Implementing advanced IT projects across pan-Africa delivers an interesting blend of positive surprises and unique challenges. Discover Digital, currently building content distribution networks (CDNs) and content caches in countries such as Zimbabwe and Zambia, has learnt that implementing IT projects across Africa brings with it a broad range of experiences and insights that have ultimately resulted in tremendous internal growth and helped the business to stay ahead of the game.
Firstly, we have found that the popular portrayals of certain countries being ‘behind the times’ are quite wrong. In Zimbabwe, Zambia, Kenya and Nigeria, we have discovered that while physical infrastructure and buildings may be ageing, the actual IT infrastructure is typically new and in line with world standards. Likewise, while IT skills available in many countries may be scarce, there are some really excellent human resources who deliver advanced IT projects in these countries.
Related: It’s Not Magic, It’s Technology
But unique challenges do present themselves and in order to stay ahead, IT service providers need to be aware of them. A key issue we have found in our operations is that taking hardware into new regions demands careful and thorough planning. Without the right documentation at a border post, your hardware could be delayed by weeks. It is crucial to acquaint yourself with all the customs procedures and requirements, and ensure all paperwork is in order well ahead of shipping the hardware.
Unlike in South Africa, where all the necessary equipment is fairly readily available, some regions of Africa may not have stock of certain equipment, so it is important to cover all bases carefully when planning.
Another challenge that can emerge is integrating client-specific systems such as billing engines. Because many enterprises in Africa are running systems supplied by multinationals based abroad, they do not necessarily have the skills in-house to customise those systems to enable integration.
They may require development and integration support from international teams, which can then extend a project timeline. Before embarking on the project, it is crucial to assess the network and systems the project will be integrated into, to verify they can support the new technology. It is also vital to manage expectations on the client side and ensure that you have clearly defined the project, the system implications of the implementation and any implications on the client’s commercial model.
We’ve therefore built and implemented bespoke, efficient and cost effective workarounds that enable us to deploy faster, whilst billing integrations are completed.
Ensuring a successful implementation also demands a close collaborative relationship with partners and the client. Discover Digital typically holds kick-off meetings and workshops in country with all stakeholders of both teams, as part of our extensive planning on pan-African projects.
Discover Digital, On-going guidance, training and support of new systems to partners and client teams are essential. We have found that a combination of remote development and support, along with regular status meetings via video conferencing, and monthly site visits, are the best ways to ensure the project progresses as planned, within budget.
Lastly, when rolling out new solutions, we’ve learnt that collaboration breeds innovation. A true partnership yields long term success through a greater understanding of local market requirements and barriers, and being able to quickly and efficiently adapt products to meet client needs.
Protect Your Business – Let The Right MSP Manage IT Security For You
Don’t let IT Security add to your pressures — let the right MSP manage it for you and have peace of mind while protecting your bottom line.
With smaller teams, pressure always mounts and there is seldom enough time in one day to give all areas of a business the right focus. SME owners are required to appropriately apportion their time. Innovation and a commitment to growth are always priorities, along with the areas within a business that seek the most attention or ‘shout the loudest’ — but this should never shift the owner’s focus from the core principle of protecting their business.
IT security intimidations — malware, viruses and threats — are designed to go ‘under the radar’ and often don’t shout until it’s too late. Dispersed focus, along with a lack of appropriate resources has resulted in IT security within SMEs not getting the consideration it requires. However, considering the constant increase in the number of cyber-security incidents and the damage these cause — especially to reputation — a relaxed attitude towards IT security is no longer a viable option for any SME.
Rectifying this doesn’t need to add more pressure to the list of priorities a SME owner manages. Rather, the situation calls for a reliable third-party investment to take care of the business’ IT security needs. Managed Service Providers (MSPs) offering security services that will adequately protect the business and take the worry of IT security on board could be that helping hand. But, outsourcing IT security components of the business requires investment into the right solutions as well as trust.
Therefore, SMEs should seek the services of providers that offer best-in-class, affordable, worry-free and integrated security solutions that pass on the right protection and benefits to their client’s business.
In 2017, Kaspersky Lab launched a specialised MSP partner programme to equip service providers with tools, training and expertise, to become a reliable partner for businesses, including SMEs. Given the success of the partner programme, Kaspersky Lab is constantly expanding its offering to MSPs, including solutions that fit the profile of what an SME needs to achieve effective protection.
Top benefits of outsourcing your IT security to a trusted MSP
- Advice on your organisation’s current security posture, identifying gaps that need to be ‘plugged’
- Access to IT security knowledge — MSPs take the worry out of IT security by offering solutions that best meet your IT security needs
- Support for adequate protection against the myriad threats continually facing businesses. The right MSP knows how the cyber-threat landscape is evolving and keeps up to date with the latest threats, filtering this into your business operations for effective protection of your sensitive assets.
Kaspersky Lab not only supports the protection of SMEs through the solutions on offer, but it also aims to support and assist MSPs in growing their services to accommodate the needs of the SME market — ensuring all businesses can take the right steps towards effective IT security.
For more information on Kaspersky Lab solutions please visit: www.kaspersky.co.za
MSPs interested in joining Kaspersky Lab’s programme can visit: www.kaspersky.co.za/partners/managed-service-provider
What’s The Best Products To Sell Online?
If you’re selling online or thinking of starting an online business then you’re probably wondering what’s the ultimate product for you to sell. Read on to find out how to pick a winning product…
So I’m not talking about the top selling product of the year and if you were looking at that product then you’re probably too late anyway. What I am referring to here is the best suited product for you to sell online from an ease and profit point of view. Here are five key aspects to consider:
1. Product weight and size
Your courier fee is calculated on either the volumetric weight or the actual weight of the product – whichever is the larger number. A large box of feathers would be charged using the volumetric weight whereas a similar sized box of bricks would be charged on the actual weight. This means that large and heavy products attract higher shipping fees, which you or your customer need to cover.
Some couriers do ship bulky items at fair rates but your customer will need to compromise on having a slower delivery timeframe. Another factor to consider is that your warehousing fees will be significantly higher for bulky items. So your ideal product in this regard is a product which is small and lightweight.
2. The selling price
Products which sell for over R5 000 tend to require more customer engagement which results in time costs and a possible requirement for in-house product expertise. Products selling for lower than R500 can leave you with a profit margin which is not high enough to sustain the direct costs of completing the sale unless you are selling high volumes. Ideally your product will sell at a price point between R500 and R5 000.
3. Product support
Technical products attract a lot of pre-sales questions and also after-sales support. This means that you’ll need trained up team members permanently ready and available to help your customers. Having this in place is vital for ensuring great customer service but don’t forget about the time-cost of having your team members constantly engaging in pre and post sales support.
Be sure to also research the failure rate of potential products. Some of the best brands in the world still have an acceptable failure rate of 3%. The costs here include your time to arrange the replacement, courier fees to collect and re-deliver plus you might need to use your own inventory for the replacement until the supplier issues your replacement units.
The ideal product to find would have low or no technical support and a low return rate.
4. Local regulations
Products that require local certification through regulatory bodies such as ICASA, NRCS and MCC could result in extra costs, administration and possible delays on launching your product in the market. Being aware of how these kind of regulations will impact your product in mind is vital when choosing your products to sell. Ideally if you can find a product that doesn’t require regulatory certification will be the easiest to bring to market.
5. High margins!
There is a perception that online retailers don’t need high margins because they have such low overheads. This can be true if you’re running a lean operation; however, if you sell products with less than 20% margin then you’re setting yourself up for a challenging operation. Higher margins can give you the cushioning for the mistakes of your learning curve. Once your business is running smoothly you’ll have more to reinvest and ultimately you’ll have a more successful business if you can find a product that sells well and has high profit margins.
The Future Is Now – Ecommerce Retail Trends For 2019
In need of a killer outfit or shoe for an event this weekend? Simply log in to your favourite ecommerce fashion brand’s site and order away. Hungry? Just fill your online shopping cart with groceries which will be delivered to your door.
When it comes to ecommerce, it’s either you keep up or get left behind. And let’s be honest, customers may not care about the future of retail, but they set the tone and therefore, create the future. Retail is fueled by their unchanging needs and expectations. But just being online isn’t enough anymore, consumers want to do business and interact with brands in their own time and own way.
The trends in retail and specifically ecommerce retail trends are ever-changing. Let’s take a look at the forecast for 2019.
Get smarter, go mobile
What’s easier than shopping with your laptop online? Hitting the “buy now” button on your smartphone, of course! According to SearchEngineLand, nearly 60% of the total Google searches are done with a mobile phone and 286% more products are browsed on apps than the web. What’s more is that it’s forecasted that in 2019, mobile ecommerce will reach $218 billion. In conclusion, you should go mobile, or go home.
Although the perks of online shopping outweigh those of traditional shopping, customers still want a personal touch. For 2019, it’s forecasted that approximately 45% of customers would prefer to buy from an ecommerce platform that is personalised. This could mean providing personal recommendations or offering exclusive deals based on a customer’s preferences. Including a “Your Wishlist” or “Your Collection” option makes for a personal touch.
Tap into your community
According to a Nielsen study, 83% of people are more likely to buy something because of a recommendation. An ecommerce trend for 2019 sees consumers turning to others for advice before making an online purchase. Adding a “product review” option and creating a social community draws customers in as it makes them feel like they are valued and that they have more of an input in their purchases. Besides this, it gets people talking about your business, which means more feet at your virtual door.
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