5. An Observation and a Name

I make an obvious observation, challenge my beliefs and give a name to our tech project.

Skip to a specific part of the recording by clicking on the Episode Timeline:

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I make an obvious observation, challenge my beliefs and give a name to our tech project.

Skip to a specific part of the recording by clicking on the Episode Timeline:

Episode Timeline
00:00Thank You! 01:372021 – An Observation 3:34Survival of the Fittest 4:05Challenge your Beliefs 6:12Adapted or Torpedoed? 7:40The Birth of “Centinel”

Thank You!

Welcome back to The Technorection Podcast – A podcast documenting an investigation into whether implementing technology can resurrect a COVID demolished business. I’m still not really feeling that name. “Techno-Rection” – It sounds a bit cheesy 80s and I’m a bit lactose intolerant. I will address the name later on in this recording.

If you’ve followed along over the previous recordings and are still here – THANK YOU! It means a lot. I think the reason why I made this podcast, documenting the journey instead of simply doing the job of fixing my business in the background is because of the distinct lack of connection, basically the loneliness that we sometimes experience as entrepreneurs – made worse by the pandemic in 2020. Recording this, makes the whole process feel less isolating and as though it has a more grounded connected sense of purpose… Getting your feedback good or bad has also been quite motivating as I, like millions of other professional workers sit here for hours on end physically alone but not alone in spirit and I think that’s thanks to this… and thanks to you!

2021 – An Observation

We are still in week 2 but before we get into it, I would like to spend this recording making an observation. Even though it’s fairly obvious I think it’s worth discussing because this observation is really at the core of what we are trying to do with this project.

It’s 2021 the world is going through a major change.

That’s the observation. All of COVID-19’s drama has forced the world to change – how we work, how we live – how we connect to each other and even greet each other. The physical impact of the pandemic may diminish but some of these changes to our lives are now permanent.

Just think about any consumer type of business before COVID and After – for example the humble grocery store – before – if you tried to order your groceries online, it would take a week to get them, now, you can get them delivered in less than 60 mins from an easy to use APP. Restaurants, another major example have also made the shift to majority online ordering and delivery. The technologies that have made these changes possible are not new, but the MASS ADOPTION of them, not just by early adopters or countries, but adoption by the mainstream – this is evolution in action. COVID came along and dragged some of us Kicking and screaming into the 21st century.

Survival of the Fittest

The environment has changed and as always, the business and people that succeed have adapted to the new environment. This is the definition of “survival of the fittest”. – not fittest as in strongest or richest or smartest but fittest as in businesses that have adapted to FIT into their new environment, they are the fittest for their environment.

Challenge your Beliefs

Some of the changes that we’ve been forced to make require us to sacrifice or challenge our beliefs – for example – I opened a new bank account last week on my laptop and was both impressed with how easy and quick it was, but also concerned about the process. The entire thing is online and not a single paper was scanned or printed or even emailed! The key to its success is the integration into Home Affairs data to verify your identity and address, simply by taking a selfie. The Bank application system tells you that it’s going to retrieve your data from Home Affairs to validate the application. Data and privacy concerns right there, luckily, they are a bank so we can trust them…right? Anyway, the entire thing took less than 10 minutes and they delivered my card the next day. The old way would have taken about 2 hours including driving plus another trip to collect the card. The Value of convenience (even by force during lockdown) it outweighed my concerns around data privacy. Maybe if you listen to this podcast in 10 years or 100 years – you’ll laugh at the triviality of it, but changes like this banking example are happening all around us and for the most part I think have a very positive impacts to our lives.

Of course I’m not diminishing the real and horrifying negative impacts of COVID-19 and my family has not been spared from these – But there are upsides to this pandemic.

If even the most traditional business like a bank can bathe in the cleansing waters of COVID and emerge to be even more successful, I’d like my business to get a dip.

Adapted or Torpedoed?

So If you are in an affected industry or business and you’ve successfully made the necessary adaptations good on you! You’re honestly an inspiration.

As for the rest of us – yes, we need to change. Yes, we need to adapt but can we also use this opportunity of living through an era of great change, to look in the mirror and see ourselves from an honest and realistic lens. What do I mean? Some businesses were already on a crash course to failure before COVID came along – like a sailing ship with a few holes in its tough steel body. Not massive enough to sink it like the titanic, but small enough that when left unattended – result in a more gradual sinking over several years. Perhaps COVID was the torpedo that came along to finished you off! But you were already done for anyway. There are no resurrection. Jobs, or in this analogy, sailors are lost permanently. Maybe instead of working on a resurrection, this is the time to build a brand-new ship, from the ground up, designed to successfully navigate this new post COVID world.

The birth of Centinel

Okay I’ve already said a lot and went a bit over time for this recording, but I mentioned that before we get into the next one that I wanted to give this whole project a final name. I don’t want to be one of those parents who take months after the birth to figure out a name and I’m also not spending a cent on a naming consultant… In any case, isn’t it really more about what you put into a name over years than then name itself? It’s the meaning that a company gives to a name over years that makes us have feelings or thoughts when we heard a name. Coca-Cola or Google were just weird made up words – but because of the years of operating as leaders in their fields, they are now hugely valuable words.

Anyway… I digress…I haven’t received any feedback on “Techno-rection” – maybe because only 3 people have listened to this – but it sounds like somewhat naughty Daft Punk song… So I thought about actual “technorections” in fiction – as in resurrections of any kind that came about using technology and I almost immediately thought about one of my favorite childhood movies… 1987’s Robocop.

Robocop tells the violet tale of a policeman who is basically murdered by classic bad guys – his remains are bought by a private company that proceeds to rebuild him, as a cyborg – part robot, part man… ALL crime fighting, engineered superhero with shiny titanium pecks, a cool visor helmet and a flawless aim. I loved that movie when I was boy, the idea of this semi-artificial knight that lived to Protect and Serve.

And I know Robocop sounds like the very cheesy 80s that earlier claimed to be intolerant to, but the point is that we at Afropark also Protect and Serve our clients’ parking properties and revenues. We share those values with Robocop. It made me think about one of the biggest industries in South Africa – the private security industry, which I would say is adjacent to our parking industry. Security guards, especially in Joburg probably make more of an impact to security than the actual police force. They are everywhere – in lockdown there were more security guards in the city than regular people. And they certainly do protect and serve. They are the first line of entry into almost all properties so they impact the experience of residents or workers. Personally, in my apartment building, they are the first or last people I speak to, always with a cheerfulness that puts my spirit at ease at home. At Afropark, we are kind of guards or guardian watching over the parkades and money for property owners – to give them ease at home. In East Africa, they used to call security guards “Askaris” – But I found a more contemporary and techie sounding name for a guardian – A “Sentinel”.

Nowadays if you have an idea you think could maybe become a brand or company name, it’s easier to just check to see if the .com or .whatever domain is registered and start from there. The word Sentinel is spelt with an S and THAT domain is taken, but Centinel with a “C” – That’s available and that’s the one. I think we can spin that C. C could be for Century and this could be a 100-year journey to make Centinel live for a Century.

To wrap up, our mission at Afropark of managing parkades to maximize returns for landlords has not changed, but in the near future, to survive and serve our clients better –  we will implement a change, an adaptation, an intervention, a new system that can be summed up in one word …CENTINEL… with a “C”

Thank you for listening!