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The past few months have seen us treated to political debates and impressive shows of financial might as politicians crisscrossed the country trying to woo the electorate’s votes. The political landscape here is one that has been underpinned by group think rather than individuality that would form the basis of pure democracy, where the collective carries the day but an emancipated individual makes the decision.

I believe that technology can unlock this purer form of democracy by creating relevant and personalized information channels that if used well will bring down mental walls that keep our politics, governance and policy issues intertwined with matters ethnicity and other factors. Continue Reading…

The business of education has many players from the outfitters who kit our children every school term, the book maker who churns out thousands of ruled books for note taking, the schools who offer varied curricular, unions that ensure the rights of our teachers , the education institute that plans out our syllabus to government – who by looking at the many plans fronted in the battle for votes want to make it (the learning bit ) free in its entirety.

The new players in this ecosystem, who combined should change our model of knowledge dissemination are mobile and internet service providers who are often times synonymous, device manufacturers ,mobile application developers and government. Continue Reading…

Smart phones are all the rage now. Increasingly consumers are upgrading their devices and subsequently getting introduced to more variety and utility. Marketers are however still playing catch-up as marketing budgets on mobile are still relatively small compared to other engagement channels. We cannot blame them though, as the spend per brand across board has reduced and there is a perpetual fight to defend the use of a particular channel, which often times is directly proportional to goods moved or service requests received.

The biggest issue that I see, is that the metrics that need to be measured are unknown and hence it is difficult to justify spend on mobile. In a differentiated market environment, not every action directed to the consumer needs to directly translate to movement of product. This is where mobile strategy comes in, with the creation of campaign objectives, determining what qualifies as campaign success, and identifying the tools to measure these results. Continue Reading…

Factors  that govern the economics of service and product delivery are the same across different industries and sectors. To draw a parallel with the mobile industry and give perspective, it is said to be more expensive per unit to transport goods within Africa than it is to Europe. Poor infrastructure by way of dilapidated or nonexistent roads, railway lines with different gauges, poor logistical planning and business models have made intra Africa trade a costly nightmare. Plans to address this have been floated, with the ideas being a focused on consolidated pan-african road and rail networks.

So how does this related to uptake of local content on mobile? In the rapidly changing world of technology, mobile network operators introduced mobile data, that has seen an increase in the consumption of services brought about by increased mobile phone utility. With this increased uptake, there has also been an increase in the demand for services that rely heavily on mobile data. This  has seen all mobile network operators invest capital to own shares in the various undersea cables that connect us to the rest of the world to reduce reliance on satellite connectivity that is expensive. This initial surge by consumers on mobile data was driven by the need to access information and content which more often than not was created or resided outside the country. According to the State of the Mobile Web report released in July 2012 by Opera, the top 10 visited properties are Facebook, Google, Twitter, Waptrick, Tagged.com, Eskimi, Goal.com, BBC, Nation and Wikipedia. Of these properties, only one would be considered local, and I think differently about the social networks on the list as they would probably dominate the ranking in other countries as well . Continue Reading…

Most technology start-ups die within the first five years. Sadly, many entrepreneurs fail to re-invent their ideas and end up being overtaken by time.

Mobile Planet Ltd, a local technology company has survived for 10 years. The entrepreneurs behind it, Karanja Macharia, Nyanjiru Macharia and Kigen Kandie say it has not been a smooth ride; they had to come up with new ideas every other day.

Mobile Planet is a licensed premium-rate services provider, delivering the now popular short-code SMS service in competitions, news, entertainment, chats and ring tones. For the last decade, they have been creating customized mobile solutions that mobile networks and corporate clients use to connect with the growing number of mobile users in Africa.

One thing that ails technology start-ups is the inability to transform great innovation ideas to profitable businesses. Before 2001, Karanja who is a Computer Science graduate had tried several other software ideas, all had died as soon as they were born. Continue Reading…

Mobile strategy for a business is not one of those things that you can cover extensively in one post, but I figured I could at least give you a primer on some of the things that you will need to think through when creating it.

With everyone jumping onto the mobile apps bandwagon, the decision makers will be forgiven for being clueless about where to begin or even what would provide best fit for their operations given that agencies are also not doing a good job of education.

Many are just getting to realize the impact of web and the mobile story may be a bit too heavy to digest. As the year comes to a close and we begin to strategize for the coming year for our business operations and looking at how to connect in more meaningful ways with our consumers, mobile needs to form a key component of digital strategy.

In the same way that the web ecosystem evolved, you may want to take baby steps to discover what mix works best for you as well as ease into the whole environment. This process includes looking to see if mobile is necessary in your customer experience and what assets are available for mobile consumption – think product information, alerts etc.

Perhaps the mobile strategy will be inward facing, looking to improve certain parts of your internal business. Strategy goes deeper than application and, mobisite deployments and has to link back to deliverables that impact your bottom-line in one way or another. Continue Reading…

syndicated from: IT News Africa

Dr Pieter Streicher lends this thoughts to what the messaging space will look like in the coming year. I concur on many of the points the raises, and believ we will see the same in the East African market.

2012 is the year the electronic communications opt-in vs opt-out debate is going to come to a head, and the fallout is going to have a significant impact on both businesses and consumers. Related telecommunication regulatory decisions are going to affect both the price of SMS, as well as the amount of SMS spam consumers receive every day – directly impacting the efficacy of the medium.

So, an important year for both SMS as a channel, particularly when used as an alert service, as well as consumers and their exposure to SMS spam.

Here then are Dr Pieter predictions for 2012 in more detail: Continue Reading…

The tariff wars between the mobile operators was bound to have a resounding effect at some point in time, with the day of reckoning coming by way of Safaricom announcement of their half year results that saw a 47.4 percent dip in half year net profit to Ksh 4 billion. Traditional voice and messaging has in the past been majorly peer to peer and served as the cash cow for mobile  network operators. With consumers calling for lower tariffs on both these fronts, mobile network operators are having their work cut out for them, if the plum profits they have enjoyed in the past are to remain constant.

TNS Research International East Africa released a report last year dubbed  – Digital Life 2010  that looked into what Kenyans are doing online. That alongside other research can help in determining where to place effort and financing toward the creation of compelling new services for mobile network operators. What is important though is that this innovation need not come from within the operators but they should look to the growing local developer community.

My growth area forecasts are as follows.

Continue Reading…

Everyone is thinking mobile, just as everyone was thinking web a decade ago. Every brand, church, politician, government agency, you name it wants to have a piece of the pie. “I have a very simple idea for a mobile application, it should not take to much of your time or cost much”, sums up an increasing  way of understanding that the market has developed toward development of services on mobile.

Whether delivered via sms, mobile web or mobile application best practice requires that certain steps are followed, call it the application development lifecycle to ensure that the end product meets all requirements from functionality to aesthetics. Continue Reading…

Starting 2009, Kenya has been slowly emerging as a hotbed of innovation and differentiated thinking in matters technology. Numerous accolades and awards later, are we resting on our laurels?

I have in the past couple of months had the opportunity to interact on a day to day basis with many developers – from solo fliers to organized teams based in Nairobi. While it is a given that the town is awash with brilliant ideas, I think we need to increase the rate at which these ideas get into the market. The ideas and concepts need to be given the opportunity to stand on their own and scale, or fail and fail fast, to allow for the crucial pivot or a trip back to the drawing board. While the current growth in co-shared spaces has been a shot in the arm for a hither to ailing developer ecosystem, it may also create a cocoon of comfort that sees what I call continuous development in the pursuit of perfection. Continue Reading…