As I am back home already from another wonderful event in Madrid (At IBM‘s Innovation Summit Pro-voke) and already spent most of my day catching up with things, both at work and outside, I thought I would finish off the day (And get started with the weekend!) by posting this blog post, which has been in my mind for a few weeks now. Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. I put together two different versions of this entry, but I wasn’t too much convinced about either of them, more than anything else, because they were poignantly negative. So, in the end, I decided to go with this lighter version of it. Much better.
If you have been following this blog for a while now you would probably know how most of this year I have spent it travelling all over the place participating at various conference events, as well as talking to various different customers around the topic of Social Computing, Enterprise 2.0, Collaboration and Communities, amongst some others. You would probably also remember how the number #1 issue I have been experiencing all along has been connectivity, or the lack of, better said.
This blog post is a reflection of what most folks have been talking about mobile connectivity and how pervasive it has become nowadays. Well, allow me to state quite the opposite! All along, whether we like it or not, we have just been living an illusion, a chimera. A myth! And even today I am much more convinced than ever before!
In a very interesting, enlightening and at the same time provocative blog post, my good friend Jevon MacDonald encouraged all Enterprise 2.0 vendors to start paying more and more attention towards the mobile market when designing and making available Mobile 2.0 applications. Well, while he brings in a whole bunch of really good points, I am going to take things even further!
Before we start demanding for Enterprise 2.0 vendors to provide us with Mobile 2.0 apps., let’s get back to basics and ensure we can all GET CONNECTED to the Internet in the first place! Yes, indeed, not matter how cool, user friendly, sexy, helpful, resourceful, appealing, etc. all of these mobile 2.0 apps. would be like, if we CANNOT connect to them, they are useless! Now. And forever!
This is perhaps, to me, the number one caveat from adopting social computing and social networking tools, both inside and outside of the corporate firewall! Not the tools themselves, nor the cultural aspects, nor the knowledge workers themselves (Or the businesses they work for!), but the availability of a stable, reliable and scalable broadband network connection throughout!
That, to me, is the main issue that is stopping us right now from a wider adoption. Specially for those of us who are more mobile than never and who are starting to rely more and more from a good and reliable Internet network connection.
Yes, I know that some of you may well say that things have improved over the last couple of years and everything, and that may well be the case, but this year and, specially ever since I started giving up e-mail at work (And use much more heavily social software instead, therefore living more on the Web), I have been able to prove, time and time again, how such network connectivity is not as pervasive as we thought or expected it to be! Anyone remember a recent conference event they have been to where the Wi-Fi connection has been good throughout the entire event? Right now, I am having problems myself coming up with the name of one of them!
Here is the latest example, which is partly the reason why I am putting together this blog post. As you well know, since mid-September, with the holidays and a couple of business trips, I have been more on the road than working from home. Yet, the connectivity has been horrendous in the three countries I have been to during that time (Spain – Barcelona / Madrid, London & Mechelen, Belgium).
While I have been on holidays in Barcelona the first few days I stayed at a couple of good hotels, right in the city centre, and although they offered FREE Wi-Fi, I wasn’t able to connect to either of them for whatever the reasons. In London, I had a very similar problem while I was presenting at a Web 2.0 conference and in Mechelen much of the same in another hotel right in the city centre!
That’s why a few months back I eventually got the recommendation to finally get a SIM card that would allow me to work not just with voice, but also with data, wherever I would be travelling. And I did. It was Yoigo. And I was happy. And it was all joy. And I thought to myself all of my problems would be solved once and for all! No longer would I need to depend on a network connection other than that one from Yoigo. Ha! Poor thing! A myth! Like I said.
To start with, back in May, and while in Germany, I had a taster of what roaming charges are like using a SIM data card. A few MBs downloaded and a phone bill of nearly 100€! Nice one! Not really!!! (Yes, I know you are going to say I should be using MaxRoam, and I would probably have a look into it, but will it offer me a decent broadband capability or just another analogue one, because if that is the case, I’ll pass & save the money for something more productive!).
Thus, when travelling abroad I realised I would still have to go through the same painful experiences, as I have been going through all along. Then I thought, ok, I can make use of Yoigo within my country. Their SIM data card prices are, indeed, very competitive and probably the best in the market at the moment, but, as you will see in just a paragraph or two, it is just not good enough!
Yes, their pricing model is very competitive and very attractive, but then again, we come to the problem at hand. Their coverage and bandwidth is just appalling! Awful! Terrible is probably a mild word! As bad as having a modem dialling through an analogue line! (Yes, indeed, those kind of speeds!). And it would not matter where you are. While I was on holidays in Barcelona I couldn’t reach most of the Web sites I wanted to go to. While I was in Madrid this week, I had the same issues! Over and over again! And don’t even mention the opportunity to connect consistently to VPN networks. Not a chance either!
Oh, don’t take me wrong. It works! It loads pages, like your e-mail (Which I no longer use myself, remember?) or like http://m.slandr.net (Which is one of the many Twitter mobile Web sites), and which displays very little traffic. But as soon as you go into some heavy Web sites, like most social networking sites, or grabbing your RSS / Atom feeds, or something so relatively simple like loading a simple Web site with a few graphics and images, you can surely put yourself together to wait for two to three minutes before it loads! Yes, two to three minutes! (You see? I didn’t say analogue for nothing).
As you can well imagined, all of what I am talking about above comes from my experiences, while I was in Barcelona and Madrid, but, mainly, in Barcelona. Since I thought such service was rather unacceptable, I decided to call the support folks for Yoigo. And what happened? Well, the usual stuff.
Yoigo is one of those mobile operators that has got a catchy phrase to capture customers: "Verdad Verdadera" (Something like "Truthful Truth"), indicating how they are much much different than other mobile providers, not only on their pricing model(s), but also as far as their support goes! Ha! Too funny! How wrong!
Not to worry, I am not going to share another horror story on my own HelpDesk experience with them. I think you can imagine it by now. However, what I am going to say though is that when contacting them to check out why that response time was so appalling I got two messages back: first one, sorry, we have got a general problem in Barcelona (Sorry, that was not accurate. I had the same problem for the 9 days I was there! And also in Madrid!) and, secondly, a bit more serious than the first one: they wouldn’t guarantee that the SIM card would provide the speeds advertised, so I was advised on something they would not do anything about, because it’s just not part of their covered support.
And I went … WHAT?!?! You kidding me? You may be saying that, but certainly you are more than happy to put the bill together and send it across at the end of the month, right? No matter what. Even though you don’t offer a guarantee it will get connected with the specific speeds mentioned? Hummm, how that does make you different from other providers? Let me tell you something. It doesn’t! It just makes you much of the same. Abusive with your customers with an attitude like you take it or leave it. Your choice! (How wrong, once again!)
Not going to comment much more on it all, because I know nothing is going to happen. I don’t expect them to read this blog post, I don’t expect them to react to my concerns of their NOW high pricing for the very poor / quality of service they provide) and to be honest I just don’t care anymore. I gave them plenty of opportunities to do something about it, and they didn’t. And, well, my opinion today (And, like I just said, I think I have given them far too many opportunities to change things… Sigh) is that Yoigo is just like another mobile provider abusing from their Internet mobile end-users with very high prices and very poor connectivity capabilities, which is really sad, because they were really promising quite a different story!
Yes, I realise I may be asking for too much, i.e. a mobile Internet broadband connection that just works, but to be honest, I am starting to prefer to be disconnected and live without it, than with the growing disappointment and rage of a service I am paying fully for, yet, I cannot make use of it as advertised!
How "truthful truth" (Verdad verdadera) can that be? When will telcos understand, once and for all, that they are the key towards making the bountiful world of the Internet available to us all. That they are just bottlenecks stopping our adoption of such valuable resource as the World Wide Web not just to improve the way we work, but also the way we use it for our personal benefit? That they are missing a HUGE opportunity to partner with Enterprise 2.0 vendors to empower us to get the most out of Social Computing to help us connect with one another across the globe to enhance our own personal business relationships?
When will they realise they are missing out on a GREAT opportunity to build long lasting, fruitful working relationships with those of us who are constantly travelling on the road and who have a growing need to be constantly connected?
When are they going to join the 21st century once and for all? That century of the Knowledge Economy where everything flows and where making connections in the social computing space will become essential to conduct business? Am I just asking for too much? Is that all just that? An illusion? A myth?
Like I said half way through, Jevon mentioned how Enterprise 2.0 vendors need to start paying attention to the mobile market. Well, I am just going to take things into a bit more of a fundamental premise saying that, for that to happen, telcos need to stop being the bottlenecks and become more of the enablers for that interconnected world we have all been longing for all along!
Will they be ready at some point? Will Yoigo ever adopt and embrace their own slogan? Or will they just be like all of the others? Well, I don’t know. We shall see. I am just glad, for now, that I am back home and with a Wi-Fi connection that just works 😀
Have a good one everyone! (The search continues … )
Tags: Yoigo, Mobile Providers, Mobile, Mobile 2.0, Enterprise 2.0, Web 2.0, Pervasiveness, Connectivity, Internet, Availability, Scalability, Reliability, Accessibility, Mobile Workforce, Telcos, Social Computing, Social Media, Social Networking, Social Software, Social Media, Knowledge Sharing, KM, Knowledge Management, Collaboration, Communities, Jevon MacDonald, Verdad Verdadera, Broadband, Customer Support, HelpDesk, HellDesk, Bad Customer Support, Twitter, s.landr.net, MaxRoam, Spain, Barcelona, Madrid, London, Mechelen, Belgium, IBM, Innovation, Getting Connected, Constantly Connected, Always ON, Always On Line, Travelling