After all the euphoria, back-patting and chest-thumping of the MWeb uncapped DSL offering, which spurred on other ISPs to follow suit, we are now going through the first major test of what happens when real service delivery (this time not the governmental variety), and genuine customer support is required. The Seacom undersea cable went down yesterday morning, and service providers relying on it (in some cases exclusively) for international DSL bandwidth, such as MWeb, consequently were unable to serve up non-local bandwidth to their customers. I can only speak from my personal experience with MWeb, because I am a customer (and I must admit I have no internal knowledge of their operations), but it appears that there is absolutely no back-up plan in place in such situations. This is shown by the fact that it took them more than 8 hours to switch over from Seacom (which went down at about 11.30am) to the alternative SAIX / SAT-3 network (which happened at around 7.30pm) as a temporary measure to restore partial international bandwidth (and even this option has failed them from midday today).
Of course you wouldn’t have known to reset your router to accommodate this unless you bravely phoned in and got through (if you were one of the lucky or persistent ones) to MWeb’s call centre after 7.30pm yesterday evening, and spoke to a customer support operator who overheard something vaguely to that effect from the manager. This is notwithstanding an email that MWeb CEO Derek Hershaw sent out to customers in May 2010, after similar such disruptions, stating that “we simply cannot tolerate this degree of instability from our upstream providers and we are considering our options in this regard”. Well that was six weeks ago, and it appears that they are still considering their options but not doing anything about them. Thanks to MWeb Operations for sending out that ex post facto email this afternoon about a problem that started yesterday morning, but unless you have a local email account, a Blackberry or 3G antennae connected to your brain you would have been unable to receive it, because international email has been down again since noon (and all international bandwidth soon followed suit). Has the company heard of SMS? You know, that 80s technology that allows you to keep in touch with your customers and let them know what’s going on. They have heard of Twitter, it appears, but don’t know how to use it, because all you get is the following: “Network Status Notices :: Dial (0) ADSL (3) Wireless (1) Other (0) [date] [time] More info :: [url]” for every support update.
Now I know that the outage is not the local ISP’s fault. I know it’s Seacom’s, and that Seacom are doing the best they can in the situation (and they seem to be communicating with their customers effectively through Twitter and Facebook). And further, I think MWeb have shown enormous leadership in offering uncapped DSL, and should be commended for innovating in the local market. It is early days and these teething problems will be sorted out (we hope). But if they haven’t got a back-up plan, then they should stop shifting the responsibility and directing their customers’ anger towards a third-party company. That is remnant of the Telkom days, where Telkom got all the blame, and those days are fortunately ending. Furthermore, now that uncapped internet has shifted the means of billing from per-GB bundles to flat monthly fees, disrupted customers should be getting pro-rata refunds for periods when the service is down. It’s now time to keep those customers who bravely changed to uncapped offerings by offering uncapped service delivery.
Search Engine Marketing (SEM) is a mysterious mix of art and science, but for the purposes of this article, we can conceive of it as comprised of two parts. The skill of getting as high up as possible on the first page of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP), and the skill of getting searchers to click through.
Of course it is not quite as simple as just getting someone to click through. It is also about getting clicked by the right person, at the right time, and for the right investment of time and money. What we are really talking about here is either Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) or paid search (no acronym, sorry!). Whilst these disciplines are very different in practice, there is one important similarity that can guide strategy and help us to be more efficient marketers.
Our brains love familiarity
Cognitive scientists broadly categorise memory into ‘recall’ – when we actively try to remember something from the past, and ‘recognition’ – when something in our immediate sensory awareness is recognised as being familiar. We hate recall. It is cognitively demanding and we are notoriously bad at it, no matter how good we think we are. Recognition on the other hand, we love and excel at. It was adaptive for us to be excellent at recognition back in our evolutionary history because it is a highly efficient way to quickly assess threats and identify food sources we like. In fact, what is important to the search engine marketer is a further subset of recognition: ‘familiarity’.
When someone has just made a search on Google, their search query is fresh in their short term memory – easily accessible. Of all the text on the SERP, those parts that most closely resemble the search query will of course be most familiar. This familiarity causes these areas of the text to jump out, and attract attention. All things being equal, this increased attention is going to bring more clicks, and more traffic. The traffic might also generally be of a higher quality, because it comprises of users who are getting exactly what they are searching for.
So what can we do?
How do we capitalise on the human brain’s joy of recognition? With SEO, it is important to target various search queries (choosing which ones is another issue), and optimise your site for them. This means putting them in your URLs, page titles, meta descriptions and body text – all the elements that can be shown on the SERP.
Google, for example, generally shows the page title, then a snippet, followed by the URL. Google chooses the snippet by looking in the meta description and the body text, attempting to show as much of the search query in the snippet as possible. If you have targeted a particular phrase and are ranked on the first page for it, you can maximise your clicks by having that exact phrase jump out at the searcher, tickling their sense of recognition.
As far as paid search is concerned, the task is easier as we have far more control over the text we show to any given searcher. By associating different ad copies with only small groups of keywords, we can ensure that when our ads are triggered, the copy contains a good proportion of familiar text. In some systems (such as Google AdWords) it is even possible to insert the keyword that just triggered your advert dynamically into the ad copy. This means that you can fine-tune your advert to include a high degree of recognisable text, increasing the chances of it being clicked.
With both SEO and paid search, these strategies are efficient because they work in harmony with our brains. Search engines will generally rank a page higher for a specific query if it contains a few instances of that exact query. Often the parts of the query that show up in the entry on the SERP will be shown in bold as well, encouraging further attention. Paid search systems such as AdWords reward relevant adverts with a discount on the cost paid per click. The relevance is determined largely by how familiar the ad copy would be to someone who has just searched and triggered a particular keyword phrase.
The bottom line is that to be an effective search marketer, you have to recognise the power of recognition. If you can do that then you will get more attention, drive more relevant traffic, and be more efficient with the resources you have available.
And new technology to help organisations keep it simple, secure and manageable.
5 July 2011
When considering broadband in the South African context, we are ramping up massively off a low base thanks to the launch of the undersea cables, and demand is high. Trends such as the move to cloud computing, tablet devices and smartphones are driving that demand, prompting network providers, service providers and corporates to reposition - review, refresh and re-provision their networks to take advantage of capacity growth and demand.
So when will corporates and consumers see this promised 'more, faster, cheaper' broadband?
"It'll be here in 2012," says Mark van Vuuren of Jasco Telecommunications, a company within the Jasco Group that provides technology and services to network carriers. "By 2012, a large part of the access network necessary to take up the masses of international bandwidth made available by the new undersea cables and channel it to users will have been built, and the cost and capacity benefits will filter through fully to corporates and consumers."
Constraints in terms of build-out of networks include site negotiations, legal agreements, regulatory process and compliance, he notes. For example, to take fibre cables across streets, bridges and rivers, environmental impact assessments need to be done and 'wayleaves' (an agreement to allows work to be carried out on a property belonging to someone else) granted, which can take 9-12 months.
"We also expect access to fibre to ramp up significantly as companies vie to close that 'last mile' gap to the doors of corporates," he notes. "There are huge investments by all network players in terms of expanding national and metropolitan fibre networks, but there is still a big gap in the last mile.
It's where Jasco Telecommunications is placing its bets with the imminent launch of Fybrfly, an initiative that will bring fibre to the doorstep of businesses in the corporate parks and then link it from the gatehouse to the metro fibre rings.
That's pure fibre - from the office to the metro fibre ring, into the cloud and back again, at high-speed without interruption."
Besides building out their networks, network providers are doing 'mobile upgrades' to increase the air interface capacity of their base stations and to enhance their backhaul capacity - i.e., bring the increasing large volumes of mobile data aggregated on site back into the networks. "LTE trials are being rolled out by the network providers to increase network capacity and ensure mobile connectivity at the speeds approaching what consumers are demanding," says Van Vuuren. "It's technology that is more than a 'nice to have' - it is essential for the networks to retain competitiveness. Furthermore, it is anticipated that at least one of the major cellular providers will be linking 1000 base stations a year to the metro fibre rings to further increase backhaul capacity."
The arrival of new technologies to accelerate, simplify and secure broadband interactions in increasingly converged (voice, video, data) communication networks will further assist corporates to leverage the benefits of cheaper, more abundant broadband. Says Van Vuuren: "Organisations are ramping up the internal rollout of Wi-Fi solutions to enable staff to connect to the corporate network using tablet devices. Primarily privately owned consumer devices, tablet PCs allow staff to be more mobile, efficient and productive, at the office or working remotely. With no USB ports on these devices, Wi-Fi is needed to enable them to connect to the corporate network. A key challenge is security, however."
"Can you access the corporate network securely from a public Wi-Fi hotspot?
With Aruba, a technology we have recently added to our stable, you can. Its modular mobility controller delivers a wide range of network services to large campus networks, moving traffic over a public or private transport network using secure IP tunnels, access points (APs) and Mobility Access Switches, and providing local bridging at the access layer."
Another technology that is going to boost the capability of organisations to leverage broadband along with other key communication platforms quickly and easily is a new range of all-in-one devices. "These are converged, multifunctional, multiplatform appliances that leverage increasing IP and telecoms convergence. They comprise an IP-based PABX and a print, file, Web, mail and fax server for small, medium and enterprise-sized organisations, introducing ease of connectivity and management, not to mention knocking 30% off the price of infrastructure."
Broadband has massive potential which is being realised the world over. "We need to adapt quickly to leverage those benefits in all spheres. Jasco Telecommunications provides technologies and services to the networks so we understand the capabilities and limitations of these technologies and know how to leverage them to best effect for end users," emphasises Van Vuuren.
"Technology develops quickly and is complex. To increase performance and remain competitive organisations need to swim with the tide, adopting these technologies as smartly as they can. In terms of broadband and connectivity, it's the network- and service providers that remove complexity for the user, giving them fast access to new services and adding management simplicity."
Leading Microsoft Exchange Server resource site, MSExchange.org, announced today that Metalogix Archive Manager was selected the winner in the Email Archiving category of the MSExchange.org Readers’ Choice Awards.
“Our Reader’s Choice Awards give visitors to our site the opportunity to vote for the products they view as the very best in their respective category,” says Sean Buttigieg, MSExchange.org manager. “MSExchange.org users are specialists in their field who encounter various solutions for Exchange Server at the workplace. Their vote serves as a solid peer-to-peer recommendation of the winning product.”
MSExchange.org conducts regular polls to discover which product is preferred by Exchange administrators in a particular category of third party solutions for Microsoft Exchange Server. The awards draw a huge response per category and are based entirely on the visitors’ votes. MSExchange.org users can submit their votes for the current Readers' Award poll in the site’s left-hand bar.
“We are ecstatic to receive this peer-nominated award from MSExchange.org for Metalogix Archive Manager,” says Steven Murphy, CEO, Metalogix. “This honour is further validation from our peers and over 5000 customers worldwide that realize the benefits of our comprehensive content lifecycle management solutions for SharePoint, Exchange and legacy content.”
Says Chris Hathaway, Director at Soarsoft Africa, a specialist in Archive, Migration and Messaging services, “This accolade reinforces our commitment to the South African market by partnering with a Tier 1 brand that has gained market recognition with the people that actually use the product on a regular basis, rather than salesmen and analysts.Having Metalogix as a technology partner has provided us with the confidence to assist our customers with their archiving and migration requirements, saving them time and money and simplifying the process.”
About Metalogix Archive Manager
Archive Manager provides comprehensive management, storage optimization, eDiscovery and retention features for SharePoint, Exchange and files.
Archive Manager - Exchange Edition (formerly named Professional Archive Manager for Exchange) is a multi-award-winning email archiving software solution used to reduce email storage costs by up to 80 percent and reduce backup and recovery times by 50 percent. Exchange Admins get the job done faster and with minimum disruption of staff time and priorities. Archive Manager has successfully archived billions of emails and has made thousands of customers happy by simplifying their jobs.
2007/2003/2000 resource site. It is the leading Exchange site, attracting over 350,000 Exchange administrators and specialists a month. The site provides the latest Microsoft Exchange Server news, articles and tutorials by leading Exchange experts, message boards, software listings and product reviews.
Metalogix is a leading provider of content lifecycle management solutions for Microsoft SharePoint 2010, Microsoft Exchange, and legacy enterprise content environments. We enable organizations to scale and cost-effectively manage, migrate, store, archive and protect enterprise content whether on-premises or in the cloud. The company is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, privately held, and backed by Insight Venture Partners and Bessemer Venture Partners. For more information, please visit:
Soarsoft Africa has specialised in Archive, Migration and Messaging services for over a decade, leveraging the experience gained from some of the largest and most complex implementations around the world to deliver cost effective and successful projects and solutions. Soarsoft Africa remains product independent, but supports and implements what it considers to be trusted and proven solutions to meet specific customer requirements.
Soarsoft Africa continues to evaluate its offerings to ensure they maintain market and technological leadership positions, so that clients are offered the very best advice when assessing products and solutions that will match their requirements.
Soarsoft Africa has offices in Johannesburg and Cape Town South Africa.