Africa is no different to the rest of the world in terms of its software requirements. Where African companies differ from their US or European counterparts is in terms of the available infrastructure and bandwidth that they can access, as well as their unique operating conditions.
And it is in meeting these needs that multinational software vendors fall short with their one-size-fits-all approach. The key is that African businesses need to pay for the functionality that they need.
“In order to address the specific needs of businesses in Africa, which often operate in challenging conditions, tailor-made solutions are key. While companies across the continent are growing, and frequently leapfrogging technology in the process, their needs differ from industry to industry and country to country,” explains Anton van Heerden, General Manager at Altech ISIS.
“It is essential that any service provider has an understanding of their challenges and opportunities – to provide not only software solutions that meet their needs, but consulting and support services to ensure that every element offers the right fit for a business.”
He adds that the biggest challenge in Africa is the diversity of approaches to both technology and business found in each country, and that local resources are consequently essential to understanding the requirements that will allow a company to perform optimally within the environment. In addition, there is a lack of development and deployment expertise in Africa, creating a need for customisation of applications.
“African software solutions generally need to be both country- and industry-specific. Therefore, they must incorporate strategies that can be applied to each. Undeniably, some problems are common across Africa, and across the world. But despite globalisation and the increasing business integration we are seeing, each African country has its own unique needs and requirements,” van Heerden says.
“In order to be successful, a solution provider has to be able to take into account changing times (that is conducting analysis and forecasting scenarios rather than repeating incomprehensible and ever-changing development jargon), compare different models, global best practices and universal values to see how best to adapt solutions locally. This allows them to establish how best to integrate technology into business requirements”
In addition an intimate knowledge of customer environments, which allows an effective solution provider to make complex and disparate systems work together seamlessly and efficiently, employing African software solutions to solve African business issues requires leveraging an understanding of the unique business challenges faced on the continent. Bespoke solutions are the only viable alternatives for many companies in Africa, and an Afro-specific approach is the best guarantee of success.