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Are you a frictioneer?

The driver for both consumers and businesses today is the insatiable demand for frictionless experiences. Every time one client experiences a dropped call, a delay in delivery, or anything else that potentially wastes their time and energy, they experience friction. The same logic applies internally, writes SACHA MATULOVICH, Marketing Director at Connection Telecom.

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For just a moment, think back to how businesses functioned only a few short years ago. The cloud, for instance, was still in its infancy, which meant that physical hardware was very much necessary. Server rooms were a prerequisite, company networks needed complicated infrastructure setup, and other bits and bobs of technology were required for an organisation to merely operate and remain competitive. 

Today, however, we are lucky enough to operate in a more seamless environment; one that comes with far less complications, fewer hassles, and, ultimately, minimal friction. In fact, what drives both consumers and businesses today is just that – the insatiable demand for frictionless experiences. 

Think about it in the context of your own business. Every time one of your clients experiences a dropped call, a delay in delivery, or anything else that potentially wastes their time and energy, they experience friction. The same logic applies internally. If an employee has tech issues to the point where their productivity is hindered, even if only slightly, they too are facing a form of friction. 

To remedy these, and countless other instances of resistance, business leaders need to view their organisation through a new lens. They should take a closer look at their customer experience, for example, and ask themselves, “How can I minimise existing friction?” and “How can I create more frictionless experiences?” To answer both questions effectively, the following three laws of frictioneering should be considered.

1. The law of the lazy mind

Thinking requires lots of energy. When faced with a challenge, the mind has evolved to automatically seek the lowest-friction solution.

In his bestselling book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, the author, Daniel Kahneman, notes, “…one of [the mind’s] main characteristics is laziness, a reluctance to invest more effort than is strictly necessary.” This represents human nature in general and is absolutely true with regards to customers and who they choose to do business with. 

Think about it. The moment you present your clients with a bulky contract they need to read, or forms they need to fill out, sign, scan, email, and more, you are creating friction. As humans, we are biologically, chemically and electrically wired to find the easiest route possible. If your customer finds a competitor who seemingly offers a similar solution to the problem at hand, and can do it for them faster with less hurdles, chances are they’ll make the move without so much as a second of hesitation. Why would they choose you, and all your operational complications, when they could have access to the same product or service without having to expend more precious mental than is absolutely necessary? 

2. The law of visible and invisible friction

Friction starts out invisible and is tolerated unconsciously by the market. But once this invisible friction is discovered, it becomes real. If significant friction is removed very quickly, “disruption” can occur. 

The gist of the second law of frictioneering is this: the moment a new innovation or experience is created, it delights and wows customers. All too soon, though, this practice or service becomes the norm, and customer expectations shift once more. Technology within your own business can illustrate this perfectly. As we’ve already touched on above, consider the impact of the cloud on day-to-day operations. Before this innovation penetrated every industry, there were invisible frictions we all tolerated – slow scalability, cumbersome infrastructure setup, and more. Now, however, we take the cloud for granted, and we certainly can’t go back to working without it. 

So, what can business leaders take away from this law then? How can it be used to better their own organisation? The best place to start, is by trying to identify frictions that we are unaware of, that can potentially be reduced, or even removed. 

Uber is the perfect, well-touted example in this regard. By removing the invisible friction that surrounded the act of organising, directing and paying a taxi Uber created a relatively frictionless path for users. The differential in friction between the old and the new was significant enough that customers couldn’t resist flowing into the new-normal, and thus, this sector was disrupted. 

3. The law of utilisation over invention

There is an abundance of friction in the system. There is also an abundance of appropriate tools available. Frictioneers should utilise today’s tools to remove today’s friction and avoid the “invention trap.” 

Today, far too many people are trying to reinvent the wheel, and this can sometimes have the adverse effect of creating more friction, as opposed to eliminating it. It’s completely unnecessary, given that disruption and innovation can happen with the tools we already have at our disposal – like microservices, cloud services and digital partnerships. 

Instead of assuming the role of inventors to combat friction, we should rather focus on becoming exceptional integrators. In his address at Singularity University Johannesburg, Larry Keely explained that out of the fourteen components that make up Uber’s tech stack, not a single one is proprietary. And at Airbnb, only seven of the fifty-seven components in their tech stack are proprietary. This means that today, if one has sufficient integration, and front end development capabilities you could essentially build something that does what these two organisations do, by simply licensing and integrating tools that are already available. Now, imagine what could be built on top of your existing business. 

A world without friction

With these three laws in mind, you should now be better equipped to identify any friction your organisation may be experiencing, and generating, both internally and externally. All that’s left to do now is figure out how to tackle every instance. 

To set you on the right path, over and above the questions we posed right at the start, you should also look at answering the following: 

•Where are the obvious friction points in my customer journey?

•What fear or threat were we addressing when we created this friction?

•Does this threat still exist? 

•How probable and how material is it?

•What value could I create for my customers and for my business by removing this friction? 

•How can I use existing tools to reduce the friction?

Figure those out and you’ll be well on your way to making your business a frictionless one. 

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Opera launches built-in VPN on Android browser

Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, which features a built-in virtual private network service.

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Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, Opera for Android 51, which features a built-in VPN (virtual private network) service.

A VPN allows users to create a secure connection to a public network, and is particularly useful if users are unsure of the security levels of the public networks that they use often.

The new VPN in Opera for Android 51 is free, unlimited and easy to use. When enabled, it gives users greater control of their online privacy and improves online security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots such as coffee shops, airports and hotels. The VPN will encrypt Internet traffic into and out of their mobile devices, which reduces the risk of malicious third parties collecting sensitive information.

“There are already more than 650 million people using VPN services globally. With Opera, any Android user can now enjoy a free and no-log service that enhances online privacy and improves security,” said Peter Wallman, SVP Opera Browser for Android.

When users enable the VPN included in Opera for Android 51, they create a private and encrypted connection between their mobile device and a remote VPN server, using strong 256-bit encryption algorithms. When enabled, the VPN hides the user’s physical location, making it difficult to track their activities on the internet.

The browser VPN service is also a no-log service, which means that the VPN servers do not log and retain any activity data, all to protect users privacy.

“Users are exposed to so many security risks when they connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots without a VPN,” said Wallman. “Enabling Opera VPN means that users makes it difficult for third parties to steal information, and users can avoid being tracked. Users no longer need to question if or how they can protect their personal information in these situations.”

According to a report by the Global World Index in 2018, the use of VPNs on mobile devices is rising. More than 42 percent of VPN users on mobile devices use VPN on a daily basis, and 35 percent of VPN users on computers use VPN daily.

The report also shows that South African VPN users said that their main reason for using a VPN service is to remain anonymous while they are online.

“Young people in particular are concerned about their online privacy as they increasingly live their lives online,” said Wallman. “Opera for Android 51 makes it easy to benefit from the security and anonymity of VPN , especially for those may not be aware of how to set these up.”

Setting up the Opera VPN is simple. Users just tap on the browser settings, go to VPN and enable the feature according to their preference. They can also select the region of their choice.

The built-in VPN is free, which means that users don’t need to download additional apps on their smartphones or pay additional fees as they would for other private VPN services. With no sign-in process, users don’t need to log in every time they want to use it.

Opera for Android is available for download in Google Play. The rollout of the new version of Opera for Android 51 will be done gradually per region.

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Future of the car is here

Three new cars, with vastly different price-tags, reveal the arrival of the future of wheels, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Just a few months ago, it was easy to argue that the car of the future was still a long way off, at least in South Africa. But a series of recent car launches have brought the high-tech vehicle to the fore in startling ways.

The Jaguar i-Pace electric vehicle (EV), BMW 330i and the Datsun Go have little in common, aside from representing an almost complete spectrum of car prices on the local market. Their tags start, respectively, at R1.7-million, R650 000 and R150 000.

Such a widely disparate trio of vehicles do not exactly come together to point to the future. Rather, they represent different futures for different segments of the market. But they also reveal what we can expect to become standard in most vehicles produced in the 2020s.

Jaguar i-Pace

The i-Pace may be out of reach of most South Africans, but it ushers in two advances that will resonate throughout the EV market as it welcomes new and more affordable cars. It is the first electric vehicle in South Africa to beat the bugbear of range anxiety.

Unlike the pioneering “old” Nissan Leaf, which had a range of up to about 150km, and did not lend itself to long distance travel, the i-Pace has a 470km range, bringing it within shouting distance of fuel-powered vehicles. A trip from Johannesburg to Durban, for example, would need just one recharge along the way.

And that brings in the other major advance: the i-Pace is the first EV launched in South Africa together with a rapid public charging network on major routes. It also comes with a home charging kit, which means the end of filling up at petrol stations.

The Jaguar i-Pace dispels one further myth about EVs: that they don’t have much power under the hood. A test drive around Gauteng revealed not only a gutsy engine, but acceleration on a par with anything in its class, and enough horsepower to enhance the safety of almost any overtaking situation.

Specs for the Jaguar i-Pace include:

  • All-wheel drive
  • Twin motors with a combined 294kW and 696Nm
  • 0-100km/h in 4.8s
  • 90kWh Lithium-ion battery, delivering up to 470km range
  • Eight-year/160 000km battery warranty
  • Two-year/34 000km service intervals

Click here to read about BMW’s self-driving technology, and how Datsun makes smart technology affordable.

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