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Connect Africa: Approaching the Halfway Point

By Howard Baldwin, Contributing Columnist

A century ago, Africa was looked upon as a continent with great resources. All the great European powers cast imperialistic eyes across its vast landscape.

Today, the story has shifted. Africa still has vast resources and potential, but efforts to capture these capabilities and resources are primarily in the hands of Africans themselves, and they are working to “mobilize the human, financial and technical resources required to bridge major gaps in information and communication technology (ICT) infrastructure across the region.”

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Social Media Recipe: “Must Have” Ingredients

November 22, 2010 at 12:58 pm PST

A few weeks ago, I was asked to give a short speech on social media. “You have 8 minutes”, they told me. I scratched my head. I have so much to say! How am I going to do this in 8 minutes? I don’t know any more if it was Top Chef or Cake Boss that suddenly triggered a thought in my head. Social media is just like cooking or baking. Your dish tastes best when you pick the right ingredients, add the right quantities, mix them together at the right time and see the process through. “That’s it”, I shouted with excitement, “I’m going to talk about the “must have” ingredients of social media”. Here are some of the takeaways from the 8-minute version I came up with (condensed version):

Educate and enable your employees. Education and enablement are on-going activities that need to be constantly reassessed to reflect and cater towards participants’ level(s) of social maturity.    Read More »

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Partner or Go IT Alone?

The term, “middleman” often has negative connotations in our business world.  Cutting out the middleman is often seen as a commitment to profitability.  And at times that can be true.

Unless, of course, the middleman has something of value to offer.

This balance between financial common sense and the need for professional services is a very common theme for small businesses trying to optimize their use of information technology.  When dealing with computers and relatively straightforward networks, it can often be tempting to go it alone as opposed to hiring a technology reseller to help.

I don’t think my job as your faithful blogger is to talk you out of doing this.  We all have varying levels of expertise and skills, and the technology systems that we use have varying levels of complexity, based on what we do and how we get it done.  Add the presence of available time to the equation and we’ve got a three-legged stool that becomes the basis for making the decision of hiring a reseller or forging ahead on our own.

The three legs of this stool are often very closely related.  For example, a company may have someone with a totally different job who can function as the de facto IT person.  That’s kind of a freebie, of sorts. But that person might not always have the time, or even the expertise, to do tech support without neglecting the things they are actually paid to do.  And while technology tends to gain increased importance in all of our businesses, it’s also true that the occasional temporary outage may be more of a crisis for some of us than it is for others.

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