This year is set to be a revolutionary year for the growth of wireless charging deployment as wireless charging stations become available in more public places as well as in cars and secondary battery packs.
In 1891, renowned inventor and futurist Nikola Tesla became the first person to introduce inductive charging when he successfully demonstrated the wireless transfer of energy. However, it took over a century for this technology to find its way into mainstream consumer use.
“Over the past few years, wireless charging has emerged in the consumer electronics market space, mainly in the form of smartphones and smartphone accessories,” explains Craige Fleischer, Director of Integrated Mobility at Samsung Electronics South Africa. “This technology is now being integrated into a variety of technological devices, appliances, public spaces and even vehicles, as companies look to make power cords obsolete and turn the world into the Tesla-envisioned reality,”
Until now, commercial products have mainly used the “magnetic-inductive” method of charging which involves connecting a device to a physical dock. If you have ever used an electric toothbrush or shaver, then you are probably familiar with this type of inductive charging.
Consumer Benefits and Industry Solutions
A simple wireless charging solution eliminates the need to carry several different chargers for multiple devices. The goal has been to provide consumers with the ability to utilise one wireless charging dock that is compatible with all the devices they already own, as well as all the devices they may buy in the near future.
Fleischer continues, “The industry has been collaborating to establish a series of organisations to standardise wireless charging technologies. Currently there are three such organisations, namely: the Wireless Power Consortium (WPC), the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) and the Alliance for Wireless Power (A4WP). Samsung is a member of all of these three groups.”
In January of this year, the PMA and A4WP announced that they would join forces to offer even better wireless charging features for a variety of devices. This means that soon, restaurants, airports, public spaces, vehicles and living spaces of all description will finally unburden consumers of having to remember to carry multiple power cords everywhere. Soon the anxiety of running out of battery power and the hassle of all the charging cables taking up unnecessary space in their bags could be obsolete.
Samsung’s Commitment to a Wireless Future
“In late 2000, Samsung created a task team to exclusively focus on wireless charging and began extensive research and development. Our goal was to develop a technology that was easy to use and convenient for consumers, in order to promote and drive the widespread adoption of wireless technology standards. Several obstacles had to be overcome for wireless charging technology to succeed in the market, most notably the size and price of some of the most crucial components,” Fleischer adds.
“This hard work came to fruition in 2011, when we introduced our first commercial wireless charging pad for Droid Charge (SCH-i510) in the US. Since then, Samsung has provided wireless charging covers and pads as a core accessory alongside many of its flagship smartphones, such as the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 in 2013 and the Galaxy S5 and Galaxy Note 4 in 2014.”
A key factor to make wireless charging technology more widely available has been making the production costs more manageable by strategically partnering with the right raw material suppliers and component companies.
Samsung also developed innovative ways to merge and combine components more efficiently, this allowed the technology to generate more power and take up less space. In the early stages of inductive charging, the Galaxy S4 charging pads were comprised of about 80 separate elements. For the Galaxy S5, developers were able to reduce the number drastically, to a much more manageable 50 elements and efforts are being made to decrease this number even further. The company’s unique ability to combine parts that are capable of handling more than one function, has allowed commercialisation to finally become a reality.
Wireless charging has also come a long way in terms of charging speed. Two or three years ago, it was only twenty to thirty percent as efficient as wired charging. But since then, the speed has been doubled.
2015 – A Landmark Year for Smartphone Wireless Charging
Last year, parts that support multiple standards on a single chip were released. Given that it usually takes around 6 to 12 months to integrate new components and put them on the market, it is expected that several of these products will be available to consumers this year.
This comes as the ecosystem for wireless charging continues to rapidly grow and mature. In addition to IT companies, leading brands from a wide range of industries, such as consumer electronics, semi-conductors, mobile services, automotive, furniture, software and others have joined the effort and are working closely together.
Samsung has led the way with wireless charging, showcasing the latest technology with its flagship smartphones, the Galaxy S6 and S6 edge. “It is expected that 2015 will be a landmark year for the growth of wireless charging deployment, as wireless charging stations will begin to appear in more and more public places as well as in cars and secondary battery packs. Samsung will accelerate its efforts to make wireless charging technology widely available. With the Galaxy S6 smartphones, users will be able to enter a new wireless world like never before,” concludes Fleischer.
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.