Viadeo aims to double African network of professionals
Online networking site Viadeo aims to double its users in Africa within a year, scrapping plans for an initial public offering (IPO) to focus on emerging markets.
The world’s second biggest online networking platform for professionals behind LinkedIn is planning to increase its subscriber base by a further one million in the continent.
Viadeo targets professionals, recruiters and job seekers, also providing a brainstorming platform for entrepreneurs.
"I think we should be able to double the volume of members in Africa within a year," said Chams Diagne, Viadeo's Chief Operating Officer for Africa.
"If we put all our plans in place, I think that naturally, without effort, we should be able to generate many more members.
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"There is a market in Africa just like in China or India. At the moment everybody agrees there is a potential, that is why we decided to focus on the growth and be present here," he said.
Viadeo, headquartered in Paris, is mostly popular in French speaking countries and has 35 million users worldwide. It has offices in the UK, Spain, Italy, the US, Mexico and Canada as well as in China and India to try and grow its subscriber base to challenge that of rival LinkedIn, which has over 100 million users around the globe.
Diagne said he was confident that there was more scope for growth in Africa. "There is a huge appetite for social networks in Africa. If you look at the activities of our members, those from the continent are sometimes more active than in some European countries," he said.
"They chat, share information on forums and seek expert advice, update their CVs and share information with peers."
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.”