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Africa’s social business solution

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International enterprises are using Social Business Software (SBS) for the high-impact engagement of corporate audiences, allowing them to unlock huge value when doing so. However, there is a sharp contrast between the rest of the world and South Africa where SBS is still in its infancy.

There is a sharp contrast between South Africa and the rest of Africa, compared to our international counterparts, when it comes to Social Business Software (SBS).

Locally, SBS is in its infancy. However, a small but growing number of influential implementations are pointing the way for other enterprises interested in SBS.

A recent visit to the US lifted the lid on a maturing market for social business software (SBS). Enterprises across industries are using this class of software for high-impact engagement of various corporate audiences, unlocking huge value in doing so. Says Gysbert Kappers, CEO of Wyzetalk: “Whether they’re sourcing ideas, gathering market intelligence or managing company content, communication and collaboration, the upshot is very often, as it promises, increased productivity, efficiency and innovation.

High-profile deployments by industry leaders like General Electric and T-Mobile are grabbing headlines, and exotic job postings for “community managers” and “collaboration officers” are becoming commonplace.

Worlds apart

But the visit also highlighted a sharp contrast with South Africa and Africa, where SBS is in its infancy. “Here, a small but growing number of influential local implementations (including Discovery, the Protea Group and Deli Spices) are pointing the way ahead for other enterprises interested in SBS,” says Kappers. “Despite the huge backlog, deployments show that local players that understand South Africa’s unique IT and communications environment have a definite edge over global players.

Lessons from emerging leaders

Mobile first

Local vendors tend to have a mobile perspective on software development that many first-world players do not. Developing for mobile first is something of a game changer in Europe, Asia Pacific and the US, whereas it is a fact of life for any African IT player whose wares depend on consumer or mass staff consumption. “Mobile introduces new vistas of complexity that Western vendors will find hard to catch up to, as they need to consider a fragmented new universe of devices and operating platforms, sometimes requiring very creative delivery channels. For example, a large installed base of BlackBerry’s is forcing vendors to cater extensively to this platform,” adds Kappers.

An equally influential group is the large base of older devices (iOS, BlackBerry and Android) that is forcing vendors to maintain support for multiple versions of these popular platforms, retiring their support only with the greatest of circumspection.

As if that wasn’t complicated enough, the enormous number of ‚Äòdumb’ feature phones among the rank and file in enterprise Africa imposes its own dictates. For this reason, many customers require hosted SBS platforms to broadcast company communications or engage staff in rudimentary two-way communication,” continues Kappers.

All audiences

The above leads one to another benefit of SBS solutions with mobile support: they go some way towards offering a ‚Äòfull engagement model’ (one that seamlessly reaches all audiences on all platforms). Another piece of the full engagement puzzle lies in reaching not just internal (staff) audiences, but also external (customers) and social audiences.

Says Kappers: “The winning SBS platforms of 2014 will bring staff, business partners, customers and consumers together on one platform that leaves them switched on and permanently engaged. In this, leading global and local players have equal opportunity to win over African markets. But local players have the edge.

Affordability

The affordability of local software further tends to win local customers over – local solutions usually have lower per-head price points and favour high- and low-end devices.

Local response

Local vendors also lead the race with bespoke solutions and enthusiastic support.

Local realities

“As with many new global directions, marketing SBS in Africa presents an intractable problem to global players, unless they are prepared to tailor their offerings to local realities,” says Kappers.

In addition to developing a strong core enterprise and consumer platform Wyzetalk has invested heavily in product development this year and has successfully implemented an extension product that caters to the mass and connected workforce. Designed and developed for SA’s macro-employment industries that employ migrant, temporary and seasonal workers, Wyzetalk’s new offerings cater for feature phones, bi-directional communication and surveys amongst other rich functionality. It’s also backed by aggregated analytics that push insight in almost real-time to the company’s enterprise social business platform. With issues like mass action, absenteeism and health issues hampering SA’s growth potential and of course the upcoming election campaign there has never been a better time to connect with everyone in the organisation.

2013 has been a strong year for Wyzetalk, we have a solid team, have learnt invaluable lessons thanks to a strong customer base and remained true to our core belief in open innovation. 2014 will see us drive stronger growth as we mainstream social business software within SA’s dynamic technology industry and lead the race in driving Africa to innovate and succeed,” concludes Kappers.

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