By IME ARCHIBONG, Facebook’s vice president of product partnerships
With more than a billion people — and tens of thousands of languages and ethnic groups across 54 countries, Africa has a beautiful, complex tapestry of cultures. Three years ago, while in Ghana, someone told me how much they felt Facebook and Instagram enabled people across the Continent to capture and tell their own stories, with a speed and style that never existed before. With hundreds of millions of people here across the continent using Facebook and Instagram every day to share messages, videos and images with the people and communities they care about most, this gives us the important responsibility of making complex decisions about which content we allow, and which content we take down, in line with our Community Standards.
Every day we grapple with our responsibility to keep our community safe while giving people freedom to express their opinions about the issues that matter the most to them. We take this responsibility seriously and know that we don’t have all the answers. We also know that we must continue to learn from experts and members of our community, in particular those of you who live and work across Africa.
This is why over the next year we will design a global body, an Oversight Board, which will have the authority to review some of our most challenging and contentious content decisions. It’s critical to get wide input from local experts, including academics, NGOs and civil society from across the world — and here on the Continent— on how this independent body could work.
As part of our information gathering and consultation process, we’re hosting a workshop in Nairobi over the coming few weeks, with participants from across the Continent. We are incredibly excited about deeply engaging with this group on the hard questions related to content on our platforms.
We recognise that this is a complex process that will strengthen how we exercise our responsibility to users. To be clear, we are not asking a group of experts to make decisions for us. We are, however, asking for their insights to help inform our thinking and hold us accountable. We’ll still be making hard decisions every day, and we accept the full weight of that responsibility.
The board, as currently envisioned, will consist of about 40 global experts with experience in content, privacy, free expression, human rights, journalism and safety. Where we need to, we will supplement member expertise through consultation with geographic and cultural experts to help ensure decisions are fully informed. The board will exercise independent judgement when reviewing our most difficult and disputed content decisions and hold us publicly accountable if we don’t get them right. This should in time bring more perspective, accountability and transparency to our content decisions. The board will have the power to overrule or uphold Facebook’s content decisions and will be able to recommend changes or additions to policies.
Through workshops such as the one in Kenya, we are listening to our partners and incorporating a diverse range of perspectives from across Africa into the board’s design process. These insights are critical in designing a board that can serve our global community and uphold our values, while bringing independent judgement to controversial cases.
The success and the ultimate effectiveness of the Oversight Board will depend on its ability to accommodate an inclusive and diverse range of perspectives, across language, culture and experience. Above all, it’s important we achieve a diversity of backgrounds and perspectives to reflect our truly global community. While we can’t include representatives from every country and culture, Africa will be represented on the board alongside other regions, and we continue to explore ways to improve.
We are very much at the beginning of this process – it has not been done before, and, with input from our community across Africa, we are working hard to get it right.
It’s printing, Jim, but not as we know it
Selling printing services is not only about the hardware anymore, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK
The seminal science fiction series Star Trek generated many catch-lines, like “The Prime Directive” and “Live long and prosper”. One of its most parodied lines, however, is Doctor Bones McCoy’s words to Captain Kirk on encountering an alien species: “It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it.”
That’s exactly the way one could describe the printer industry today. Every time an HP, Epson or Konica Minolta releases a new machine for this sector, one can sense the puzzled frowns of people taken by surprise that it still exists.
The difference is that it has evolved from a focus on paper to an emphasis on document management.
One of the first companies to spot that shift in the market, Japanese-headquartered Konica-Minolta, pioneered the concept of a dedicated printer company introducing its own software development division.
“We’ve always believed our role is solving problems for the customer, and not just to provide print, copy and scan solutions,” says Marc Pillay, CEO of the company’s South African division. “Our primary focus is multi-functional devices, but we always look at adding value to clients. Our real job is to assist in achieving a better return on investment.”
The proof of the pudding is that the local division is one of the biggest Konica-Minolta distributors in the world. The reason is simple: unlike most other countries, the South African operation has both a direct and indirect channel. That means it is able to supply companies through its reseller network, while also having a presence on the ground in the form of a dealer network across the country. That, in turn, has given it access to municipalities and other organs of state.
“Our value proposition is based on quality products, service and an unparalleled supply chain,” says Pillay. “When everyone was afraid to do business with government, we thrived on it. It comes from being located in areas where it’s easy to do business with us.”
One could call that the secret of success for existing demand. The coming era, however, will require an appreciation of the next big shifts in printing, says Pillay.
“We’ve seen the big shifts from analog to digital, from monochrome to colour, and from decentralisation to centralisation of printing. The next shift is unbundling printing into a hybrid approach, using both cloud and managed solutions. It’s all going to become subscription-based, and it will be print-on-demand. The high-end customers go into that very quickly, but we still have to cater for people who just do copying.”
Pillay believes that the opening of Microsoft’s Azure data centres in South Africa in March has already made a difference.
“Now you can scan from a device into Microsoft’s SharePoint online or Google Drive. It’s not about screen size anymore, but what you can do to make an impact.”
Where people don’t print, says Pillay, they’re absorbing documents digitally.
“We have to make sure that, where we lose the print, we are gaining the management of the scan, digitisation of the document or management of the workflow. Our income will come out of the workflow.
“Clearly, we’re not just focused on selling a piece of hardware anymore.”
- Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee
SA chooses most loved local businesses
A new World Wide Worx research report identifies and names South Africa’s 12 Most Loved Local businesses, and places the spotlight on the vital role commercial businesses play in the South African economy. The country’s favourite local businesses include the Chapman’s Peak Hotel in Hout Bay – famed for its calamari, celebrity chef David Higgs’ Rosebank eatery Marble as well as Rouge Day Spa with branches in Kenilworth and Constantia in Cape Town run by a dynamic mother and daughter duo.
The aim of the Most Loved Local report was to celebrate those businesses South Africans love the most and to investigate exactly what makes consumers big fans of these entities. It further offers these enterprises insights into what it takes to succeed in business, highlights the qualities that convert clients into fans and encourages more South Africans to ‘shop’ local.
Commissioned by Santam, results were compiled using a combination of digital listening tools and traditional research. Social media listening using organic search analysis looked into which business categories were being searched for most. This was followed up with a trend analysis to assess whether a business category was growing in popularity, keyword volume analysis to refine the categories and finally social listening within the categories which businesses were being spoken about in the most positive terms. Thereafter, a poll was conducted among 2 489 respondents to find out what made them love a local business – or not. The sample was nationally representative and aligned to the economically active population per province. A respected independent research house World Wide Worx conducted the research.
The full list of businesses that came top across 12 categories are:
- Place to Stay: Chapmans Peak Hotel (Cape Town) – the one with the perfect calamari
- Eatery: Marble (Johannesburg) – the one with the celebrity chef in the kitchen
- Butcher: The Butcher Man (Cape Town) – the one that people cross town for
- Bakery: Fournos (Johannesburg) – the one that is way more than a bakery
- Spa: Rouge Day Spa (Cape Town) – the one run by a dynamic mother-daughter team
- Entertainment Spot: Gold Reef City (Johannesburg) – the one with the heart of gold
- Gym: Dream Body Fitness (Johannesburg) – the one that is completely unintimidating to work out at
- Interior Designer: By Dezign Interiors (Johannesburg) – the one that really, really gets its clients’ style
- Market: Bryanston Organic & Natural Market (Johannesburg) – the one that was an organic market before it was trendy to be an organic market
- Laundromat: Exclusive Dry Cleaners (Johannesburg) – the one that treats every single client like family
- Car Wash: Tubbs’s Car Wash (Johannesburg) – the one that cleans your car while you have a haircut
- Construction company: Radon Projects (Pretoria) – the one that is ready all day and all night
Delving into what makes a consumer go from ‘client to fan’, the key factor standing out above all others was service. Arthur Goldstuck, CEO of World Wide Worx, says it seems South Africans will forgive a multitude of ‘sins’ if they are treated well. “Good service was the number one factor that makes 40% of those surveyed support a local business. This was followed by quality products at 18%. Third place went to value for money at 10%, proving the old adage that competing on price alone is not a sound business strategy,” said Goldstuck.
When asked what makes them loyal to a local business, some interesting views across age groups emerged. “Younger clients are more swayed by quality, while older ones are impressed by service. This seems to fit with younger people wanting the status of nice things, and older people wanting to feel valued and respected,” said Goldstuck.
Unsurprisingly, all 12 Most Loved Locals called out service as one of their guiding lights and core pillars when interviewed. Theo and George Parpottas, owners of Exclusive Dry Cleaners, the selected company in the laundromat category, believe when someone walks into their shop, they should be greeted with smiling faces and courteous people. “We don’t care if it’s the president or a beggar, from the moment they walk in, they are a client. We greet them, we are courteous, and we treat them with respect. It doesn’t matter what they bring.”
For Gary Karycou, who co-owns Marble in Rosebank with celebrity chef David Higgs, it is all about attitude. “You can teach someone anything if they want to do it, but we employ on attitude. You get the basic skills but if someone really wants to learn, you can transform them.” He continues, “Giving the best service to our clients, is our motto. It’s something that’s lacking in South Africa and even globally. Businesses just become a bit complacent.”
Famed Green Point butchery and restaurant, The Butcher Man, is owned by Arie Fabiani. He says people will drive past other butcheries and come all the way to the Butcher Man because “we deliver a great service. Good service is critical, and our team knows it.”
Another key finding was that people are more likely to recommend a business if there is a good deal or excellent value for money. Mokaedi Dilotsotlhe, Chief Marketing Officer at Santam, says this is an interesting finding. “Perhaps we are more likely to share a good deal with others and keen to help others find great nuggets of the positive trade-off between value and price. So, it is worth ensuring that, in addition to service and quality, your clients feel like they are getting value for the money they spend with you. That way, they are more likely to tell family and friends the good news!”
Dilotsotlhe added that the report’s release has been well-timed as the need to stimulate sectors of the economy which can create jobs has never been more vital. Commercial enterprises are responsible for a significant percentage of the labour-force in South Africa, and the impact thereof is significant. Due to the fact that these enterprises remain a largely underinsured sector, the campaign also seeks to highlight the need for insurance as a vital aspect of business continuity. When they thrive, it benefits the whole nation, and from a Santam perspective, this translates into sustainable growth for our business.
To download the full report, click here.