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Voice of digital consumer growing louder

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The voice of the digital consumer is growing by the day and service providers need to respond by aligning digital capabilities with operations, technology and strategy, writes WAYNE HULL of Accenture Digital.

The collective voice of today’s dynamic digital consumers is growing louder, compelling goods and services providers to respond with enhanced organisational agility across their entire businesses. This means connecting the dots throughout the business by aligning digital capabilities with operations, technology and strategy.

In South Africa and globally, digital disruption is reinventing consumer expectations. This is driven by factors such as “always on” connectivity, pervasive social media, the rapid rise of voice recognition and artificial intelligence, and increasingly interactive user experiences across the entire customer lifecycle as well as across all channels.

Consumers expect their experience to adapt whenever they engage physically, digitally and emotionally. Today, advanced computing techniques can harness expanding volumes of personal data – search, social, geo-tagged sensors, payments, shopping carts, speech – to create the magic behind new hyper-personalised experiences.

A 2017 Accenture Digital Consumer Survey of 26,000 consumers in 26 countries, including South Africa, revealed four key findings about today’s digital consumers.

Artificial intelligence

Firstly, artificial intelligence is playing a central role in consumers’ lives. Consumers habitually use AI-driven features such as digital voice assistants. An overwhelming 84% of the 14- to 17-year olds surveyed currently use or are interested in using the voice-enabled digital assistant in their smartphone and about one-third of consumers in every age group are interested in these features.

In addition, consumers are increasingly comfortable interacting with AI-enabled capabilities, with 52% of all consumers interacting with their service providers through live chats or mobile messaging apps on a monthly basis and 85% of those saying it feels like it is easier to get in touch through these methods. Three out of five South African respondents interact with their service providers in these ways, with 89% of these saying they are a better way of getting in touch.

Engaging experiences

Secondly, engaging experiences are spurring the demand for smartphones. After dropping to a five-year low of 48% globally in 2016, consumer purchase intent rebounded by 6% globally in this year’s survey. In South Africa, there is an even more dramatic increase in consumer purchase intent from 52% in 2016 to 63% in 2017. A combination of factors could be contributing to this, but new experiences enabled by augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) are central.

New features and improved functionality are key drivers for smartphone purchases, globally and in South Africa. In fact, “accessing the newest and most innovative features” rose by 10% globally and 8% in South Africa as a primary reason as to why consumers are planning to purchase a new smartphone next year.

Consistent with their interest in hyper-personalisation, consumers have shown strong enthusiasm for AR and VR-enabled games for smartphones.  They are also interested in a range of AR/VR applications beyond gaming.

Globally, these include learning new skills (34%), meeting virtually with remote friends/family (29%), getting localised information about places they are visiting (28%) and viewing 3D manuals 28%. The results differ somewhat for South African respondents, who are interested learning new skills (55%), visualising clothes (40%), viewing 3D manuals (39%) and getting localised information about places they are visiting (38%).

New access models

Thirdly, a potentially dramatic shift in how people are buying and accessing devices and services is imminent. Consumers have strong interest – globally 77% and in South Africa 83% – in new device acquisition models, such as leasing/renting and used phone purchasing. More than three-quarters of global consumers who plan to purchase a smartphone are open to other ways of accessing a new phone.

eSIM2 may also affect purchase cycles and carriers’ relations with consumers as the chip allows device owners to compare networks and select services at will, directly from the device.

Managing data

Fourthly, consumers want to be more engaged in managing their data. Despite successful efforts to increase data security, consumer confidence in the security of their personal data is eroding. When it comes to personalised services, top consumer concerns include the security of financial data (90% globally and 93% in South Africa) and identity theft.

Accenture’s survey shows that 87% of consumers globally and 94% of South African respondents believe it is important to be able to review and control their personal data online, but three quarters of these do not find it easy to manage their data. Consumers also indicate they are not sure about who to trust as service providers as those considered most trusted in the past have declined in consumer confidence. Trust in device manufacturers has however grown.

It is now critical for companies to find ways to maintain trust as consumers sort out who to trust and how to operate in a digital world that is increasingly dependent on their sharing of personal data.

Capturing dynamic digital consumers

As AI takes centre stage as a key enabler, hyper-personalised services that deliver on today’s dynamic digital consumers’ expectations will need to constantly adapt and evolve.

As consumers rapidly adapt to these heightened experiences, their intrigue with AR/VR-enabled functionality may pull device demand along – at least in the short term – although this may not always emerge in the form of brand new devices.

In addition, as new access models evolve, doors will open to new types of interaction with consumers and new ways of nurturing the customer relationship.

Amidst all this hyper-personalisation effort, transparency is critical. Personalisation is only relevant if it accurately assesses and meets customer needs and this is dependent on understanding the personal data shared by consumers. Transparency in how customer data is collected, used and shared will be mandatory to gaining consumer confidence, as will empowering them to maintain control of their own data.

* Wayne Hull, Managing Director and Head of Accenture Digital for South and Sub-Saharan Africa

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Load-shedding leads
local searches

South Africans are searching in the dark, according to the latest Google Search trends.

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With more 1 million search queries generated in the space of 76 hours, load-shedding was by far the top trending search on Google South Africa this week.

Valentine’s Day came a distant second.

After news emerged last Sunday of the impending stage 3 load shedding, South Africans had generated more than 1-million load-shedding search queries by the time Tuesday came around:

  • “Loadshedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Eskom load shedding” – generated more than 100k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding Cape Town” – generated more than 50k searches on Sunday
  • “Load shedding schedule” – generated more than 400k on Monday
  • “Load shedding Johannesburg” – generated more than 20k searches on Monday
  • Load shedding schedule” generated more than 200k search queries on Tuesday

Leading up to Valentine’s Day, South Africans generated close to 300k search queries related to the romantic festival, including searches for quotes and gift ideas:

  • “Valentines Day” generated more than 100k search queries on Thursday
  • “Happy Valentines Day Images” and “Valentines Day Images” generated more than 10k search queries each on Thursday, with “Happy Valentines Day 2019” generating more than 20k search queries on Wednesday
  • “Valentines Day Specials 2019” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Love quotes” generated more than 5k search queries on Thursday
  • “Valentines Day quotes” generated more than 100k search queries and “Valentine messages” generated more than 50 000 search queries on Wednesday

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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Showmax invites
student films

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Thanks to the growing popularity of video-on-demand services, there’s a new opportunity to help kickstart the careers of local filmmakers.

Numerous Hollywood blockbusters (District 9Tomb Raider 2018, and The Avengers: Age of Ultron to name a few) have featured substantial shoots in Johannesburg and Cape Town. While providing great opportunities for SA’s production talent, aspiring writers and directors don’t get the same benefit.

So where can local creatives showcase their work? Broadcast TV isn’t a natural home for unknown short films, and while self-publishing platforms are readily available hosting options, it’s tough to get noticed and get traffic when competing with videos from across the planet.

But with the emergence of video-on-demand services into the mainstream, there’s now a solution. The African film school AFDA has teamed up with the streaming service Showmax to give local talent a much larger platform than ever before. From 18 February, eighteen of the best recent short films made by AFDA students from their Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban and Port Elizabeth campuses will be live on Showmax. Drama, documentary, fantasy, and animation are all represented, in pieces running from under eight minutes to almost half-an-hour long. The full list of movies is included below.

Teresa Passchier, CEO of AFDA, said: “AFDA, Africa’s number-one school for the Creative Economy, is proud to kickstart this exciting and meaningful journey with Showmax and AFDA students, ensuring emerging young African filmmakers’ voices are heard and given a platform. It’s ground-breaking to share young, local, culturally relevant content on the same platform as Hollywood blockbusters. I am certain that this unique initiative will serve to boost and develop the African film industry and the careers of many young South African and African students alike.”

Included in the short films coming to Showmax are the award winners Junior and O-PunchaJunior, directed by Bert Dijkstra, picked up the Audience Award in the Made in South Africa Competition at the shnit Worldwide Shortfilmfestival Awards 2017. O-Puncha, directed by Adam Hansen, won two awards at the 5th annual Eldorado Film Festival: Best Student Made Short, and Best Editing – Alexander La Cock.

Another celebrated film is Sicela Amanzi directed by Mlu Godola, which talks to the subject of water shortage. The film’s heroine Zoleka is a mild-mannered young woman forced to go to extreme lengths when a small community’s only source of water unexpectedly collapses. The power of films like this is they shine a light on critical topical issues in new ways.

Speaking about working with the film school, Candice Fangueiro, Head of Content for Showmax, said: “There’s immense depth of filmmaking talent in Africa and it’s a privilege to be able to give that talent a home and a platform. Showmax is becoming part of the fabric of film and TV production in Africa, and importantly we’re doing this as a partner rather than just as a consumer. This is a key competitive advantage of being local and something we aim to continue to work on.”

AFDA is an Academy Award-winning institution, founded in 1994, and the first and only African film school to win an Oscar – for the Best Foreign Student film in 2006, the postgraduate film Elalini, directed by Tristan Holmes.

The full list of AFDA short films coming to Showmax is as follows:

Film titleDirectorGenre
Lullaby from the CryptKeenan Lott & Raven DavidsAnimation
Ko Ga CherenyaneSibonokuhle MyatazaDocumentary
IzilwaneKyllian RouxDrama
MallemeuleJaco Van BoschDrama
Canal StreetBrodie MuirheadDrama
On the FenceWarrick BewsDrama
The Righteous FewLindo LangaDrama
Hlogoma PeakLuke AhrensDrama
Frozen FlameCameron HeathmanAnimation
WolfBrett van DortFantasy
The Walk HomeSisanda DyantyiDrama
BearWesley RoodtDrama
JuniorBert DijkstraDrama
O-PunchaAdam HansenDrama
UmngenoSiphosethu NdungeDrama
DoreenLuvuyo Equiano NyawoseDrama
ForeverLindo LangaMusical
Sicela AmanziMlu GodolaDrama

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