Thursday, 20 July 2017

34. Business Models That Work

Business Models define how a business is going to make money and remain sustainable. They determine the scalablility and success of a business. A business model that works with one team may not necessarily work with another team. A business model should not only work for the industry and team to implement it but also for the different customer groups for it to be successful. If the different aspects of the business model are not in sync then the model will not give optimal returns. Often businesses, especially if they are transforming industry i.e.disruptive, will need tweaking several times before optimal performance is achieved...

After Dela leaves Elan explains the situation to James. With the different businesses Elan runs, her senior management have learn to be very conservative of their time just as Elan is. Work life balance has been a priority in the company since from the onset when the company was setup, Elan’s key staff were single heads of families or had little children (often desperate to take a job that was flexible to allow them care for others). Naturally the company’s growth strategy focused on the use of technology and highly qualified freelance staff and multi skilled full-time staff to bring it all together. This meant a lot more was done on typical day as different people worked round the clock from around the world. This resulted in great efficiency. Face to face time was gold. Meetings were short precise to the point and no one lingered to make small talk. If time was a gold ring, family time was the diamond on it. Business is fast at Elan Group because they operate in highly competitive creative industries, use technology and the team has a lot at stake both in their personal lives careers.

Elan, ‘OK, so where were we? Yes, first we are suspecting there is someone who is spying on us. Not sure it should be a reason for concern so I wanted you to pull out the security files from yesterday so Dela can point out the person or vehicle for us. Can we do that tomorrow?’

James, ‘We can do it right now. You can monitor your whole business from your computer or tablet. We may have a few glitches but --’

Elan, ‘What?! E-Eye is working? My! 4 months from concept to production - that is great! Show me ... but Dela is gone how will we recognize the person?’

James, ‘We can just check the vans on the street. Don’t think it will be difficult to pick it. I have all the cameras, computers, anything computerized in the system connected to my laptop and your computer and tablet. Only Abuja office and house are not connected yet.’

Elan, ‘Hmmm, OK. Well, Dela arrived to the party around 8.30 am but they had been there for a while when she came she said she found the van there and it left just before she entered the gate. It should be somewhere near the compound so you should be able to see  that from the flood light camera near the street’

James, ‘Well so we check from a few minutes before 8.30 and go back …’

James opens his computer and starts checking as Elan toys with her tablet. A few seconds later he points at his laptop. ‘Oh that was easy. Here it is – on the street.’

Elan looks then nodes and lets him check some more. The food and drinks are brought and they eat as Elan goes on looking at the new software while James gets the information. After a few minutes, he announces his findings. 

James, ‘A guy came in the vehicle at 8.30 in the morning and was joined by 4 other at different times. I think they were taking pictures of your guests using hidden cameras in their watches or shades, see how they are ’helping ’ your guests park and trying to have  one on one conversations?’

Elan, ‘hmmm, interesting. I know no one was assigned to help with parking, Al would have talked to you.’
James, ‘Well then, think I will have something to investigate, will get a guy or two from The Team to do background checks, you mentioned Dela first saw one of the guys here?’

Elan, ‘Yes at the parking lot.’

James, ‘OK then, think I have my work cut out. There’s something I also wanted to ask you.’

Elan, ‘Yes?’

James, ‘Why did you decide you will not be working anymore? I thought with all the new software we are developing you would want to ensure everything is going well. The information is also sensitive so you’d would want to be personally involved?’

Elan, ‘What do you mean? I am on leave I will be coming back, I honestly don’t think I can stay away from work for more than a month!’

James, (frowning) ‘Oh, Mr. Hammad said you are not coming back, so unlike what we agreed with you - that heads of your departments upload the reports for you to review, we are now reporting directly to him – he instructed me to redirect all your files and reporting systems to him.’

Elan, ‘What! You are not serious’

James, ‘You did not know? I am sorry I thought the instructions were from you’

Elan is so surprised. It she remembers the awkward call from Dela while she was in hospital. Then shehad wanted to see her immediately but for some reason had kept postponing their  meeting till today and she did not discuss this. Had Al stopped her – or possibly threatened her?

James, ‘Any reason for concern?’

James’ touch to draw her attention gets her back to the present - her mind had wandered  off. ‘You know how it is, always check. I hate to do this but I suppose one can never be too sure. Is he aware of ’E-Eye? ’
James, ‘I am giving him a briefing tomorrow on the security and IT department. The team meets him from 10.00 am I suppose given that you need to cross check, it will be wise to only report what is done at security and IT and not my work on E-Eye or The Team?’

Elan, ‘That’s right. Actually separate the two completely. Such a system in the wrong hands can cause a lot of trouble. And we are so close to closing the deal, I do not want any greed about it.’

James, ‘We all have put in so much sweat. Until I started working with you I only thought criminal projects were fun, you know hacking here and there. I and The Team have truly made good use of our knowledge. I am amazed at how you came up with it.’

Elan, ‘Hmmm! It is nice to know you appreciate. Business is about meeting the needs of your target clientele in a profitable way. There are gaps and needs in the market that we see each day, but it takes time and hard work to come up with business models that are worth your time and investment. This is the first of many projects. I just never had the right team to implement it earlier and probably the market was also not ready. Let’s test it this month, we still have 2 weeks. I will also schedule a meeting with Ariate Airlines. We can work on the glitches as we continue to tailor it specifically for the airline industry. Given I don’t know Al’s intention, I would suggest you no longer use any of The Team for part time work at Elan; they are too expensive for routine work. I would suggest you look for extra hands for your department within its budget and get The Team to work full time on new projects. I will just think around what the next project will be and get back to you in a week.’

James, ‘Perfect. It is always nice to keep them busy. They are no longer hustling for money but --’
Elan’s eyes light up as they do each time  she is about to start a new project. ‘So it is time I had the session with them?’

James, ‘Not a bad idea.’

Elan, ‘OK in a week’s time. Will decide on which project. But make sure we address any glitches the system has. I don’t want any products or services coming back. And arrange to have Abuja in the loop by month end’

James, ‘Mark is working on it right now. I test on Monday’

Elan, ‘Beautiful, you are efficient.’

James, ‘I learned from the best.’

The skies are now overcast. With her guests due to arrive in a few hours for dinner, they stand to leave and say goodbye at the entrance. The beautiful weather earlier has now changed to a gloomy almost dark evening. As Elan steps out a light shower starts. She dashes to her car and once inside takes a moment to clean her shades and arrange her hair. She is about to leave when she notices two guys in the parking lot get into a van that she saw in the video. James does the same and makes a call to Elan who is now driving out. They drive out one after the other. The guys in the shadows drive out after them.

James, ‘You saw them?’

Elan, ‘Yes.’
James, ‘I will drive behind you. I have notified The team’

Elan, ‘Is it necessary?’

James, ‘We do not know what they want. Till we do it is better to be careful than sorry. Don’t disconnect your phone’

Elan, ‘Very well.’

The vehicle continues following them. At the highway, James decides to change tactic.

James, ‘Can we just split routes and see exactly who they are following? If they follow me should be that they are still collecting data on people around you, if they follow you then it could be necessary to raise alarm with the police’

Elan, ‘Very well’

The two vehicles split ways. The intruders follow James. He drives straight to a club.

James, ‘They are with me. Have you got home?’

Elan, ‘Yes Saeed is closing the gate. No one followed me’


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