Africans scramble to adapt to new devices

Posted on April 20, 2012 05:28 am

Five years ago, when I made a maiden trip to Africa very few people had smartphones. Since then, things have changed dramatically and I have witnessed businesses increasing use of mobile devices in people’s daily operations. Growth of smartphone base combined with huge sales of media Tablets has forced a reassessment of the client platform and IT best practices to support it.It comes as no surprise to me that African population is dropping their comparatively bulky laptops for devices that are sleek and swift, such as Samsung Galaxy and smartphones like iPhone. The year 2012 will see mobile technology seeping into business data and applications, thus furnishing various communication methods that are welcomed openly by users across the continent.Few weeks ago,Somocon Oy chairman Mr.Heikki Makila explained to me that in IT, mobile technology can prove to be challenging due to the sporadic shifts in the mobile field. While discussing a client solution, he explained to me that shift has significant implications for enterprise governance and management processes.

According to him,it also has a significant impact on the IT market, because the vendors that once dominated the desktop are being forced to deal with a more heterogeneous mobile market. Over the last few months, I have come to believe what my friend Jason Roberts , a software engineer told me in 2010 that with the introduction of the iPad, Tablet computers will emerge from more than 20 years of obscurity and grow to become prominent devices in our daily lives.Today, unlike five years ago when I stepped in the continent, users in Africa have broad access to inexpensive yet powerful mobile consumer devices with strong capabilities to interact with enterprise systems. Users of such products are more technically savvy than ever, and are more capable of working around IT controls to use these devices in a business context when they believe the electronic tools provided by IT are insufficient. As such, corporate companies are giving way for employees to choose which mobile device they can use in workplace and Media has taken centre stage and almost all Television stations newsreaders use iPads.The reason being to enable users to adopt what works best for them while not burdening the IT department with excessive costs and support for device churn, so individual ownership may be the optimal approach.

By reassessing security models to accommodate for greater user choice, this will help alleviate the risks of data security breaches, and of course, the inadvertent loss of confidential information. After a suitable level of risk is incorporated, IT will assess the various strategies available for putting solutions into practice. Unlike in Australia and Finland, instead of laptops and desktop devices, in Africa Tablets continue to be wholly embraced by upper management, executives and basically anyone who appreciate the rich computing experience these devices offer.The lightweight, instant-on, user-friendly devices will be readily adopted by a culture in which minimized bulk and weight is valued. The ideal way to utilize Tablets as work-appropriate devices it to consider it as similar to a smartphone, where access to corporate resources is provided. The winning proposition for IT is to provide Tablet computers to upper management to increase awareness.This investment provides benefits because it involves management in both the new ideas and new challenges brought on by Tablets, which abide by different rules than the traditional PC. However, certain IT professionals don’t have the functions needed to keep up with operating platforms like Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android but am sure that situation is poised to change in the near future.


Contador Harrison