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Time to join the subscription economy?

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The only way for businesses to stay competitive is for them to constantly revise their business strategies. In the past it was the on-demand economy, forcing businesses to re-address their customer service. Now it is the subscription economy, writes ADRIAN ZANETTI, MD of NEXT Solutions.

The only way your business can stay ahead of the competition is by constantly changing and adapting the way you think and plan strategies. For example, the on-demand economy has forced us to review our accessibility to consumers. Now, we are entering yet another economic sphere – the subscription economy.

When you restructure your company’s business plan to place transactions at its centre instead of products; when your focus moves to perfecting customer relations – that’s participating in the subscription economy.

Today, more and more people are re-evaluating their consumerist behaviour, moving away from owning products and focussing more on the relationship they have with companies. Consumers are craving flexibility. They are searching products that always bring them something new such as My Chocolate Box, a box filled with new chocolate products every month. In addition, they are searching for services that are available when they need it, for example, GetMore, Cell C’s 24/7 customer benefits programme.

But that’s not where their cravings end; users are demanding an array of payment methods for these subscription programmes, for instance, pay as you go, a monthly subscription fee or a long-term contract. You’re simply giving your subscriber more control over the products to which they subscribe when you offer them a choice of payment options.

Always remember the importance of your customer relationships and to ensure that they receive consistent, engaging and personal communications across multiple channels. By conducting extensive research into your specific target market and educating your agents on how to interact with clients, you can ensure the ultimate subscriber experience and establish long-term relationships. You need to offer your customers flexibility in both the communication channel and the conversation tonality. The days of a one-size-fits-all approach are long gone.

The best way you can accomplish this is by adjusting your structure, culture and processes to put the consumer first. Create a business plan by working through all the available data about your target market and production ability. In this way, you’ll be able to understand your consumers’ needs and how you should address and acquire subscribers as well as retain revenue per person. If you place too much focus on your product, by trying to upsell subscriptions without considering the customer’s needs or wants, it can lead to you losing subscribers.

We’re living in an exciting time. Just as the on-demand economy has forced us to review our availability to consumers and our user experience, so too is the subscription economy demanding ease, flexibility and improved customer relationships.

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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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