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Monday, April 28, 2014

A huge loss to Airtel Kenya, Shivan Bhargava decides to leave the company

Shivan Bhargava has led the turn-around of the Airtel Kenya into a profitable business over the last three years and built a strong foundation for sustainable growth into the future with innovative services and Airtel Money.
Airtel Kenya has gone from strength to strength while maintaining and evolving its strong customer values and competitive services since 2010. “We have shown our ambition and drive with a 17% share of the highly competitive and lucrative telecommunications market in Kenya, turning the company into profitability with positive EBITDA for the first time in 14 years.
The growth can be attributed to two key factors: highly trained and committed staff offering superior customer service and the company’s innovative and competitive products.
Mr. Bhargava noted that Airtel takes pride in training its staff to be all that they can be and to give its customers the perfect experience in its products and services. Secondly, it offers its subscribers quality competitive products and services that enable them achieve more in their daily lives.
Growth driven by data and e-Commerce solutions
Access to the internet has become universal and essential for all people and Airtel recognizes that offering affordable and quality internet access is key to enabling customers achieve more in their daily lives, for both personal and business development.
With the launch of its 3.75G platform in February 2012, Airtel introduced the fastest mobile internet in Kenya, offering its customers the latest global High Speed Packet Access (HSPA) plus technology with up to 21 Mbps speed which is the same as that being rolled out in Europe and the USA, and is currently available in all the major towns in Kenya. It is the fastest 3G available and has been enormously beneficial for a variety of internet and data users including large Corporates, small or medium businesses and the youth.
The company offers daily, weekly and monthly data bundles that enable its customers to embrace a highly mobile way of working with high speed access to email and internet  and get more of their favorite downloads, music, movies and to interact on the social media online.
Airtel will be rolling out its data network across all of Kenya with the objective of building the fastest and largest 3G network across the country, and will continue to provide useful and innovative services to make use of this new technology.
Airtel Money
Airtel Money was launched in August 2011. The Airtel money mobile commerce platform offers a simple, easy to use customer friendly access menu that makes it faster and convenient for customers and dealers to carry out transactions. The platform provides consumers with a robust offering of products that cuts across mobile banking, service payments, airtime top up and money transfer services.
Airtel Money currently has more than 10,000 agents countrywide and the number is expected to grow to 15,000 by the end of the year. The vast dealer network has now been complimented by corporate agents to enhance availability and reliability of the services countrywide. These include Posta, Uchumi Supermarkets, Pep Intermedius (Nakumatt), Tuskys, Muramati Sacco, Housing Finance, Cooperative Bank and Faulu Bank.
Customers can also withdraw money from their Airtel Money accounts at any Pesa Point and Family bank ATMs countrywide without needing an ATM card giving Airtel Money a strong countrywide presence to the benefit of its customers. Customers can also pay for fuel at any total Petrol Station using Airtel Money.
The secure superior quality, affordable and convenient Airtel Money service is fast becoming the preferred way to send and receive money across networks and to pay bills as its customers do not need to pay to pay their regular bills as they have access to free pay bill services for bills to Nairobi Water, Kenya Power, DStv and KAPS parking charges amongst other payment services. Its fully automated process provides customers with a convenient, fast, secure and reliable mode of payment.
The Company has partnered with several Banks in Kenya in order to offer convenience through innovative mobile banking solutions to its customers using its Airtel Money M-commerce solution. Through the partnerships, customers on Airtel Money are able to transfer money from their bank accounts to their phones and use it for payments to other individuals, purchases and bill payments. They are also able to deposit and send cash from Airtel Money agents available throughout the country.
Recently, Airtel partnered with Visa & Chase Bank to provide Airtel Money subscribers with an Airtel Money Visa card, a first in the world.  The card allows Airtel money subscribers to withdraw money from their Airtel Money accounts at over 1.8 million VISA ATM’s worldwide and shop and pay for goods and services using Airtel Money at over 30 million visa accepted merchant stores worldwide. This product has enabled the expansion of agents in the rural areas and urban centers while at the same time brought convenience to customers on their daily lives.
Mobile Virtual Network Operators (MVNOs) strategy
Airtel recently opened a new chapter in the telecoms industry in Kenya with the announcement that it will host three Mobile Virtual Network Operators, (MVNOs) on its Kenyan Network.
This follows the announcement by the Communications Authority of Kenya, (CAK) on Friday 14th April 2014 through its director general Francis Wangusi, that it had licensed Equity Bank, through its subsidiary Finserve Africa Limited, Zioncell Kenya Limited, a technology company that provides mobile value added services to mobile network operators, and Mobile Pay Limited which runs the Tangaza mobile money transfer service to operate as the first MVNOs in Kenya.
The MVNO services will run on the unused capacity on its network, ensuring that it maintains seamless quality experience to consumers.
This new innovation reaffirms the position of the company as an innovative leader pioneering new frontiers in the Kenyan Telecoms Industry.
Airtel Kenya managing director Shivan Bhargava lauded the CAK for the bold move commenting that “The launch of MVNOs is in line with Airtel Kenya’s innovation and differentiation agenda. We believe that the entry of the MVNOs into the market will stimulate and sustain overall market growth through a new range of innovative products and service propositions that will give more choice and value to Kenyans. Additionally, their entry into the market will increase the uptake of mobile services key segments such as mobile commerce and data thereby accelerating the inclusion of all Kenyans into the mobile revolution for sustained economic development of the country.”
Airtel Express Shops
Airtel Kenya this year has rolled out new ultra-modern Airtel Xpress shops. The new outlets provide a range of services ranging from Airtel data settings, Airtel Money, post-paid activation, bill payments, selling of prepaid lines, airtime, modems and handset sales.  Airtel customers get to enjoy discounts on various handsets and access to all of Airtel’s new range of products and offers as part of the celebration of unveiling the new outlet.
Airtel Mobile Units
The Airtel Mobile Units were was launched on September 2012. Offering tailor-made product and services targeting acquisition and retention of customers, the mobile communication vehicles units crisscross the vast urban and rural terrains in pursuit of customer service excellence.
Simply put, these units are basically offering “Agents on Wheels” services whereby customers and prospective customers are able to carry out Airtel services as if they would be at an Airtel or Airtel agent shop, including money deposits and withdrawals on Airtel Money.
The mobile units are spread out across all regions in the country going as far and wide as Hola in Tana River to the more urbanized areas such as Nairobi city. Aside from just benefiting from the services provided to the customers, local folk also have the chance to be entertained as the mobile units drive through the rural towns literally painting them red.
Marketing Excellence
Known for his keen understanding of marketing, Shivan Bhargava will always be known for some of the most talked about campaigns that were rolled out during his tenure. From Teacher Wanjiku to the digital campaign 'Move your smartphone' which saw thousands of new subscribers flock to Airtel were all produced under his keen supervision. Shivan's outlook towards digital technology and social media eventually turned Airtel Kenya to become a highly social brand and as a result of which Airtel Kenya was nominated as 'Socially Devoted' brand for 4 quarters in a row by Social Bakers. 
There are unconfirmed reports that suggest Shivan wanted to leave the country owing to the alarming security situation in Kenya. But whatever the case may be, it would be very interesting to see how the new CEO fills the large shoes Shivan has left. 

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The most untrusted analytics service: Alexa! But can the marketers and site owners stop living in the past?

Alexa! One traffic analytics website every novice (In the field of Digital Marketing) keeps talking about in Kenya. I have even come across some major site owners and media personalities who never waste an opportunity of giving Alexa as a reference to boast about their site ranking. But the question is how many actual marketers (Intelligent ones) out there actually trust a site like Alexa whose whole model is based on the number of 'toolbar' downloads.

To start with, Alexa doesn't talk anything about Unique Visitors on your site and the ranking of your site heavily depends on the number of Alexa toolbars downloaded in this country.

There was a time when Alexa was used heavily and the trust level was a bit fine because there were hardly any 'FREE' tools available but that was the Jurassic Era when the earth was ruled by Dinosaurs. Now there are much more reliable and trust worthy analytic services available like ComScore, Google Trends, Google Ad planner etc.

Let's do a comparative analysis of the traffic numbers from these different services-

1.) Google Trends

Google Trends gives you an indicative traffic report based on the number of searches made on its search website. Interestingly enough following are the results when we compared Nation,Standard Media, CapitalFM, DealFish and the Business Daily website.
 Now as you can see, Nation is the undisputed leader of the lot, while Standard media follows behind with a decent gap. However the 3rd site amongst these sites is Business Daily. DealFish and CapitalFM are almost negligible.

2.) Alexa Rankings

Now let's compare the same websites on Alexa. Alexa ranks these sites as following in Kenya:-

www.nation.co.ke - Rank 9th (The only East African site in the top 10)
www.dealfish.co.ke - Rank 12th (Ok, you guys can laugh out loud on this)
www.standardmedia.co.ke - Rank 15th
www.capitalFM.co.ke - Rank 16th (There was a time when this site was right behind Nation on Alexa but it seems most of the Capital FM employees have upgraded their browsers and do not have the Alexa toolbars anymore)
www.businessdailyafrica.com - Rank 30th (Whoa!! The no 3 site in the lot as per Google Trends is no 30 here)

3.) Google Ad Planner

Now coming to one of the most trusted analytical tool used by the marketers and media buyers across the globe which is Google Ad Planner. You can access this site at http://Google.com/Adplanner and do the comparison on your own.

According to the Google Ad Planner, the traffic on our sample sites are as follows- (For the month of October)

1.) www.nation.co.ke - 38 MILLION Page views
2.) www.standardmedia.co.ke - 15 Million Page views
3.) www.dealfish.co.ke - 2.6 Million Page views
4.) www.businessdailyafrica.com - 1.6 Million Page views
5.) www.capitalfm.co.ke - 840,000 Page views

Nation, as you see clearly leads the online business with a MASSIVE 38 Million pageviews every month and Dealfish which according to Alexa is no 2 hangs around with only 2.6 Million page views a month. Business Daily which according to Alexa is no 30 has almost double the traffic than Capital FM which stands at no 16 on the Alexa rankings.

4.) ComScore

Unfortunately the Comscore data is ONLY available for the www.nation.co.ke website and no other Kenyan site appears on their list therefore its not possible to do any analysis using this service. However according to Comscore, Nation gets around 4.3 Million Unique visitors every month.

The question is open to all of you out there as to which service do you trust more? Is it Google Trends (Search based comparison) or Google ad planner (Highly polished tracking based analytics) or an age old clumsy software aka Alexa?

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The 5 points to focus for your crisis management!

So what do you think of Social Media as? Is it the culprit which lands you in crisis or the best platform to help you at the time of crisis? Communications traditionalists, used to creating and managing messages, see the current environment as a polluted one in which a single blog post, tweet or update from a nobody can snowball into a full-blown catastrophe. Why not? We have the recent examples of Safaricom, Zain, Kenol Kobil for them to prove their point. People who don’t have a say in their own personal life suddenly got this tremendous power to say whatever they want about any brand- small or big, and make an impact. The Mr. and Miss. Losers in the normal mundane lives suddenly got super powers.
There’s no doubt things have changed — and we can argue until we’re blue in the face over whether what we’re seeing is better or worse. But this is just one side of the picture. While social media has become the weapon of choice for angry masses to fuel the fire of negativity, it is also the very best asset for crisis management and most importantly, the platform to interact and engage your audiences.
Corporations and brands need to realize two things, 1. Social Media is a platform for the people, by the people and to the people and there is nothing much you can do to control what people have to say, however 2. You can always use this platform to ‘seed’ in good but true things about your brand and pacify the whole negativity and at times, make the whole conversation positive. All in all, if brands follow the below 5 point crisis management program, Social Media can be really beneficial for them.
1.      The principles remain the same. Handle issues quickly, accurately, professionally and with care—or pay the consequences.  The principles of Crisis Management have not changed but the conditions have. With the Web 2.0, you have all the tools to have your say as soon as you want and as effectively as you want. You can post an official letter on your company site/blog, post videos supporting your facts, send one liners as tweets and update your loyalists on Facebook who in turn become your brand-advocates and spread the word of mouth.
2.      Don’t focus on Return on Investment, focus on ‘Return on saving your ass’! Most of the companies/brands commit this huge mistake of expecting returns from their online investment in terms of increased sales and pure analytics, what they often ignore is social media’s crisis management benefits until it’s too late. Dell unfortunately had to wait until ‘Dell Hell’ came in and gave them a pain in the arse neck.
3.      Use Social Media as an ally. Its high that we use Social Media as an Ally or the online PR network to spread our message. There is no need to be scared of Social media. Remember one thing, the conversations around your brand are going on whether you are there or not, so its better to be there and take part in them.
4.      Be ready on all fronts. Where are the groups that are looking to take your company down? Are you equipped to fight them on multiple fronts? A recent study shows that 33 out of 34 political advocacy groups use at least one social media platform to engage their stakeholders. What’s more impressive, is 32 of those 33 are on every major platform. Are you ready to compete across the wide spectrum of social media?
5.      Oh you have an official twitter profile or a Facebook Fanpage? Good but not good enough. I have seen many brands commit this horrendous mistake that just because they are present on Twitter or Facebook, they are doing just the right thing. Twitter or Facebook is not a complaint box or a platform to wash your dirty linen. Just creating a profile and posting updates using a bot or a software does no good to your brand, infact it ruins your presence. People are looking for human beings to talk to on social media not robots. When people complain, accuse or curse you on twitter then respond to them. Don’t just blabber about your brand and events but just remember one thing before you ever make any update, What good would it do for your fans or followers?
Hope this helps you in your online reputation management programme!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Top 5 Facebook Fanpages of Kenya!!

Around the world, Google is the number 1 site where as Facebook stands at number 2 but Kenya being Kenya and Kenyans being seriously Kenyans, the trend is different here. Facebook proudly stands at the number 1 position here while Google looks up at no 2. But what does this tells us about Kenya? That we prefer to interact more and when it comes to information search, we always prefer the trusted sources rather than a Google search. I might be wrong, but this is what I derive out of it.

But anyways lets focus on the title as of now, the top 5 facebook fanpages of Kenya. What makes a Fanpage successful? Is it the fan following? or is it the level of interactivity? or the amount of Entertainment to the fans? I guess, we all can answer this well. A mix of everything in the right order. So basis these factors, here is the rating:-

A fan following of 73,820 people makes CapitalFM number 5 in our rankings but they seriously need to get a professional doing their updates on this page. A thing as simple as posting links looks like alien to them. The majority of updates are focused on relationships and people seem to be fine with that. On a macro level, its nothing but an extension of their radio station.

Overall Ranking- 2.8/5

With a fan following of 67,870 people, Citizen TV stands at the 4 position. The level of interaction is decent but can still be better. The topics for discussion are mixed and provide a wider platform to the users to interact.

Overall Rating- 3/5


A fan following of 83,904 is really HUGE especially when you see the level of interaction is equally high (Every post gets an average 110 comments and depending on the nature of news, likes around 24-48). Being a newspaper and primarily a news site, the fanpage again here is an extension to the same service, However this is a true example of how a news service can stay true to its identity and still entertain its users. The tone of the conversation is serious yet convincing.

Overall Rating: 4/5 Stars


 The fanpage which started it all. Easy FM's Facebook fanpage has a mind blowing following of around 150,000 people and the level of interaction is a dream for any marketer, with an average of 400 odd comments and around 100 likes. Strikingly though, the focus of conversation remains majorly on relationships but that's what people like about this fanpage I guess. They refuse to get bored here. Its cheese, street-smart and elegant. As I said before, every marketer would love to display or post their products on this fanpage especially if its youth or women oriented.

Overall Rating: 4.5/5


AND the Winner is here. The growth of NTV Kenya's fanpage has been astronomical in the last 4 months. From a figure of 36,000 in may it has now reached to a rock solid 130,000 people. The best part is that the discussion topics and posts are like a rainbow. You get updates about Sports, politics, humor, life and infact everything and anything that's happening around. The tonality is full of masala entertainment, especially the tongue in cheek updates. The level of interaction is very high as compared to any other fanpage in Kenya and in no way any less than international media fanpages. Highly Engaging, Highly Entertaining.

Overall Ranking: 4.8/5

Well this was my point of view to judge the fanpages, if you guys have a different point of view to share or if you think there is any other Kenyan fanpage that deserves to be in the list then kindly provide me with your feedback. I would really appreciate that. Cheers!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

The Best Social Sites of 2010 (Socially relevant in the liternal sense)

My Fascination for the top listings never fades off. Here is another year end listing for the most innovative and interactive sites of this year. So without much ado, let me take you through these handpicked wonderful websites.

Number fifteen: The Lottery Of Life is a neat site from Save The Children. It gives you a chance to see how your life might have looked if you had been born in another country.
Number fourteen: Vote Easy is a very accessible interactive that lets users identify their opinion on several key public policy issues, and then compares those positions with those of local candidates. It’s probably the best site of its kind that I’ve seen, and is certainly accessible to English Language Learners.
Number thirteen: LIFE recently unveiled a neat new feature that lets you search for any photos in its archives and create an online timeline/slideshow that you can share with a unique url address. Their Photo Timeline lets you use their original captions or you can edit them and create your own, as well as writing your own description for your whole creation. After you log-in (you can do so using your Twitter, Facebook, Yahoo, or Google accounts — it would be nice if they allowed on site registration, but I guess you can’t have everything!), it’s just a matter of searching and dragging the photos to your timeline/slideshow.
Number twelve: At the BBC’s Dimensions site you identify an event or object (The Great Wall Of China, a battle, etc.), then type in a zipcode, and then it will overlay the dimensions of that event or object to the zip code you picked.
Number eleven: “Finishing The Dream” is a new collection of 100 videos from NBC News related to the Civil Rights Movement.
Number ten: Numbeo shows the cost-of-living in just about every country in the world, and many cities in the United States.
Number nine: The BBC has developed what they call the News Globe. It has a virtual globe globe that you spin, and there are points on it. When you place your cursor on the points a short introduction to a news story based on that location shows-up, and you can click on it to go to the complete report. You type in a query for the types of news you’re looking for.
Number eight: “A Moment In Time” is the compilation of photos that the New York Times organized. Thousands of people from all over the world took a picture at the same moment on May 2nd. It’s an amazing collection. The photos can certainly be used in class to have English Language Learners describe and discuss them. Also, teachers can have their students use the same idea on a smaller scale and develop their own “moments in time.”
Number seven: Earth Pulse: State Of The Earth 2010 is an impressive effort from National Geographic. It has a number of features, including a photo gallery and interactive quiz. Most impressive, though, is an interactive Vital Statistics Map that lets you compare global trends on many topics.
Number six: Critical Past is a new site that has 57,000 “historic” videos from 1893 to the 1990’s — many of them appear to be old newsreels. It seems to be designed to sell them for download, but anyone can view them online for free. It has a very nice search feature.
Number five: “Timelines: Sources From History” is a nifty interactive from the British Library that lets you explore items from its collection using text, video and images. It’s very engaging. The only negative I see is that you can save favorites, but only to a PDF that you can then print-out. There doesn’t appear to be anyway to save it online. That seems a little strange, but maybe I’m missing something.
Number four: The BBC’s “A History Of The World.” is a neat interactive timeline display of historical objects with images and commentary. Not only is it an accessible and engaging way to learn more about world history, but after a quick site registration you can contribute your own historical object choice to the collection and write about it.
Number three: Zinn Education Project: Teaching a People’s History is  a collaboration between Rethinking Schools and Teaching for Change! As their announcement states:
The new site features over 75 free, downloadable teaching activities for middle- and high- school students to bring a people’s history to the classroom. These are the best U.S. history-teaching articles from the Rethinking Schools archives. The site also lists hundreds of recommended books, films, and websites. The teaching activities and resources are organized by theme, time period, and grade level.
Though teachers would have to modify the materials to make them accessible to English Language Learners, the site is truly extraordinary.
Number two: Docs Teach from the U.S. National Archives lets you easily create online activities using primary sources. Plus, you can access the interactives that others have created, too. It’s super-easy to register. Creating the interactives is not as intuitive as I would like, but it’s still pretty easy.
Number one: The Time Map Of World History is a super-cool interactive and accessible way to learn about…world history. Using a map and accessible text, it starts at 3500 BC.

If you guys approve or don't approve with these rankings, then kindly provide me with your feedback and suggestions. But in any case, I hope you enjoy the read.