Business owners must optimize technological frameworks to maintain competitive edge & adapt to evolving digital demands of customers in SA


By Jacques Jordaan, Co-Founder & CEO at Specno

The continent’s largest technology festival, the Africa Tech Festival, recently took place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre. Industry experts at the event focused on Africa’s ability to expand its fintech footprint, the latest in digital payment solutions and how innovation can help create a more inclusive economy, using the latest advancements in digital technology solutions.

One thing was made abundantly clear – there is great potential for further growth and development in our country’s digital and tech sector. The festival also emphasized a number of ways in which we can explore, innovate and champion ways to remove the obstacles affecting digital illiteracy on our continent – a fact that bears significant consequence for South African businesses wishing to maintain their competitive edge, as they adapt to the evolving digital demands of customers in South Africa.


The progression of the AI revolution and other digital technological advancements have created an environment in which companies and startups must engage in the optimization or modernization of their technological frameworks. South African business owners and entrepreneurs who don’t innovate digitally will soon run the risk being outperformed by the competitors that do. Those who do heed the call to optimize their digital capabilities will be met with another challenge: building the technical solutions that count.

While alluring, a phone-based application simply cannot be used as a blanket solution to modernize every business. One look at user retention rates will quickly shatter this misconception among business owners in our country. Thankfully, it need not shatter our ambition to find alternative digital solutions to help bring South African businesses up to speed with the latest technological advancements available to enhance business operations today.  

By harnessing the power of data and analytics, industry experts can pinpoint specific focus areas that could be ear-marked for improvement to enhance business efficiency and profitability. If we can help local businesses make data-driven decisions, we can pave a progressive path towards building the digital solutions and systems that count. Taking a data-driven approach can support company efforts to mitigate any risk that may be associated with the costly development of these new, yet necessary, digital and technical solutions.  

So how can we use data and analytics to help South African businesses create innovative digital solutions that will protect their competitive edge in the market? A key component of this approach requires extensive experimentation and a number of iterative processes, designed by experienced digital industry experts to help uncover critical areas for improvement. By doing so, we can protect businesses from spending their disposable income on needless processes, saving our entrepreneurs time and money.

For instance, a company may be guided to use the process of experimentation to simply gauge consumer interest in the development of a specific product. By placing a seemingly counterintuitive, or inactive button on a website, one is able to measure the level of interest in a particular product or service by assessing the number of times that button was clicked. This allows a business to collect useful data without incurring the time and expenses associated with a traditional survey, which will often yield limited or poor responses.

With the appropriate guidance and strategy, South African businesses can feasibly identify a number of obstacles that may be hindering their business growth and efficiency. Once the data speaks, an inventive, technology-driven solution can be developed to enhance the company’s digital processes in a manner that supports its commercial goals.

A number of South African brands are already in the process of leveraging the systematic analysis of data to underpin the steps they take in their digital transformation journey.

A well-known online ticketing service provider recently endeavored to improve the speed and effectiveness of its digital processes to improve ticket sales for small to medium-sized events. Initially, their primary focus was to enhance user experience on their site. However, by enlisting the expertise of consultants and software developers to examine their existing technological infrastructure, they discovered a crucial fact: their paying customer wasn’t actually the end user. It was the event organizer. These findings prompted a shift in their technological optimization efforts from the front-end user experience to the back-end of the website.

This critical undertaking underscored the need to prioritize how the selling of tickets took place, in a manner that would make ticket management and fees less tricky. By exploring different visual experiments, the ticketing service was able to implement a digital solution to help event organizers understand how these fees could be calculated based on estimates of how many attendees there would be at any specific event. This led to the development of a dynamic on-site calculator that could provide live price changes based on three variables: number of guests, average ticket price, and average order size.

This approach was complemented further with an update to the website’s user interface design, leading to an improvement in the overall user experience.

While digital innovation may appear daunting to some, we have a number of industry experts in South Africa that can help companies and entrepreneurs develop world-class digital solutions to help locally-based businesses streamline and upgrade their operations ahead of any competitor in the market. The Africa Tech Festival paid tribute to this fact, and offers a strong testimony of the immense degree of talent available in our country’s digital solutions and tech sector today.

By improving and modernizing the technological frameworks of our businesses, we can play an indelible role in keeping the gears of our economy turning. Creative, tech-focused, digital solutions offer South African entrepreneurs an opportunity to remain competitively advantaged in a world where new technology becomes available to consumers on a daily basis. We already know that these entrepreneurs are the key to solving most of the world’s problems, so let’s make sure they have access to world-class support, innovation and the digital solutions they need to succeed.


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