With the digital sphere becoming an integral part of our daily life, data analytics are also becoming a critical tool for businesses in order to tap into new opportunities and address challenges.Recently I had a chat with a blud working with Accenture in Africa and was delighted that even in Sub Saharan Africa, businesses are embracing analytics.In her own words, the lady told me that “the digital explosion” has ushered in the era of analytics, based on the sudden availability of huge amounts of data.In today’s Africa, there are enough smart phones, tablets and laptop computers for every single person on the planet, and more than 900,000 gigabytes of data exchange hands every minute through those devices.Using analytics, that data can be collected, dissected and analyzed to find patterns that can be used in making business decisions.The most common application of data analytics is to customize and personalize consumers experience through digital platforms.According to her, analytics are being used to make marketing campaigns more targeted and more precise.However, she said that selling more goods and services to consumers is only one way to look at the benefits of analytics.
In Africa, Accenture has a client in the manufacturing industry which uses analytics to establish so-called predictive maintenance and in one of them, the client has seen factory down time reduced by 8 percent to 19 percent.The problem in African countries is that many executives have not been exposed to scientific-based approaches in decision making. In a recent survey of African executives, respondents were asked to rate, on a scale 1 to 10, key components that drive their decisions.In the survey, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria respondents rated personal experience and intuition the highest, scoring 7.20, 7.45 and 8.73,respectively, while scientific-based approaches like using complex data analysis and simple data and facts at the bottom with 6.65,6.74 and 7.86, according to the research report.Business acumen and experience are important components in business decisions.It is also important to take into consideration scientific-based approaches like analytics that can be used to identify market trends. Data analytics is widely used by telecommunication companies. The method helps them entice subscribers with products and services with higher hit rates.MTN Group, a telecommunication firm operating in 22 countries and headquartered in South Africa has been gathering a huge amount of data, and using that information to improve performance in a highly-competitive industry and that shows how analytics are important to one of Africa’s most powerful brand.
A traditional marketing approach is no longer sufficient for telecom companies operating in Africa.Telecommunication firms like Vodacom, Safaricom, Vodafone, Tigo, MTN, Airtel among others have developed advanced analytics capabilities in order to enable them to predict consumer behavior and give consumers “the right offers.”Telecommunication firms know every bit information about their consumers and through predictive analytics, they can sell its products and services to millions of subscribers a month.In case of Kenya’s Safaricom, that starts by asking the right questions in order to find the right information and most of the times, when analytics fails it is because there are no clear business objectives.Trying to identify challenges and problems is crucial.The biggest challenge in the widespread use of data analytics in Africa is the lack of talented people, commonly known as data scientists, who understand the method.Application of analytics is spreading, the talent shortage has become more visible.As I have advocated before on this blog, centralizing the analytics capability in a single unit whereby instead of having three data scientists in marketing and another three in finance, it is better to have all the scientists in a single unit that handles all the different functions.Am one of those who believe building internal analytics capabilities would take time to yield sufficient results. While implementing such, it is important to import analytics capabilities in Africa to address short-term challenges.