East Africa tech predictions for 2017

January 22, 2017

A new report shows that despite slowing economic growth, East African governments and businesses are planning to invest in their IT infrastructure and digital skills. This isn’t a surprise because the last one year has been tumultuous to say the least for the region, from erratic weather patterns to high levels of corruption. According to the report in my possession, all industries, sectors and businesses are expected to continue transforming this year. Those of us familiar with the region knows very well that established businesses are being out-smarted and out innovated by digital start ups across Rwanda, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Back to the report, more than three quarter of the businesses surveyed don’t even know whether they’ll be around in 2020. That really shocked me because some of them are banks, media business and retailers.I do know very well that disruption brings very many opportunities. There are significant trends for 2017 which I believe will take place across member countries of East African Community, I have excluded Burundi for its still mired in political turmoil. In my view, some of these will change the way people do business in the region, from the edge, to the core, to the cloud. It started in late 2016 and now I expect that in 2017 creators in East Africa will be able to weave their magic with some super powerful technology and in time, this technology will be adopted by the wider population. Architects and construction companies will start walking onto project sites and use their devices to see full scale models of buildings before any work has even begun. One expert familiar with the technology told your blogger that high performing, efficient and simple infrastructure will be essential to easily and quickly access the data needed to visualise these creations. My other expectation is that consumer facing companies in the region will defiantly start piloting Virtual Reality as part of their marketing efforts. In one case am familiar with, hands free devices are able to propel people into parallel places, in which their only limitation is their imagination. On that note, I expect them to learn new skills, provide services and engage with people, without bumping into the time and cost constraints of physical media.

As always, I expect the sophisticated criminals online to get better and to widen their activities in the region this year and encroach upon other areas of the business beyond the IT network. Undoubtedly, it’s not just the data that needs to be protected but also infrastructure for businesses in the region going forward. In fact, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda and Rwanda appear more vulnerable to cyberattack than other African economies according to Cyber Defence Outlook report published last year. Just like other parts of the world, business chiefs are popping up all over the region. The end of chief digital officers means the beneficiaries will be Chief IoT Officer because East African companies will experience mounting pressure to bridge the gap between operations and IT. In fact, a recent research suggested that in the next three years, one quarter of the corporate level business executives in East African companies will have spent at least 3 years of their career in a technology leadership role. In an effort to improve return on investment and efficiency, the Chief IoT Officers will have work with everyone in the organisation starting this year to achieve growth. As an elementary kid, I was taught that prevention is better than a cure. With self-healing technology being tested in Rwanda and Kenya, companies in the region will in 2017 be more than ever be able to deploy talent on more strategic IT projects compared to spending time on maintenance services. Also, the update of cloud based analytics platforms will grow and continue to provide near real-time intelligence and predictive analytics capabilities to proactively monitor, manage, and provide device health.I won’t be surprised if nearly 10% of operational processes will be self learning and self healing come December this year.In conclusion, it’s no secret that companies and people in East Africa are struggling to cope with the tremendous amount of data now online.I tell them that they should brace themselves, large scale data will soon help machines understand things in brand new ways. In fact, a recent research suggested that machine learning will be the biggest disruptor for big data analytics in 2017. Increasingly embedded in enterprise software and tooling for integrating and preparing data, machine learning will enable East African enterprises to predict and collaboratively solve problems.

Contador Harrison