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WWWA – #3 Experience of Customer Service is Mandatory to get Agile

WWWA = What’s Wrong With Agile

Hope you had (is having) a great long Easter Holiday with your family. Back to reality.

A quick recap to the goal of this series, which will stay same on every following article – to make some space in our brains for this to stay in:

 

#1 – Agile is widespread, the Agile Manifesto isn’t

#2 – Harsh critics of Waterfall or Agile (or Bacon) are Awful Researchers

#3 – Experience in a Customer Service role is mandatory to understand Agile

Agile is still very much a software development philosophy that we are trying to adopt, mostly due to the fact that it was born within it. Although it applies to any product development as we already know. The candidates who wants to know more about Agile are somehow connected to a career around software development. That’s the biggest blocker in establishing a company wide Agile mindset as it is not considered suitable for everything else. But to understand Agile, we need that consumer focused environment on areas other than software.

 

People – We tend to avoid the term “Resource”. It’s disrespectful to call someone that. Semantics may seem irrelevant at times but are way more important than you think in this context. If you are letting someone call you a resource, you are equally responsible to what comes after. This “People” aspect is what makes it necessary to understand your consumers and get experience on how to serve them. Yes, you “serve” them by not following all instructions they tell you to do. You stay focused on delivering a good customer service.

Serve as a Doctor and not as a Servant.

Before we go deeper in the subject, we need to explore a key aspect of our surrounding culture, the people.

Personas surrounding Software Development and Agile et al

The Hard Workers

Future aspirations includes but not limited to moving on to a managerial/leadership role.

A typical software development professional get where they are by taking the formal route: the learning phase such as BSc, MSc, PhD or similar. Building a software is a knowledge work right? It require investment of multiple years of hard work trying to sharpen those specific skills that helps in doing the technical bit of software development. After all that technical bit is the “actual work” isn’t it?

For MBA (or similar) graduates it’s the non-technical bit that matters the most and ofcourse it’s much better than the the low level work carried out by the technical “Resources” isn’t it?

They all start off with a theory they have (or given) and aim to apply it in practice as a career on their respective fields. “Freshers” are therefore more comfortable in a controlled environment as that’s what their environment was during the learning phase. That’s what they have been taught and that’s what they have been asked to write on exams. Unless they won’t get a ‘Distinction’ required to be placed in an organisation providing “Internship”. They are usually behind (module wise) when compared to the real world.

The Vampires

Future aspirations includes moving up on the ladder to a role requiring Technical Excellence

These are the over enthusiastic kind – the non-academics who excel in every aspect without a formal education. These borderline vampires were busy being that nerd who hates direct sunlight or something. No, it wasn’t me. These form a majority of extremely good developers we see around us today, simply because it’s their passion. Most probably then don’t even consider work life as a separate part from their personal life, which is not necessarily a bad thing (up for a debate).

Road to Customer Service

During these learning phases very few “lucky” academics and non-academics above work (or got a chance to work) in a consumer facing environment e.g. sales, retail, call center or a restaurant. You will find out soon why they are lucky. How do we expect the majority of these candidates to learn what “feedback” means? How do we propose they learn about making a “end user happy” while staying in the boundaries and policies of their controlled environment? How can they possibly know what it takes to be “fair” and honest when they themselves are confused? The dissertation which some are proud of becomes a small book and doesn’t help, again, in a controlled environment with set rules.

Unless a customer looking straight to their eyes and say “You know what, let me speak to your manager” – they haven’t seen customer service at all. If they cannot handle a overweight diner going on and on about a £2 overcooked chips, how exactly are they planning to handle that £2M revenue generating client breathing down their neck? They have a lot to lose, they have spent a fortune (on their passion and certificates/degrees) to get that job. They have to bend at some point because they are more vulnerable and exposed.

The Naturals – Wildlings

Future aspirations always to move up on the ladder to a managerial/leadership role, challenging the status quo with necessary improvements.

Then there’s an interesting third kind, the opportunists, the naturals, the wildlings – one that enjoyed their youth until the mid/late 20s or so. They were confused about what the hell they were supposed to do in life or simply was too busy working on customer facing job to pay the bills in time, assuming that was it. Suddenly one day they found something that they actually love and decided to raise hell by doing something different to make that extra cash and become a software developer (alike) to start with.

The tutorial videos we find in YouTube helped them learn more languages compared to a university degree. Attending those conferences or meetups helped them learn even more in an hour, that they couldn’t have possibly learned in a month by reading a book. Soon they realised that learning a lot is worth fuckall unless they can apply it in practice.

Knowing multiple programming languages may sound impressive but mastering only one of them makes us valuable.

Also they have learned that the above “technical bit” and the “administration bit” complement each other. Both are useless in absence of the other and both needs to work alongside for a successful product/project/business whatever the goal is.

Road to Customer Service

Customer service is something these naturally skilled individuals did everyday since they can remember, it’s their second nature. These personas have knowledge and skills which can rip apart some of the most highly qualified certified professionals, if given a chance. They follow every single word of that Agile Manifesto, which they may not even know is called Agile (to begin with). These candidates are the fastest learners you will ever find in a workplace.

BUT who do these “Naturals” follow and learn from in future? That’s right, most probably from the first 2 types who have already occupied the leadership roles with next to nothing experience on “customer service” in the first place. Back to square one.

Customer Service is about Honesty and Fairness – not bending over when shouted at for money

Honesty is when we convey the truth, doesn’t matter how good or bad it is. Fairness is knowing if we are being transparent and unbiased; and then expecting the same from the end user for their own good. Transparency, accessibility and length of feedback cycle plays a very important role. Just because the end user wants it by next Saturday, doesn’t always mean they have figured it all out. Development work is not as predictable as manufacturing where following a set of precisely designed steps can get to the solution on a predictable date. Development is unpredictable that’s why we need the principles of Agile which can be summarised in the one sentence below:

Being agile needs a swift change in one’s personality:

from knowing how to get shit half done before deadline

to get the most important shit done first, properly.

Stop judging, Start helping

So how do we teach them what customer service is? So far I did manage to judge all the personas above and assumed we only have these 3 kinds. Consider these 3 to be the most popular routes rather than an absolute number of types. However, we have no right to judge anyone of them, as we can barely make a difference by pointing out what is missing in their journey towards agility. Unfortunately, our approaches can be patronising at times as no one likes to hear that then need to improve. For some, whatever we do to help them will never get their attention.

The way I see it is, none of them are perfect and need help to understand what Agile or Lean or XYZ means. There are so many similarities in all type of mindsets, we might as well drop the names and focus on the principles. To do that you need an Agile Coach or some call them Lean Agile Coach or a Scrum Master.

The 3rd kind above, shows the highest potential to become a good Agile Coach due to their “nothing to lose” attitude.

Make 1st Line Support a mandatory role during Probation

We cannot expect any employees to work following Agile principles without giving a formal hands on training, coaching and mentoring. Then making sure they continuously use those lessons in practice in relevant fields. It’s not possible in a controlled environment. If a company paid to make the employees agile in few days, they have been robbed in broad daylight. If our employees are shadowing us they will probably assume we are being agile, as we are good at throwing the A-word now and then.

Making everyone work for a month or so in the 1st line customer support, will expose the new employees to understand the customer needs on that business. Support them and ingrain these basic principles before they actually start working on the relevant teams with relevant skill set. This may sound out awkward but can create a culture which focuses on end users first.

Don’t be Shy, get Help !

To get help in creating an agile mindset in your organisation, find an Agile Coach “per team” (to begin with). Just make sure –

  1. You know why you are hiring them for
  2. Stay out of their ways, as it will most probably won’t be the same as your’s
  3. Listen, listen and listen again.
  4. Agile Coaches need the most support as they have no authority over anything

 

Most Agile Coaches I have come across so far are the mix of all kinds mentioned above and one way or another they live by those principles in their personal lives as well with an aim to be the 3rd kind and stay like that.

If you have hired an Agile Coach as a “Trophy” to show your clients, don’t expect any improvement.

And don’t blame Agile for your own arrogance and bias towards command and control. At first hiring a dedicated Agile Coach per team may seem out of your yearly budget but it is necessary for the longer run (if you really care) as they create lasting changes, which stays when they leave. A true Agile Coach respects the status quo but doesn’t tolerate it. Make sure you understand “Agile” before hiring an Agile Coach unless you will never like what they propose for a change.

 

P.S: Scrum Masters are Agile Coaches. If you don’t agree, you are most probably the above mentioned hard working 1st kind. Open for a debate here.

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Definition of Done (DoD) in XDE Framework

In my last post about Definition of Done (DoD) – The Holy Cow Approach, we have seen how “Done” can be misinterpreted just because there is no set definition for everyone. We have ways to deal with DoD by agreeing together what is Done before starting work on a User Story or any form of backlog item. This definition therefore can change depending on context, product, team or even client demand.

What if we don’t have to go through this never ending debate of defining a done for each work item? The internet if full of these discussion, agreement and disagreements which we can live without.

What if, we have a universal DoD which establishes shared understanding company wide?

Definition of Done (DoD) in XDE is a shared understanding

Xtreme Decoupled Engineering (XDE) has a beautiful way of replacing this small talk with something that adds real value – Delivery and End user feedback. In XDE, we don’t need to establish a ground rule about where to stop, before starting a work. We stop and call it Done when we get “a” user feedback – good, bad or neutral. If it’s good we celebrate, if bad we learn and if neutral we let the Product Expert decide where to go from there.

If this is not Simplicity, what is?

 

The One Rule in XDE makes sure we do not get distracted and the Delivery Expert being the Servant Leader of the 1R Team guides the bubble to focus on one work at a time. DoD is therefore universal to all teams and anyone interested to know the ETA of a certain value, don’t have to worry about what “state” it is coming out. It will always come out in a “Ready to Ship” state whenever it is done and wherever it is deployed for the feedback.

DoD in XDE invokes the boundary for Cycle Time measurement

Cycle time is the total time from the start to the end of the development process, which increases predictability especially if we are part of a Service Level Agreement (SLA). DoD in XDE takes help from the One Rule to establish these SLAs with predictable data over time to create a healthy metric to optimise the process. Here’s a visual which summarises how it work:

As we can see, the Cycle time is basically the duration which a 1R team takes to achieve the DoD following One Rule. It also promotes implementation of DevOps by an extreme reduction of multitasking and focusing on the end user feedback.

Conclusion

We have a tendency of making things complicated when there is a simpler solution. XDE’s definition of Done simplifies this ambiguous topic of discussion. An organisation can worry about bigger things which needs attention and teams can work towards the same goal every time like a second nature.

More about XDE: http://www.xdecouple.com

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Meetings – It’s all about planning the Interruptions

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First thing you will notice while reading this post is the image above. Today at this very moment, when I searched it in google (noticed the new logo?), I could see the most searched phrases as above.. WOW !! It’s quite common to see someone saying “Meetings are such a waste of time” or “Meetings interrupt my work rather than solve the problem”. I bet you heard this before, at least once in your professional life or even felt like that.

 

Yes, I freaking hated meetings as well, as it never helped me (6 years ago). Sitting together with a bunch of hot shots who mostly try to put their opinions forward and try to route the decisions to their own liking. I used to like the fact that, if I get a call in between, I can finally say “Can I call you back? I am in a meeting right now !” Being a recent graduate these things were in my “Things To Do” list as a ‘Professional’ 😉

I was wrong as you might have already guessed, mostly because I never understood why I was in that meeting room. I only attended just because someone invited me. Realising that I loved the attention when I had something to contribute, whether it meant anything or not, I started regularly attending the meetings and my productivity started going out the window.

So, I did some basic self evaluation as this wasn’t the experience I wanted the achieve during my graduations. Anyway, 5 years ago when I was somewhat serious in my career, I read few blog posts and professional opinions about Meetings in general. Most mentioned that meetings are always a controversial topic for sometime and a successful meeting is widely dependent on the organisers ability to achieve something. Months later, co-incidentally I was introduced to Agile development which changed my views forever, for good.

This post about Meetings is not about Agile though but Meetings in general. In these 5 years, here is what I learned about it and ways to make use of some basic concepts.

 

Ask yourself: Do you have a ‘Goal’ to reach after this meeting?

That’s a simple question so just answer it to yourself first. If not satisfied with your own answer, ask the organiser. You may find them acting all rad about it and even a little annoyed. Your answer – “I am sure you have your reasons but does it have to involve me?” Let them think and answer to that question. It will simply rectify any confusion right away. You will get an answer on yes or no, simply explaining why. There won’t be a grey line if they are 100% sure.

Benefit – You know why are you attending the meeting and what will be your contributions to it.

 

Ask the members: Is this the Goal we are trying to discuss?

Yes it is, unless they wouldn’t be joining it. So where’s the ‘controversy’ coming from? Well, the moment we start discussing a topic which slowly takes another road, which seemed important at the time and ended up discussing nothing, especially the original topic. Who is responsible? – All of us involved in the meeting. It’s like watching a crime and not reporting it which is actually a crime too.

How do we cope with it? Be the hard nut and “Raise Hand” interrupt everyone discussing the topic which is diverted from the original. People may look at you like you are a maniac but you will save your valuable time as well as their’s. Politely say that you think this conversation is not in the scope of the current meeting and should be discussed separately; if really necessary to be kept short.

 

Meeting are interrupting if it is not planned

Sitting quietly in a corner, deep into your thoughts/work and listening to your favourite tune.. “Hey! Can we quickly have a meeting about the XXX with the team?” What the.. why? I was..? why now?

Bet you were in that situation at least once, may be even more times and may have also finished the sentence starting with “What The..”. I can completely understand and this is mostly the reason many people find meetings interrupting. A meeting has to be done immediately for an “urgent” reason and the organiser (it can be you) have to define “urgent”. Just because you have some free time and want to get a thing or two done is not the right  reason to arrange an urgent meeting, whoever you are.

Plan the meetings and never assume that the people your are asking to join are free. You will not get things done in the meeting as the attendees are not in their right mind to discuss it. They are there because they had no other choice. May be you are their Boss and they don’t want to annoy you.

 

If your business needs frequent unplanned meetings, create time boxed meeting placeholder and send invites even if you don’t use it

I found this extremely useful in businesses where unplanned meetings are regularly necessary. Create a 10-15 minutes slot in every 3 hours and let everyone know. Everyone can use that session for any urgent discussion and not just you. Everyone will know that in their calendar, today they have 2-3 placeholders and they have to be free for that. If no meeting necessary, they can just continue working, simple.

 

Never attend a meeting with a mindset which reflects the attitude ‘it is a waste of time’

If you join a meeting thinking it is a waste, it will be. You will definitely waste your time and regret the decision of joining it. Worse, you may end up making it a waste for everyone else.

 

Never attend a meeting to control it, attend to contribute

The most important aspect of any meeting is, you can see everyone else’s view on the topic. You have an idea or a topic to discuss, you are pretty confident about the goal and have ideas to achieve it. So you invite others to ‘share their opinion’ on it. Stick to the goal, discuss and forget you organised it. Advocate your opinion but always keep in mind that ‘you may be wrong’. Just because you think it is right, doesn’t mean it is right for others. Contribute to the discussion with what you know and listen more to understand rather than waiting for the other person to stop talking.

 

Bottom line – If you can’t make use of the meetings don’t blame someone else. Meetings are necessary, useful and in fact improves the communications among teams/members in every way possible. Just make sure it is done right and not just a date in your calendar.

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6 reasons why An Established Brand Stops Innovating !

Innovation and Reputation goes hand in hand. The history of every brand involves at least one “Epic” event which makes them an Established company. Brands follow a typical growth stages around it. These stages depends on how good you have managed to retain the existing customers and kept adding new “Brand Loyals” on your company network. This can happen by Social Media, Public announcement or High Profile merges between 2 companies.

 

That one epic announcement or innovation mostly happens during the Loyalty Marketing strategy which uses the Gamification approach as shown here:

Now, don’t go too deep into these statistics. What we really gain from this info is Existing and New customers are the main reasons why a Brand succeed and continue to flourish until there is a new game changer in the market.

 

That “Game Changer” is usually a start up trying to make a difference and Innovate to get noticed. Once they are big enough, innovation goes out the window like the previous company they “used to” challenge !

Hence, for the consumer, it is necessary to know why this happens and how the consumers can make a difference by choosing the right Brand in right time. Why a Brand stops Innovating?

1) Too many Blindly Loyal Customers

Brands pay huge and analyse Social Media Data closely to create a big fan base. They engage actively and keep the virality in check so customers themselves can start sharing and be a loyal guinea pig.

Oops, there, I said it. Yes, we are guinea pigs for the Brands as they experiment with our needs and actively manipulate the market to create a futile hype, often. Eventually as consumers after spending a fortune, end up with a product that they “thought” can make a difference. Consumers are the culprit, because of whom the Brands stops innovating as they know, whatever they build, we will give it a try without a second thought !

If you don’t make them run for their money, they will never look back. Brands won’t care if you are impressed or not unless you let them know what you feel and start being a pain for them by sharing negative comments now and then.

2) Reinventing the wheel, keeps the wheel of fortune going

Several brands are great in hiding their potential source of copy/paste achievements. Naming a few would be biased, so just imagine a Brand that you love, search the history and see it for yourself. You will be surprised.

Say an old technology ‘was’ marketed a while back, which couldn’t gain any attraction then. After 10 years finally people getting attracted towards it and another brand developed similar product and capture the market.. hell.. even tried to own a patent for that tech which wasn’t there original idea in the first place.

3) Third party businesses create unnecessary hypes

‘Marketing partners’ aka the middle men boosts a Brands image exponentially and they are present in every industry. Example you ask? Well, when you get a new gadget on contract in UK you go to O2, Orange, EE or Vodafone to name a few. If a gadget costs £500, it is usually been sold at a 24 months contract for £35 a month = £840 while you are stuck in a locked device (mostly) for 2 years..

“BOOM” – no innovation needed for a while !

4) Not many serious rivals

This, we all know and will agree together. If a Brand which has no innovative competitor they won’t feel the need to impress you. Monopoly is a curse. If you want to innovate, you often do it for free to get noticed. This is the reason why there are so many start ups challenging the established market leader as they feel the need and they know customers feel the need.

5) Timing of an Innovation is Important

Timing makes an innovation a hit or a miss. We as a consumers do not appreciate new feature as much as we should, as we got it when we didn’t asked for it. If you want innovation to continue, agree and let the Brand know that they have done a great job even when the timing is wrong.

6) Lazy Marketing sometimes supersede the power of the Tech Team

Some Brands release a feature without any marketing strategy. If you can’t show the consumers how the new feature is different, you will fail. It’s a two way street. If consumers are lazy, sometimes the Brands are too.

There might be awesome engineers working day and night for an innovative idea but if the marketing team forget to highlight the facts, brands can’t help it. Eventually we as a consumer feels that the Brand is not doing so well, when they really are.. may not be as a good team.

 

Therefore, if you want to see innovation constantly coming out of any brand, as a consumer do the following –

  • Don’t be blind fan and be very selfish, unless you think it worth your money.
  • Don’t go easy on them, be a dick and go hard on Social media.. spread the word (just don’t lie). Social media is a serious business, it’s not about fun anymore for Brands.
  • Encourage Brand rivals when they do something good. It will help make the community more innovative.
  • Remember: Slow Innovation is no Innovation. If you become a legend just before the day you die, why would you bother anyway? Make them do it fast, make them move from their arse and force them to go out of their comfort zone.
  • Remember: It is always about the money; no matter what you say. A Business can’t be just for a hobby or interest. If you are an app developer, at some point you will want to gain some profit.
  • Treat Non-profit organisations and Start ups as legends. Applaud and appreciate them, as they are the main reason why we see innovation day by day and not by an established Market lead.
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High End Smartphones Aren’t Made To Fulfill Your Needs

This was first published on Linkedin and was featured in: MobileOriginal Article Link: http://bit.ly/2sWQKR1

 

There’s a simple theory in the not so smart “Smart(phone) World” –

Run after a technology which is highly rated and highly applauded by the critics and power users. It is like ordering a meal you know you can’t finish. No, I won’t be criticising a particular brand here today. I will stand in front of you with a mirror and ask you to answer a simple question –

Why did you choose the Smartphone, which you ‘think’ is the best?

 

I hear you, here are the common reasons

  • The latest Android version
  • Slimmest design
  • The coolest iOS version
  • The best camera a smartphone can have
  • The world’s first waterproof phone
  • The screen made of Corning Gorilla Glass 3.0
  • The highest screen resolution ever made

 

Now, look at your Real life. How many of these features you actually use in your day to day life and where do you use it? I bet none of these matters to common users which are mostly not related to IT or any sort of Technology background. So why do you care what a phone critic say about it?

The Truth is –

You need the latest android version, only if you are a developer; to make sure you are up to the speed what Google has changed.

You only need the slimmest design to look cool, admit it. It looks sexy, slick and raises few brows and give you a moment of superiority.

The coolest iOS version is iOS7 which has several new features. I bet you can name few of them, Siri being the coolest one but what about the rest? Still you will buy a new iPhone to get those without even thinking why you are buying it?

 

The best camera phone with 41MP count and huge sensor with exceptionally high quality lenses squeezed into a 10mm thick body.. Brilliant. How many of you actually know what the MP count is for? How many of you actually know the difference between the sensor sizes?

There is no doubt, it is the best camera phone Nokia ever built, but is it for you?

 

World’s first waterproof smartphone Xperia Z (I have one of these, trust me I don’t take it to shower everyday) has a lot to offer. It’s genuinely Brilliant, have tons of truly innovative features which you will never use (hell, even I don’t use all of them). But is that something really needed in your daily life? Also, if you fell for that first waterproof “LIE”, you should know by now you know a little less. Panasonic Eluga was the first who have released the waterproof smartphone before Sony. Now you know 🙂

 

You do need strong touch screen with a Scratch resistant surface. Everyone needs that. By do you really need Corning Gorilla Glass 3.0? Are you planning to beat it to death when you girlfriend leaves you? Come on.. that’s just a marketing gimmick to make the device awesome on paper.

 

Screen resolution, this is something we can argue. Most do need a good quality screen of HD quality to see pictures, videos and play games. After all that’s what most of us do. But paying £500 or more for a 443ppi resolution seems like a waste when you can get a decent 200ppi (near retina display that is) for £100-£200 now-a-days. Yes if that is Retina display, what will you call the 443ppi one? Trust me you don’t need it.

 

So, which Smartphone actually suits your need? Lets make a list of features first which are actually used daily –

  1. Calling
  2. Texting
  3. Taking Selfies, Pics, Videos – Camera
  4. Facebook
  5. Twitter
  6. Instagram
  7. Whatsapp
  8. HD Games
  9. Checking Mails
  10. Using the Browser
  11. Crazy Shit most don’t care about

 

The point 11, is the main reason the cost of a Smartphones goes up. Stuffs like amplified speakers, quad core processor, slim design, accessories, photo editing software.. Arrrgghhh..

Voice assistant, voice activated search, GPS navigation, Dolby quality sound..

uff more.. compatibility with several USBs, HDMI ports, mini projector, button less device, 3D games, gyroscope.. etc etc etc

Did you just said you didn’t even know these features actually exists on your smartphone?

 

There you go, there’s the reason why you may doing it wrong. Quickly read an article on your device, save few quids. You sure does not know a lot about your own device unless you specifically read the manual which most don’t. I have only mentioned a few, there are more trust me.

 

Now, the points 1 to 10 are the most used features you should really care about. What device can offer all of those in the cheapest price? I won’t give you any biased opinion but you will get hundreds of devices under £100 which offers all that and is sufficient for you.

 

Then, why most of us are spending thousands for them in contracts or buying several within a year? Why not spending that money on a Holiday? You will still be able to do all those stuffs, get connected to your social media, take pictures and like your friends pictures in facebook. Think.. Think..

 

What you need to know before buying a “Smart-Ass Phone” is one of the followings –

  • You travel a lot, you need a good battery life. Most smartphones are appalling when it comes to battery life. They run out within 12hrs and on some cases within 4-5hrs.
  • You are a photographer but you can’t carry a 1kg lens everywhere; go for the best camera phone in the market and enjoy life.
  • You are a designer, buy a smartphone which has apps supporting you to design serious sexy stuff on the go.
  • You are a game developer, buy the quad core once which can help you do your job faster.
  • You drive a lot, buy the phone which offers the best GPS service for when your Tom Tom screws up.
  • You are a busy professional and needs to type faster on the go and check mail with the best network connections. Avoid touch phones, go for a qwerty keyboard phone. Not everything is worth showing off.
  • You have bigger hands, get the big sized phones with 5.5″ screens, you need them for your monstrous finger tips. Screw other’s opinion about how big your phone is; buy what you need.
  • You have small hands, get a small screens sized phone for your daily needs. Don’t make you life harder with a tablet sized phone which is bigger than your palm. Be selfish.
  • Avoid Brand loyalty, that’s how they get you. Just because one model was a hit, doesn’t mean the rest will be good enough. You may end up buying same device with slightly improved features twice a year.
  • Know your needs. You are the person who will be using it. If it doesn’t suit you then what’s the point of buying it?
  • Compare and try to find the cheapest model and then check the reviews. Most of the time, you will change your opinion as you will realise what you actually want.
  • User reviews are more useful than critic reviews, as they are real users.

 

I work in an IT firm as you can see and have several high end smartphones because I test pre-released versions, write reviews, articles and comparisons. I have couple of free units from the manufactures, but rest I do buy myself. But that doesn’t mean I made a good choice spending all the money for some technology which is changing by day. I can’t control it but most can.

 

 

Be generous to treat yourself but reading reviews only help you to choose the device that others find useful, not you. Then again, the money is yours to spend. I can only show you the mirror, I can only give you the useful advice.

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Patent Wars: A New Marketing Strategy

This was first published on Linkedin and was featured in Pulse: Law & Government, Technology. Original Article Link: http://bit.ly/2rdc4Aw

 

Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) – a term we always hear for new innovations which changed the way to publish any experiment/technology or even ideas. Patents are one of the most common forms of IPR. Lets give you an example, say I developed a Technology/ Idea/ Algorithm/ Application, sold it to big companies and get the royalties paid. Simple.. or is it?

apple-patent-war
Source: http://todayip.blogspot.co.uk/2012/09/apple-vs-samsung-patent-war-explained.html

How it works?

These are the hottest topics on the news now-a-days. “A” sued “B”, “B” counter sued “C” and “D” sits comfortably as he is not big enough to compete. If you have to be the best you have to destroy your opponent even if they are completely legitimate. If you are a small company make sure you protect you ideas before you release it, unless you might face a strong lawsuit for developing your own idea from a market leading company. It’s complicated and very hard to comment on a specific event as most of the cases are still in the court trials, for example the recent headline grabbing Apple and Samsung conflict – revisited.

 

All about Publicity and Power

So why are they doing it? Apple is trying to dominate US and other valuable markets by stopping Samsung phones and tablet sales, exactly same what they did to HTC a while back (atleast that is what we hear from the headlines). Will they succeed on that? Hardly possible as Samsung makes most of the iPad parts and develop their own internal hardware with a credibility to dominate more than Apple. It is also due to its widespread investments in lower and higher specs phones, LCDs, Plasmas, Cameras and many more. This is also true that not everyone is as lucky as Nokia to win a battle against Apple and earned the 1% royalties from them, which was worth one off $650 millions on 2009. But in between these big words and discussions, a keen observer might notice that the brand names came across a lot of time. News reporters says that “A” is sueing “B” for 10 patents, but never clarifies that they are accusing only and it’s not been proved yet. People who are big fans of “A” already, will go with it and start foul mouthing about “B” and vice versa.

 

Maximising Profitability

It is a way of maximising profitability as well. If you earn $1 bn, you might want to grab another $0.2 bn by hook or by crook from the battle reducing opponent’s profits. Recently Kodak tried to do the same; they were sueing Samsung for infringing 5 digital imaging patents. Although Sammy may not be affected at all but they surely spend some valuable marketing time thinking about it.

 

Recent Events

Recently Google has been cleared from the Java lawsuit by Oracle. When the news first came in people started thinking about the brands and there future investments on their shares. Google also aquired Motorola which means they bought their patents as well, again highlighting the brand they are buying. RIM, Nokia and Motorola were in the headlines with the long dispute over the nano-sim design.. looks like everyone wants the piece of the action, mainly Apple. Tegra3 and Exynos processors are on the headlines too.

 

Same purpose

In true sense, these patent battles therefore helping the companies to grab attention of consumers, where one wants to be more powerful than other in any way. Patent wars have made them threats to each other but their purpose of these events are the same. There might be few occasions where those cases are genuine and can change history, especially if those allegations are proved to be true. God bless the technology world.