Press the icon to competitive advantage
Written by Ayanda Dlamini
Africa is an increasingly mobile continent, making smart mobile application development one of the continent's next big industries.
The mobile application space is set to boom across Africa, as enterprises and developers lead the world in bringing to market unique mobile applications suited to a developing market.
There are several reasons for this - crucially, Africa is a mobile continent. Mobile devices are becoming smarter, faster and more affordable; smartphone adoption is growing by around 15 percent year on year across the continent, and mobile bandwidth has become better and more affordable.
In addition, mobile applications are particularly relevant in a South African and pan-African context, where a young, increasingly tech-savvy and often geographically dispersed population is fast seeing the advantages of self-service and mobile business.
Advanced, user-friendly mobile apps will be the next customer service excellence differentiator. To maintain a competitive advantage, enterprises will increasingly roll out mobile consumer apps to maintain their competitive lead, and to deliver services.
We foresee that many operators will see this as a new way of doing business. Why? For one thing, mobile apps enhance the customer experience. The old USSD0-based self-service options are not particularly user-friendly, especially for less tech-savvy consumers.
Dialling *123#456# may have sufficed when there was no other alternative, but now consumers can simply press an icon or a menu button on a smartphone to interact with enterprises.
Getting it right
In order for mobile apps to be effective, they need to begin with meeting customer needs, and they must be simple and easy to use.
They also need to address enterprise pain points - for example, the most common contact centre queries can be migrated to a self-service smartphone app, so improving customer experience and easing the contact centre workload.
They also need to deliver concise, personalised and easy to navigate information to the end-user, supplying all the relevant information at a glance, with the ability to drill down, slice or dice if needed.
In the enterprise application space, we see that once mobile workers have access to effective ERP mobile apps, they seldom revert to their laptops to access ERP systems.
Achieving this requires a great deal of preparatory work, to identify what end users need, what the business goals are for the app, and what the current enterprise pain points are, which could be addressed with a customised mobile app.
Leading the world
Africa is traditionally innovative, and because mobile apps are so relevant to the African context, with a low barrier to entry for app developers, we envisage massive growth in the app development space across the continent.
An innovative youngster with little more than internet access and aptitude can learn to develop apps, and bring to market new solutions tailored to meet African needs.
It requires a niche skill set, but mobile application development will become the order of the day as demand increases.
There is scope for app development across numerous areas - for example, banking, healthcare and education. And apps developed for the African context may also be relevant to other developing regions of the world, meaning there is huge potential for growth in this sector.
While we have seen growth in this space in recent years, the continent's potential is still relatively untapped; which is why we are now seeing a rush of foreign investors into the continent.
LGR Telecommunications is very excited about the potential for growth in this area, and we are focusing our attention on meeting this growing need for appropriate mobile apps to grow enterprises, enhance quality of service and customer experience.
LGR Telecommunications is a specialist solutions provider with an exclusive focus on the global telecommunications industry. For more than a decade LGR has built an enviable reputation for the provision and management of the world’s foremost end-to-end Data Warehouse and Business Intelligence systems at leading international operators. It works with companies such as AT&T, Telestra, Vodafone, True Corp and the MTN Group.
GfK and VMware: Innovating together on hybrid cloud
GfK has been the global leader in data and analytics for more than 85 years, supplying its clients with optimised decision inputs.
In its capacity as a strategic and technical partner, VMware has been walking GfK along its digital transformation path for over a decade.
“We are a demanding and singularly dynamic customer, which is why a close partnership with VMware is integral to the success of everyone involved,” said Joerg Hesselink, Global Head of Infrastructure, GfK IT Services.
Four years ago, the Nuremberg-based researcher expanded its on-premises infrastructure by introducing VMware vRealize Automation. In doing so, it laid a solid foundation, resulting in a self-service hybrid-cloud environment.
By expanding on the basis of VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management, GfK has given itself a secure infrastructure and reliable operations by efficiently operating processes, policies, people and tools in both private and public cloud environments.
One important step for GfK involved migrating from multiple cloud providers to just a single one. The team chose VMware.
“VMware is the market leader for on-premises virtualisation and hybrid-cloud solutions, so it was only logical to tackle the next project for the future together,” says Hesselink.
Migration to the VMware-based environment was integrated into existing hardware simply and smoothly in April 2020. Going forward, GfK’s new hybrid cloud model will establish a harmonised core system complete with VMware Cloud on AWS, VMware Cloud Foundation with vRealize Cloud Management and a volume rising from an initial 500 VMs to a total of 4,000 VMs.
“We are modernising, protecting and scaling our applications with the world’s leading hybrid cloud solution: VMware Cloud on AWS, following VMware on Google Cloud Platform,” adds Hesselink.
The hybrid cloud-based infrastructure also empowers GfK to respond to new and future projects with astonishing agility: Resources can now be shifted quickly and easily from the private to the public cloud – without modifying the nature of interaction with the environment.
The gfknewron project is a good example – the company’s latest AI-powered product is based exclusively on public cloud technology. The consistency guaranteed by VMware Cloud on AWS eases the burden on both regular staff and the IT team. Better still, since the teams are already familiar with the VMware environment, the learning curve for upskilling is short.
One very important factor for the GfK was that VMware Cloud on AWS constituted an investment in future-proof technology that will stay relevant.
“The new cloud-based infrastructure comprising VMware Cloud on AWS and VMware Cloud Foundation forges a successful link between on-premises and cloud-based solutions,” says Hesselink. “That in turn enables GfK to efficiently develop its own modern applications and solutions.
“In market research, everything is data-driven. So, we need the best technological basis to efficiently process large volumes of data and consistently distill them into logical insights that genuinely benefit the client.
“We transform data and information into actionable knowledge that serves as a sustainable driver of business growth. VMware Cloud on AWS is an investment in a platform that helps us be well prepared for whatever the future may hold.”