eCommerce MoneyAfrica: mobile and digital intelligence in SMEs


The eCommerce MoneyAfrica Plenary session commenced yesterday with many insightful talks on ecommerce and fintech. Google SA’s country director, Luke McKend, and principal analyst at Forrester, James McCormick, spoke on the importance of mobile systems and digital intelligence for SMEs and corporates.

“It’s about the process, it’s about making sure your businesses can speak to each other, it’s about making sure you have the logistics right. All the big hard stuff, it’s about getting that right,” said McKend.

He further stretched his point by explaining the importance of the relationship between mobile and financial systems.

“I’m doing all these different things with my phone. There are all these apps[…] if you think about how you transact with financial services, of the top ten sites in SA, four are banks. That just speaks to how comfortable South Africans have become with using their phones and being online.”

Mckend also commented on the many smartphone users in our country, citing that there are more than 22-million users and that it’ll increase by 20% this year alone.

He also touched on the importance of mobile and IoT.

“How are we as businesses understanding our customers in the new world of mobile, IoT, and these different types of digital touchpoints we’re going to have in the world not too long from now? These things I’ll say are kind of threats and opportunities that’ll be a reality by 2020.”

These increasing values can open up many more doors for SMEs and innovation, they could serve as incredible opportunities especially for those looking to get into the mobile space. This potential grows ever larger as McKend stated that by 2020 there will be an estimated 35-million smartphone users.

SMEs can innovate more by utilising mobile and digital intelligence

If startups could harness the potential of mobile and incorporate that with innovative search traffic methods, their brands and products will gain more exposure.

“Search traffic has grown from 2014 to 2016 by 25% in the e-commerce space, we’re looking at sub-level searches that really describe what people want to buy,” said McKend. “From 2012 I think to 2014 it had grown by 37%, in Nigeria what’s interesting is that it’s actually accelerated[…] 49% year-on-year,” McKend continued.

Once you’ve understood the systems your customers are operating on it makes it easier for you to innovate and give them a tailored experience.

McCormick used an analogy of a university looking to build a pathway to express his point.

A university chancellor wanted to build a pathway for his students but the builder had no way of knowing where to build. The Chancellor said to wait a semester and mark the worn grass which students use to get to class. That’s where the path will be built.

“That’s where experience and insights meet. It’s about listening to the customer and learning from our customer and then innovating,” said McCormick.

“If your CEO is not worried about digital intelligence or being insights driven, then perhaps they need to be educated or you need to change it. I know it’s slightly controversial but that’s where we need to get to,” he said.

So how then does one become good at digital intelligence?

“To be good at this we need to be combining our systems of insight, our systems of understanding our customers and our business or our systems of engagement[…]” McCormick concluded.



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