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Digital transformation: Separating the average from the exceptional in 2021 [Opinion] –

The optimists among us realised early on that the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns should be viewed as the ultimate opportunity to accelerate the transformation to digital.



After a year like 2020, “predicting” anything about the future should probably come with a large disclaimer.

In business though, this past year certainly separated the leaders from those merely paying lip service to trendy terms like agile, flexible, pivot, and – the now cringe-worthy “new normal”.

Yes, 2020 was tough. But the optimists among us realised early on that the COVID-19 pandemic and associated lockdowns should be viewed as the ultimate opportunity to accelerate the transformation to digital. Increasingly, a digital strategy is becoming the only strategy

The impact of the coronavirus has also influenced just about every single one of our expectations around what is digitally possible, with our recent learnings prompting us to think very differently about our strategic planning for 2021 and beyond. And it’s very exciting.

Data is (still) all the rage

Data remains a top priority in nearly every type of organisation. Importantly, it’s not a trend as much as an element that is fundamental to a future-focused approach to doing business, no matter the industry. The efficient application of relevant data forms the bedrock of efficiency.

Applying the right kind of data, as with technology in general, has the potential to streamline operational efficiencies, and strengthen the quality of decision-making.

When it comes to creativity in marketing, and advertising in particular, data takes the guesswork out of the equation. Rather than speculating about what a client needs or wants, or relying on the creative director’s “intuition”, data provide measurable insights into actual customer behaviour and preferences.

As such, data allows for connection and personalisation. Brands must understand that data lies at the heart of online immersion. Despite all the buzz, data is simply information – about your clients, your products, your services … down to the smallest details. But that information, or data, is super powerful. It is also the resource that will set the average apart from the exceptional in years to come.

Simply, data is information about people. And with people spending more time online than ever before, brands and businesses can leverage this unique opportunity to gather valuable information that will help them connect with their customers in new, relevant, and very exciting ways.

High five

The impact of 5G is set to dramatically change the way we have experienced internet speed to date. Expected to be at least 100 times faster than 4G, the shift can be likened to the difference between a dial-up modem and fibre.

Entertainment and communication will evolve to a point where engagement happens in real-time. As the roll-out of 5G continues, the boundaries of what’s possible with online experiences – from entertainment to shopping, working, learning, and more – will be pushed beyond what we can currently imagine.

Video still victorious

Video killed the radio star a long time ago, but in 2021 it will likely continue obliterating everything in its wake. Online video consumption shows no sign of slowing down as “people become accustomed to having endless high-quality videos on tap”, according to this report.

We’re likely to see even more brands moving to spend on video production and advertising.

We’re in the golden age of video and the best is yet to come. Businesses will do well in 2021 to make video a key part of their advertising and marketing strategy.

Into the future… and beyond

Business survival in the 2020s and beyond is contingent on truly embracing and adopting a digital-first approach. This starts with elevating the strategic importance of the digital function within an organisation to much more than a nice-to-have. It should, rather, be an integral part of a systemic approach to business growth and performance enhancement.

Business leaders need to stay current with technology, data, creativity, and its endless possibilities. Too many are operating in silos when what is needed is seamless, integrated solutions across not only marketing and advertising channels, but the entire business.

We don’t know what we don’t know, which is why business leaders must commit to staying relevant by prioritising digital transformation. Remember too that digital transformation is not limited to the tools and the technology, but references a holistic approach to business leadership that values innovation, solutions, and a future-forward ethos.

Businesses of the future will have to be fully prepared for the digitally-savvy customer, who expects brand communication to be personal, relevant, interesting, and available – where, when, and how they want it.

If there’s one thing that needs to be a strategic priority in 2021, it’s planning to remain relevant in the context of rapidly-changing local and global demands.

This article was written by Shaune Jordaan, CEO of Hoorah Digital.

Featured image: Christin Hume via Unsplash




West African tech startup launches app in Gabon 

West African tech startup Gozem has announced the launch of ‘Super App’ taxi booking service in Libreville enabling consumers to travel with ease.



West African tech startup Gozem has announced the launch of ‘Super App’ taxi booking service in Libreville, Gabon.

Gozem launches Super App in Gabon

Cecilia Kouna, Deputy Country Manager of Gozem Gabon comments on the launch of the service in Libreville.

“We’re very excited to start our operations in Gabon with a simplified, safer, and more convenient taxi booking solution. We’re confident that this innovation will create real value for passengers and drivers in the Gabonese market. And very soon afterward, we’ll continue to add value by expanding the range of services Gozem offers in Gabon to include delivery services and more.”

Gozem’s Super App in Libreville

The launch of the taxi booking service will enable Libreville residents to take trips in the capital of the nation by simply downloading the free app which is available on Android and iOS devices.

The launch of the app will not only enable Libreville residents to travel with ease but also provide an opportunity for drivers to secure an income. Functioning similarly to Uber, the Gozem Super App is easy to use and a customer must simply open the app, enter their location, select their desired destination, and request a ride with the nearest Gozem driver being alerted to pick them up.

According to Gozem, at the end of the trip, the app calculates the price based on the distance travelled with the assistance of its built-in GPS technology.

Customers will be able to pay for the rides in cash, Airtel Money, Moov Money, or by credit card.

Raphael Dana, co-founder of Gozem explains that this is the first of many steps for the tech startup in its African expansion.

“We’re proud to offer this high quality, everyday service that responds to the needs of the Gabonese population while continuing to expand Gozem in the region. Our ambition is to consolidate our status as the premier super app in Africa, and this expansion to Central Africa, our first foray outside of West Africa, also allows us to prepare our upcoming expansion to Cameroon.”

(Supplied)Gozem Super App

Gozem launched its Super App in 2020 that offers a suite of services to Sub-saharan Africans. The African tech startup’s suite of services provides access to transport, eCommerce payments, delivery, and financial services for its users. The app is available on Android and iOS.


Read more: SA software company Dineplan partners with Google
Read more: Applications for Google for Startups Accelerator Programme are open

Featured image: Gozem, Facebook



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Ajua acquires Kenyan fintech WayaWaya 

Ajua has acquired  WayaWaya, the Kenya-based Artificial Intelligence [AI] and Machine Learning [ML] known for its innovative Janja platform.



Nairobi-based Ajua, the integrated Customer Experience Management solution for businesses in Africa, has acquired WayaWaya, the Kenya-based Artificial Intelligence [AI] and Machine Learning [ML] known for its innovative Janja platform.

WayaWaya’s innovative platform enables borderless banking and payments across apps and social media platforms for an undisclosed sum.

Ajua acquires WayaWaya to help SMEs improve their customer experience

Kenfield Griffith, founder, and CEO of Ajua comments on the acquisition.

“The acquisition of WayaWaya is an important milestone for us, as we make a significant leap in ensuring the customer experience journey for businesses across the continent is seamless. Integrating WayaWaya’s technology significantly complements our product suite and gives us the ability to automate our clients’ businesses and grow their revenues, which is an extremely powerful proposition for our customers of all sizes, across Africa. From our experience in this area, we understand the CX fundamentals that drive growth for our customers and we want to bring this intelligence to SMEs across the continent.”

By acquiring WayaWaya, Ajua will integrate the Kenyan fintechs’ product to automate its customer experience journey into its product stack. This patented and unique smart AI and ML product built by WayaWaya will provide SMEs the ability to automate responses.

Businesses will now be able to make use of the intelligent messaging through a number of social platforms such as Facebook messenger, Telegram, WhatsApp, and others. It further enables consumers to conduct cross-border payments and automate customer support.

“The additional reach this acquisition brings allows Ajua to scale significantly within the SME vertical, as we provide our customers today, and in the future, the tools they need to grow in Africa and beyond. We continue to be bullish on the point that customer experience and customer engagement are the engine for growth for businesses across the continent and they are disciplines that are critical factors in driving productivity and revenue growth,” adds Griffith.

Ajua (Supplied)Ajua

Founded in 2012, Ajua is an Integrated Customer Experience platform for businesses on the continent. The innovative company combines both technology and the customer experience. Ajua has created several products that provide real-time customer feedback at the point of service, for small and large businesses across the continent.

Ajua overall aims to digitise and grow African SMEs with its service and product offerings as it uses data and analytics to connect companies with their customers in real-time. This service provides SMEs with the tools to improve their customer knowledge and experience with the overall impact resulting in SMEs increase of sales.

Teddy Ogallo, founder of WayaWaya and new VP of Product APIs and Integrations for Ajua comments on the acquisition.

“Ajua’s focus on introducing and scaling customer service and customer experience for the continent – and essentially how they help businesses deliver excellence for their customers – is something my team and I have long admired. Seeing how WayaWaya’s technology can complement Ajua’s innovative products and services, and help scale and monetize businesses, is an exciting opportunity for us, and we are happy that our teams will be collaborating to build something unique for the continent”.

Read more: West African tech startup launches SaaS solution for African micro retailers
Read more: Flutterwave and Worldpay partner to improve online card payments for eCommerce businesses in SA and Nigeria

Featured image: Ajua (Supplied)



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Liquidations rise by 49% year-on-year SMMEs hit the hardest –

Released on 26 April 2021, the report shows that 216 companies liquidated in March this year, compared to 178 the month before – a 21% jump.



Despite being over its second wave, the South African economy continues to struggle, brand-new data by Statistics South Africa indicates. Released on 26 April 2021, the report shows that 216 companies liquidated in March this year, compared to 178 the month before – a 21% jump.

This is almost 50% higher than March last year. Business consultants are concerned about smaller businesses, which bear the brunt of the hardship, and have developed some lifelines to help them through

Despite economic improvements, the situation in South Africa remains precarious, StatsSA’s latest Statistics of Liquidations and insolvencies report confirms. The figures have revealed the number of liquidations between March last year and the same month this year jumped by 49%. Compared to the second month of this year, this figure is 21% higher.

All in all, the total number of liquidations increased by 18.9% in the first quarter of 2021 compared with the first quarter of 2020, StatsSA says. Of all sectors, financing, insurance, real estate, business services (77 liquidations), trade, catering, and accommodation (47), and manufacturing (10) are the hardest hit.

Business consultants say the hardship is a direct result of the past year and affects smaller companies the most. “It is not that more companies suddenly found themselves in trouble. Many of the businesses that have folded in March this year, in all likelihood mostly smaller and medium-sized businesses, have struggled for many months before having to close, if not longer,” says Lings Naidoo, co-founder of BeyondCOVID.

Launched last year during the hard lockdown, the BeyondCOVID Business Survey, conducted by specialist management consultancy Redflank, aims to evaluate the impact of the pandemic on SMMEs in particular. “Our research has shown that smaller, micro, and medium-sized businesses, in general, are 26 times more likely to close their doors in times of economic upheaval than their corporate counterparts.”

As such, 26% of SMMEs that participated in the survey had to close during the lockdown, temporarily or permanently, the BeyondCOVID Business Survey shows. In addition, 54% of respondents said they were working below their usual capacity, and a third expressed they needed funding to continue to trade.

BeyondCOVID, as a registered non-profit company, is determined to help businesses cope with whatever is coming their way this year and beyond, over and above, providing them with trends, forecasts, and information they can use to develop survival strategies. The initiative is, for instance, creating an enabling and supportive framework to help SMMEs scale, grow and mitigate obstacles. “We want to be part of the solution by making SMMEs more resilient and less vulnerable to economic shocks, whether it is a pandemic or a global financial crisis,” says Naidoo.

“We plan to do this by using our networks within the private and public sector to leverage funding and investments whilst providing access to resources, services, and technology to make them more robust, sustainable, and bankable.”

Naidoo explains that, so far, BeyondCOVID has engaged with Chambers of Commerce and various other players whilst organising smaller ventures into risk-sharing structures. “These are known as SMME Collectives and are supported by BeyondCOVID’s networks, services, and technological innovations.”

“It is true what they say: safety in numbers, also for businesses,” he adds. “Being part of a bigger organisation that has the means individual smaller companies lack, creates more stability. This is exactly what businesses and South Africa need in uncertain times. Covid-19 will be here to stay for a while. We need to work with, not fight, this reality.”

This article was written by Lings Naidoo, co-founder of BeyondCOVID.

Featured image: Lings Naidoo (Supplied)



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