A pigeon with a great value proposition

There is fire on the mountain
Creative Commons License photo credit: carolune

Those of you who know my backstory may remember that I was trained as a programmer and that I worked in the software industry for 17 years before coming to my senses. IE: before owning my own software company. A real one, not those other ones.

So much for that coming to my senses thing.

This whole small business marketing, blogging, writing columns, books, speaking thing came to me by brute force â?? perhaps like your business came to you.

Like you, I owned a small business, so I had to get myself educated, fall down a time or two, look up from the seat of my pants in the dirt, pick myself up and get something positive accomplished because Kevin Costner’s character in  the only one who can build something and magically expect someone to show up. (To my 7th grade English teacher, Mr. Terry – I will *not* diagram that sentence, sorry).

It’s a small world, after all

The programming world is a small one and one of the benefits of it is that you meet people from all over the world and find bugs in their programs (and they return the favor).

Programmers were social (even the kinda geeky ones) well before anyone thought of Facebook and Twitter. We had Compuserve and Usenet and BBS systems and all that fun stuff.

Nowadays, it’s even easier to meet folks from other places thanks to cheaper (really) air travel, conferences and of course, the internet.

Often you’ll know them for years before you get to meet them face to face. For example, I know several programmers from South Africa.

Despite having some rather brilliant programmers, South Africa has what you and I would likely consider rather horrible internet service. It isn’t necessarily their fault, it’s simply because there’s not enough bandwidth to go around.

Because the demand outweighs the currently available supply, bandwidth gets rationed because there is only so much to go around. Mmm, baby what a great time in our lives to mention rationing. No, we will not discuss health care. You’re welcome.

The Great Race

Recently, one of South Africa’s technology companies apparently got more than a little fed up with their internet service (from South Africa’s largest internet provider) and decided to have a little contest.

Enter the pigeon.

This geeky firm decided to have a little fun with a little race. The goal? To see what was faster: their high-speed internet connection that costs their company R45000 ($6000 = 45000 South African Rand) a month… or a pigeon.

You might call it sort of a Pinewood Derby of the internet.

Contestant number one would copy 4GB of data to a digital storage card (a micro SD if you are taking notes), then attach it to a homing pigeon’s leg and free the pigeon to fly 80 kilometers to one of their locations, then copy the 4gb file from the digital card.

Contestant number two (a computer) would try to transfer that same 4GB file to the same office location 80 km away.

If you’re thinking “This will not turn out well” for the telecom company, you are correct.

An excerpt from tech company’s blog: “Basically we will be flying a pigeon with a 4GB micro SD card from Howick to our central site in Hillcrest. We did a dry run yesterday. Here are the stats: Pigeon took 48 minutes to deliver the data. ADSL is still downloading. Telkom got hold of this via the media and is currently in a flat spin. We got a call from Telkom asking us for our circuit numbers so they can make sure we have good service. Here is the best part. We spend +/- R 45000 a month just on rental for these lines. If we moved to the Avian Carrier Network we will be saving a whopping R 35 000 a month.”

R35000 is $4640.57. That’s savings per month by using the pigeon, while getting vastly better performance. Not a good day to be their telecom provider, especially on the word of mouth marketing scorecard.

If you are in the internet business, you know that even with my whoppin’ 15mb down / 1mb up connection here at the Columbia Falls Data Center (otherwise known as my home office), moving that 4gb file would take the better part of a day â?? and that’s if I’m downloading it. Uploading would take even longer.

Yes, the internet will be slower than the pigeon over short hops with big files. New York to Los Angeles would be a different story.

I got your value right here.

The point of all this? To provoke you to ask yourself some hard questions.

Are you providing value?

Would you pay your hard-earned money for the products and/or services you’re offering to your market?  Not grudgingly, but gladly â?? because the value and quality is outstanding.

About the pigeon: Think I’m making it up? Check these out: http://www.reuters.com/article/internetNews/idUSTRE5885PM20090909, http://blogs.thetimes.co.za/vlad/2009/09/09/telkom-vs-a-pigeon-who-will-win/ and finally, http://pigeonrace2009.co.za/ which provides great comic relief by resulting in “Bandwidth exceeded” messages.

3 thoughts on “A pigeon with a great value proposition”

  1. Customers are willing to pay large amounts of money to get something they need. The question is whether sellers have really done their job to deliver the value that they have promised. Most companies do not have any formal metrics to tie their performance with their value proposition, because every department sees its job as limited in scope and wants to measure things that have little to do with customers.

    The humble pigeon cannot make such an argument, and simply does what it is expected to do.

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