The integration of data systems, strategic manipulation of this information and the time it takes to add this value to the business is what differentiates competitors vying for a stake in Africa’s commercial landscape. But operators keen on engaging the market to sell solutions should be aware – the continent is unforgiving when it comes to a slap-dash, sales-hungry approach.
The software solutions that are being introduced today are designed to facilitate business analytics, widely acknowledged as a mission-critical aspect of business management. These solutions are used for statistical and data mining, for example, and offer decision makers the advantage of a bird’s eye view of the entire organisation.
Using this vantage point, managers can identify weak areas across the organisation, any issues affecting operation and pinpoint exactly what is happening, when, where and why.
According to industry experts businesses across Africa are becoming more aware of this advantage and there is growing awareness of what this software can do for companies in both the public and private sectors.
“The technology is allowing us to make a positive impact on the continent. In Africa people are earning money now and generating business. We are certainly seeing that there is definitely a lot of growth within a number of sectors including manufacturing, retail, distribution, agriculture and telecommunications and IT,” explains Heath Turner, Director, Karabina Software, a South African software development and distribution company.
Executive management behind the iSPartners company is encouraged by the increase in levels of business development and activity across the continent, but not surprised given the necessity for effective data management in business. “Whether there is growth, competition or a dip in your business, you have to have clear and visible information at your fingertips in order to make accurate decisions and leverage off opportunities. It is a business necessity. This is really what business analytics is all about, it is about surfacing information and giving people the opportunity to look at information quickly,” says Turner.
The company acknowledges that complexity of systems and the requirement for relevant skill sets have plagued efforts by operators to engage the Africa market successfully, with businesses not being in a position to extract the maximum benefit from solutions.
Turner is focusing on entrenching a partner channel throughout the continent and currently has in place a formalised partner program stretching across several countries. “I have had some experiences in Africa myself. The first thing for me is that the team must have a belief in making a change on the continent. If you are just looking for a sale and looking sell some software in a short space of time, what will happen is that Africa will simply drain you and you will give up. Personally, I want to make a contribution to Africa, I don’t want the East and West doing what we should be doing on this continent,” he adds.
There are challenges to doing business in Africa, most notably issues around localised cultures of how business should be done – and operators must be aware of this and deal with it effectively. By ‘effectively’, operators like Turner suggest sticking to a core purpose and focus in order to help clients truly capitalise on investment.