5 reasons why Africa hasn’t embraced social business software… yet


Africa’s adoption of social business software (SBS) has been at a much slower pace when compared to other continents. In fact, a recent visit to the US lifted the lid on a maturing market for SBS, a trend local businesses would do well to take note of. Enterprises across industries are using this approach to business supported by class software for high-impact engagement of various corporate audiences, unlocking huge value in doing so.

Whether they’re sourcing ideas, gathering market intelligence or managing company content, communication and collaboration, the upshot is very often, as it promises, increased productivity, efficiency and innovation.

No one knows the African market better than Africans. This is a great opportunity for local developers to introduce social business platforms that cater to our local needs like the prevalence of feature phones; and is a great platform for Africa to show the rest of the world, especially emerging countries, that we are capable of developing world class technology solutions suited for local consumption.

Not entirely held back by a lack of willingness to engage in social business, we are, as a continent, still restricted by a number of factors:

Lack of connectivity:

Behaving in a connected way requires a high value being placed on connectivity at all levels. Companies are still restrictive in their access rights to staff using bandwidth in the office, Wi-Fi is growing but is not freely available (accessible and free) and expensive cellular connectivity is most often a private expense and people are not willing to use their data bundles for work related communication.

Social business does not keep to office hours and we need to accept that the best idea might come from a dinner conversation, an insomniac moment, or a casual stroll — being able to capture the idea that instant, share it and invite people in to collaborate ensures a 24/7 innovation cycle that doesn’t keep office hours. Why would you want a lack of connectivity to get in the way?


Locally we still suffer from the traditional boss vs. worker mindset — and it is pervasive across industries. As a result, C-suite executives are more inclined to seek answers from external consultants and board meetings than they are from their employees. Hierarchies and divisions are clearly divided and siloed.

Social business requires a shift in thinking to ‘we’re all in this together working towards common goals’. It is entirely possible that what the mobile technician is experiencing could radically change your customer service approach or technology strategy.

Lack of awareness:

Social Business is a relatively new concept in South Africa. And just when companies felt they were starting to understand social media (or avoid it due to lack of return) and how to remove social surfing from internal networks, something new comes along. Social business seems a step too far into the unknown. It’s feared that it will still hamper productivity according to a traditional structure of job descriptions, KPA’s, lunch hours and tea breaks.

Lack of local skills-:

-Specifically with regards to consulting and providing appropriate software tools to help companies through the process. Large global software companies have recently purchased collaboration tools and packaged them as part of their offering. However meaningful collaboration involves a change in management process. Having access to the tools does not guarantee usage and certainly not success. The older generations that still pervade companies today are largely resistant to trying new ways of operating.

Resource restrictions:

To do social business properly is going to take wide scale adoption from everyone in an organisation and probably needs a person to drive the social business strategy that delivers according to the company’s priorities and direction.

It’s an engine that needs constant fueling and a process to get the very best ideas out of the system and into action. It’s not yet clear where this position/responsibility fits within an organisation — is it social media, marketing, communication or tech — how high in the rank should it be? Companies are watching costs and headcount freezes or retrenchments make investment in new resources a limiting factor.

Gysbert Kappers


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