Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Don't Stop Connecting People

As a former Nokia head of marketing in sub-Sahara Africa, it really pains me to see how the brand has slumped into the stupor that it's in now.
In 2001, as a rookie marketing executive, I recall the deep excitement and wonder that I had when I launched the Nokia 3310 in Asia Pacific markets. The brand was majestic and virtually unassailable worldwide. I was so proud to be part of the team that introduced a product that, at that moment, revolutionized people's lives by enabling them mobile telephony.
Over the ten years I was with Nokia, I visited Nokia House in Espoo countless times. Each visit (from wherever I was posted in the world) generated no less than awe and amazement that a little Finnish company could reach out to the world and capture people's loyalties and interest. It gave me a sense of belonging to be part of that quietly industrious global fraternity.
While I've moved on to a different company since, I still have many friends in Nokia from the good old days. They are posted all over the world, and a lot of them are here in South Africa. I did visit the Salo factory when I was very young in the company and boy, was it a marvel of technology with pristine assembly lines, ultra-advanced R&D labs. It buzzed with an almost palpable energy that you couldn't describe. And that said a lot, if you considered the Finns are a laconic bunch traditionally.
It's tragic to hear that Salo would be shut down, and the town's community so intimately wounded by decisions that were completely out of their hands. This must cut deep into the hearts of so many Finns.
After reading the article, I do think there's still a glimmer of hope. Nokia's hold in emerging markets is still strong. They can focus on creating an ultra-lean line of Asha phones that can cater for that market. There might be some breathing room to create a juggernaut with the Lumia smartphones that were recently launched. Elop might eventually wise up, and step down from his disastrous reign. The good people in Nokia will carry on doing their jobs, best as they can, and make a concerted effort to elevate the once powerful brand again.
Like Harri Niinisto, I still want to keep believing in Nokia.