Google executives showed off the result of an eye-tracking study of users interacting with Google Instant. The dynamic nature of the search page forces users to look at the suggestions offered as they type, and...

  • Google Instant could mean profound changes for SEO

    Google made some big announcements yesterday, most notably the ability to search as you type, aptly called Google Instant Search. Currently available in the USA, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Russia, older browsers and users who are not signed will not see the auto results. In essence, Google is turning search into an AJAX application much like Gmail. What it comes down to is the appearance of search results before you finish typing your query. According to Marissa Mayer, Google’s VP of Search and UX, a typical Google search lasts 25 seconds - 9 seconds of typing, 1 second...

  • Three South African startups chosen for Seedcamp week

    South African web startups, Cognician, GetAGreatBoss and iSigned are packing their bags for London. Seedcamp, the European micro-seed fund that focuses on early stage startups has announced the selection of three South African technology startups to attend ‘Seedcamp Week’ in London from the 13th till the 17th of September. This is great news for South Africa, having secured three of the 23 available places at Seedcamp week, from the more than 600 teams worldwide that have applied over the year. The Seedcamp finalists 2010 include a wide selection of teams from 16 different countries, active in more than 19 cities. The South...

  • Why companies crave your social networking data

    Breanna Hughes, a prolific blogger and product manager at Artez Interactive in Toronto was surprised to receive an offer from Virgin America for free round-trip airfare between Toronto and San Francisco or Los Angeles. She hadn't entered any competitions recently. The reason she got the offer? She was categorised as influential in her social network and had authority on topics related to travel. Companies are utilising new developments in predictive analysis to make startlingly accurate assumptions about their customers. Beyond using customer's personal information for targeted online advertising, organisations are utilising data about our social network interactions to make predictions...