The recent rumblings at the undersea volcano known as Kick ‘Em Jenny off the coast of Grenada, West Indies apparently damaged the undersea fiber optic cables operated by Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago LTD (TSTT) during its recent spate of activity. According to the article several individual fibers were broken, attenuating bandwidth for the entire network.
According to the Senior Manager Brand, Public Relations & External Affairs Graeme Suite there were no specific physical indicators as to what caused the damage. Suite said, “It was not stated what specifically caused the damage – ocean floor movement, rocks or extreme heat etcetera so I cannot speculate”.
Suite said the cable contained several individual strands of fibre which collectively provide a great deal of bandwidth. He said that some of the fibres were broken and the remaining intact fibres is what resulted in customers having less bandwidth for uploading and downloading.
On July 23, TSTT was made aware of the damaged cables on the sea floor near the volcano, which is located eight miles north of the island. It is managed by regional communications company, part of which is being used by TSTT for international data and Internet traffic.
It was my experience with this phenomenon of easily-disrupted internet that presented my primary professional challenge in trying to set up a global, internet-based, collaborative program from the island of Grenada. In the three years I did business in Grenada the entire island’s internet went completely dark twice, and operated with critically diminished capacity at other times. When it happened in the midst of our first year of operations our clients –connecting from the US, UK, Africa, and India– were thrown completely offline: with no access to important online resources including our essential digital collaborative space. As long as the internet was out we were functionally out of business.
We did cobble together enough off-island functionality to allow work to continue, but to even consider applying these technical band-aids going forward –let alone continue to suffer the embarrassment of a data-driven business with no control of its data– was inconceivable.
The longer-term solution I devised was to shift our technical operations into the cloud: to a massively-protected, distributed, redundant cloud service based in the US with global server distribution, in our case one conveniently paired with collaborative tools. It had not escaped my notice that the API offered by our cloud partner was already known to jibe perfectly with the internal software overhaul we were planning.
By shifting our critical operations to the cloud we were able to take a door that was sometimes closed to us and kick it off its hinges. Our clients had access to important data 24-7, our collaborative spaces stayed open, and our transition to a new internal software system was demystified all in one fell swoop. Of course it’s impossible to administer cloud spaces from an island without internet, but a trusted assistant posted outside the area of outage will have recourse both to voice telephony to communicate with on-island partners and internet service to effect instant changes in the business’ cloud spaces.
The value of cloud services to developing economies can not be overstated. Adoption of cloud services ameliorates infrastructural woes, preserves and protects data and access, and avails developing businesses of highly advanced APIs and online tools they might not otherwise enjoy. Locating your data, server functions, or e-commerce solutions in ‘backbone’ countries dramatically cuts down on latency and keeps both internal and public-facing aspects of your business available even when you are not.
Addendum: a neat map of the undersea cables serving Grenada can be found here.
This image gained a measure of local social media attention on Reddit et al.. A misspelled entrance sign is a small matter yes, but it is an equally small matter to know the correct spelling of a word you intend to use. Every similar error instills an undesirable compound impression in the minds of viewers: your brand + careless errors. Would those viewers –potential consumers all– be wrong to wonder what other careless errors your business might commit, inadvertently or otherwise?
Any position that produces copy can and should be staffed by someone with demonstrable if rudimentary knowledge of the languages used. The more nuanced the copy, the more skilled a writer is called for. The promotional sign shop at Budweiser might consider running prepress copy through MARCOM a needless waste of time, but MARCOM –whose job it is to represent the brand with clarity and practiced enthusiasm– might consider errors like this a frustrating step backward.
The writer you hire for your sign shop might not represent himself as a writer at all. Favor the well-spoken applicant: the applicant who chooses his words carefully. HR plays a key role in finding such workers, but so too must managers instruct HR to scan applicants for verbal acuity. If the sole qualification is willingness to work for $11.50 an hour, the following is the inevitable result.
A small matter yes, but equally small to do correctly. Now consider the impact of an equally simple spelling error in a quarterly letter to investors from your CFO, or in a technical document describing your company’s core technology. The effect is to rob the reader of confidence in your company at the precise moment you seek to instill confidence. Like this beer garden sign that email is one of hundreds the company produces –one small instance– but because humans have long memories the association with a certain amenability to error will persist. Hiring a writer, or at least a worker who’s good with words, nips all these potentially negative outcomes in the bud.
This moment of mortification is brought to you by someone in the agency for Starbucks and every single person in their marketing department who vetted these materials.
Business students, learn this important fact now: if you’re not going to attend your English/writing classes because you can’t reconcile the ROI, you’d better make so much money you can hire someone who did. Just like there is never a second chance to make a first impression, the appearance of laziness & amateurism is stickier than maple syrup on a three year old.