innovation is more than you think it is

Africa is the home of innovation.Lately you get the feeling that this is driven by the innovations centered around mobile usage and the growing mobile wallets that transact  multiple times above the GDP of the nations they are hosted in.

I love the Fintech space, because we get to call our sector a space, and generate lots of new buzzwords like Silicon Savannah. Facebook, Airbnb,  Uber, Mpesa, are all sexy businesses with millions of users. More importantly they are billion dollar businesses. They generate endless media excitement, and the executives who run them get to dictate what’s cool, whats hip.

Innovation has come to be associated with technology. But its short-sighted to think that the only innovation in a market revolves around mobile money services.  Yes they are revolutionary, they are game changers, and they are changing the ways in which Africans transact and conduct business.

But there are myriads of  creative expressions happening around us, everyday. Sometimes you need to look outside of your own industry to get into the nuts and bolts of creativity. Spend time asking how do the things you take for granted, work.

Recently i heard about a new brand of chicken on the market. Its driven by a farmer who has about 85 out-growers in small co-operatives and how  they are boosting the farmers production capacity to ensure growth in their margins per chicken. When you sit on your dinner table tonight, imagine this, some farmer somewhere is calculating how to grow their profit per chick from 0.30cts to 0.50cts through the kinds of feeding and care they implement on their farms.

Innovation mostly comes from small organisations looking to change the way in which they serve their customers. Its enabled by a growth mindset, a continual search to do  better than yesterday. Next time you see  news about mobile money providers and their innovative “new” idea skip that. They are most likely implementing whats already been done in another market.

The real innovation is happening everyday in the ways we interact with each other, in small companies  trying to gain a foothold in markets previously unknown. Changing rules daily, shaping opinions at the base of the market, if you listen keenly your next break-through idea could just come from a taxi ride to Domboshava!






Random facts about Mobile

InMobi_Network_Research_Infographic_Africa_AprilThey say that mobile will revolutionize the way we gather and interact with information by 2015.That mobile is big is no longer in question. Its no longer the next best thing, its actually THE THING. As we continue our info graphics lessons, here are some interesting facts about mobile, to get you thinking about the possibilities.

1. We don’t share phones even with our Spouses!

2. Information is always available 24/7 even when idle

3. By 2013 Mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access device WORLDWIDE!

4. 7 out of 10 people sleep with their phones within reach

5. Twice as many people have phones than they do credit cards

6. Smart phone sales will surpass computer sales by 2013

7. Mobile phones will become the dominant platform for listening to music by 2020.

two years ago social media,the power of mobility and connectedness was used to overthrow some very powerful dictators,i.e Tunisia, Egypt. Mobile payments have now entered their disruptive phase- consumers have already adopted the new thinking, that you can pay for services via your phone.

If mobile isn’t already a part of your marketing or customer acquisition strategy then it should be.

Mobile revolution: Fundraising

Mobile marketers predicted that 2011 would be the year mobile payments enter their disruptive phase in our region. I wasn’t clear then how true that would be, and in the most unlikely of places. Using mobile and social media the Kenyans for Kenya Initiative reached their target 1BN Kenya Shillings. Kenyans for Kenya, chaired by Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore, was billed as the most successful humanitarian initiative in this country, raising Sh500 million in the first two weeks.

In Haiti, the Red Cross identified a need to use mobile and social technology to give the public a more involved role in disaster response, empowering people to report specific needs and helping aid agencies gather real-time data for response decision-making.

The personal and immediate nature of mobile establishes it as one of the most effective channels for engaging new donors who trend younger, raising money and providing transparency to donors on how their donations are being used. Whereas TEXT2DONATE campaigns are more effective in other regions, for Kenya, fundraising was through the mobile payments service MPESA. Funds were remitted directly to the Kenya Red Cross Paybill number at no extra costs charged to the end –user.

Mobile is not only effective as a transactions platform itself, but as a traffic driver.

So far in this year alone, we have seen dictators overthrown using mobile and social media, following the Tunisian Revolt, and the Egyptian Uprising. Recent riots in the UK were attributed to BBM( Black Berry Messenger )for ease of communicating by the riot organizers.

By 2013 Mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common web access device worldwide. If that does not startle you then this will, the growth rate of the smart phone market is set to be more than 4 times the rate of the overall mobile phone market. Smartphone sales are estimated to surpass computer sales in 2012.

What’s your Mobile Strategy for 2011?

2010 can un-disputedly be defined as the year of  the mobile. Now its come and gone and you still haven’t figured out this mobile thing. You can’t understand the hype,  but you attempted to win a Range Rover, win 50 million , win a Vitz,  talked to radio presenters about your marital woes, and waited for the  elusive million bob call from your mobile network, all via your mobile phone.

Now it’s not too late to make sense of it all. If anything,  this year has taught us  that the market is still young, still underutilized and you still have the potential to win at the mobile game. But, you  must have a mobile strategy. You can’t blindly copy what others are doing, unless you know why they are doing it.

If you did not  get any lessons or tips  from watching Kencell- Celtel-Zain,-Airtel  morph, then learn this,  that you have to have a plan. And a good plan. Not a reaction to what the others are doing, but a plan to achieve your fundamental goals. Have these goals clearly defined. Are they profit, customer acquisition, or service delivery?

Your mobile strategy will help you determine the customer journey. The customer journey is the most important of all your goals, because if you get it right, then you can achieve all your other goals.  Mobile is  the opportunity for brands to communicate directly with customers. It’s a very addressable channel, and the always on nature of it means customers are always reachable.

What should your strategy look like?

First determine what your ideal channels are going to be.  Take SMS for example;

SMS is really the simplest and the best medium for reaching customers.  It is said that 90% of text messages are read within 3 minutes of delivery and the recipients eventually read more than 99% of all text messages. Messaging is still a legitimate medium to communicate with a mass audience.   The immediacy of SMS makes it an ideal channel for brands to communicate with their customers. Take Radio for example, it is the perfect medium for text because it allows users to be than much more connected to their favourite stations.

For other brands, SMS capitalizes on the opted-in database ,like  information service subscriptions( 6667 nation mobile, 411 on Safaricom) to establish an ongoing relationship with the customer. Subscription services like these rely on the information being highly relevant to the person and at that very moment. These are context aware. Contextualizing the service to suit the audience, helps to create multiple channels that will deliver instant value to the end user.

A large part of your mobile strategy will really be about defining your customer’s experiences. User experiences for mobile are like science you can’t afford to get it wrong.  It is about getting into the daily lives of your targets and how they unfold and determining the best point of interaction.

The second part of your strategy is in profiling your customer.

What do they like? When do they like to receive it? What are their consumption habits? You can’t do this randomly or assume that you know your audience. Take for example a simple information subscription service like Horoscope. If I subscribe to the idea that the stars determine the outcome of my day, then it makes no sense to send me a horoscope alert in the afternoon. Say Breaking News, it implies I want to receive the news when it breaks, before every one else. It beats logic, for you to send a news item after I have watched it on the news.

Your next step is to determine what your brand perception is going to be. How you will raise awareness and associations. You have to do your research, and think of ways to use mobile to influence the target at the moment of the purchase decision.  You want the end user to associate your brand with a mobile experience, not just a promo code that can be copied by the competition. The reason for the proliferation of promotional SMS campaigns is research on the market that says, the Kenyan audience will respond to the idea of a better life by simply SMS’ing their name to a short code!

While this may work in the short-term for quick money gains, you don’t want your brand to be associated with a scheme just to fleece customers. Take mobile banking for example. You don’t think of Barclays Hello Money by their interactive code, or KCB connect by the code *522#, but for a customer they know what the brand value communicates you simply access the service via your mobile phone. The brand is perceived as convenient, and has established an anytime, anywhere transaction culture.

I end this with a quote, whose author I cant remember, but simply put, “If you are not winning, you need to change your strategy. If you didn’t have a strategy, you should get one.”

Why Mobile is the Final Frontier

Research suggest that mobile usage has become even more pervasive with the  number of worldwide subscriptions to wireless services expected to reach 5Bn in September. That makes up to about approximately 74.45 of the world’s population.  The mobile phone is not just an extension of our persona, but  95 %  of people are said to be within 3 feet of their phone  24 hours a day, it only makes sense for brands to utilize this frontier in marketing.

Mobile marketing and advertising can be used to effectively reach any audience  with  a targeted message at the right time and place. SMS alerts with offers and and discount coupons are becoming an increasingly new way to drive brand consideration and raise the intent to purchase by consumers for your products

With mobile you can target your audience based on a variety of criterion:

  • Demographically
  • Gender
  • Age
  • Income
  • Geographically
  • Handset type
  • Time period, that is day, week, month

Is mobile the final frontier of mediums to use for reaching target audiences ? Why don’t you let your next  mobile marketing campaign answer that!

Lipuka revolution for Mpesa Dstv payments

Mobile analysts the world over predicted that 2010 would be the year that mobile banking and payments would grow exponentially. Berg insight, market research predicted that mobile would account for 11.7% of the total digital spend by 2014.

Mobile banking and payments would continue to give global access to  under banked and un banked customers.  Mobile banking is a useful tool that people take advantage of in their daily lives, and has proved to local banks to be a sticky service that increases customer satisfaction.  In Kenya, mobile payments have already impacted the banking industry with M-Pesa’s runaway success on electronic funds transfer area of payments.

This week will see the launch of M-pesa Dstv payments facilitated by leading PRS firm Cellulant Kenya Ltd under their payments brand Lipuka. Cellulant known for its revolutionary ideas and innovations created a multifaceted solution for Multichoice and M-pesa using their commerce 360 solution. Commerce 360 brings under one ecosystem, banks, utilities, merchants, mobile networks and on the other hand the consumer.

Commerce 360 allows  end users to create a  mobile wallet. A  360 mobile wallet, for mobile banking, utility payments, content billing and mobile money transfers. So what is so revolutionary about Dstv taking up M-Pesa payments through Lipuka ?

The proposition that Lipuka provides the customer is not only payments across multiple wallets, but real time settlements and reconciliations for all parties. Cellulant has integrated with  Multichoice Africa to allow customers who pay via banks or M-Pesa, real time reconnection. What that means is that every time you pay for Dstv via M-Pesa or your bank account, you don’t have to call  Multichoice to be reconnected! For Multichoice Kenya, every time an M-pesa or bank payment happens, they do not have to take up all the received payments and then manually start to update their records. Commerce 360 does both, real time reconnection and reconciliation.

What i like about this, is that it all started with a mobile proposition. The brief to product design teams at Cellulant was a user experience designed for convenience . The back end of Lipuka is to ensure that the payment reaches the business and the user does not need to follow up to ensure that services are active. This not only happens for the Mpesa payments but for all bank payments that will come on board for improved user access.

This not only improves Multichoice collections, but it eases queues at their offices, for customers who like to make last minute payments. The services goes the extra mile that Mpesa could not, it facilitates service provision to the customer.

Mobile commerce is already taking root in this market, and it will be exciting to see what these players bring to the market in the coming months as the product evolves to suit consumer needs and behavior.