Google tests secret 6GHz network in US: What does this mean?

BY Fast Company SA 2 MINUTE READ

As the world aims to switch to a faster Wi-Fi network soon, Google is reportedly testing a 6GHz network in 17 different states in the US.

In April, the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) opened up spectrum in the 6GHz band for unlicensed use.

According to a batch of FCC filings spotted by Business Insider, Google is secretly experimenting with 6GHz spectrum to “produce technical information relevant to the utility of these frequencies for providing reliable broadband connections.”

The tech giant has asked permission to do the tests in 26 cities and towns across 17 states —Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.

A 6GHz network would allow faster and more reliable connections as it carries more bandwidth than the 2.4GHz or 5GHz connections.

Devices are expected to begin supporting 6GHz Wi-Fi by the end of this year.

Wi-Fi 6E brings a common industry name for Wi-Fi users to identify devices that will offer the features and capabilities of Wi-Fi 6 – including higher performance, lower latency, and faster data rates – extended into the 6GHz band.

According to Wi-Fi Alliance, Wi-Fi 6E devices are expected to become available quickly following 6GHz regulatory approvals, utilising this additional spectrum capacity to deliver continuous Wi-Fi innovation and valuable contributions to consumers, businesses and economies.

“If the regulatory landscape permits, we expect companies to move forward aggressively with products that operate in 6 GHz because they understand the tremendous value brought to their customers by this portion of unlicensed spectrum,” Phil Solis, research director at IDC, said early this year.

“The capacity of 6GHz is enormous and will be efficiently used by Wi-Fi 6 and newer versions of Wi-Fi. The US is taking a big lead on the 6 GHz market, with Europe and APAC regions also exploring access to this band”.

Once 6GHz is made available by regulators, analysts predict the first Wi-Fi devices to use the band will include Wi-Fi 6E consumer access points and smartphones, followed by enterprise-grade access points.

“6GHz will help address the growing need for Wi-Fi spectrum capacity to ensure Wi-Fi users continue to receive the same great user experience with their devices,” according to Edgar Figueroa, President and CEO, Wi-Fi Alliance.

The Wi-Fi Alliance® is the worldwide network of companies that brings you Wi-Fi.


Glenfiddich Gives Out-of-Home Advertising New Meaning with the Challengers Club

BY Fast Company SA 2 MINUTE READ

Glenfiddich, the world’s most awarded single malt whisky, has launched a first of its kind; the first ever functional billboard, complete with all the trimmings that one would expect of a plush whisky bar and audio equipped to capture a unique podcast series, whilst being seamlessly integrated into the Johannesburg skyline.

For the brand with maverick spirit at its core, the idea for a fully functional and immersive space within the confines of an advertisement billboard has been long in the making, serving Glenfiddich’s ambition to spark meaningful conversations with a diverse range of change makers.

Recognised within their fields, by entering The Challengers Club these change makers will transfer their insight, knowledge and passion; creating a ripple effect of inspiration for the next wave of innovators and entrepreneurs.

In January of this year, the mandate was given to youth specialist agency Andpeople to roll out a global campaign in South Africa, where the call to action was to define ‘maverick’ behaviour and how it translates within our local context.

In keeping with the agencies orthodox, a team on the ground was employed to thoroughly interrogate the meaning and connotations that this evoked with individuals who readily fell into this broad category.

What emerged was a very real sense that the meaning was a lot more specific to the unique context we find ourselves in. And while plenty of parallels could be drawn, our local ‘mavericks’ did not necessarily identify with the word. This shapeshifted the brief to become something far more organic and exciting, and where the concept of the Challengers Club was incubated.

“In order to build cultural context, we wanted to define drivers of maverick behaviours and interpretations in South Africa in order to shape and inform future creative utilisation.” says Kelly Johnson, Marketing Manager of Glenfiddich SA. “At the core of this was the need to evolve our interpretation in order to build credible connections with our audience now and in the future whilst remaining true to Glenfiddich.”

The idea for a functional space within the confines of an advertisement billboard served Glenfiddich’s fundamental purpose to facilitate meaningful conversations with the changemakers and luminaries of today; and ultimately for the benefit of future generations to come. By creating a clearly demarcated space used solely for this purpose, the brand enabled real conversations to emerge and to travel, with a series of podcasts being aired on national station Metro FM as an extension to the campaign.

“We have a highly ambitious youth market, but they lack the skills, resources and tools to equip them for their journeys. By bringing together a cross section of established innovators and disruptors of the status quo, we can use these authentic stories to inspire this generation in a meaningful and credible way.” says Duncan MacLennan, Managing Director for Andpeople.

About their core objective, MacLennan says “We wanted to challenge the conventional approach to utilising outdoor media, shifting from simply delivering a passive message, to creating an active experience that creates unique content which can then be amplified via digital and broadcast channels. What we have now is more than a campaign, it’s a programme built on the value it can create for the people it’ll reach.”

The Challengers Club billboard and is set to tour the country, with a unique conceptual space currently being designed for Durban to launch in July, with Cape Town popping up later this year.


Flutterwave Aims to Democratise E-Commerce in SA

BY Fast Company SA 2 MINUTE READ

Sillicon Valley-based global payment technology platform Flutterwave is continuing its aggressive expansion across Africa when it enters South Africa this month. The Y-Combinator backed fintech startup was granted a license in April by the South African Reserve Bank (SARB) to operate in the country, increasing its footprint across the continent. Flutterwave will launch RAVE, its digital product for merchants with events scheduled for Johannesburg, Pretoria and Cape Town.

RAVE is an end-to-end payments solution that enables merchants including banks, licensed money transfer operators, payment service providers to receive and process payments from multiple payment options via a single integration. Accepting and processing global payments from credit and debit cards, bank accounts, and USSD solves the challenge of a highly fragmented payments landscape across Africa. This distinguishes RAVE from other payment solutions as RAVE allows channel and currency agnostic payments across Africa and globally. In the process, RAVE provides a solution for one of the greatest challenges facing business in South Africa – access to regional and global markets.

Allowing a one stop solution for payments across multiple African countries and other parts of the world means merchants are able to receive, process and settle payments with ease. Which is in line with Flutterwaves audacious mission to, “inspire a new wave of prosperity across Africa by building payments infrastructure to connect Africa to the global economy”. Articulating this vision, Flutterwave’s Co-Founder and CEO, Olugbenga ‘GB’ Agboola says that “We are more than just a payments company, we are in the business of growing businesses.” Local merchant such as RSA Made, the official e-store of Proudly South African (both entities promote the manufacture and consumption of locally made South African goods and services), have integrated RAVE’s payment processing onto their digital property. “With over 150 supported currencies, you can just imagine how this will benefit RSAMade’s online platform, this is going to assist in increasing sales across Africa as  customers can now pay in their preferred currency and thus improving their overall experience.” says Karambe Jabbie, Co-Founder and CEO of RSA Made.

In addition to easy integration with merchant platforms, RAVE’s payment links can be attached to invoices, social media pages, or even shared on Whatsapp. This RAVE feature allows merchants to tap into the rapidly growing consumption trends across the continent which have been spurred by increased activity on platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp.

Similar to RSA Made and Proudly South African, Flutterwave is a proudly African company that powers payment processing for Uber, Booking.com and African e-commerce unicorn, Jumia.com and counts Facebook, Transferwise, Flywire as clients. The company has received funding from Mastercard, Omidyar Network, Y Combinator as well as other notable Silicon Valley venture firms.

Named as Fast Company’s second most innovative African business in 2019, Flutterwave has, to date, raised over USD $20 million from global investors.

Flutterwave was co-founded by then 26-year old Iyin Aboyeji, a tech genius who also co-founded Andela, Chan Zuckerberg Initiative’s first major investment in Africa. Founded with a vision to increase intra-Africa trade, Flutterwave aims to get Africa to view itself as a single trading bloc so as to leverage the power of that unity. Speaking at the time, Aboyeji said, “I believe if Africa will come to the table on the global stage, we have to come as one. We are far more powerful economically than our politics suggests.”

South Africa becomes the 10th African country that Flutterwave has a presence in, following successful launches in Zambia, Kenya, Tanzania, Cameroon, Ghana, Nigeria, Rwanda, Ivory Coast and Sierra Leone.


The Human Factor Will Always Come First in Customer Experience

BY Fast Company SA 4 MINUTE READ

Worldwide, brands are under unprecedented pressure. Companies, from legacy to startup, multi-national to local, are all grappling with how to meet steeply rising customer experience (CX) expectations; how to keep up with consumer trends that change at the speed of light and how to harness the tech that is evolving faster than we can adapt.

These were key themes underpinning the recent CX Masterclass recently hosted by nlighten, where South Africa’s top CX leaders and digital transformation specialists came together to share insights and unpack the latest in CX trends. From data mining to data ethics; differentiation to automation, what the experts did reveal is that we are still a way off from handing it all over to the machine. When it comes to meeting expectations at every customer touch point with your brand and company, human intelligence and the human touch are still paramount.

CX working hand-in-hand with machine

According to Nathalie Schooling, CX specialist and CEO of nlighten, while companies do need to be making the necessary investments in latest tech as an enabler of their business growth and sustainability, it’s important to sort the current capabilities from the hype. “New tech, such as AI, is all very exciting,” she says, “When it works well, it’s a fantastic enabler – but when it doesn’t, customers experience frustration. Then, what you want is to speak to a human who will sort it all out for you and transform the experience. Research is showing that currently AI is only getting it right 50 to 60% of the time, so the portion of ‘exceptions’ that can’t be automated and need to be managed effectively by people is significant. Today’s reality is that we don’t get the results we want by handing over to the machine, we get them from being in charge of it.”

Mining the right data in the right places

One thing that never changes is the truism, ‘know thy customer’. In order to deliver satisfaction along the CX journey, today’s brands and companies need to be acutely in touch with who their customers are and what they need and want. In this digital age and omni-channel environment, knowing your customer well enough to meet their (much higher) expectations has never been so complex and challenging. “This is where tech such as machine learning and applied AI comes to the fore,” says Schooling.

“Businesses can now invest in solutions that unlock insights from their big data so that they are empowered to become more personal and predictive. Companies, such as Netflix are getting this right. They know how to use the masses of data that is available to them to personalise their service further with suggested products based on a customer’s viewing history. Data is the key, but while the tech enables access to so many more insights, it is the human intelligence applied to what you do with it and how you use it that makes the difference in your CX.”

Another CX Masterclass speaker, Nic Ray, CEO of BrandsEye SA, highlighted the importance of mining data in the right places. He points out that minute by minute, millions of customers are complaining about or complimenting products and services. “Businesses know this volunteered data is valuable,” Nic says, “But it can be a struggle to keep up with the pace, scale and volatility of social media feedback. Being able to accurately measure and understand how and why customers feel the way they do is of high strategic value and is a significant competitive advantage for omni-channel customer journeys. Traditional CX metrics like NPS, although important, provide a historical view on actual customer experience, whereas social media data allows for real-time monitoring of customer feedback. This empowers a company to be appropriately agile in their responsiveness to customer feedback.”

Why you can’t leave personalisation all to the machine

Personalisation is one of the major drivers of rising CX expectations. Data and analytics are playing the key role in enabling real-time personalisation but Schooling again warns that companies shouldn’t get caught up in tech hype. “AI, and all its possibilities, are very exciting, and it is incredibly important to plan for the future, but we can’t forget where we are today. As we shape CX strategy, we need to be clear about what our limitations are today, and that what we most need to understand is what people need and want right now, including the generational needs of people. At this time, AI does not understand human nuance and tone or even, sarcasm. It cannot analyse the tone of a customer’s feedback. The human touch, and uniquely human understanding are still critically relevant in today’s CX journey.”

“Simply put machines are not human… and AI is many years off from being able to identify nuance and the continual change in human behaviour, wants and needs. The art of personalisation and making customers feel special will be the next wave of competitiveness. The risks that businesses run if they rely solely on tech as the CX differentiator is alienating the human. Humans are buying your product or service, and humans have feelings, thoughts and emotions. Emotions drive behaviour and behaviour drives choices. Tech is an enabler, it is not the total solution,” says Schooling.

How differentiation is also about hearts and minds

When it comes to products, services and CX, brands and companies are in a crowded battle for differentiation. Digital alone cannot make headway in the fight to stand out. At the CX Masterclass, Reynard Uys, Co-founder and Head of Professional Services at Immersion UX, highlights the considerable opportunities offered by the human focus. “While the digital transformation of offerings, business models and communication modes are all essential, it is all in service to the kind of plainly human engagement that wins hearts and minds. It starts within a company with its employees to harness the value of them as brand-building ambassadors and extends to an organisation-wide customer focus. With an unwavering commitment to solving human problems, meeting human needs and improving human lives, you open up customer engagement opportunities where they generate content that supports your business goals and become advocates for your products and services.”

“The journey to understanding what your customers experience, think and feel at every touchpoint when interacting with your business is no longer a road less travelled,” says Schooling. Two years ago, a Gartner customer experience survey found that 81% of businesses expected to be competing mostly, or completely on the basis of CX by 2019.”

This latest nlighten CX Masterclass put the spotlight on how we can’t ignore the human factor, and tech enablers and digital drivers must be strategically integrated with human intelligence.


Global Tech and Social Media Leaders Confirmed for Africa-First Digital Summit

BY Fast Company SA 2 MINUTE READ

BigFive Summit, a platform to showcase digital solutions providers for SMEs in Africa and the Middle East (AME), has secured Gareth Murphy, General Manager of Online Channels at MTN, and Sifiso Mazibuko, Managing Director of Social Scope and a former Facebook executive.

From 13 – 15 May, Workshop 17 in Cape Town will play host to the Africa-first event featuring some of the biggest names in the digital industry.

Pioneers in the provision of digital media and marketing technology solutions to the region’s SMEs will gather for knowledge-sharing, networking and a dynamic debate on five key elements fuelling the rise of the digital ecosystem: Search, Social, Mobile, Location and Payments.

The 2019 line-up includes speakers from Africa’s largest mobile operator and a world-leading social media platform.

Gareth Murphy, the GM of Online Channels for MTN and Sifiso Mazibuko, Managing Director of Social Scope and a former Facebook executive, are expected to share insights and best practice at the Summit.

Murphy will share his vision for how SMMEs will use mobile to acquire and engage with customers, accept payments, and more effectively run their businesses.

Increasing numbers of businesses are recognising the growing importance of social messaging as a vehicle for customer engagement. Mazibuko will share his views on the roadmap for the future of social during his headline talk: Messaging, the Future of Social Media.

The BigFive Summit is a first for the continent with a vision to determine growth opportunities and routes to market for digital solutions providers.

“This event brings together leaders in the industry to challenge thinking and stimulate ideas. Advice will be shared to help improve the offering for those with the common goal of bringing to market digital solutions for SMEs throughout the AME region. It is an incredible honour to have some of the biggest names in digital such as MTN on our speaker line-up. We hope that 2019 is only the beginning of the BigFive presence in Africa,” states Thabo Seopa, Co-Founder of BigFive Digital, creator of BigFive Summit.

Keep up to date with BigFive Summit and follow updates on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.

To register to attend the Summit, click here.


BigFive Selects Tech Savvy Cape Town as Inaugural Summit Host

BY Fast Company SA 2 MINUTE READ

As Africa’s biggest and fastest-growing technology hub, it is no surprise that BigFive Digital chose the city of Cape Town as host for its inaugural Summit. This event is a first for the continent for companies building digital marketing, commerce, and back-office solutions for small businesses across Africa and the Middle East (AME).

According to the 2018 Endeavor Insight Report, released in conjunction with the Cape Innovation and Technology Initiative (CiTi), Wesgro and the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation, Cape Town employs over 40,000 people within the sector – twice as many as Johannesburg. Other major tech hubs in Africa such as Lagos and Nairobi employ 9,000 and 7,000 people respectively, according to CiTi. Cape Town’s unique blend of unrivalled scenic beauty, urban style and global culture has made it a melting pot of creativity and innovation for digital and tech professionals.

“The choice of Cape Town as location for the inaugural BigFive Summit, where digital solutions for African companies are showcased, is a testament to the fact that Cape Town is not only emerging as Africa’s tech hub, but also a hub for thought leadership in tech-enabled approaches to doing business,” says Tim Harris, CEO of Wesgro. “This event also shows increasing global recognition for Cape Town as an internationally competitive tech and innovation hub. The Cape region’s strength lies in a combination of factors including access to sound infrastructure and a skilled and energetic workforce, proximity to four top universities and two globally recognized business schools, a favourable lifestyle, and a local and provincial government supportive of entrepreneurship and innovation.”

Hosted by BigFive Digital, one of the foremost thought-leadership enterprises connecting AME media and tech companies to SMEs, BigFive Summit will assemble a compelling mix of media, tech and digital stakeholders, influential thought-leaders, and disruptive start-ups in Cape Town to address the five key elements fuelling the rise and growth of the AME digital ecosystem – Search, Social, Mobile, Location, and Payments.

“As Africa’s leading technology hub, it is indeed our honour to host the BigFive Summit in Cape Town”, says Alderman James Vos, Mayoral Committee Member for Economic Opportunities and Asset Management. “As a forward-thinking city we look forward to continuing to enable the Tech sector and partnering with endeavours arising from this Summit”.

The Summit is set to feature headline talks and workshops that will challenge thinking, stimulate ideas and offer practical advice for those with the common goal of bringing to market digital solutions for SMEs throughout Africa and the Middle East.

Speakers include Katlego Maphai, Co-Founder and CEO of Yoco; Louw Barnardt, Co-Founder and MD of Outsourced CFO; Gustav Praekelt, Founder and CEO of South African Praekelt Group; Sarah Utermark, Country Director, Mobile Marketing Association South Africa; and Nick Grubb, Chief Executive: Radio at Kagiso Media.

The inspiring speaker list also features the world leaders in Search and Social marketing, Google and Facebook respectively, plus Thabo Seopa and Paul Plant, two of the Co-Founders of BigFive Digital, together with many other industry luminaries.

Details of the Event: BigFive Summit 2019

The Summit will take place from 13 – 15 May 2019 at Workshop 17 at the prestigious V&A Waterfront in Cape Town. With two cocktail receptions, plus a networking dinner all included in the package, delegates will have an opportunity to engage with like-minded companies eager to promote and sustain the local commerce landscape.

To register as a delegate, join our list of speakers or learn about sponsorship opportunities, visit: www.bigfivedigital.org/summit


Why XR will be 2020’s buzzword

BY Fast Company SA 3 MINUTE READ

Last year was dominated by Artificial Intelligence – and the year before by Big Data and IoT. But what about next year? How can local companies predict the next wave to ensure innovation and differentiation? One largely needs to follow the breadcrumbs of technology releases, and the ensuing innovators and influential early adopters who dictate the pace of consumption, with their followers lining up behind them.

Over the following 12 months a variety of Extended Reality (XR) products are coming to market that demonstrate a new era of human-computer interaction. Extended Reality is a broad grouping of technologies that change the way we experience digital content. This encompasses all the Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Mixed Reality (MR) technologies, enabling profoundly engaging experiences unimaginable a few years ago. From deeply immersive design, training and entertainment applications in VR, to informative or engaging digital overlays in AR, to integrated MR content that allows for digital and real-world interactions, the new realms of XR are set to change the way we experience the world.

Releasing later this year, all signs point to The Oculus Quest being the realisation of the VR dream: affordable, relatively powerful, untethered VR with six degrees of freedom and top tier controllers. Hot on their heels, rumour has it that Apple Glasses will launch their AR headsets in 2020 (though, as yet, unconfirmed). Adding to the competition, Microsoft plans to release their new HoloLens toward the end of the year, promising a significant upgrade on their advanced technology.

The hype built by Oculus (and others) during the launch period of version 1 VR headsets sold a vision that was far removed from the product brought to market which led to VR being perceived as an expensive and complicated device with little content. But the reality in 2019 is quite different where there is an explosion of content on affordable devices. The reason? VR has built out its benefits steadily, beyond entertainment and simulation, into life-changing advancements, becoming widely used for cognitive-based therapy (CBT) – tackling anxieties and phobias around heights, spiders, or a fear of flying, through to social anxiety or body image. Known as Virtual Reality Exposure Therapy (VRET) it allows patients to access cost-effective anxiety treatment, which can be implemented at home, and its immersive power potentially bypasses the use of medication in many cases, getting a nod too from the powers that be. The American Psychological Association (APA) outlined that VR is “particularly well suited to exposure therapy”, dispelling whatever doubt or criticisms may be looming.

That’s not all. While XR is already used in simulation (flight and military, among others), its usage is expected to dramatically increase within entertainment, museums and tourist attractions, education, and within the transformation of retail e-commerce, offering virtual shopping within various outlets.

Colin Payne, CEO of Sozo Labs, a part of the Alphawave Group, adds, “This presents global and local companies with a choice. Do they invest in the development of platforms that may be somewhat tired by 2022, or seize first-mover advantage as the innovators and owners of XR in their industry space? This next 12 months is the time to make that leap. Out of the ordinary brands really do see that, seeing the opportunity to develop and experience enhanced training or customer experience or even just generating publicity by being innovators in this new space.”

“VR will take centre stage within the next year. Affordability has improved and is pitched to be the next upgrade on social media or mobile phone gaming, arguably waning in our voracious appetite for novelty, and needing to re-invent themselves perpetually,” he says.

“Technology that was previously accessible to labs will soon be in homes and this has been worked on for years by these industry leaders. And the usage has dramatically shifted too – with price down to a few hundred dollars. Even headsets like the Samsung Gear VR that turn smartphones into virtual reality displays is already around $100.”

Sozo Labs has been engaged in the XR space for nearly three years, experimenting in each new iteration of technology. “We have applied these skills across a multitude of applications including data, property and environmental visualisation, as well as marketing experiences, game development, and education. Industry leaders ahead of the curve are already enquiring to ensure they remain the innovators in their respective field.”

Parent company CEO, Frans Meyer, concludes, “Alphawave Group has been building successful technology businesses over the past two decades, and has decided to invest in XR. Our goal is to understand the space and potential market opportunities by diving in and actually developing content and doing projects for customers. We’re convinced the market will grow and the applications will become apparent. We’re backing the team at Sozo Labs to lead this for us and look forward to seeing the growth as the real industry leaders step forward to assume first mover advantage.”

For further information visit Sozo Labs www.sozolabs.com


BigFive Announces Dynamic Speaker Line-Up for Africa-First Digital Summit

BY Fast Company SA 4 MINUTE READ

Details regarding the speaker line-up and agenda for BigFive Summit have been announced. Cape Town will play host to the Summit from 13 – 15 May 2019 where pioneers in the provision of digital media and marketing technology solutions to the region’s SMEs will converge for three exciting days of knowledge-sharing, networking and debate. The overarching purpose is to explore how media, mobile and technology vendors, and their agencies, can work together to drive and promote technology adoption for literally millions of local businesses across Africa and the Middle East.

With an estimated 40 million small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Africa and the Middle East (AME), it should come as no surprise that our continent is supporting a vibrant and fast-growing ecosystem of media, telecoms, financial and software companies eager to bring these businesses into the digital age.

Enter BigFive Summit, a first-of-its-kind for Africa, designed by and for companies engaged in the supply, sale and servicing of digital marketing and productivity solutions to SMEs across the Africa/Middle East region.

Hosted by BigFive Digital, one of the foremost thought-leadership enterprises connecting AME media and tech companies to SMEs, the event will assemble an exciting mix of media, tech and digital stakeholders, influential thought-leaders, and disruptive start-ups to address the five key elements fueling the rise and growth of the AME digital ecosystem – Search, Social, Mobile, Location, and Payments.

The event features a number of exciting and influential speakers, each of which is an experts or pioneer in their respective fields:

  • Katlego Maphai is the Co-Founder and CEO of revolutionary South African innovation Yoco. Maphai has overcome many hurdles to build a payments solution that today powers tens of thousands of small businesses in SA by providing an easily accessible and easy-to-use platform to help start, run and grow your business.
  • Louw Barnardt is the Co-Founder and MD of Outsourced CFO. In 2017, he was nominated as one of FastCompany’s Most Innovative Companies of the Year, and in 2018 received the Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year Award. Outsourced CFO is disrupting traditional financing and accounting practices for SMEs providing cloud-based services, combining integrity and professional excellence.
  • Gustav Praekelt is the Founder and CEO of South African Praekelt Group. He is a passionate believer that mobile technology will transform Africa. While spearheading groundbreaking work in the digital arena, Gustav established the Praekelt Foundation, to develop scalable mobile solutions for social good, whose programmes have reached over 100 million people across 30 countries.
  • Brendan King is Co-Founder and CEO of Vendasta Technologies, a Saskatoon Canada-based multi-award-winning platform for the sales and fulfilment of digital solutions. Vendasta partners with almost every major digital brand, including Google and Facebook, and is the platform of choice for many of the leading marketing agencies in North America.
  • Nick Grubb is Chief Executive: Radio at Kagiso Media, one of South Africa’s largest media owners. Nick oversees radio operations at Kagiso, including two of the country’s largest independent stations, Jacaranda FM and East Coast Radio. A Bachelor in Journalism and Media Studies from Rhodes University, Nick’s entire career has been in media, and he is expertly placed to talk about the changing dynamics of media consumption across AME.

Other confirmed speakers include:

  • Chantelle Bowyer, CEO, Metis Online (South Africa)
  • Cheryl Ingram, Digital Marketing Director, The Digital Media Collective (South Africa)
  • Adi Engel, CBDO, vCita (Israel)
  • Trevor Harries-Jones, CEO, Yola (South Africa & USA)
  • George Leith, CRO, Vendasta (Canada)
  • Sandy Lohr, CEO, Matchcraft (USA)
  • Lyndon Munetsi, CRO, Trudon (South Africa)
  • Trevor Nadeau, CEO, Local Knowledge (Dubai)
  • Sohail Nawaz MBE, Former CEO ACS Media (Bahrain)
  • Magnus Rademeyer, Managing Director, AfriGIS (South Africa)
  • Ezana Raswork, Founder and MD, Africa 118 (Kenya)
  • Lunga Siyo, CEO, Trudon (South Africa)
  • Daryl Van Arkel, CEO, BPS & Vicinity Media (South Africa)

The speaker list also features Thabo Seopa and Paul Plant, two of the Co-Founders of BigFive Digital, hosts of BigFive Summit.

BigFive Summit promises to be an informative event packed to the brim with topics highly relevant to any company selling or servicing technology solutions to the region’s SMEs, including:

  • Why Africa is Poised for a Small Business Revolution
  • How Industry Leaders View the AME Digital Opportunity (results of Exec Survey)
  • The Changing Face of Media & Solution Selling
  • The Local Customer Journey 2019
  • The Payments Revolution and the Transforming of Africa’s Small Business Ecosystem
  • Transforming Business Results with Location Insights
  • Time for Local Radio to Tune-In to the Digital Opportunity
  • Running a Digital Agency in an Automated Age
  • The Impact of Data/AI and Machine Learning on Local Commerce
  • Messaging Apps and Conversational Commerce
  • Unlocking the Location Data Opportunity
  • Can SEO Work for Very Small Businesses?
  • The Importance of Reputation Management
  • BigFive Start-up Showcase – A Peek at the Next Wave of Disruptors
  • The Unfiltered Truth – SMEs Talking Digital Transformation
  • The Service Imperative – Preventing Customer Churn
  • The Do’s and Don’ts of Search & Social Marketing
  • The Path to Ecommerce for Small Businesses

Details of the Event: BigFive Summit 2019

The Summit will take place from 13 – 15 May 2019 at Workshop 17 in the prestigious V&A Waterfront in Cape Town and will feature some of the finest digital practitioners sharing strategic insights, best practices, and practical guidance for success, through a series of engaging presentations, tactical sessions and networking forums.

With two cocktail receptions, plus a networking dinner all included in the package, delegates will have an opportunity to engage with like-minded companies, eager to promote and sustain the local commerce landscape.

To register as a delegate, join our list of speakers or learn about sponsorship opportunities, visit: www.bigfivedigital.org/summit 

Executive Survey – Respondents will receive a Discount Code to attend BigFive Summit

BigFive Summit is currently running an Executive Survey to gauge how leaders inside companies who serve or sell to SMEs view the digital opportunity. The full findings of the survey will be presented at BigFive Summit. Anyone working in this space is encouraged to participate in the survey. The more responses we receive, the better. All contributors to the survey will receive a discount code on tickets to the event.

Take the survey here: https://bit.ly/ExecutiveSurvey


For Enabling Innovation Through the Cape to Cairo High Speed Network

BY Fast Company SA 2 MINUTE READ

Reshaad Sha, CEO of Liquid Telecom, details his thoughts on how to propel Africa’s ICT sector forward. 

Africa has one of the youngest populations in the world today, with 20% aged between 15 and 24. Thus, the development of digital skills will be critical to both their future and Africa’s participation in the digital economy

This is one of the driving factors behind Liquid Telecom’s “One Africa” broadband network, which is inspired by the vision of our Chairman Strive Masiyiwa. The ambitious project has connected Cape to Cairo on a terrestrial fibre network, and increases the availability and accessibility to broadband connectivity and services to countries along the route. It is well known that high-speed connectivity offers many proven economic and social benefits — ranging from providing access to online educational resources and delivering e-government services, to enabling technology-driven innovation resulting in business growth and job creation.

And the more remote the area, the more potential benefits it brings. The “One Africa” network passes through some of the  remotest areas on the continent, which me-ans it will be well-positioned to provide new opportunities to connect these under-served communities. In fact, the network passes over 660 cities and towns on its route, making high speed digital connectivity, platforms and services available and accessible to these areas.

The new network is over 10 000 km in length and yet, conversely, will be the shortest direct fibre route between South Africa and Egypt. It will significantly reduce the latency experienced on the sub-sea cable routes, many of which still transit via Europe. Of course, achieving this has meant overcoming some of the most challenging terrains on the continent, not to mention the threat of wildlife, limited power supplies and theft of equipment. This route forms part of Liquid Telecom’s pan-African footprint which spans nearly 70 000 km of fibre infrastructure.

The network will support the creation of new, and enhance existing, information corridors that link the region’s major trade hubs, thus playing a pivotal role in increasing intra-African trade. We understand that where there are improved communications, improved trade follows. This is the reason behind the next step, which is for the network to establish multiple fibre crossings between East and West Africa too.

Most crucially, the new network will deliver access to high-speed connectivity, which is the foundation needed for digital growth and innovation across the region. Africa’s start-ups are renowned for their unique concepts, innovations and ways of doing business. Thus, it is no surprise that many are experimenting with emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data analytics and blockchain, which have the potential to solve many of Africa’s most serious problems and significantly improve lives. The ability to connect with peers in the region will foster higher levels of collaboration and co-operation, thus supporting increased levels of innovation and solutions that are developed to solve key issues faced by the continent.

It is clear that the “One Africa” network offers a whole new way to support Africa’s thriving tech startup ecosystem and will ultimately make good on our belief that every individual on the African continent has the right to be connected.

Read more in the March/April issue of Fast Company South Africa.

The Fast Lane of Automated Job Placements

BY Fast Company SA 2 MINUTE READ

When prospects for company growth call for fast turnarounds, smart solutions or just more hands on deck, finding the right people to assemble temporary workforces is often a must for any business owner. South Africa’s latest online career networking platform, BoostMe360 gives employers full ownership of their HR needs when it comes to filling entry-level, contractual positions fast without needing to make it official until proven otherwise by their new, hit-the-ground-running employees.

Giving employers an unmediated job-matching process they can instantly tap into, BoostMe360, is launching business owners into a new online HR era where automation conveniently combines with on-demand work opportunities and agile recruitment.

For business owners, especially those seeking to scale their SMEs and small businesses, it can be challenging to hire permanent staff upfront when prospects for growth are not certain. Where a human resource department can be an unfamiliar concept among smaller enterprises, business owners are often forced to manually scout for candidates before they can build a fluid workforce for temporary or project-based jobs.

BoostMe360 is a new, easily accessible, online career networking platform that serves as a recruitment tool for employers to find motivated and trustworthy people for entry level or short-term contract positions. Bridging the gap between employers and ‘go-getter’ job seekers, BoostMe360 is designed to cut out the time-consuming admin that has become synonymous with the search for ‘the right person for the job’.

“Even when employers expect online search engines to simplify the candidate search, they are often served with impersonal, incomplete CVs and popup ads that slow down the process,” says Carolynne Lengfeld, BoostMe360s project director. “In the clutter of it all, finding candidates from a younger workforce and who are looking for on-demand work opportunities, is often a ‘no-go’ for employers. BoostMe360 visibly links employers’ needs with the ideal skillsets through a customised online filtering process that instantly matches candidates’ profiles with the job criteria.”

Employers can conveniently load a job posting and reach out to prospective applicants without needing to commit to job listing fees. Employers can now test the platform, load job listings and recruit from BoostMe360s database of enthusiastic, talented staff for free before the end of March 2019.

Backing first time jobseekers who haven’t been trained to create a professional, eye-catching CV or present their skills in the best way possible, BoostMe360s e-learning modules ideally gear up employees to successfully, confidently pitch their profiles, build a relationship with employers, and secure trust and commitment on both ends. “The platform drives everyone’s efforts to find a solution that works for those involved in the process,” says former job applicant, Mamela Ntshweni.

Other BoostMe360 job seeker features include an editable calendar to plan available work days and hours, manage interview and job notifications and access to job ratings and feedback.