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Top 4 digital priorities for African telcos

With an expected 30-50 billion connected devices by 2020, the role and importance of big data in the business world cannot be underestimated

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After nearly two decades of uninhibited growth and profitability, African telecoms operators (telcos) are facing the converging forces of digital disruption. Some of the factors contributing to this are: easily accessible broadband internet, popular over the top (OTT) services such as WhatsApp, and changing consumer needs.

According to Ovum, telco operators will lose out on US$ 386 billion between 2012 and 2018 purely because of over-the-top VoIP services cannibalising voice revenues. This has sparked the players in the
industry to reimagine their business models, shifting away from simple communication services delivery to becoming digital service providers (DSPs) that power their customers’ digital lifestyles.

As the telco gold rush of the past two decades slows down, operators are increasingly looking at owning more of the customer mindshare by creating great brands built on practical usefulness, reliability, innovation, cost, and entertainment.

Telcos are no longer simply looking for revenue-generating customers; the focus is now on creating new revenue opportunities that allow them to sell business and lifestyle services at higher margins.

Telco operators in the African continent are faced with an urgent need to fast-track digital transformation to meet the challenges posed by the new business and consumer environment. Currently, four major digital transformation priorities have emerged.

Let’s unpack them one by one.

Priority 1Improving the customer experience

Consumers today demand personalised services and products to match their lifestyles. For telcos, the focus has shifted away from customer relationship management (CRM) to personalised engagement across any device, anywhere, anytime. According to a global EY telecoms industry study, 82% of telcos consider customer experience (CX) management as a top three priority for the industry. The increasing demand for personalisation has given rise to the development of unique experiences delivered to match individual customers’ interests.

As customers interact with telcos through their channel of choice – whether email, voice call, social media, or another channel – operators will need to take a non-linear approach to customer engagement. Here, telcos need a platform that can integrate  all channels and provide a single accurate view of a customer. And by leveraging analytics to improve product development, telcos can enable smarter
selling by increasing the relevance of their offer based on individual customer behaviour.

Priority 2 – Big Data and real-time analytics

With a predicted internet population of three billion and an expected 30-50 billion
connected devices by 2020, the role and importance of big data in the business world cannot be underestimated.

According to the Mobile World Congress, 74% of telco operators believe that the ability to manage big data is a major differentiator in the digital economy. With an estimated economic impact of USD 4-11 trillion by 2025, the business case is clear.

Telcos have a key role to play, as they are uniquely positioned to bridge physical and digital assets. With the Internet of Things (IoT) taking grasp, telcos should latch on to become enablers of innovation by leveraging their network assets for connectivity purposes. By adopting cutting-edge in-memory computing platforms, telcos can also leverage big data from mobile devices, sensors, usage patterns,
social media, and geolocation to create a single integrated data set that can inform improved business processes and create optimal customer experiences. This can also drive real-time insights and unlock new revenue streams.

As sensors and IoT devices become increasingly common and affordable, this capability gets amplified.

Priority 3 – Effective workforce engagement

As millennials increasingly enter the workforce, employers are forced to rethink  their employee engagement models to accommodate the disruptive expectations and demands of this highly connected, informed, and technology-enabled workforce. According to PwC, millennials will constitute more than 50% of the workforce by 2020.

For African telcos, workforce management is critical due to the on-going digital  skills shortage. Operators are relooking how they recruit, retain, and manage employees in a market where talent is a key commodity. Complexity is also on the rise: many operators do business in multiple countries, across various languages, and under different sets of regulations. Within this context, organisational complexity is driving up costs while slowing down progress.

ALSO SEE: Kenyan towns with cheaper Facebook Wi-Fi

Telcos that digitise their workforce gain the benefit of total workforce management supported by advanced analytics. As machine learning becomes more pervasive, manual transaction work in areas such as procurement, inventory management, and payment processing become digitised, requiring access to real-time analytics in order to support rule-based decision-making. And with real-time information at their fingertips, field technicians, store employees, and customer service representatives
are able to deliver personalised services, exceeding customer expectations.

Priority 4 – Enabling machine learning capabilities to drive innovation

With an estimated market value of US$ 47 billion by 2020 according to the IDC, machine learning is bringing new innovation capabilities and improved operations to data-heavy industries around the world, spanning from supply chain to retail to telecoms.

Machine learning can unlock new operational efficiencies by automating manual tasks
and speeding up time-to-resolution. This can play a transformative role in the way telcos conduct finances (through automated payment matching, for example), recruit for top talent (through intelligent job matching), and improve customer service (by gathering, analysing and responding to feedback quickly and efficiently).

Operators should take a platform approach to ensure they have the tools to innovate quickly and deploy machine learning solutions at speed and scale. In a recent McKinsey report, 40% of all the potential value locked within IoT demands interoperability between IoT systems, which requires a strong platform.

SAP Leonardo is a digital innovation platform that brings together breakthrough technologies such as machine learning, IoT, analytics, big data, and blockchain,  all integrated to the in-memory SAP Cloud Platform. It enables telcos to launch new innovations at scale while unlocking additional revenue opportunities from historical data and processes, and helps to redefine business models at a time when the industry needs it most.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of SAP Africa.

Business Today is the leading independent online business website in Kenya. Started in 2012 by a veteran business journalist, it has a huge following both in Kenya and abroad. It covers various business and related issues. Email editor at: [email protected]

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Liquid Telecom signs deal with Microsoft to offer free internet

Pact will see provision of international software such as Microsoft Azure, on the cloud across the continent

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Liquid Telecom Kenya Ltd has started providing free internet to Nairobi Garage’s newly opened Entrepreneurship Centre along Ngong Road.

The venture supports up to 300 co-workers with high-speed internet connectivity of 150 Mbps as part of its plan to support businesses across the country with both internet and software services too.

 

Liquid Telecom Kenya Chief  Executive Officer (CEO) Adil Youssefi, while  unveiling  the free connection during the partnership ceremony with Microsoft  in Nairobi,  said deal signed between them will see provision of  international software such as Microsoft  Azure, on the cloud across the continent.

Youssefi noted that they will be offering Microsoft cloud services and applications that developers and Information Technology (IT) professionals can use to build, deploy and manage applications across Africa.

“ This means  our internet  infrastructure  across the  continent  will now enable companies  and entrepreneurs  to operate  with international software based on easy access to cloud products and services  that we are now delivering through with our partnership with Microsoft ,” said Youssefi.

Youssefi further said that the deal offers a cloud connectivity service level agreement that bundles together data and cloud services to ensure that businesses never run out of data bundles.

He noted that they are offering Microsoft Azure enterprise customers in Africa a Microsoft Express Route services; a reliable, cost-effective, lower latency, faster and highly secured connection over the internet into European–based Azure clouds.

Related: Liquid Telecom launches pan-African Wi-Fi roaming hub

He added that softwares offer an extension to on-premises networks into the Microsoft cloud over a private connection facilitated by a connectivity provider.

The director of Nairobi Garage Hannah Clifford noted that co-workers accessing the Liquid Telecom infrastructure and Microsoft cloud will now come as part of a membership costing between Ksh 2,000 to Ksh15, 000 a month for fully enabled working space.

“At Nairobi Garage, we believe in providing more than just workspace to our members. We want to provide our society with very best tools to allow them to innovate and thrive”, she said.

Clifford reiterated that partnership with Liquid Telecom was an exciting development for their new hub space, saying they are looking forward to welcome old and new members to their premises.

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Tech News

Huawei moves to cement global presence

ICT solutions provider signs deals with Redington and VST ECS to expand and deepen their cooperation with Huawei in the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, and other regions

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Huawei have signed Global Distributor Strategic Cooperation Agreements with Redington and VST ECS  to expand and deepen their cooperation in the Middle East, Africa, Asia Pacific, and other regions.

These agreements signify that the ICT solutions provider will increase its enterprise business’s presence in the global market, accelerate the speed to cover more partners and customers, work with mainstream distributors, and further enhance its influence on partners and customers across the globe.

ALSO SEE: Huawei, Microsoft sign cloud service deal

As the largest distributor in South Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, Redington covers 24 countries, works with over 51,000 partners, and will start strategic cooperation in India, the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia.

As a leading ICT distributor and service provider in Asia Pacific, VST ECS has more than 40,000 active Asia Pacific partners and is global leading ICT vendors’ crucial partner in Asia Pacific. Based on VST ECS’s comprehensive sales networks in Asia-Pacific and Huawei’s competitive solutions in cloud computing, storage, and agile networks and other domains, Huawei and VST ECS will collaborate in regional alignment, training technology teams and joint marketing, among others.

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Tech News

Samsung’s new J7 Neo to retail at Sh21,999

New smartphone is a power-efficient device that provides freedom and mobility for longer use, thanks to a 3000mAh battery

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Samsung Electronics East Africa has introduced the Galaxy J7 Neo smartphone in the market, offering consumers an affordable avenue to experience the 4G LTE network internet speeds. The device will retail at Ksh21,999 and seeks to dominate the mid-tier smartphone category.

Vice President and Managing Director of Samsung Electronics East Africa, Mr Jung Hyun Park said: “We understand the dynamics of the emerging and developing markets, where we have to create a balance between the entry level, mid-level and flagship models.”

“Mobile data subscription is growing at a fast pace especially among the millennials. Fast and reliable data will therefore be a key consideration when this demographic makes their next smartphone purchase. Samsung is therefore gearing itself to provide quality and affordable 4G-enabled devices. If you look at the J7 Neo, it comes with 4G support. Consumer experience is also a key consideration especially when browsing on the internet.”

With its 5.5″ display and crisp HD resolution (1,280 x 720 HD), the Galaxy J7 Neo brings out every last detail and offers an incredible viewing experience. It has a modern look thanks to the unified colour scheme in which the sides, the home button, the trim around the camera and receiver all match the body. If you look at the back, you’ll see a nonslip pattern that provides a firm grip for your comfort and convenience.

ALSO SEE: Apple’s new iPhone X touted as the future of smartphones

With the J7 Neo, performance has reached a whole new level thanks to the Octa-core 1.6 GHz processor with 2 GB of RAM. The result is a faster phone that uses less battery power and supports seamless multitasking. The Galaxy J7 Neo makes it easy to take gorgeous, bright photos under all sorts of conditions. The 13 MP rear camera produces crystal-clear photos even in low light conditions. In addition to the 5MP front camera, the device allows users to take brighter selfies with the front LED flash and the selfie flash that light up and keep the face bright even when lighting conditions are poor.

The Galaxy J7 Neo is a power-efficient device that provides freedom and mobility for longer use, thanks to a 3000mAh battery.

The Galaxy J7 Neo is available countrywide at the Samsung brand stores and authorised dealers.

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Business News

A free taxi app for drivers launched in Kenya

Riders get discounts of up to 50% by sharing rides, putting ShareCAB into new space for competitive pricing, from base fares that are pegged at industry norms

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ShareCAB is available on Google play store, and allows riders to choose either to share a ride to get large discounts, or to ride solo for personal comfort

A Kenyan company has launched the country’s one of most affordable taxi App.  Virscom’s ShareCAB charges drivers zero per cent commission – meaning drivers earn more, but riders don’t pay more – and provides an additional cab sharing facility that saves riders up to 50% of fares, part of an array of new money saving and security features.

“ShareCAB is a state-of-the-art app, offering every facility in Kenya for app-based taxis, plus new models on ride sharing, zero commission so that drivers earn far more per ride, and a green motivation in reducing rides through sharing,” said Virscom Founder and CEO Mwakio Ngale.

The launch comes at a time when taxi drivers have expressed increasing discontent by the very large commissions taken out of their fares by other taxi Apps.

“No taxi App can deliver the breadth of drivers for any rider who books a call, if the drivers themselves are losing money or earning too little to respond to bookings. For a taxi App to serve riders with prompt pick-ups and motivated drivers, drivers themselves need to be properly rewarded, and riders need to enjoy competitive fares,” said Mwakio.

With ShareCAB, drivers pay zero per cent in commission, and also earn more as riders share, gaining up to 38% on combining passengers on the same route, even as the passengers themselves travel for less. Instead of taking commissions, the App takes a flat rate membership fee of Sh2,000 a month from drivers, who typically earn from Sh40,000 and upwards, making for a fee equivalent to 5%, and often far lower.

Riders get discounts of up to 50% by sharing rides, putting ShareCAB into new space for competitive pricing, from base fares that are pegged at industry norms.

“My motivation was to create a platform where costs can be drastically reduced for customers and increased for drivers, in a combination that was smart, and also improved on our carbon footprint. At the end of the day, every shared ride will make a better environment for our kids,” said Mwakio.

ShareCAB, which was built by a team of Kenyan developers, also offers new features offered by none of the existing international apps, including an SOS button, that instantly calls police and loved ones if riders see or experience anything untoward during a ride.

“Watching how other taxi Apps were evolving, we were struck by the need to add extra security to our own App, over and beyond the map tracking and driver vetting, as a facility that could get instant help in the case of any issue at all,” said Mwakio.

ShareCAB is available on Google play store, and allows riders to choose either to share a ride to get large discounts, or to ride solo for personal comfort.

“If you choose to share, the in-App features gives the first customer the privilege to select who to share the ride with after a quick view of the customer’s profile during the shared ride request. The selections take seconds and saves up to half a fare while leaving speed unimpaired,” said Mwakio.

Related: KCB, taxi service deal drives up cashless transport

In order to guarantee near zero security issues for both riders and customers, ShareCAB has put in place a very stringent vetting program that ensures they have the right type of drivers operating on the platform.

“We collect the drivers’ copies of Certificate of Good Conduct, KRA certificate, national ID and passport size photographs. We have also partnered with an agency that assists us with the drivers’ background checks,” said Mwakio.

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