The business challenge of today is no longer the astute acquisition of technology but finding the best way to innovate with technology to differentiate your organisation in the market.
This was the view of Internet Solutions managing director, Derek Wilcocks, speaking on 26th October 2011 at the opening of the annual Tech4Africa conference. Tech4Africa is Africa’s premier mobile, web, and emerging technology conference aimed at bringing a global technology perspective to the African context. International leaders in the technology sector share their knowledge and insight with local mobile and web innovators, entrepreneurs, and developers.
Internet Solutions is one of the founding sponsors of Tech4Africa.
“From being a supporting tool used to make business activities a little more efficient or faster, technology has now become one of the most profound influences on the way people live and business is conducted,” Wilcocks said.
“Technology’s power to alter everything from the way products are developed, marketed, and paid for to toppling governments arises from the fact that it connects everything and everyone.
“The flip side of that capability is that people now expect organisations not only to be immediately responsive to queries but also to come up with fresh ways of engaging with them. For businesses, therefore, the ability to deliver content is becoming secondary to creating new content – or packaging content in new ways that will attract people to products and services.”
Wilcocks cited the example of Proctor & Gamble Vocalpoint - networks of influential mothers who give the company their view on what baby products should look like. In markets where Vocalpoint influencers are active, product revenues have reached twice those in markets without a Vocalpoint network.
Another example was Black & Dekker, which has given its sales employees digital cameras to shoot training videos that they post on YouTube.
Vendor of accounting software for small businesses, Intuit, hosts customer support communities for its financial and tax return products in which more experienced users help others. Research house McKinsey estimates that this type of support costs as little as 10% of traditional call centre support costs.
“To free themselves up to focus on solutions that will enable them to create and package content in innovative ways, organisations are now relying more and more on external suppliers to provide them with the physical or technological means to deliver the content,” Wilcocks said. “Many are migrating to cloud suppliers because the pay per use basis on which the cloud works gives them the means to utilise the very latest technology at very little cost.
”Tech4Africa plays a significant role in Africa in exposing entrepreneurs and investors to these and other new technology concepts, equipping them to participate in the commercial benefits of the content revolution. As one of the continent’s leading technology enablers of the effective delivery of content, we’re delighted to support Tech4Africa in that initiative – and, thereby, make a contribution to the way Africa exploits access to new commerce, new content, and all the new communities that are communicating and collaborating through technology.”
New applications and other technologies being introduced at this year’s Tech4Africa include a customisable online subscription or recurring billing system, a design tool, a personal assistant service, a content management system for news rooms, a website development tool, a workplace feedback tool, an online contract signing system, and a parental control service.
Tech4Africa’s more than 20 speakers include a Ghanaian software engineer, Henry Chinery-Hesse, whom the BBC has called Africa’s Bill Gates, Josh Spear, owner of a New York-based market strategy agency, Adam Duvander, Executive Editor of ProgrammableWeb, the leading resource for open Web API news and information, and Cennydd Bowles, author of Undercover User Experience Design.