The rapid spread of smartphones is expanding the possibilities for digital technology across the world. Especially when it comes to communications, there is a massive shift in mobile communications, as smartphones ensure people can go beyond the traditional phone calls into other internet enabled functionalities including emailing, browsing the web, using social media, chatting mobile payments with most of these functionalities being powered using various applications.
In an Ericsson Mobility report earlier this June, it had asserted that the number of Smartphone subscriptions are set to more than double across the world by 2020. It also asserted that by this time, 70 percent of the world´s population will already have a smartphone. Is this possible? Certainly, this is because Africa which has the lowest internet penetration in years past now has become one of the fastest continents rapidly adopting digital and mobile technology across the world. This is because Africa’s population is largely youthful, with close to 70 per cent of its population being millennials – many of its teeming population are already getting accustomed to the presence of phones technology as a normal part of their lives.
How are brands and businesses positioning for this global reality? Take example of Facebook. Before apps became a trend, Facebook had long edged its bet on mobile apps. In early 2014, Facebook made waves in the tech world by acquiring WhatsApp for an astounding $19 Billion even though just a year-and-a-half earlier Facebook had similarly bought over another photo messaging app for $1 billion. While so many people debated about the rationale behind the huge pay-outs for simple messaging apps, the figures today confirm Facebook’s bet. Facebook owns four of the top ten mobile messaging apps downloaded across the world. As the focus on the screens across the world moves from TV to desktops to laptops, tablets and mobile phones, there is the need for brands and businesses to monetize the attention and the people who run the online communities are going to make the big bucks. It is interesting to note that as mobile apps continue to increase, the primary activity of people who use smart phones are also gradually moving away from social networking into mobile messaging far away from prying eyes of advertisers and the public online community. In fact, someone likened communication via social networking as someone attempting to communicate with your friend by pinning a messaging on their door and hoping that they will see it somehow.
To further deepen ideas, thoughts and discussions around mobile in the new economy, TechCabal and WeChat organized the first edition of AfricaBeta event tagged Chat 3.0, which explored the ideas and technologies that are shaping the future of the African continent. Bringing together leading experts from several industries, the event was designed to stir the discussions, debate and explore the possibilities around mobile technology for business. The event also provided some startups the opportunity pitch for business support and to gain development access to the WeChat platform and to develop mobile supported applications and services designed to deepen the use of mobile across the continent. While the event was supported and led by WeChat, it offers so many businesses and industry watchers the opportunity to think around how their businesses will leverage mobile applications in hti rapidly and emerging business landscape.
Telcos on the look out
Are Telcos watching this trend? They’d better be. As far as April 2013, Daniel Thomas had written in the Financial Times about how the rapid rise of chat apps are eating into the profits of traditional mobile telecommunications companies. As customers continue to dump traditional calling for online chat and messaging apps, it is important they understand how the trend affects their business and how to respond accordingly. More and more businesses are using Instagram, Whatsapp, WeChat, Viber, telegram, WhatsApp, most especially small businesses are already using the apps to reach the millennials; a generation basically raised around the evolution of social and mobile technology.
How are businesses looking to use Mobile Messaging Apps for Business?
Online hailing, ordering and kook ups
Mobile apps allow provide your customers with mobile apps that allow your customers to notify you of a pick-up, order of enquiry. Businesses like dry cleaning businesses and taxi services like Uber, TicketMobile, Jekalo and go provide this functionality.
From Mobile Chat to Ecommerce
The power and potential of mobile phone and mobile money is already known across the world. With more than eighty percent of global mobile money transfers happening in Africa, services like MPESA is already teaching the world about the power of mobile money transfer even with feature phones. However, online messaging apps like WeChat is already pushing the envelope into mobile ecommerce by enabling mobile payment functionalities within its messaging application. Popular within China and already with extensive reach across the world, WeChat is one of the world’s fastest growing mobile messaging platforms with an average of 600 million monthly active users globally.
Mobile Chat for Live Support
Mobile messaging apps have continued to help businesses take customer services into the privacy of mobile applications; far away from the traditional channels and desktops for customer service staff. With more and more apps being developed to cater to customer queries and support issues. Apart from using the traditional mobile messaging apps there are bespoke customer service applications designed to extend chat functionalities help integrate online chat into any company’s existing customer relationship management applications. They include Desk, ZenDesk, Parature and Get Satisfaction.
Host Online Classes, Trainings and Q&As
Because of the ability to connect with any one everywhere, small businesses and it was important to connect with the target audience. At some point last year, I had met a friend who consistently runs weight-loss classes on BlackBerry and WhatsApps groups for a fee. Since mobile messaging group allow for group chatting, it provides the opportunity to create online chat groups that cater to your business goals.
The rapidly increasing time being spend by consumers online has continued to encourage start-ups, entrepreneurs and investors to value them highly, even though most of them haven’t got the financial model on the right footing.