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Africa Rising: Contemporary Culture Revolution Presents Huge Digital Opportunities

This is the African reality the world is wanting to see, and which Africans are wanting to show, across screens within multiple content forms.

Taryn Uhlmann

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When deriving video-on-demand (VOD) content strategies for Africa, adapting to the bespoke needs of consumers based on often changing continental trends ensures a targeted content and marketing solution that avoids the cookie cutter approach of trying to replicate mature market successes such as those of Netflix.

This is because Africa is unique. Whilst a seemingly redundant statement, I feel that this is a description of Africa often waxed lyrical and never fully unpacked. It is a perception that lumps African countries under one ‘Africa’, ignoring the pre-existing and contemporary social and cultural differences that exist from country to country across the continent.

Growing millennial and post millennial youth populations within each country are driving vibrant change across the continent: We are seeing continual waves of experimental and innovative approaches within movies, music, art, fashion and design, across various countries which are characteristic of those countries.

These popular culture movements have a distinct African spirit – they are bold, fresh and creative in multiple ways and have ushered in a revival of interest in African culture. This is the African reality the world is wanting to see, and which Africans are wanting to show, across screens within multiple content forms.

Related: How To Thrive In The Face Of Digital Darwinism And Technology

Lowering barriers to entry

Africa’s youth population, already around 200 million strong and growing fast, is driving a consistent pan-African cultural change through their digital – in particular mobile – content consumption behaviour.

The most overwhelming force of change is the plethora of mobile usage and subsequent mobile solutions such as mobile wallets, and conversely, the lack of consistent quality broadband.

‘Taking Africa to the world, and bringing the world to Africa’, requires rich digital platforms.

Much of Africa is still challenged by slow or costly internet access which presents a significant hurdle considering that African youth culture is predominantly digital, driven by multimedia, and  most likely to access online content via a mobile device.

Short form content opportunities

Ubiquitous mobile usage and challenging data access means the content delivered must adapt.  Enter the rise and rise of short form, easily consumable content. This doesn’t mean quality is jeopardised. In fact, a lot of mainstream titles available are being chapterised and condensed into shorter ‘series’ of 6-8 minutes, appropriate for new audience consumption on mobile devices, and original material is also being produced for young audiences who seek faster resolution of a storyline.

This is not merely a ramification of the instant gratification trend of young audiences, but rather a practical need – consuming stories on the go, in communal free wifi hotspot areas and at the mercy of dropped lines and inconsistent connectivity.

Related: No More Sleepless Nights Over Legacy Technology

Partnership opportunities

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Data is practically currency for the youth market, presenting great brand building opportunities for companies offering subsidised broadband in partnership with telcos. For multimedia producers and VOD services, marketing partnerships with telcos and ISPs who can offer levels of subsidised broadband are essential for ensuring the success of the content services throughout Africa.

This presents significant opportunities for content producers, app developers, VOD services, telcos, broadcasters and businesses wanting to connect with rising African talent and creatives. Through correct partnerships to lower the barriers to entry to internet access, rich media content and VOD platforms, stakeholders will fast-track VOD roll-outs and spark the rise of new digital growth opportunities.

But to deliver on this emerging potential, African countries need not only offer the appropriate rich media platforms and affordable and reliable data but the right approach to marketing too.

Marketing focus

While new on-demand and rich media platforms have the potential to catalyse any resurgence of African popular culture, it must be borne in mind that they are still new, fairly complicated products and relatively unknown across much of Africa. Again, there can be no cookie cutter approach.

Every country has unique cultural and sub-cultural communities, and the youth across Africa are distinctly different to older generations. Engaging the various markets demands an in-depth understanding of those consumers, targeted micro-marketing to specific communities, as well as personal engagement on the ground across many areas.

Related: 5 First Technology Buys For Your Brand New Business

To deliver on the promise VOD holds for Africa, marketing efforts must be tailored to speak directly to the individual consumer, to mobilise in relevant ways and to make use of compelling and engaging calls to action, getting people to actually do something.

Here again, telcos and local broadcasters are ideally positioned to take rich digital platforms and VOD services to market, through their existing infrastructures, retail outlets and existing relationships with consumers.

Telco brand refreshes

Telcos who enable multimedia and VOD services stand to gain significantly as they can use these value-added services as an acquisition, sales and retention tool, and they can also align themselves with popular culture and so contemporise and refresh their brands.

They can allow partnering brands the opportunity to speak to their customers in new and different ways, for example by using Hollywood characters, franchise and star collateral in their marketing (unencumbered by heavy licensing fees), receiving money-can’t-buy prizing opportunities and generally providing their customers with a fresh and vibrant new brand experience.

So what is the key takeaway?  Adapt and mould around unique realities.  Don’t try and change the reality.

Taryn Uhlmann is the Executive Head: Content & Marketing at Discover Digital. South African on-demand solutions specialist Discover Digital offers solutions for the delivery of digital video content. Discover Digital provides the technology solutions and a full TVOD and SVOD service, including content licensing, content administration, content delivery, billing integration and licence settlements and reporting. We have developed a range of software and hardware products, web and mobile device applications and kiosks compatible with our technology to ensure we can provide total solutions across fixed line, mobile and unconnected/offline market requirements.

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South Africa Seeks Innovative Solutions to Payments Systems

How to bridge the divide and bring FinTech technology and a new infrastructure of POS systems to the masses.

Harald Merckel

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News has been circulating that high-level players in South Africa are working hard to introduce structural changes in payments solutions. Some of the biggest players in the industry, including the Payments Association of South Africa, and BankservAfrica have begun work in earnest on facilitating expedited transactions settlements, by adding new payments systems and features into the market.

Financial technology, a.k.a. FinTech is powering the payments gateway to cost-effective solutions for South African businesses, consumers, domestic and international stakeholders. According to industry pundits, the payment system that currently exists in South Africa was formulated in the 1980s. At the time, it was highly regarded by world standards. However, the rampant innovation that has taken place with the Internet of things since then necessitates updating.

Various solutions have been touted, to rethink the infrastructure framework that currently exists in South Africa. The economy is rapidly changing, and mobile technology is being embraced across the board. The South African payments system is long overdue for an upgrade, as shifting priorities and the widespread digitisation of the economy take place. For starters, payments solutions across South Africa must factor in the large underbanked and unbanked sectors of society.

Related: 6 Lessons The Founders Of iKhokha Used To Launch An African Fintech Start-up

A key industry player, Bankserv which is owned and operated by Standard Bank, ABSA, and Nedbank among others is ringing the changes. Back in 2017, this financial entity processed R188.2 billion worth of ATM transactions. The total number of transactions numbered 452.6 million additionally. It processed 52.5 billion POS transactions valued at R290.9 billion in credit card authorizations in the same year. Electronic funds transfers (EFTs) to the value of R9.4 trillion were also processed by Bankserv. These are significant figures, and they point to a shift in financial transactions processing in South Africa.

Groundbreaking POS Systems to Debut in SA

The widespread innovation currently taking place in POS systems is reshaping retail industry, the food and beverage service, and other merchant networks across the board. One of the industry leaders in this regard is revel systems POS. It is fully integrated with a robust selection of features, the likes of which include superior reporting features, full kiosk functionality, and a modern kitchen display system for the thriving restaurant industry in South Africa. The technology was created back in 2010 by Chris Ciabarra and Lisa Falzone as an innovative Apple iPad point-of-sale system. It was tested in the San Francisco Bay Area and became an instant hit.

Today, the Revel POS system sports 25,000+ terminals around the world, at high profile company such as Cinnabon, Goodwill, Smoothie King and others. South African restaurants and food industry businesses can enjoy monthly subscription fees, and the software license is included in the monthly subscription fee. Flexible pricing is another advantage of using this POS system. Plus, users get to enjoy industry-specific software and integrations that can be used by quick service businesses and restaurants.

It’s ideally suited to businesses that have 500,000 SKUs, although it’s equally adept at serving smaller SA businesses. In terms of ease-of-use, this POS is intuitive for front-end use, and training videos facilitate backend learning and integration. The backend management is particularly effective in terms of training regimens, navigation, and utilisation. All that’s required to get started is an Apple iOS device, and any standard barcode scanner is fully compatible with the system.

Related: How Fintech Zoona Is Solving Customers’ Real Problems

Among the many features include the following:

  • Fully Functional point-of-sale systems
  • Real-Time Inventory control of SKUs, including cost considerations, pricing, inventory, size, colour, style etc. Digital menu boards, kitchen display systems, and kiosk point-of-sale systems are also available
  • Purchase Order Management and QuickBooks integration
  • Customer Management in terms of purchases, details and personal data is also available.

What Are the Current FinTech Challenges in South Africa?

Contrary to widespread belief, South Africa has one of the most sophisticated payments infrastructures. This is certainly a feather in the cap for South Africa’s financial and FinTech sector. Given that Internet usage is widespread, and the telecom network that facilitates Internet functionality is highly developed, South Africa ranks on par with the best of them.

There are effectively 2 parallel economies operating in South Africa – the first world developed FinTech economy, and the informal economy which dominates the outlying areas. South Africa has a challenge on its hands: How to bridge the divide and bring FinTech technology and a new infrastructure of POS systems to the masses.

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Investing In Value Creation Tools Can Help Your Business Grow

ACCA on attracting new clients, establishing and strengthening commercial partnerships and accessing external finance to help your business expand.

ACCA

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The business journey of many SMEs is often characterised by a gradual change in internal management practices which develop as the business operations grow. The subsequent recognition of the business’s value creation, across all its operations – tends to emerge slowly but surely alongside this process.

Gaining an understanding of ongoing value creation can be challenging. This is because smaller companies tend to not have access to simple and understandable data sets on everything, which is and isn’t contributing to value across the business.

For example, customer and supplier relationships, human capital and intellectual property are all common examples of activities where SMEs regularly experience difficulties in determining the real contribution to the businesses’ overall value. These are areas that are not picked up by financial reports that are a focal point of many growing businesses, hence the importance of these areas in business is not given the proper attention it deserves.

Related: Achieving Business Success: How Walter Muwandi Gained The Edge

However, by improving trust and relationships between customers and those along your supply chain, this information can be used to attract new clients, establish and strengthen commercial partnerships and access external finance to help your business expand.

Key actions to consider when capturing the value within your business include the following:

  1. Use cloud and data analytics technology to support growth;
  2. Create a business strategy which incorporates everything;
  3. Allow staff to use new technologies to innovate; and
  4. Appreciate the importance of technology in attracting external finance.

These actions will help you succeed in developing a successful business strategy.

Use cloud and data analytics technology to support growth

Purchasing relevant software packages could help you access the data you need to understand where and when value is being created. Cloud and data analytics technology can provide a real-time flow of information, offering detailed measures across workflows, whilst also complementing existing reporting processes.

More long term, this technology can provide you with greater flexibility when anticipating future periods of growth.

For example, when the time comes to up-scale your business operations, it could help your finance function adapt more easily to any additional demands being placed upon it and mitigate the risk of disruption towards ongoing operations.

At the same time investing in this technology doesn’t have to happen overnight. Software packages can be purchased in stages and tailored to meet the specific needs of your business.

Create a business strategy which incorporates everything

Business success will often be determined by how effectively you can combine the value of ongoing operations into the development of a single, overarching business strategy. Understanding of the key strategic themes by employees is critical in aiding future business expansion plans and growth. This integration can support planning processes.

By taking a short, medium and long-term view on how value creation might change across the business, you will be in a much better place to identify upcoming risks and opportunities related to your growth ambitions.

The practical delivery of this might involve regular integrated reporting across your business’s operations. The more data that is involved in this process, the more helpful it will be towards informing your management decisions.

Allow work teams to use new technologies to innovate

Companies might also want to consider supporting work teams in certain areas to come up with new ideas to enhance plans for business growth and learn from possible failures, without the personal risks that entrepreneurship entails.

Allowing employees to use new technologies could help to reduce costs and offer new revenue opportunities as your business expands. It could also help to stimulate a high growth business and to fully communicate business’s value to potential clients and commercial partners.

Related: The Rise Of Digital In Shaping Business Terrains

Appreciate the importance of technology in attracting external finance

Investing in technology at an early stage can help attract external investors, as well as reducing the cost of raising growth finance. Such investors need to be able to understand the broader strategy of your business.

Lenders are increasingly using data to build up a broad perspective on the growth potential of SMEs. If you can provide real-time information – rather than just historical data – of your business’s performance, this could greatly increase the chances of obtaining the finance you need to grow.

However, there remains a gap and potential to co-create new approaches of raising capital amongst growing businesses and in creating agreed terms of sharing risks. This could bolster the advancement of entrepreneurial houses toward creating real economic equity in long term.

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Embracing Technology For Business

The technologies that can boost efficiency in your organisation.

Greg Morris

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The world is dominated by technology. So if you haven’t yet heard terms like ML, AI, VR, and the wave of other acronyms used to address the new developments in this modern age, you will soon. Because, the era of big data is here. And resisting it is futile. We have to embrace new technologies to survive, let alone compete. Luckily, a lot of today’s tech helps make business more streamlined.

Here are a few that make all the difference:

FOR ADMIN

WebVault

WebVault is a digital ‘vault’ for securely storing documents, emails, certificates, voice files, and other data in the cloud. WebVault Achiever can even load completed trainee certificates into the vault, without your needing to vet or track them.

Related: Silulo Ulutho Technologies Tackles Tech Target Market

EFFICIENCY

Asana

Asana is a tool for managing team-based projects. It allows users to break projects into tasks, assign them to individuals, add followers, and schedule deadlines. This ensures transparency, accountability, and helps to streamline and track deliverables.

Slack

Slack is like a WhatsApp group for business. You can sort interests by topic, and use the search function for anything, including old discussions and shared files. The most notable benefit is that Slack stops back and forth email discussions, decluttering your inbox. It also integrates easily with platforms like Twitter and Dropbox.

ACCOUNTS

Wave

Wave is accounting software that offers small to medium-sized businesses access to helpful tools. Through mobile and web-based platforms, users can build and send professional cost estimates and tax invoices, accept credit cards, keep track of payments, administer payroll, and streamline expense tracking.

LEARNING

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (also known as AI) is created from technology called machine (or computer) learning (ML). In other words: by using complex networks, computers can learn without the need for human direction or oversight.

One of the most exciting ways that AI affects learning is by identifying overlaps between different industries and subjects. Connections that would take humans many years of study to discover, can now take computers less than a day to unveil, revealing complex subjects that we may never have realised existed without it.

Virtual & augmented reality

Most people learn best by getting involved. But, where the stakes are high or expensive, like the military, medicine, and mining, this isn’t feasible. By digitally influencing how learners see their environment, virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) allow them to safely, cost-effectively practise the impractical.

Related: Trends To Fast Track Your Business In 2018

SECURITY

The modern technologies we’re seeing today are fascinating, but they aren’t always fool-proof. Indeed, for every new technology, there are thousands of hackers spending all of their time looking for ways to break in.

For example, consider how you can monitor your home on a device. This is convenient for you, but it defeats the point if a hacker can access the video feed. There are even organisations online that provide malware and phishing as a service.

If you’re stepping into new technological territory, you need to be prepared for whatever comes your way. The best protection against threats like this is to hire an ethical hacker yourself; one who can tell you where your weak points are and how to protect them. 

DISRUPTION

Blockchain

Blockchain technology is controversial thanks to its association with Bitcoin. But it is critical to differentiate the two. Bitcoin, on the one hand, is a digital currency. Blockchain, however, is the technology it uses for its distributed digital ledger.

Because a blockchain is both distributed and transparent, it allows digital peer-to-peer transactions to be executed safely and stored securely. And because the technology isn’t limited to finance, it has the potential to disrupt the way many companies do business. Notable leaders in this space include WalMart, IBM, and Nestlé, who are using blockchain technology to improve their systems.

The age of the digital innovation is here, and that means the world is changing rapidly. The best ways to be prepared are to be aware and to adapt quickly.

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