Facebook launches Agency Ambassador programme for Africa to lead digital training and skills
Facebook has launched an Agency Ambassador Programme for Africa as part of its drive to equip its agency partners with the skills and information they need to make the most of Facebook as a marketing and advertising platform.
Agency Ambassadors have a direct line to Facebook and receive extensive training to help them become their agency’s expert in Facebook’s tools, technologies and solutions.
Delegates representing 32 top media agencies from four countries (Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and South Africa) gathered at a three-day summit in Johannesburg from 29 March to 1 April, where a Facebook team from around the world trained them to become Africa’s first Facebook Agency Ambassadors. The collaborative training equipped participants with the resources they need to understand how to drive real business results through digital marketing, and in turn share this knowledge within their organisations. The forum also afforded an opportunity for the agency representatives to provide feedback to Facebook.
The launch of the program follows within a year after the opening of Facebook’s first office in Africa—based in Johannesburg, South Africa— when Facebook committed to supporting and up-skilling businesses across the continent.
“We’re so excited to launch the Facebook Agency Ambassador Program, a first for Africa,” said Nunu Ntshingila, Head of Africa for Facebook. “As media transcends to digital, it's of crucial importance that these Ambassadors are equipped to take their learnings back to their agencies – both digital and traditional - so that they can make the most of the digital opportunity, and ultimately grow brands and businesses.”
The programme incorporates Facebook Blueprint, an education program that trains agencies, partners and marketers on how to use Facebook. Combining online courses, in-person training and certification, Blueprint trains marketers on everything from campaign optimisation and how to use video on Facebook to effective ad measurement solutions. The foundation of Blueprint is its eLearning centre, which features more than 50 online courses and has tracks organised by category, such as direct response marketing, as well as tracks designed for specific roles, such as digital buying.
According to Elizma Nolte, Head of Business Marketing for Facebook Sub-Saharan Africa: “Our goal with the Agency Ambassador Programme is to empower agencies to help their clients make the most of our platforms. It’s also a way for us to listen to agencies and learn more about what they need in their specific markets, so that we can improve offerings across the Facebook family of services. Facebook is a partnership company at heart, and this kick-off summit is simply the beginning of a long-term partnership with agencies across the continent.”
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”