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Imitation does not replace innovation

Today, it’s not enough to simply force digital capabilities onto an existing business model. Brands need to innovate in order to avoid competition and also need to be disruptors in their field, writes RICHARD MULLINS, director for Middle East and Africa at Acceleration. 

Brands that are starting to feel the competitive heat from multinational digital disruptors such as Uber, AirBNB, Amazon and Facebook need to embrace digital innovation as a core business capability if they are to compete effectively in the future. They must embed digital technologies and customer-centric thinking deeply into their businesses if they want to innovate to win.

Today, it’s not enough to simply force digital capabilities onto an existing business model. Organisations can no longer run a mobile app or a website as a silo, set up social media accounts without thinking about how they’ll impact the wider customer experience, or throw money at digital advertising without looking at the entire marketing strategy.

Digital disrupts everything

Instead, leading digital organisations are embracing digital technologies and the new customer experiences they enable as a wider transformation of the way they do business. For example, when it comes to social media, it’s not just a new communications and service platform. It also changes the nature of the customer experience by giving customers a louder voice and bringing more transparency to the brand-customer relationship.

Thus, companies that want to succeed with digital platforms may also need to change their customer service philosophy, relook risk and governance models, and change back-office systems and processes. Without making these fundamental changes, they risk creating digital channels that are disconnected from the business’s operational reality.

Align the business behind digital

That, in turn, is a recipe for customer frustration and business inefficiency. For example, what happens when service reps on social media don’t understand how the technical support team works or make promises on which logistics cannot deliver? Disciplines such as logistics management, pricing and even customer service must all be aligned with marketing channels if brands are to deliver on their digital promises.

Brands must, from their top levels, accept that digital technology and an empowered mobile consumer have changed the way that business works. Rather than simply reacting to this changing world – as many large consumer brands are doing – leading businesses should be transforming their businesses so that they can drive digital disruption.

CEOs must lead the charge

It’s up to CEOs to lead digital change. They need to look at their businesses and find ways that they can use digital technology to change their industries. It is CEOs who have the complete view of the business and the ability to rally all of its resources under the banner of digital transformation.

Without strong leadership, digital projects will become ineffectual silos rather than helping drive a whole new strategy and operating model for the business.

Data is the core

A preoccupation with the customer is the core of digital transformation, and it is here where data has an important role to play.  Data and the insights it yields allow companies to align the organisation to the customer experience, decision journey and brand touch points. It gives organisations a more holistic view of their customers so that they can understand their needs and respond to them in real or near-real time.

Smarter is better than bigger

Though many marketers become nervous when the term “big data” is mentioned, they should be thinking about “smart data” instead. Look at a dozen or so data points that will give you real insight into your customers and help you engage with them at a deeper level. Don’t measure Facebook ‘likes’ because everyone else is – look at the data which reveals their behaviours, needs, desires, and other insights that you can act upon.

Innovation – for the customer’s sake

Every brand can and should be using digital technologies to revitalise its business, but the aim should not be to innovate for the sake of it. Instead, it’s about using new digital channels and technologies to bring new levels of immediacy, accountability and customer-centricity to marketing. The customer experience is what matters – the digital toolset is the means rather than the end.

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Mobile is the new branch

Standard Bank has launched an account for mobile devices that gives back 500MB of data a month

Standard Bank has introducd a R4.95p/m bank account called MyMo that customers can open on their mobile devices, loaded with data and airtime offerings and other benefits such as virtual and Gold physical card.

MyMo account holders will also enjoy the convenience of a cheque account through a Visa and Mastercard gold card. Once the account is open, users can choose to either receive R50 in airtime or 500MB of data a month, if their card is swiped more than four times a month. A further megabyte of data is loaded on the account for every R20 spent.

“MyMo is an account for everyone, whether you just landed your first job or have been around the block. With no documentation required it only takes a few minutes to open the account,” says Funeka Montjane, Chief Executive for Personal and Business Banking, South Africa, at Standard Bank Group. “For just R4.95 a month customer will be able to enjoy free swipes and ATM withdrawals at only R6.50 for amounts under R 1 000.

“Mobile is the new branch. This account is about bringing the mobile branch into customers hands, it is about convenience and security while banking.”

She says mobile offers low cost transactional banking which integrates people and businesses into the new connected economy, making mobile the new branch ecosystem that will drive and connect Africa’s growth. Physical connections to the economy are rapidly changing to digital where banks have to move from being financial institutions to service organisations.

“In the past people congregated in communities and eventually cities to maximise the advantages of connectivity. Today a simple hand-held device has the potential to open infinite doors, transforming individuals’ access to opportunities, regardless of where they are, and like never before in history. 

“Historically, a bank account represented access to economic citizenship. Today, having a simple device enabling digital access to a modern banking platform is a passport to global connectivity and vast human development potential.”

The bank says it is using technology, and mobile phones in particular, to deliver low-cost transactional channels accessible to all our customers. The evolution in mobile can be seen in transaction options like cash back at the retail checkout till rather than the ATM, free digital banking rather than using a branch, and the ability to transact using digital wallets, even without a bank account.

“Developing comprehensive connected ecosystems requires a mind-set change from Africa’s banks,” says Montjane. “Banks will evolve away from traditional financial service organisations, into service ecosystems enabling broad universal access to almost everything like enhanced purchasing experiences of vehicles and homes, online procurement of goods and services and lifestyle elements like rewards and travel. 

“These connectivity drivers will also act to future-proof evolving connectivity ecosystem by allowing us to offer untold future services while deriving income from as yet unrealised revenue streams,.   

From a customer perspective, the kind of ecosystems of knowledge, access and, ultimately, connectivity that banks will come to provide will radically transform the share of life that almost all individuals will be able to access.”

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Two-thirds of SA staff hide social media from bosses

With 90% of people in employment going online several times a day, it can be hard for most workers to keep their private and work-life separate during the working day (and beyond). The recently published Global Privacy Report from Kaspersky Lab reveals that 64% of South African consumers choose to hide social media activity from their boss. This secretive stance at work also extends to their colleagues, with 60% of South Africans also preferring not to reveal online activities to their co-workers.

Globally, the average employee spends an astonishing 13 years and two months at work during their lifetime. Interestingly though, not all this time is directly related to solving work tasks or earning a promotion: almost two thirds (64%) of consumers admit visiting non-work-related websites every day from their desk.

Not surprisingly, 35% of South African employees are against their employer knowing which websites they visit. However, more interestingly, 60% of South African are even against their colleagues knowing about their online activities. This probably means that colleagues constitute an even greater threat to future perspectives of an office slouch or maybe the relationships with colleagues are more informal and therefore, more valuable.

On the contrary, social media activity appears to be a less private domain for many and therefore, more suitable for sharing with colleagues but not the boss. This is probably because workers fear harming the public image of a company or interest in decreased staff productivity motivates companies to monitor employees’ social networks and make career changing decisions based on that. Such policies have led to 64% of South Africans saying that they don’t want to reveal their social media activities to their boss and 53% even don’t want to disclose this information to their colleagues.

A further 29% are against showing the content of their messages and emails to their employer. In addition, 3% even said that their career was irrevocably damaged as a consequence of their personal information being leaked. Thus, people are worried about how to build a favourable internal reputation and how not to destroy existing workplace relationships.

“As going online is an integral part of our life nowadays, lines continue to blur between our digital existence at work and at home. And that’s neither good nor bad. That’s how we live in the digital age. Just keep remembering that as an employee you need to be increasingly cautious of what exactly you post on social media feeds or what websites you prefer using at work. One misconceived action on the internet could have an irrevocable long-term impact on even the most ambitious worker’s ability to climb the career ladder of their choice in the future,” comments Marina Titova, Head of Consumer Product Marketing at Kaspersky Lab.

To ensure workers don’t fall prey of the internet threats at a work, there are some core guidelines to adhere to in the digital age:

  • Don’t post anything that could be considered defamatory, obscene, proprietary or libellous. If in doubt, don’t post.
  • Be aware that system administrators may at least, in theory, be informed about your web browsing patterns.
  • Don’t harass, threaten, discriminate or disparage against any colleague, partner, competitor or customer. Neither on social networks or in messages, emails, nor by any other means.
  • Don’t post photographs of other employees, customers, vendors, suppliers or company products without prior written permission.
  • Start using Kaspersky Password Manager to ensure your social media and other personal accounts are not at risk of unauthorised access by someone else in an office. Install a reliable security solution such as Kaspersky Security Cloud to protect your personal devices.

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