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Capitalse on the Shifting Communications Market

Market leaders are focusing on enterprise communications strategy.

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Creating a coherent strategy for one’s business in this increasingly mobile and virtualised world may seem daunting, but once one understands the market drivers, the process becomes considerably easier. This is according to Keith Jones, director of Strategic Business Development at Unison.

He says the recent shifts in the communications market have been nothing short of seismic. “If you ask anyone on the globe to name the three largest emerging technology companies in recent years, they should name Apple, Google and Facebook.”

“It is no coincidence that these three organisations have emerged as the world market leaders. Based on the shifts that were driven by amongst other things, Moore’s Law, this dominance was inevitable. Hindsight is 20 20, and the only predictions I won’t guarantee are those about the future. The fact that I still have a day job means I didn’t buy these shares when I should have. Looking back, the market drivers are clear and will give us some insight into what is coming,” he explains.

Shifting models

The IT market has been driven ‘inside-out’ as that is where the budget has been. Large corporates were the only ones that had the budget to firstly buy the hardware and secondly get the software installed and integrated. They called the shots and to a large extent, drove the future development efforts of the market.

The companies with the big research and development budgets like SAP, Microsoft, Oracle and IBM, either developed to capture an increasing share of the corporate wallet, or bought whoever they thought was going to capture some useful market share.

In the background, Moore’s Law was making more and more power available to the consumer and phones were becoming smarter. On top of this, bandwidth was increasing exponentially and the cloud was making top-end complex software solutions relatively easily available to companies and people that just would not historically have considered solutions of that level of functionality or complexity.

Consumer-driven markets

Jones says this all built up to a single and subtle but massively powerful tipping point. “The consumer became more empowered than the corporate. Apple, Google and Facebook exploded and the ‘me-too’ players like Linkedin and DropBox were not far behind. The consumers voted with their fingers and wallets as to where the market would go.”

“We have witnessed the birth of the single most powerful market driver we will possibly ever see in our working lives – Cloud plus Crowd. If you look at many businesses now, the consumer has access to more processing power than the business is prepared to pay for,” he adds.

The ubiquity of smart phones, the nascent tablet market kicked off by the iPad and the inexorable progress of Moore’s Law making laptops more and more powerful. The advent of proper web-based offerings and the cloud has also driven down the need for large businesses to invest too much in the client-end of the technology process.

What the corporates did not realise is the extent that this shift would lead to the abdication of control of the all important Last Mile of the communication channel.

Jones says the ‘outside-in’ market is here. “There is a technical wrapper on most businesses that we are still figuring how to cope with. The first layer is the Smartphone and the second the Tablet market, so Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is alive and thriving in your business, whether you support it or not.”

Doing more with more

The technology shifts have outstripped business’ ability to manage, secure or control it. The consequences for the business are complex and far reaching, people are doing more with more, not more with less. The behavior shifts are apparent but the promised productivity gains are not.

According to Jones, the drive for mobility is forcing many businesses to rationalise their back end systems faster than planned, they simply cannot mobilise everything. “The shifts between email, VoIP, fixed line, social media, video and mobile mean we are not sure how to service our employees and drive customer intimacy.”

The Business to Employee (B2E), Business to Business (B2B) and Business to Consumer (B2C) markets require different focuses as they require different outcomes. Support costs are escalating as one is now supporting the same community through different platforms and across multiple communication channels.

He says the lunatics are running the asylum. “If we look at the market drivers above, we will see that the market is not going to settle or slow down. The only guarantee is that the market of the future will be more complex and the drivers more difficult to predict. Convergence means we have an ever increasing choice from an ever growing number of suppliers.”

The consumer is increasingly fickle and only just coming to terms with how to wield its new found power. There is no doubt that the technology and behavioural shifts will lead to huge opportunities for business, firstly to drive down costs and increase productivity and secondly to gain access and insight to markets and behaviours that one would normally not have gained access or insight to.

The businesses that move forward with managing this opportunity in a coherent, structured and proactive manner will reap the rewards, the rest will stand by and watch.

“What an exciting time to be doing business , I feel privileged to be, arguably, in my business prime in such a dynamic market, where the shifts are significant and the changes wrought lead to new markets and opportunities appearing on an almost monthly basis,” he concludes.

Entrepreneur Magazine is South Africa's top read business publication with the highest readership per month according to AMPS. The title has won seven major publishing excellence awards since it's launch in 2006. Entrepreneur Magazine is the "how-to" handbook for growing companies. Find us on Google+ here.

Entrepreneur Today

New Application Round For Growth Fund: SA SMEs Can Apply For Grant Funding By 29 June 2018

A new application round has opened for the R12.8million Growth Fund to boost SME growth and job creation.

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The Growth Fund is a grant fund specifically for growing South African small businesses who need a cash injection to scale up further and create jobs.

The Growth Fund is managed by CDI Capital, which was incorporated as a CDI subsidiary in 2016 to catalyse funding for SMEs. The funding has been enabled through contributions by the National Treasury’s Jobs Fund, the Technology Innovation Agency (TIA), and the Western Cape Department of Economic Development and Tourism (DEDAT).

The Growth Fund is open to South African-owned businesses who operate within South Africa, who are at least one year old with turnover or assets above R1m.

Each applicant must demonstrate their year on year growth and/or the potential for sufficient growth and must be tax compliant. Applicants also need to match 20% of the contribution of the Fund through a cash contribution to achieve agreed objectives. Importantly, the business must be able to create new jobs.

Related: 3 Start-up Funding Tips To Help Launch Your Company

SMEs that meet the criteria for funding, can apply online, and are taken through a diligent process of selection and support, whereby successful applicants contract for a three-year intervention and disbursement plan, performance managed by quarterly reporting, oversight and inspection, bespoke mentorship, and business development support.

Respected as one of most successful and longest-standing SME development organisations in SA, CDI provides support to over 4 300 SMEs who in turn create over 11 100 jobs or income-generating opportunities. In its first funding round (2012 – 2015), the CDI exceeded targets, creating 464 jobs in 45 businesses. Participating SMEs grew their combined annual revenue by 73% over the three years.

Funding is limited to the first 60 approved applicants. The application deadline is 29 June 2018.
For more information and to apply, visit www.cdicapital.co.za/GrowthFund

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The 10 Best Cities For Freelancers In 2018

According to extensive research done by Hoofdkraan.nl Prague is the best place to live as a freelancer in 2018 and 7 out of 10 of the best cities for freelancers are located in Europe.

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Most European freelancers already knew, but there is absolutely no need to go all the way to Thailand or Indonesia to flourish as a digital nomad. According to extensive research done by Hoofdkraan.nl Prague is the best place to live as a freelancer in 2018 and 7 out of 10 of the best cities for freelancers are located in Europe.

Prague at the top of the freelance list

prague

Prague: Home to the best beer in the world and a destination with many hidden gems. You have to be around for a little while to discover them all, so why not stay? Work a little, wander a little, experience the friendliness, whatever gender you are or prefer, and pick one of the many flexible work spaces or cafes the city has to offer.

There’s more than a few reasons Prague is at the top of our list and our research was thorough. We included 117 cities and looked at 23 factors that are generally important for freelancers. Prague ranks highest when it comes to value for money, beer prizes, fast internet and nightlife. Life and work doesn’t get much better.

Related: 10 Businesses You Can Start Part-Time

sevillaHard to beat the Mediterranean

When we look at our top 10 – Spain and Portugal stand out. With Sevilla, Las Palmas, Porto and Lisbon amongst the best cities for freelancers there’s no other conclusion possible: We like some warm weather with our freelance freedom.

It also doesn’t hurt beer is cheap (except for the steep island prices in Las Palmas) and quality of life is valued high. Besides that, Portugal and Spain are safe countries with good resources and facilities. The only stress we can imagine comes from deadlines (yes we were still talking about the best places to work).

Top 10:

  1. Prague, Czech Republic – Cheap, best beer, friendly to visitors
  2. Sevilla, Spain – Great weather, fast internet, good quality of life
  3. Lisbon, Portugal – Great weather, safe, close to the beach
  4. Miami, USA – Great beach life, excellent weather and good WiFi
  5. Bratislava, Slovakia – Cheap, fast internet, low tax
  6. Berlin, Germany – Cheap and plenty of beer, big variety of work spots
  7. Vancouver, Canada – Close to nature, peaceful, freedom of speech
  8. Porto, Portugal – Great quality of life, nice weather, close to the beach
  9. Las Palmas, Spain – Island life, lots of nature, warm weather
  10. New Orleans, USA – Great nightlife, fast internet, good quality of life.

infographic-best-cities-for-freelancers-2018

These 10 cities have in common that they are all in (relatively) safe countries, there is peace and freedom of speech. Next to that they have stable electricity and fast (above 10 MB) and reliable internet. The life quality is for all above 8, except for Bratislava that has been given a life quality of 7,6.

Related: How To Make (A Lot Of) Money On Airbnb

Asian cities fall outside top 10

Only three cities in our top 10 are outside Europe. With Vancouver, New Orleans and Miami located in North America, there’s a big continent missing from the top of our rankings: Asia. Well-respected digital nomad destinations like Bangkok (20), Chiang Mai (53) and Bali (Ubud, 68) rank lower in our research because of low scores on cleanliness, safety, freedom of speech and quality of coffee.

Cities to avoid as a freelancer

You might want to steer off the beaten path a little bit, but there are a few places you should most definitely avoid at all times. Lagos, Nigeria for example ranks lowest on our list. You were perhaps not thinking of Nigeria in the first place because of pirates, Boko Haram or the other violence you read about in the newspapers, but there are no facilities for freelancers altogether.

The majority of the bottom 10 cities, including Dhaka (Bangladesh), La Paz (Bolivia), Manila (Philippines), Saint Petersburg (Russia), Jakarta (Indonesia), Beijing (China), Dar es Salaam (Tanzania), Nairobi (Kenya) and Kathmandu (Nepal) are cheap to live, but unsafe and dirty, the internet is slow and the electricity unreliable. Freedom of speech and an open mind towards females or gays are problematic as well.

city top 17

Have a look at the complete list: https://www.hoofdkraan.nl/blog/the-10-best-cities-for-freelancers-in-2018/136

Fun facts on Columbia and Thailand

Medellin, the second largest city in Colombia is still dangling down the bottom of our list this year (103), but could possibly be a lot higher next year. The city was recently named ‘World’s most innovative city’ and internet speed and work spaces are improving rapidly.  They also do have good coffee in Thailand. With € 425 per pound The Black Ivory Coffee Company is just a little expensive. They give Arabia Beans to elephants and the elephant dung is then roasted and processed into coffee.

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Entrepreneurship In The Green Economy – Calling All Innovators

The water crisis in South Africa has been creeping up on us for years…but it can provide opportunities for entrepreneurial zeal.

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Cape Town’s dire water crisis, after a three-year long drought fortunately averted by the recent rains, serves as a warning for the rest of South Africa. Johannesburg could face a similar crisis in the future, should its rainfall decrease for a few successive years. Tree-huggers have been warning us of this for years and have proposed solutions, but they can’t do it alone; business sector resources are needed to help solve these issues.

What most of us do is watch apprehensively as the water levels in dams drop, take shorter showers, set up grey water systems, grow water-wise gardens, wash our cars with buckets of water and imagine how we might survive a day zero. There are tangible things we can do to head off disaster – like finding innovative business solutions to environmental challenges.

For the past decade Avocado Vision’s Enterprise Development has supported the setup and operation of micro enterprises across South Africa with its Supplier and Enterprise development programmes which focus on equipping small, low-turnover businesses with business insights and acumen which enables them to become more sustainable and creating consistent and recurring incomes.

With Avocado Vision’s new business segment, the Green Business Value Chain unit, we aim to unlock the potential of developing micro and small business, with a focus on finding solutions to enhance employment, small business development, and job security in the environmental sector, particularly where efforts to influence water security and reduce alien invasive species are key outcomes.

Related: Become A Green Power Expert With Ellies Electronics

Alien invasive species, typically from other countries, with no local natural enemies, growing unchecked in their millions, consume between 3% and 6% of South Africa’s useable water. They’re a very real threat to river and dam water levels – what we need to do is build a commercial demand for alien invasive plant biomass which will reduce the spread of alien plants, inject more money into sustaining the invasive-clearing activities and get businesses of all sizes involved.

Big business becomes the catalyst by creating the demand – the middle-sized entrepreneurs arrange new solutions to meet the demand, and small businesses link into the supply chains with invasive-clearing activities and meet the demand for the biomass material.

Right now we’re drowning in single-use plastic products – plastic straws, cutlery, lids (for the millions of cups of takeaway coffee) and polystyrene packaging for food, being a few. Currently no-one in South Africa is manufacturing bio-degradable alternatives – here is a perfect opportunity for entrepreneurial innovation to switch to using invasive biomass as raw material. Entrepreneurs are often the ones who hit on social problems and invent business solutions to solve them; the plethora of wild biomass can support decades of production, and it provides a solution to water security in our country.

Calling all innovative entrepreneurs – if you feel inspired to create something brilliant, check in with the Green Business Value Chain team at Avocado Vision, we’ll connect you to the support you need to make magic happen.

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