Vital Business Functions and why we don’t mind the Switch Off

Over the last few days, I’ve read several newspaper articles and online blog posts that claim Kenya has been plunged into darkness. My only question has been, what darkness? Would it be information darkness? I don’t think so! We are still getting the news of the day and in a timely fashion. The platforms are too many.

Today, I’ve found an answer, and a reason to agree with the articles. Kenya has been plunged into darkness. However, this darkness has nothing to do with light (whatever kind of light) or even information. It is the darkness from and to certain media organizations, that hold a very conservative school of thought. They are in darkness because they haven’t kept up with the times. They probably have been so lucky that they’ve not bothered to do what other serious businesses do.

An IT service management (ITSM) expert or a good student of Strategy will tell you that the organizations in this case have missed  some very basic concepts. These include, but not limited to:

    1. The Vital Business Functions (VBF). These are the critical functions without which an organization cannot operate or remain viable. If a VBF is interrupted, an organization could suffer serious losses and any serious organization will do all that It can to sustain its VBF’s. Enabling and enhancing services would only be important for as long as core services are running. It is even considered a good decision to outsource most of the other services and concentrate on the core. And it is for this reason that most Kenyan banks for example, despite having millions in surplus, prefer not to put up or purchase buildings for their branch operations but prefer to rent the same. My guess is that the VBF of a media house is content generation and delivery of the same to the intended recipients is an just an enabling service. The tweaking and tuning of the enabling service is only important for as long as the core service is up. The reasons why the media houses messed up their core services in a bid to fight for an enabling service are still not clear. Why not continue with your content generation as you continue negotiation and/or arguing about the mode of transmission. The primary concern should be that what you generate reaches the intended recipients. The how comes later!
    2. The Concept of a service. The customer is not interested in the means to but rather in the service. When I sit down to watch the news, I care less about whether they reached my TV set via analogue or digital means. Most of the time, I actually find nothing new as I’d have read all of it online. I’d be very OK if all the news were posted online. And just before someone says that my category is different, remember we have a higher percentage of Kenyans accessing the Internet than the percentage that watch Television. This is without forgetting the fact that Television viewing is just a luxury activity. Only done when you have nothing else to do. Usually after a hard day’s work and you’ve to rest on the sofa but the silence is too much and the TV is the only noisy gadget around.
    3. Response Strategies. We are always reminded that the business environment keeps changes and organizations must be prepared to respond. Even when not prepared, they must respond anyway. Every now and then, Airtel (going by whatever name at the time) reports Safaricom to the Communications Authority (going by whatever name) and gets a favorable hearing. Why haven’t Safaricom said they will go off until the modus operandi is retained or restored? The answer is simple: They know better. They know that when you loose one, the only option is to think harder and pull another one. Fighting with an “authority” whose losses if any would be directly paid by all of us is only OK to a certain extent. Doing it by placing yourself in a path of losses is not a strategy. With all the time this fight has been going on, I’d expect that the media houses were secretly preparing. But it now seems like they are not used to preparing for anything else but the news.

It’s my hope that in the next few hours (they cannot afford days), the media houses should “cook” something to say. Just call a news conference and tell us you are going back on air, but this is only temporarily as… all those things…. one threat,…. two threats etc. 

But only if a TV station is  a business!