A recent Cisco report has revealed that the worldwide shift from feature phones to smartphones, a revival in laptops with tablet-like capabilities, as well as expanding machine-to-machine applications are key factors supporting the increasing smart traffic trend.
According to the latest annual update of the Cisco Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast for 2014 to 2019, the ongoing adoption of more powerful mobile devices and machine-to-machine (M2M) connections combined with broader access to faster cellular networks are key contributors to significant mobile traffic growth. In 2014, 82% of South African mobile data traffic was “smart” traffic, with advanced computing/multi-media capabilities and a minimum of 3G connectivity, but that figure is expected to rise to 98% by 2019.
The worldwide shift from basic-feature phones to smartphones – combined with the continued growth in tablets, a resurgence in laptops with tablet-like capabilities, as well as expanding machine-to-machine (M2M) applications – are key factors supporting the increasing smart traffic trend.
“The remarkable uptake and adoption of mobile devices will be a key contributor to the country’s transformation, impacting industries like education, healthcare and government services therefore reaching all aspects of the society. The ongoing adoption of more powerful mobile devices and wider deployments of emerging M2M applications, combined with broader access to faster wireless networks is not limited to South Africa but across Africa as a whole. The findings of Cisco’s Mobile VNI 2015 comes as no surprise given the phenomenal growth of mobile traffic. This mobile-friendly environment will give service providers in South Africa a new landscape of challenges and opportunities to innovatively deliver a variety of mobile services and experiences to consumers and business users as the Internet of Everything (IoE) continues to take shape,” says Vernon Thaver, Chief Technology Officer, Cisco Systems South Africa
Key Highlights from South Africa
In South Africa, mobile data traffic is expected to grow 11-fold from 2014 to 2019, a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 63% – two times faster than expected fixed IP traffic growth. This will be driven by the projected 48.2 million mobile users (88% of the population) by 2019, up from 43.4 million in 2014.
· Data explosion: South African mobile data traffic will grow 2 times faster than fixed IP traffic from 2014 to 2019, and will account for 32% of South African fixed and mobile data traffic by 2019, up from 13% in 2014.
· Smarter connections: In South Africa, 62% of mobile connections will be ‘smart’ connections by 2019, up from 21% in 2014.
· Smarter traffic: In South Africa, 98% of mobile data traffic will be ‘smart’ traffic by 2019, up from 82% in 2014.
· More traffic: Mobile traffic per South African user will reach 7,217 megabytes per month by 2019, up from 710 megabytes per month in 2014, a CAGR of 57%.
Key Mobile Data Traffic Drivers in South Africa
From 2014 to 2019, Cisco anticipates that South African mobile traffic will grow at 63% CAGR. Trends driving mobile data traffic growth include:
· More mobile users: By 2019, there will be 48.2 Million mobile users (up from 43.4 Million in 2014), a CAGR of 2.1%. The number of mobile-connected devices will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 6% from 2014 to 2019. In 2014 there were 43.4 Million mobile users, nearly 82% of South Africa’s population, up 5% from 41.2 Million in 2013.
· More mobile connections: By 2019, there will be approximately 112 million mobile-connected devices. In 2014, 6.9 million smartphones were added to the mobile network and there were 84 million mobile-connected devices in 2014.
· Faster mobile speeds: The average mobile connection speed will grow 2.1-fold (16% CAGR) from 2014 to 2019, reaching 3,639 kbps by 2019.
· More mobile video: By 2019, mobile video will represent 71% of South African mobile data traffic (compared to 51% at the end of 2014).
Impact of Mobile M2M Connections (and Wearable Devices) in South Africa
M2M refers to applications that enable wireless systems to communicate with similar devices to support global positioning satellite (GPS) navigation systems, asset tracking, utility meters, security and surveillance video. Wearable devices are included as a sub-segment of the M2M connections category to help project the growth trajectory of the Internet of Everything (IoE).
· In South Africa the number of wearable devices will reach 2.4 million in number by 2019, up from 0.6 million in 2014, at 30% CAGR.
· In South Africa, traffic from wearable devices is expected to fuel 20-fold growth in mobile traffic from wearable devices between 2014 and 2019.
· In South Africa the average wearable device will generate 391 megabytes of mobile data traffic per month by 2019, up from 73 megabytes per month in 2014.
Growth of Mobile Cloud Traffic in South Africa
Cloud applications and services such as Netflix, YouTube, Pandora, and Spotify allow mobile users to overcome the memory capacity and processing power limitations of mobile devices.
· In South Africa, mobile cloud traffic will grow 12.7-fold from 2014 to 2019 at 66% CAGR.
· Cloud applications will account for 89% of total mobile data traffic by 2019, compared to 80% at the end of 2014.
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Smart grids needed for Africa’s utilities
Power utilities across Africa should rethink their business models and how they manage and monetise their assets to keep pace with the changing energy ecosystem, says COLIN BEANEY, Global Industry Director for Asset-intensive and Energy and Utilities at IFS.
Africa’s abundant natural resources and urgent need for power mean that it is one of the most exciting and innovative energy markets in a world that is moving rapidly towards clean, renewable energy sources. The continent’s energy industry is taking new approaches to providing unserved and underserved communities with access to power, with an emphasis on smart technologies and greener energy sources.
Power systems are evolving from centralised, top-down systems as interest in off-grid technology grows among African businesses and consumers. And according to PwC, we will see installed power capacity rise from 2012’s 90GW to 380GW in 2040 in sub-Saharan Africa. Power utilities are needing to rethink their business models and how they manage and monetise their assets to keep pace with the changing energy ecosystem.
Energy and utilities providers are transforming from centralised supply companies to more distributed, bi-directional service providers. They can only achieve this through the evolution of “smart grids” where sensors and smart meters will be able to provide the consumer with a more granular level of detail of power usage. This shift from an energy supplier to “lifestyle provider” will require a much more dynamic and optimised approach to maintenance and field service.
African companies must thus embrace digital transformation as an imperative. This transformation begins by embracing enterprise asset management to improve asset utilisation. The subsequent steps are enhancing upstream and downstream supply chain management; resource optimisation; introducing enterprise operational intelligence; embracing new technologies such as the Internet of Things, machine learning, and predictive maintenance; and becoming a smart utility.
Embracing mobility to drive ROI
Getting it right is about putting in place an enterprise backbone that accommodates asset and project management, multinational languages and currencies, new energies and markets, visualisation of the entire value chain, and mobility apps. Mobile technologies that support the field workforce have a vital role to play in driving better ROI from utilities’ investments in enterprise asset management and enterprise resource planning solutions.
Today’s leading enterprise asset management solutions feature powerful functionality for mobile management of the complete workflow of work orders – from logging status changes and updates, from receiving and creating new orders to concluding the job and reporting time, material and expenses. Such solutions are easy to deploy and intuitive for end users to learn and use.
Importantly for organisations operating in parts of the continent with poor telecoms infrastructure, connectivity is not an issue. The solutions work offline and synchronises when network connectivity is available. Users can work on any device—laptops, tablets, and smartphones—commercial or ruggedised.
By ensuring that field technicians have easy access to information and processes, the mobile solution enables technicians and maintenance engineers to easily do the following tasks:
· Create a new work order on the fly and log new opportunities
· Access both historical and planned work information when requested
· Permit customers to sign when the job is completed
· Capture measurements and inspection notes on route work orders
· Create new fault reports on routing
· Facilitate documentation through photo capturing
· Provide easy access to technical data and preventive actions.
The power of mobility allows the engineer to be the origin of all data capture on a service event. They can easily inquire on asset history, record parts used or parts needed for repair, record labour hours, and expenses as they occur, and any notes of repairs performed. When coupled with workforce management tools, such solutions unlock significant productivity gains for utilities who are trying to get the most from their workforce and assets.
Brands fall for app vanity
The experience of a mobile screen full of icons, representing independent apps that your need to open to experience them, is making less sense. Instead, businesses should serve customers with an ‘app-like’ experience inside the digital platform they already use, says PIETER DE VILLIERS, Group CEO at Clickatell.
Many brands remain obsessed with creating mobile apps. This not only defies trends that point to increasing consumer app apathy, but can exclude a sizeable portion of your customers in emerging economies. Companies need to engage with their users where they are rather than forcing them onto an app, in what can only be described as brand vanity.
In 2017 there were around 2.2 million apps available in the iOS app store and over 3 million on Google Play. And, while the number of apps being downloaded continues to rise, analysis shows that consumers are only using 30 apps per month and accessing just 9 on a day-to-day basis.
While these numbers still seem attractively high, in reality the majority of the apps we use are for messaging (like Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and WeChat) and our social networking, gaming, leisure, dating or utility activities.
Despite the facts, the application strategy as the holy grail for digital transformation is still being pushed even within large progressive brands. What’s more, some advertising agencies and digital consultants are still pushing apps as the best means for companies to connect with their customers. This has resulted in some organisations stubbornly doubling down on app strategies which are simply not showing return on investment (ROI).
It’s not immediately clear to us whether the fascination with apps is a roll-over from long overdue projects or whether brand owners equate a mobile-first strategy with a mobile app. Mobile-first in 2018 means customer first, and therefore embracing chat commerce in order to deliver services with convenience and simplicity in mind.
Why apps won’t win the internet
The problem with apps goes beyond user fatigue. In the first instance, many apps are poorly designed, assuming technical sophistication which may not match reality for the average customer. Poor user interfaces and attempts to provide complex engagement can result in even the best ideas missing their targets due to lack of engagement.
Secondly, we all know that economic realities drive consumer behaviour. In Africa, new mobile phone users typically opt for feature phones over smartphones. With a longer battery life and a much more accessible price point, feature phones still allow for a basic internet connection, chat platforms like WhatsApp, and call and message functionality. In these regions, the cost of an app – even if it’s free – goes far beyond installing it. Constant updates require reliable and cheap access to the internet. For the average phone owner in an emerging market, this can be a serious challenge.
Thirdly, and most importantly, apps must be relevant to their intended market. Frequency of usage is a key measure of relevance.
Apps which are used on a daily basis, like health and fitness trackers, enjoy constant engagement. New features which are added are eagerly awaited by users who are happy to update their apps.
However, users may well question the relevance of the app if they are required to conduct updates on a monthly or even weekly basis when they are only making use of the app once or twice a year.
On average, I download one app per quarter. Some I use more frequently than others, but all of these apps need to be regularly updated to maintain security, update features, and fix bugs. Many apps are pushing out updates much more frequently. I noticed over the past year that I could go from having all apps updated, to 32 apps requiring an update in five days.
When it comes to a customer-first digital strategy, companies should be asking themselves if an app is really the best way to reach their target audience.
In fact, at the end of 2016, Gartner predicted that by 2019, 20 percent of brands would ditch their mobile app. What’s more, in its 2018 predictions, the company forecast that by 2021, more than 50 percent of corporations would spend more per annum on bots and chatbots than on mobile app development.
So, we need to ask, what is the alternative for CIOs, CDOs, CMOs, and digital leaders who are looking for ways to reach, retain and grow their customer base?
The logical app alternative
The old battle advice goes: fight your enemy where they are not. Military strategists agreed that having your enemy come to you and fight you on your own terms was preferable. In a world where customers have access to thousands of offerings and millions of deals online, we need to flip that idea to Meet Your Customers Where They Are.
Any marketeer will tell you just a how difficult it is to drive app downloads. Development, cross platform testing and user interface aside, the marketing campaign required to get customers to download the app can swallow entire annual budgets and still come up short.
Looking at the facts, it makes infinitely more sense to work within the digital platforms already being used by your target audience.
Clickatell is already enabling chat commerce for some of the leading global brands with its Touch solution. This allows organisations to serve their customers with an ‘app-like’ experience inside the chat or browser platform of their customer’s choice (Twitter, Facebook Messenger, etc.)
Brands can now send an actionable Touch link such as ‘find the nearest ATM’ or ‘reset my password’ within a chat stream that will open an intuitive touch card without the user having to download an app to perform the action. Services can also be linked to the in-app experience for brands not looking to abandon their app efforts.
Working with our clients, many of whom are global innovators and thought leaders, we’ve found that having the courage to design with an ‘end user first’ approach and dealing with the back-end complexity behind the scenes results in cost efficient customer delight and ROI.