Enterprise Mobility in Africa

May 10, 2015

Global smartphone shipments were 327 million in third quarter of 2014, according to data from research firm IDC. As smart devices adoption continues to grow at an exponential pace, enterprise mobility in Sub Saharan Africa has become a greater area of focus for organizations. Organizations that enable the workforce with mobility and collaboration now have a clear advantage over those that fail to do so. According to IDC data, enterprises are on the cusp of unlocking greater value from mobility by integrating collaborative applications and video tools into their overall enterprise mobility strategy. What does this mean for African organizations?Most organizations now allow access to services such as e-mail and calendar on phones and tablets, but few go beyond these basics.In order to truly take mobility, productivity and collaboration to the next level, African organizations need to invest in bringing more applications to mobile devices. These applications range from sales tracking to customer care, and so far Contador Harrison is seeing more organizations aligning themselves to this strategy across the region. A survey of Africa executives across conducted recently found that raising productivity, improving customer service and lowering cost of operations are among the top reasons why investing in mobility makes sense.

Mobile is a natural next for collaboration applications that exist in the enterprise infrastructure. An example of this would be the adoption of Tablets, Phablets and mobile phones in retail.It’s becoming common for organizations in Africa to enable sales and customer service personnel with tablets as it helps provide them information about products, pricing, and inventory to end customers. Similarly, hotels and restaurants in several upmarket areas in South Africa and Kenya have tablets placed on tables to empower customers to self-order.Such restaurants are able to improve efficiency, give more control to customers, and enhance the overall experience.A workforce which is mobile and collaborative is a strong resource for any enterprise and can have a direct positive impact on an organization in the form of employee productivity, customer service and sales.While the advantage of bringing mobility into an organization is clear, it’s also important to note some of the challenges that could risk success.There are a couple of factors that can define success or failure for enterprises trying to achieve a greater level of mobility.

At the back end there would always be a juggling act of prioritization and resource allocation, but one of the biggest challenges could be that of performance on mobile devices.As employees and partners access information via applications or webpages over mobile devices, usually connecting to origin servers over the public Internet, the performance and in turn the user experience, suffers greatly.The reason for a below-average user experience and as a result, low adoption rate of enterprise mobile applications can be lack of focus on delivery optimization. Without optimization for delivery and acceleration of content either on the webpage or an app, end users are at the mercy of mobile and Internet networks that can deteriorate user experience due to network performance, congestion and ISP relations. While it’s clear that enterprise mobility is required to be an area of focus, organizations need to concentrate on experience and adoption triggers in order to secure the investment of effort and resources.Therefore, when laying out a mobile strategy, organizations in Africa should take an experience first strategy and concentrate on employing a solution that is scalable and can accelerate applications over the public Internet to enhance performance and adoption.

Contador Harrison