May 19, 2020

Why West Africa Mobile Awards are celebrating mobile innovators

iROKO
events
Mobile data
Andrew Fassnidge
4 min
Why West Africa Mobile Awards are celebrating mobile innovators

The provision of mobile connectivity, products, and services is having a fundamental impact on almost every aspect of society and has created a thriving mobile ecosystem in West Africa.

Prior to the proliferation of mobile internet, Mobile Network Operators (MNOs) in the region lived off steady voice, USSD and SMS services with an ecosystem of Value Added Service (VAS) providers beating a path to their offices with a host of new services to launch. From bible phrases to ring tones, agricultural information to news and entertainment services, MNOs had a steady pipeline of new products and little pressure to innovate. The MNO focused on building the network and harvesting revenues while VAS providers relied on the MNOs’ billing platform as no other alternative existed.

Then came the game changer - mobile data. What looked like another gift from above, has unleashed both opportunities and threats for the MNOs’ business model. It has also enabled the growth of a thriving mobile ecosystem in West Africa now developing, building and launching sophisticated mobile services for the new smartphone revolution.

The industry dynamics have now changed. Incubators and investors across West Africa are empowering a new wave of mobile services. Previous bottlenecks such as payments are unleashing new businesses, while Over The Top (OTT) players are forcing MNO’s to be more innovative. Facebook and other services drive mobile data consumption for MNOs, however WhatsApp is cannibalising messaging revenues. This battle will intensify with Google and other players looking to provide more affordable internet access to consumers, circumventing the reliance on MNOs.

The West Africa Mobile Awards (WAMAS) held in Lagos this May were created to measure this progress. The industry Awards shine a light on this ecosystem and celebrate the leading mobile and tech companies from across the mobile landscape.

The vision is to promote inclusiveness within the West African Mobile industry, providing a level playing field for companies regardless of size. Finalists are nominated on merit rather than sponsorship, and entries are free for all. The Awards recognise the global brands, dynamic start-ups, and visionary individuals who are shaping mobile content and commerce in West Africa.

Jason Njoku, founder or iROKO and WAMA winner

Mobile entertainment has also flourished. iROKO, lauded by international commentators as the ‘Netflix of Africa’, has ensured Nollywood has never been more accessible to the rest of the world. Jason Njoku’s contribution was recognised last year when he was awarded the Outstanding Industry Achievement Award at the West Africa Mobile Awards.

While building one of the most successful tech innovations to come out of Nigeria, Njoku more importantly shines an international spotlight on the African tech scene, breaking down barriers and inspiring the next generation of innovators across the continent to flourish globally.

While building one of the most successful tech innovations to come out of Nigeria, Njoku more importantly shines an international spotlight on the African tech scene, breaking down barriers and inspiring the next generation of innovators across the continent to flourish globally.

Founded in 2011 with a Series A venture capital investment of $3M from US-based hedge fund Tiger Global, the original YouTube channel metamorphosed into a dedicated Nollywood platform and iROKOtv was born.

In response to Africa’s challenges surrounding internet infrastructure, and noting customers’ issues with streaming long-format content, Njoku switched off the streaming element of the website on the continent and invested in creating a purpose-built Android app for viewers on the continent, as part of his mobile-first, Android-first, download-only strategy.

Five years later, with offices in Lagos, New York and London, iROKO has become the world’s largest online platform for African entertainment and is one of the most recognised and well-respected African technology brands. iROKO has since closed additional funding rounds totalling $35 million, making the company one of Nigeria’s most well-funded companies and positioning it at the heart of Africa’s exciting tech space.

Stories like this make the West African mobile industry a very exciting proposition, and the West Africa Mobile Awards provide an industry barometer of the innovation taking place. Applications this year are accepted across 10 mobile industry categories and are judged by an independent panel. The panel includes industry leaders, independent journalists, analysts, academics, and VCs. The process will be completely comprehensive, exhaustive and systematic, meaning that the awards and the processes surrounding them are fully transparent. To find out more please visit www.wamas.com.ng.

 

Andrew Fassnidge is co-founder of the West Africa Mobile Awards and founder of AppsAfrica.com which provides insights and advisory on the African tech scene to a global audience.

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May 28, 2021

Automation of repetitive tasks leads to higher value work

Automation
UiPath
technology
repetitivetasks
Kate Birch
4 min
As a new report reveals most office workers are crushed by repetitive tasks, we talk the value of automation with UiPath’s MD of Northern Europe, Gavin Mee

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.

  1. 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
  2. Finance and accounting Automation enables firms to manage tasks such as invoice processing, ensuring accuracy and preventing mistakes
  3. Human resources Automations can be used across the HR team to manage things like payroll, assessing job candidates, and on-boarding
  4. 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
  5. 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.”

 

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