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Customers enter new relevance era

A new study by Accenture shows that, heading into the third decade of the 21st century, consumers want more from a brand than mere relevance, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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Before Netflix, there was Blockbuster, the world’s best-know video store. Before YouTube, people looked for life hacks (then called life lessons) in Reader’s Digest. And before the digital camera became the most used feature on your smartphone, there was Kodak. 

These are all organisations that went into bankruptcy despite once owning their respective worlds. And we’re not even talking about the last few years, in which the frenzied pace of disruption has threatened thousands more businesses.

The bottom line is this: It doesn’t matter how big a company is today; if it doesn’t meet the needs of its customers, it may not exist a few years down the line. And those needs go beyond merely the features or direct benefits offered by a product.

A new study by Accenture shows that consumers want more than relevance.

“Nearly three quarters of consumer switching is driven by a lack of relevance, putting R438-billion of potential annual revenue in jeopardy,” Accenture reports. “In the era of relevance, brands can regain the high ground by expanding their marketing frameworks and re-aligning their activities to a new set of principles— beyond their comfort zones.”

At the launch of the study in Johannesburg last week, Wayne Hill, head of Accenture Digital, summed up the meaning of hyper-relevance from his own encounters with brands: “Nespresso knows who I am and it knows what I like. From an experience point of view, I walk into shop and I can smell the coffee. On the shelves, the merchandise looks like beauty products. When they package it, it’s like buying Louis Vuitton. 

“Recently I received a box of from Nespresso that included a brand linked to my place of birth. That is hyper-relevance.”

Hull gave examples like Woolworths using algorithms to predict consumer consumption, Discovery converting health insurance into wellness and health care, First National Bank creating a digital banking platform, and Cape Town drone analytics start-up Aerobotics “hyper-personalising crops”. 

“Aerobotics don’t want to know what crop is doing. They want to know what each stem is doing, and from analysis of the stem they can predict per stem what the product will look like.”

Not surprisingly, new technology is at the heart of hyper-personalisation. 

(Click here or below to read on about hyper-personalisation) More about hyper-personalisation)

“New technology is not an IT activity,” said Hull. “It has to be embedded in the customer experience.”

Michael Jordaan, founder of the wireless Internet service provider Rain and the new bank due to be launched soon, Zero, spoke at the event about the lessons he had learned while CEO of FNB.

“One of our best ad campaigns was when I said we’ll give customers an iPad at a lower price than anyone else. We didn’t want to make money from it, we just wanted people to bank on it. We sold one every 30 seconds. That changed the electronics market.”

The Accenture study, titled Welcome to the Hyper-Relevance Era, emphasises the need for executives to develop a deeper understanding of what differentiates each era. It divides the old and the new approach between the loyalty era and the relevance era. There are five key differences, according to the report:

  • The objective of the loyalty era was to create incentives for customers to become loyal members and keep making purchases. The objective of the relevance era  is to create a gravitational field that attracts customers into orbit around the brand by serving their every relevant need in every possible moment across every possible channel.
  • In the loyalty era, customers were dissuaded from re-evaluating
    their options. In the relevance era, mobile-enabled and digitally savvy customers are constantly re- evaluating their options.
  • The loyalty era was backward- looking and time-lagged; the relevance era is forward-looking and real-time. 
  • The loyalty era focused on the “what” economy, which is linked to a purchase, while the relevance era focuses on the “why” economy, which is linked to evaluation. 
  • Even the technology enablers are different: in the loyalty era it was Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software; in the relevance era its digitisation of everything.


Hull pointed out that the definition of hyper-relevance will evolve along with customer needs and habits. In the meantime, though, companies must strive to be meaningful, dynamic, dedicated, transparent, inspirational, standard-setting, omnipresent and accountable .

“Of course, these are just some of the attributes that customers have come to expect from their provider of choice in the relevance era. Relevance is and will always be a moving target. 

“For established companies in South Africa, striving for hyper-relevance might seem an insurmountable challenge, especially in an economy that has barely grown in the past decade, with fiscal missteps and corruption contributing to weak business and consumer confidence. But now is the time for leaders to make the shift to the relevance era, to lay the groundwork for major changes to their processes, organisations, and mindsets.”

(Click here or below to read Accenture’s Framework for Hyper-relevance) Framework for Hyper-relevance)

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Get your passwords in shape

New Year’s resolutions should extend to getting password protection sorted out, writes Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa.

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Many of us have entered the new year with a boat load of New Year’s resolutions.  Doing more exercise, fixing unhealthy eating habits and saving more money are all highly respectable goals, but could it be that they don’t go far enough in an era with countless apps and sites that scream for letting them help you reach your personal goals.

Now, you may want to add a few weightier and yet effortless habits on top of those well-worn choices. Here are a handful of tips for ‘exercises’ that will go good for your cyber-fitness.

I won’t pass up on stubborn passwords

Passwords have a bad rap, and deservedly so: they suffer from weaknesses, both in terms of security and convenience, that make them a less-than-ideal method of authentication.  However, much of what the internet offers is independent on your singing up for this or that online service, and the available form of authentication almost universally happens to the username/password combination.

As the keys that open online accounts (not to speak of many devices), passwords are often rightly thought of as the first – alas, often only – line of defence that protects your virtual and real assets from intruders. However, passwords don’t offer much in the way of protection unless, in the first place, they’re strong and unique to each device and account.

But what constitutes a strong password?  A passphrase! Done right, typical passphrases are generally both more secure and more user-friendly than typical passwords. The longer the passphrase and the more words it packs the better, with seven words providing for a solid start. With each extra character (not to mention words), the number of possible combinations rises exponentially, which makes simple brute-force password-cracking attacks far less likely to succeed, if not well-nigh impossible (assuming, of course, that the service in question does not impose limitations on password input length – something that is, sadly, far too common).

Click here to read about making secure passwords by not using dictionary words, using two-factor authentication, and how biometrics are coming to web browsers.

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Code Week prepares 2.3m young Africans for future

By SUNIL GENESS, Director Government Relations & CSR, Global Digital Government, at SAP Africa.

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On January 6th, 2019, news broke of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce a new approach to education in his second State of the Nation address, including:

  • A universal roll-out of tablets for all pupils in the country’s 23 700 primary and secondary schools
  • Computer coding and robotics classes for the foundation-phase pupils from grade 1-3 and the
  • Digitisation of the entire curriculum, , including textbooks, workbooks and all teacher support material.

With this, the President has shown South Africa’s response to a global challenge: equipping our youth with the skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the 21st century digital economy.

Africa’s working-age population will increase to 600 million in 2030 from a base of 370 million in 2010.

In South Africa, unemployment stands at 26.7 percent, but is much more pronounced among youths: 52.2 percent of the country’s 15-24-year-olds are looking for work.

As an organisation deeply invested in South Africa and its future, SAP has developed and implemented a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country’s youth, including:

AFRICA CODE WEEK

Since its launch in 2015, Africa Code Week has introduced more than 4 million African youth to basic coding.

In 2018, more than 2.3 million youth across 37 countries took part in Africa Code Week.

The digital skills development initiative’s focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 events.

Vital to the success of Africa Code Week is the close support it receives from a broad spectrum of public and private sector institutions, including UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.

SAP’s efforts to drive digital skills development on the African continent forms part of a broader organisational commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 (“Ensure quality and inclusive education for all”)

A core component of Africa Code Week is to encourage female participation in STEM-related skills development activities: in 2018, more than 46% of all Africa Code Week participants were female.

According to Africa Code Week Global Coordinator Sunil Geness, female representation in STEM-related fields among African businesses currently stands at 30%, “requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success”.

Click here to read more about the Skills for Africa graduate training programme, and about the LEGO League.

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