Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Starting as a product development consultant

From the first of September 2015 I will be working as a full-time consultant offering my services in product development of ICT. My primary focus are cloud services, but also other IT and telecom services. I am based in Tallinn, but I offer my services regionally in the Nordic and Baltic area. You are most welcome to contact me if you see my experience fitting your needs or you would like to co-operate. Here is a post about my experience and what I offer.

My contacts are:
mart.ridala@pilveraal.ee
+3725134833

Thursday, July 30, 2015

What does "No jobs" actually mean

There is a lot of talk - especially in Finland - about unemployment and what to do about it. Based on my experience of working in Finland, Sweden and Estonia I think I can make some comparisons and comments about it.

Firstly it is important to understand that "no jobs" does not mean that the need for work has dissappeared. No! What "no jobs" means is that there is a mismatch between what organizations (and their customers) are willing to pay for a certain task to be done and what the unemployed people need/want for it.
 For example I would be happy to hire someone to take care of all the upgrading and fixing of the technology I have at home, but I am only willing to pay a few tens of euros for that, whereas a skilled IT professional would cost 200-300 hundred/euros a month.
 Another more relevant example is a recent event where a big IT service provider closed its customer support unit in Finland and then hired tens of finnish speaking support agents in Tallinn.
 In Tallinn there is really no unemployment in principle. You can walk to any supermarket and they would hire you in a few days. The problem only is, that they pay you something like 300-500 eur/month net.

 So it is a mismatch between the cost of labour and the willingness to pay for it by organizations and their customers! (e.g. How much would you pay for a pair of jeans? How much would the pair cost if it was made in the Nordics?)

 The solution to unemployment therefore is making the costs lower or increasing the value of the work.

 An important factor to note here is that "the cost" is not only the salary and even the taxes. It is much more. The cost also consists of: risk premium for potential layoff costs, vacation benefits, bureaucracy, people management, insurances, hiring processes etc.
 The cost is also driven higher if the unemployed person receives social benefits and loses them when he takes up a job.

 There is another important factor that the unemployment discussions never consider. The cost of living. Looking at Helsinki and Stockholm from Tallinn for example makes you wonder why:
- You always need to buy a very expensive home insurance?
- Why does big must-have repairs (putkiremppa) of appartments in Finland cost 500-1000 eur/m2?
- Why are there only like 4 construction companies who manage to build new appartments in Helsinki and Stockholm and therefore the prices for new appartments cost approximately 5000-7000 eur/m2?
On the other hand:
- Why do bank transfers in Estonia cost more than they do in Sweden?
- Why is electricity in Estonia more expensive than in the Nordics?

I am not claiming that there one system is better than the other, but I would propose some ideas from this picture:
- Solving unemployment might involve surprising activities. E.g. kill the construction business monopolies in Stockholm and Helsinki, that makes housing cheaper, that allows people to decrease their price of work.
- Paying money as a social benefit should be avoided if ever possible and substituted by social services (e.g. free schools, kindergartens, children's hobbies). This way working and earning 100 eur/month also starts to make sense.
- There are a lot of measures that do not cost much and are not painful for anybody that would help. For example stoping the need for all types of insurances and lessening bureaucracy.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Gmail and Google Calendar

If you use Gmail then by default you also get Google Calendar. If you then book a hotel from Booking.com or a place to stay from Airbnb or the airline reservation system Amadeus sends you a confirmation of your flight tickets then these stay-s and flights are automatically inserted into your Google Calendar. This is quite convenient - you don't need to insert them manually. But.....

...but this also means that Google reads through all your e-mails, analyzes them and creates a database of all your travelling plans. So not only does Google know where you are - it also knows where you will be! Who knows what else the automatic e-mail parsing software detects, maps and registers?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The value of The Brand

A T-shirt is produced in China, a multi-national fashion brand prints a logo on it and buys it for 2 euros. The shirt is shipped and put on sale in a fashion boutique in Stockholm, Berlin, Paris or Milan. A Chinese tourist buys the shirt that is now called Gant, Tommy Hilfiger or Ralph Lauren for 30 euros. Who are the winners and who are the losers in this model?

Friday, June 19, 2015

Google Analytics IQ

I managed to pass the Google Analytics Individual Qualification exam. If you need help in measuring and improving your websites commercial performance just ask me!


Thursday, June 4, 2015

The startup investment boom

Lately there have been many positive news about investments coming to Estonian startups. For example $1,2M in VitalFields and $1,8M in Monese. This is very good for the Baltic-Nordic and European and especially for the Estonian startup scene. With the interest rates at 0 and the stock and real estate markets already overvalued the world changing startups are indeed a viable option for investing.

However I would still urge to keep the feet on the ground and get more focus on real business like revenue, paying customers, net profit and dividends. Think about the following questions:

- Why does getting an investment make such big news whereas getting a bankloan does not? After all an investor expects 1000% return (a bank 10-16%/year).
- Why is offering a free socialnetwork service to million users seen as good business whereas giving out free apples on the street to million bypassers seems a very stupid idea? After all apples do grow on the trees also for free.
- If three people have worked on a business idea for 12 months and are offering 10% of equity for 300 000 euros (which seems to be a quite common case for the first investment round) then have they really created something worth 3Meur? That is 83keur per month per person?

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Places to find ICT specialists and to find work for ICT specialists

A few months ago a Swedish ICT consultancy marketplace opened its new service at www.resrc.se. Mainly it has jobs for consultants living or at least speaking swedish (or danish or finnish), but you can probably find also work if you are fluent in english there.

For the Estonian market I started a LinkedIN group here. So if you are an ICT specialist or need one then you are most welcome to check it out. Here is also a link to Work in Estonia IT jobs page.

Please write in comments if you know other websites or places for the Nordic and Baltic ICT consultancy market!