giffgaff: an alternative to your mobile phone service?

Do you trust your mobile phone service to give you the best deal? My bet is that – even if you consider yourself to be someone who’s in the know – at some point you’ve been confused by complicated tariffs, felt cheated on the deal you were sold, or let down by your service. Amongst consumers, this is all too often what mobile phone services are known for.

What does giffgaff offer to its customers?

Enter giffgaff, the type of company that likes to brand its name in lower case. It calls itself ‘the mobile network run by you’ and has been operating for a few years now, providing an alternative, community-based service with the customer at its heart. Its unique selling point is that it offers transparency, value for money and a symbiotic partnership with users: precisely what other providers are thought to lack.

giffgaff is fundamentally a pay-as-you-go service, operating on O2’s network. It offers goodybags’, monthly packages which for all intents and purposes function as a monthly rolling contract, if you choose their auto top-up’ option. Text and minutes are cheap, especially compared with other networks. Many of the goodybags offer unlimited data: and the data is truly unlimited, no secret clauses (but no tethering either). Essentially, you get a straightforward, uncomplicated deal that you can opt out of at almost the drop of a hat.

How does it keep costs down?

The company has a few simple tricks to keep costs down, which reflect their community ethos. No call centres, no high street shops, very little marketing and advertising. Promotion is achieved through word-of-mouth; indeed, that’s how I heard about it.

But this isn’t a cheap scam. A small team runs a modest head office. There’s a number customers can dial if they need help, primarily with credit card issues. Problems are instead solved in the forums by the online user community; you usually have a response within 90 seconds. The giffgaff team asks users what they want through the forum, and the users tell them.

What’s in it for me?

giffgaff rewards its users for their forum contributions in points which equate to real money through its payback’ system: this is reimbursed twice a year, in the form of mobile credit, cash, or a donation to your chosen charity. £1.8 million was paid out in December 2012. Not bad.

It’s a low-cost, efficient business model, and it works. It is, admittedly, not for everyone, but that is its appeal. It’s alternative, honest and it listens: exactly what its users are looking for.


Can I get your number? Find out more about giffgaff on its website – how about consulting the online community to see what they think?

What’s up with WhatsApp? Working up a WhatsAppetite

So WhatsApp has topped the paid-for iPhone app chart yet again. The cross-platform mobile messaging application allows users to send messages to other WhatsApp users without having to spend on an SMS, but what is so special about this app that makes it so popular with mobile consumers?

What’s so good if you have unlimited texts already?

In the UK, many mobile users already have a plan that gives you unlimited texts, so the ability to exchange messages for free seems somewhat redundant. Even more so, if you consider that WhatsApp uses the internet plan that you already use for email and web-browsing: no additional costs, but no additional value either?

Not quite. Unlike SMS or MMS communication, WhatsApp allows you to send and receive video and audio messages from within the app, using your pre-existing data plan. I can take a photo, or record a voice message from within a conversation and send it for my friend to receive instantly.

I can upload a media file from my mobile, broadcast my location using my phone’s GPS services, and import and send contact details from within the conversation too. And it’s got more emoticons than you can shake a USB stick at.

All this makes WhatsApp more appealing than texting my contacts in the UK. I can see if my contacts are online, typing, or when they last connected to WhatsApp. I can see if my message has sent, been received, or if it still hasn’t left my phone.

Saving you a fortune in roaming’ text charges

Where WhatsApp really comes into its own, however, is in messaging contacts abroad. If I am out of the UK, and therefore my mobile costs are subject to international charges, I can connect to WiFi and exchange messages free-of-charge as I would in the UK. Sending an SMS or making or receiving a call, on the other hand, would cost me.

A case study: a friend of my daughter has recently moved to Buenos Aires. Being regular texters and facing the expense of cross-continental texting, which wasn’t really an option, my daughter suggested her friend downloaded WhatsApp, which she herself had used to communicate with friends in Spain.

Now my daughter’s friend can visit Iguazú Falls and send the photos straight back to friends and family in London. She can send a video of a tango show to my daughter, who can watch it instantly then record a voice message to tell her friend how she wishes she could have been there too.

How can WhatsApp bring mothers and daughters together?

This isn’t necessarily something for the younger generations though. Mother and daughter keep in regular contact through WhatsApp, which affords a more immediate and personal exchange that email cannot compete with.

It offers a different service from Skype, which generally requires a computer, or at least a very fast connection, whereas WhatsApp can be used on the go to send an instant update wherever you happen to be.

Mobile consumers vote with their feet, and there appears to be a trend towards apps like WhatsApp whose advantages outweigh the pros of other services. This is by no means to say that the humble text message (or phone call) is dead after 20 years of ever-growing usage (declining for the first time last year in the UK).

Those interested in mobile technologies and how fast creative innovation can spread globally in the new world of Mobile Apps would do well to take note of the rocketing popularity of WhatsApp.


Worked up a WhatsAppetite? If you like the sound of WhatsApp, you can download and install from Google Play for free, or for £0.69 on iTunes.

How Mobile Technology is Changing Business

The rapid pace of technology innovation developments is changing the way business is done all over the globe. There are an estimated 4.6 billion mobile phones around the world. While many people picture cell phones in the hands of individuals in more developed countries, where they’re used to play games and chat with friends, these devices are having a huge impact in developing countries as well. A mobile phone in the hands of some of the poorest people on the plant can equip them with the information they need to drastically improve the way that business is done and increase their profits.

How Mobile is transforming the Global economy

In locations where goods need to travel a long distance from the producer to the buyer, a new mobile technology innovation can drastically change the process. Fishermen in Bangladesh can maximize their profits by using mobile phones to find the highest paying buyers for each catch. Shea nut pickers in Ghana use mobile technology to check the market price for these nuts. Orders for bulk goods can be placed on mobile devices for more efficient restocking of small stores. Where shop owners once had to close up and travel a long distance to navigate a complex marketplace, they can now send out an order while manning the counter.

Mobile and Home Working

Another mobile technology innovation that is changing the landscape of the workplace is the opportunity for employees to work from home. Entire companies can be run without a single office building. This not only maximises profits by eliminating the need for pay rent and utilities on an office, it also allows the company to hire the best employees for each position from candidates around the country, or even the globe. Even businesses that do have a traditional office can maintain employees on the road. Mobile technology allows these individuals to send in reports, enter new customer information, and even make sells through a cell phone or tablet device.

Mobile Integrates The Whole World

The latest mobile technology innovation to hit the market often focuses on idle pastimes, but the paradigm for successful mobile programs is rapidly changing. This kind of technology can significantly improve the quality of life in developing countries and change the entire model for how business is done. With mobile technology, crafters in remote locations in Africa can connect with a worldwide marketplace for their goods. Farmers can find the best prices for their produce without leaving the farm. Individuals can connect with one another from almost anywhere on the planet, and with each new innovation that planet gets a little bit smaller.

Is that really you?

Have you ever been approached by a stranger on the street telling you how familiar you look? Ever wondered why these random people think they know you, especially when you look nothing like a celebrity? Chances are they have seen a picture of you online,  and thanks to facial recognition software your pictures are causing you to be recognised.

These days facial recognition software is everywhere



iPhoto, one of the more popular photo management software programmes, now comes equipped with facial recognition software. However, iPhoto is not the only programme, more photo management software programmes are coming with facial recognition tools aimed to make things easier for you. Facebook is a perfect example; the software used to upload your photos also allows you to easily tag people in your photos using facial recognition software. Moreover, we all know how much people enjoy tagging photos of themselves and others on Facebook!

Have you ever wondered who might be using the data on Facebook to track you?

The question most of has is how does it work and is it any good?

Facial recognition

Facial recognition

Facial recognition software makes tagging photos on Facebook easier, but it also does so much more than that. A perfect example is Daon’s IdentityX technology. This technology is used to improve the security of any mobile transaction, lowering your risk of falling victim to identity theft!

IdentityX technology allows you to verify your identity for mobile transaction through a combination of biometrics, PIN entry, encryption, and technology that verifies your current location. It is the biometrics technology that has so many people talking. This technology allows for voice matching, facial recognition, and palm image matching. How this programme works is when you are making a secure transaction with your mobile phone a request is sent to the IdentityX’s server to verify your identity. You must provide the information required, which is then sent back to the server for verification. Once your identity has been verified the server will send a onetime use password for your transactions or the validation will be communicated directly with the company you are dealing with.

DIY – Identity Protection at UPS



In the USA, Daon have teamed up with UPS to enable you to capture your identity at a local UPS Store, as banks and ecommerce stores start to deploy more sophisticated identity verification within their financial transaction authorisation processes, these individuals will significantly reduce the opportunity of fraudsters to abuse their bank accounts and credit cards. Even more secure will be integration with mobile phones that will enable GPS and time stamped photographs to be taken making it exceptionally difficult for the criminals.

For many people IdentityX sounds too good to be true, but Daon recently won the honour of the Best ofs” award in Cyber Security & Authentication from the American Technology Awards. If that doesn’t convince you, nothing will!

Gnip – listening to the world’s conversation

Will Gnip make you go mad?

The scream

The scream

Imagine being able to hear everyone’s conversation, all the time. The voices in your head would drive you insane.

However there is now a constant stream of chatter available through the web. Using an interesting new technology service, Gnip, it’s possible at low-cost for you to monitor the explosion of social media usage of hundreds of thousands of peoples’ conversations in real time.

What would you listen to, given the choice?

The explosive growth of Twitter



The  mini blogging’ social media site Twitter now has over 200 million users with 200 million ‘tweets’ per day and over 1.6 billion searches per day (see Twitter blog for more facts on usage). Users post 140-character updates (‘tweets’) of what they are doing, reading, watching etc. It is much like status updating on Facebook. Think: Eating toast, doesn’t Eammon Holmes’ hair look funny today’.

Twitter has its uses when other communication mechanisms fail

Social Media sites

Social Media sites

But not all uses have been so trivial. During the Japanese earthquake earlier this year people on the island communicated via Twitter as mobile networks went down. And elsewhere worried relatives used social media to get in touch and emergency help was set up. The same thing happened during the more recent US earthquake. And in the case of the Arab Spring, Twitter was a powerful communications channel for the masses even in the most repressive of regimes.

Gnip – tapping into the world’s conversations



Enter Gnip, a Boulder, Colorado-based company that has bought the rights to sell data from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr and many other social media sites.

Gnip deals in the very serious business of helping companies see what people are saying about them.

Airline JetBlue has taken Twitter seriously for years, using it for such diverse activities as ticket giveaways to seat planning help and it now uses Gnip through its customer experience management partner Attensity.

They can hear you

They can hear you

Can Gnip help you see into the future?

The obvious, direct uses of social media to see what people are saying about you now seem old hat. What is trending can almost be used to forecast the future: to see how people react to news, product launches, sporting and stock market events. You could imagine tracking Twitter comments as a mean of potentially forward predicting movements of betting odds on Betfair or prices on financial markets.

The world may now be having conversations online. But if it’s you Tweeting or posting on Facebook, just be aware that more people than you might think are listening to you.

Technology Innovation – how can you use it to create competitive advantage?

This expert interview is designed for CIOs and those leaders and managers responsible for Technology Innovation to create competitive advantage for your organisation.

iPadIn this interview with one of the world’s leading Technology experts, Bill McGrath (Global CIO for AOL Inc), by John Corr you’ll learn:

  • What’s the biggest mistake  CIOs make in regard to Technology Innovation and how can we avoid it?
  • What’s the one thing we should do first when it comes to Technology Innovation?
  • What can you do differently to improve the impact of Technology Innovation?
  • 5 quick tips on what you can do to significantly increase the impact of your Technology Innovation
  • What’s the easiest thing you can do right now to accelerate Technology Innovation in your business?

CLICK HERE to download the interview (in MP3 format). I can guarantee that your investment of 15 minutes of your time will enable you to learn and apply invaluable lessons to ensure the success of your own Technology Innovation programmes. You can also download a transcript (in PDF format) CLICKING HERE. 

Technology Innovation

Technology Innovation

Why is Technology Innovation so powerful when applied successfully?

Professor Clay Christensen described the phenomenon of ‘disruptive innovation’ (see him describe his concept in brief here in video) whereby a new innovative technology disrupts an established industry and most of the existing market leaders go bust.

Why does Technology Innovation matter?

To begin with a technology innovation, such as Google, is not seen as a market threat. However eventually the business models of existing players Yellow Pages, newspapers, magazines and other media businesses are faced with extinction. Technology Innovation is particularly powerful where the new technology is combined with a new business model concept. While Google was a somewhat better search engine than leading competitors such as AltVista, when it was combined with the new business model of ‘paid search’ it became an unstoppable force.

Can you learn from other leading global experts?

If you’ve enjoyed this interview with Bill McGrath on Technology Innovation, then CLICK HERE to learn more from some of the other interviews with some of the worlds leading CEOs, entrepreneurs and thought leaders on improving business performance and helping your customers be successful. You may also enjoy additional articles related to successful technology innovation on the eWallet and the revolution in mobile banking services and on exploiting social media for business benefit and additional interviews with global thought leaders on delivering innovation.

Would you benefit from expert advice on your specific situation?

John Corr

John Corr is the Managing Director of Close Quarter, a firm specialising in helping ambitious leaders transform the value of their businesses through Technology Innovation. John is the current global President of, a leading global community of professionals interested in sharing best practice in performance improvement, turnarounds and process management.


If you fell you need to discuss your specific situation, issues and challenges in depth and benefit from expert confidential advice then you should consider calling John on +44 (0) 20 3637 5501.


Designed by: Carne Associates & modified by Dawud Miracle