Oct 02 2014, Written by - Vijay Krishnan
Top 5 Points African Businesses Must Consider While Procuring Technology Solutions
Africa is one of the fastest growing regions today in the world. After the 2008 global recession when demand for technology products and services in the developed markets went down, technology firms across the world have focused more on Emerging markets like Africa. While this gives African businesses access to technology which helps in their growth, it is important that the technology solutions they are provided with are relevant to the specific needs and requirements of Africa.
Technology Solutions can revolutionize businesses in Africa but there are certain aspects that one needs to keep in mind while procuring technology solutions. Here are the Top 5 aspects to consider:
1. Africa Deployment Experience: – The best proof of a technology vendor understanding the African market and of having the ability to deliver is the vendor having existing deployments in Africa. That means that the vendor has actual on the ground experience of deploying their solution in Africa, and so has gone through the learning curve already (Preferably many times in different deployments in different parts of Africa).
This does not mean that the importance of the vendor’s deployment experience in other markets especially in the developed world goes down. That still is a plus point for the vendor as many companies in the developed markets have a very rigorous vendor selection process and monitor the vendor very closely using strict measures to ensure that they deliver the project. The Africa experience of the vendor is important on top of this, to ensure that the vendor knows how to customize their solution and delivery process to still deliver successfully, despite different infrastructure challenges, unique market dynamics, and work culture in Africa.
2. Regional Focus On Africa: – It is important that the Vendor has a proper Org wide focus on Africa. This is to ensure that the vendor marshals their best resources in terms of technology and people for delivering projects in Africa at the Sales, Deployment, and Post-Deployment stage. That will ensure that the African businesses get the best technology delivered in time and with high quality, and that they continue to get timely technology support for their business. This is important, since the African businesses are already working in tough, dynamic and competitive markets. They would hence want technology and support to be perfect and of highest quality to help their business.
3. Solution Should Overcome Local Infrastructure Challenges:- In some markets in Africa, IT and Network infrastructure challenges could exist and the African Technology buyer might want to use e.g. Open Source Database to keep the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) of the technology lower. The technology vendor’s solution should be able to work in alignment with these needs. E.g. our company Panamax has a Mobile Finance solution called Mobifin which is deployed in 10 countries in Africa, and it very elegantly handles network downtime and network congestion scenarios. The solution has transaction message queues with a retry mechanism, and also sends timely responses to mobile user to let him/her know status of transaction and to prevent multiple transaction attempts by mobile user etc.
4. Solution Should Be Flexible, Customizable, and Easily Localized: – In many markets in Africa, the regulatory environment is fluid, and so technology solutions should be flexible and customizable to help easily adapt to regulatory changes. Also, many African markets have different languages with their own scripts and also many of the end users cannot read and write, and the technology solutions should be able to address that. That is why our Panamax Telecom and Mobile Finance software solutions are customizable and flexible. Also, our solutions provide Dynamic IVR support to address the market segment which cannot read or write. At Panamax, we have coded our Mobile Finance solution using PHP language to support virtually all language scripts.
5. Solutions Should have viable commercial models: – While opportunity for business growth is huge in Africa, competition is also tough and like with most other emerging markets funds are also scarce. So African businesses need cost effective solutions provided using favourable and flexible commercial models. So technology providers should like our company Panamax does, provide aggressive pricing to customers in Africa along with the flexibility in commercial model of engagement e.g. We provide both the CAPEX/License Model and the OPEX + Revenue Share Model.