Big Data in Africa

Posted on October 14, 2015 12:00 am

The Big Data technology and services market in Africa is expected to grow and highest growth for individual market expected to come from services, storage and networking. Big Data market in Africa is according to latest findings building the momentum that will deliver a strong acceleration in the next five years and has created new opportunities for data analytics in network analysis, health care, finance, human genomics and surveillance. The Big data is known to exacerbate data-related issues like security and privacy, data quality, storage and data integration. Organizations in Africa are collecting vast quantities of real-time data from social media networking sites to variety of transactions and are using them to drive business decisions and then they store the data in a Big Data database. Without doubt, Big Data is fast becoming top requirements for organizations trying to keep up with the information coming from various sources and make real-time decisions and serve the need of their customers. A huge number of chief Information officers in Africa are designing information strategies before undertaking a Big Data projects such as data governance, security, and storage. Research shows that volumes and varieties of data is on the rise in East and Southern African regions and the same is expected in western Africa beginning 2016.

As increased volumes of data become common across many industry sectors in Africa and value of applying a big data strategy as an end-to-end solution has become more apparent. Big Data is creating business opportunities for handling, curating, and processing massive amount of data. There have been tremendous opportunities for using Big Data technology to process various types of information. Where it has been applied efficiently in Africa, Big Data has been helping to process data quickly, analyzing complex patterns and inform matched patterns to relevant parties promptly. Social media analytics is enabling renowned brands and corporations in Africa to understand how their brands are perceived and discussed in the social media sphere. Understanding what consumers like or dislike about their brands and how they compare their brands with those of competitors is very vital for the strategic planning. Customers use of smartphones and mobile apps means they are connected all the time. With social media sites providing new avenues for instant customer contact, big data has created opportunities for location-based marketing and customer analytics. Big Data-based technology solutions have become more accessible and are increasingly being used in Financial industry that processes huge amount of data for different reasons ranging from detection, opportunity identification, credit evaluation and location based sign boards.

This means that Big Data has become as important as the amount of data is more than the traditional database technology can handle and this has created a great opportunity for start-ups that focuses on applying Big Data for the finance world. A research in Australia’s retail industry revealed that Big Data technologies are allowing customer service centres to conduct click-stream analysis for better customer experience management. This is because it can factor real-time information about millions of clicks and other interactions per second into business intelligence and other decision-support applications. That has helped provide personalized service connecting visibility to value based on each customer’s experience. It is well known that click-stream analysis help target offers and even initiate customer service interactions. In South Africa, a research conducted last year revealed that Telco companies were facing challenges in managing their resources effectively and to optimizing capital expenditure while maintaining operational expenditure. The report recommended that such plans requires the ability to gain insights as they occur to understand allocation of network resources based on traffic and application requirements, and network usage patterns.

Big Data requires organizations in Africa to rethink their technology architectures, processes, and skill sets in order to attain the real value of this phenomenon. Opportunities for vendors exist at all levels of the Big Data technology stack, including infrastructure, software, and services.The Big Data investments projects in countries like Tanzania, Angola, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa are being driven by business cases largely defined by the applied analytics and business process integration. The immense growth in appliances, outsourcing and cloud deals for Big Data technology means end users in African countries are going to pay less attention to technology capabilities and will focus instead on the business value arguments. Big Data solutions will immensely help public sector organizations to respond faster to incidents like crime and terror incidents among others. IBM, an American tech giant is piloting traffic management system in Kenyan capital Nairobi that is expected to support comprehensive real-time data analysis and collection for intelligent traffic management, forensic analysis, vehicle journey history and traffic hotspots.

To get started, it’s imperative for enterprises to access the organization’s pain points and identify which business domains would most benefit from Big Data. Businesses need to examine how their organizations will actually convert data into actionable results, as this can be serving as the key to maximizing the benefits of fast data.The implementation of Big Data has myriad of challenges totally un-related to technology and its mainly people’s level of skills sets and in Africa there is insufficient number of analysts with appropriate analytics skills. However that is not expected to dent African organizations in embracing new technologies that manages and analyze data in volume and variety in an affordable way. For example, to enable new products and services, organizations need to understand data and use it to figure out what their customers want. According to the research, some of the opportunities available in Africa for Big Data vendors include applying the technology to power utilization, call details records, geographical information, sensor-based information, e-commerce, government information, among many others. Big Data is definitely an area that is mature in sub Saharan Africa region with opportunities waiting for tech start-ups to build businesses from with East and Southern region offering the most attractive returns.

Contador Harrison