Innovation is key to a mobile Africa
Written by Dr KF Lai, CEO of BuzzCity, who reveals on-the-ground insight into the mobile marketplace in Africa.
2012 saw the BuzzCity network grow by 67 percent with more than 210.8 billion ads served across the globe and this extensive growth in mobile usage is certain to continue as we move through 2013.
Recent forecasts from Cisco revealed that the number of mobile devices will tip seven billion in 2013, outnumbering the human population, thanks to growth in developing areas, such as Asia, the Pacific and Africa.
According to our latest research, when it comes to regional growth it is worth looking beyond the well-known markets of India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka as Africa’s mobile boom continues. With a hub of activity in the region we breakdown the market:
South Africa -South Africasaw an overall growth of 57 percent in 2012 and smartphone penetration has grown to 32 percent and is rapidly becoming a mainstream device. Usage is expected to grow as many more will enjoy the benefits of reduced bandwidth costs and improved infrastructure. Monetisation opportunities for domestic publishers will grow as demand for content increases.
Nigeria -Nigeria’s phenomenal growth continues. Three quarters of double digit growth led to a year on year annual growth of 68 percent. Nokia phones dominate the market (39percent, previously 62 percent), although white box (30 percent) phones continue to gain popularity (previously 24%). Smartphone penetration remains modest (10 percent) in relation to the rest of the world and advertisers are targeting feature phones users before they migrate to smartphones.
Kenya – Despite softening demand at the end of 2012, Kenyan traffic saw growth of 45 percent year on year. As with Nigeria, smartphone penetration remains low at around 12 percent with Nokia and white box phones topping the charts. However, Kenyans are still avid surfers with more than one billion ads delivered each quarter.
Across continental Africa growth hotspots keep emerging. Ghana (61 percent), Tanzania (81 percent) and Egypt (14 percent) are markets to watch.
Egypt in particular has a relatively high smartphone penetration (33 percent) and nearly 70 percent of Egyptians prefer to surf with their smartphone. While smartphones have seen growth throughout the region it may be another year before it reaches the explosive growth of other regions.
Although the African region might be behind when it comes to smartphone usage, it most certainly is ahead when it comes to creating innovative and convenient mobile offerings.
Across Africa and Asia, “mobile phones are used less for talking and more today as platforms to support daily living,” writes Robin Renee Sanders, a former US Ambassador to Nigeria, who argues that creative apps and mobile services are improving people's quality of life.
For example, we’ve already seen mobile banking and micro financing entering the mobile market and we envisage mobile healthcare will develop and grow in much the same way; by solving the problem of accessibility.
Another example in South Africa is MoMaths, a teaching tool that targets users of a popular instant messaging platform as well as an NGO called Refugees United that “offers a safe, secure and anonymous way to find family and friends”.
So what does this mean for the future of mobile in Africa? Innovation is key. Consumers are still willing to do more with their mobile phones, in fact we have seen an increase in mobile commerce, particularly for physical purchases in South Africa (33 percent).
If this continues transactions for physical products may outpace mobile entertainment content this year. In addition, with the reduced cost of bandwidth and infrastructure continuing to improve over the coming year we will certainly see this reflected in economic growth of the region.
Dr KF Lai is co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of BuzzCity. Since its launch in 1999, BuzzCity has grown to be a leading global mobile advertising network.
Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work
Two-thirds of global office workers feel they are constantly doing the same tasks over and over again. That’s according to a new study (2021 Office Worker Survey) from automation software company UiPath.
Whether emailing, inputting data, or scheduling calls and meetings, the majority of those surveyed said they waste on average four and a half hours a week on time-consuming tasks that they think could be automated.
Not only is the undertaking of such repetitious and mundane tasks a waste of time for employees, and therefore for businesses, but it can also have a negative impact on employees’ motivation and productivity. And the research backs this up with more than half (58%) of those surveyed saying that undertaking such repetitive tasks doesn’t allow them to be as creative as they’d like to be.
“When repetitive, unrewarding tasks are handled by people, it takes time and this can cause delays and reduce both employee and customer satisfaction,” Gavin Mee, Managing Director of UiPath Northern Europe tells Business Chief. “Repetitive tasks can also be tedious, which often leads to stress and an increased likelihood to leave a job.”
And these tasks exist at all levels within an organisation, right up to executive level, where there are “small daily tasks that can be automated, such as scheduling, logging onto systems and creating reports”, adds Mee.
Automation can free employees to focus on higher value work
By automating some or all of these repetitive tasks, employees at whatever level of the organisation are freed up to focus on meaningful work that is creative, collaborative and strategic, something that will not only help them feel more engaged, but also benefit the organisation.
“Automation can free people to do more engaging, rewarding and higher value work,” says Mee, highlighting that 68% of global workers believe automation will make them more productive and 60% of executives agree that automation will enable people to focus on more strategic work. “Importantly, 57% of executives also say that automation increases employee engagement, all important factors to achieving business objectives.”
These aren’t the only benefits, however. One of the problems with employees doing some of these repetitive tasks manually is that “people are fallible and make mistakes”, says Mee, whereas automation boosts accuracy and reduces manual errors by 57%, according to Forrester Research. Compliance is also improved, according to 92% of global organisations.
Repetitive tasks that can be automated
Any repetitive process can be automated, Mee explains, from paying invoices to dealing with enquiries, or authorising documents and managing insurance claims. “The process will vary from business to business, but office workers have identified and created software robots to assist with thousands of common tasks they want automated.”
These include inputting data or creating data sets, a time-consuming task that 59% of those surveyed globally said was the task they would most like to automate, with scheduling of calls and meetings (57%) and sending template or reminder emails (60%) also top of the automation list. Far fewer believed, however, that tasks such as liaising with their team or customers could be automated, illustrating the higher value of such tasks.
“By employing software robots to undertake such tasks, they can be handled much more quickly,” adds Mee pointing to OTP Bank Romania, which during the pandemic used an automation to process requests to postpone bank loan instalments. “This reduced the processing time of a single request from 10 minutes to 20 seconds, allowing the bank to cope with a 125% increase in the number of calls received by call centre agents.”
Mee says: “Automation accelerates digital transformation, according to 63% of global executives. It also drives major cost savings and improves business metrics, and because software robots can ramp-up quickly to meet spikes in demand, it improves resilience.
Five business areas that can be automated
Mee outlines five business areas where automation can really make a difference.
- Contact centres Whether a customer seeks help online, in-store or with an agent, the entire customer service journey can be automated – from initial interaction to reaching a satisfying outcome
- Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
- Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
- IT IT teams are often swamped in daily activity like on-boarding or off-boarding employees. Deploying virtual machines, provisioning, configuring, and maintaining infrastructure. These tasks are ideal for automation
- Legal There are many important administrative tasks undertaken by legal teams that can be automated. Often, legal professionals are creating their own robots to help them manage this work. In legal and compliance processes, that means attorneys and paralegals can respond more quickly to increasing demands from clients and internal stakeholders. Robots don’t store data, and the data they use is encrypted in transit and at rest, which improves risk profiling and compliance.
“To embark on an automation journey, organisations need to create a Centre of Excellence in which technical expertise is fostered,” explains Mee. “This group of experts can begin automating processes quickly to show return on investment and gain buy-in. This effort leads to greater interest from within the organisation, which often kick-starts a strategic focus on embedding automation.”