Friday 4 August 2006

Some free ideas

This week I’m feeling generous again. It’s time to give stuff away for nothing, the sort of ideas we might normally charge people money for. Nothing revolutionary of course. There are, after all, no new ideas in business, just old ones that are recycled. It’s just a set of ideas that may or not work for the relevant organisations.

First, BTC. As you may have seen in the news BTC have announced that they won’t be using ADS to produce next year’s telephone directory. Some of us may recall the fuss there was last year when BTC had a disagreement with ABS Braby about who owned the rights to use the phrase “yellow pages”. However it all seemed to get sorted and seeing as the story was actually pretty boring we all lost interest. However now it seems that things weren’t quite so hot with the new bunch. Clearly I’ve no idea what the problems were and frankly I’m not very interested. Just so long as they get my phone number right in the directory I’m happy. Oh hang on, they actually got my number wrong this year didn’t they? Maybe it IS time for a change after all?

So where are the free ideas? Here goes.

Why are BTC printing so many directories anyway? Now that a significant proportion of the community have computers at home and pretty much every business has computers everywhere why don’t they save some paper, some trees and a small bit of the ozone layer by printing fewer copies. Why don’t they launch themselves into the 21st century and put it on the Internet? Why not let everyone in Botswana and indeed the rest of the world look up Botswana numbers from the comfort of their office or home? It’s not like they make money from printing and selling directories is it? Also, if it’s on the internet they could update it all the time, not just once a year but every time they get a new customer. They could also correct mistakes instantly.

For extra backup they could offer consumers, both residential and corporate, the whole thing on a CD. A box of 10 blank CDs from my local computer shop costs about P30 so if they were to buy a hundred thousand I’m sure they could get them VERY cheaply indeed. I don’t know how much it costs to print each copy of the directory on paper but it has to be a whole lot more than a few Pula, surely? Just think, they could send just one CD to each Government Ministry or large business and they could copy it themselves and email to every single employee with a computer.

Yes, obviously those of us with no computer, no internet connection or an unpredictable power supply (during a power cut businesses with switchboards won’t be able to use their phones anyway) can still have the paper version but even if just 10% of consumers opted for the modern approach it must save quite a lot of money as well as precious natural resources.

Over to you BTC. If this isn’t a good idea, please tell us why not.

Hang on, before I go on to some other victim, could BTC tell us why they can’t adopt the pricing structure that you see in the USA? More expensive long-distance and international calls but entirely free local calls? Think of the impact it could have on accessibility to information, services and the internet for the less affluent sections of our community. Again, if there’s a good reason why we can’t have this, please let us know!

Secondly, Government. Well, whoever it is that decides when public holidays happen. Obviously some holidays like Christmas Day are so traditionally fixed to a specific date that they can’t change but with the others does it actually matter? Why can’t public holidays be celebrated on the nearest Friday or Monday? At the moment we can have a public holiday on a Thursday which really spoils the working week. It also means that many people effectively waste their leisure time. A holiday on a Thursday is no good, you can’t really go anywhere and get back in time for work the next day and even if you do you’ll have to struggle with homicidal traffic conditions.

So why not just move it from the Thursday to the Friday. That way we all get a nice long weekend and it makes long journeys worth the trouble. It also would save honest employees from having to take annual leave on the Friday and to save it up for a genuinely good holiday. It will also save businesses from having to deal with those unscrupulous employees who just go absent without permission on the Friday before the weekend.

Frankly I’ve no idea who sets holidays, perhaps they’d like to tell me and tell us why we can’t boost national productivity but having more sensible holidays? Over to you, whoever you are.

Lastly, to road users. Don’t take abuse from government drivers any more. If you see driving by a BX vehicle like the one that nearly killed me and my children recently, make sure you complain. Write to the Director of the Central Transport Organisation at Private Bag X048, Gaborone and let him know the registration number, the date and time of the incident and what you saw. If BX drivers start driving like responsible adults you never know, taxi and combi drivers might follow. Who knows, even BMW drivers might do so as well.

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