4 Jul 2012

Social Media Teaches Operators How to Manage Millions of Users Each Day

VAS Africa                    
3-4 July 2012              
Hilton Sandton                   
Johannesburg, SA         

The second day of VAS Africa has closed in Johannesburg, South Africa to great acclaim. For the second year in a row the event has provided an important platform for VAS experts

from the telecommunications, media & ICT industry in Africa.  Furthermore, this second annual event was far more extensive than the 2011 event, both in terms of content, and in terms of including more of the 'disruptive' players in the ecosystem. Day 2 in the conference keynotes was all about focusing on this potentially disruptive element, as operator executives spoke alongside social media and OTT gurus.

The day kicked off with Google's speech, delivered by business development expert Bryan Nelson, about how local content & app providers must make their offerings more 'searchable'.  The keynotes then saw a fantastic 'Ecosystem Brainstorm' with leading experts Prins Mhlanga, Managing Exec. of Vodacom's Digital Media, Maxime Cuvellier, business development for Orange Technocentre, Randall Abrahams, MD at Universal Music SS, Ben Zaaiman, CEO of mLab SA and Andrew Herd, Multi-Media Manager at ABN Digital. The audience thoroughly enjoyed the discourse between these different players in  the ecosystem, but what became clear was that operators have a need to take the lead in important matters like billing for content, and that a lot of simplification of such systems still needs to take place.

The conference then moved on to focus in particular on the social media side of things, with illuminating presentations from both Vodacom'ss Prins Mhlanga, and the CEO of popular social networking platform Mxit, Alan Knott-Craig.  The audience then benefitted from a 'Social Media Panel & Tweetathon' with questions for the panel being delivered from the audience via Twitter using #VASAfrica.  The panel really addressed controversial issues challenging providers of social networking platforms, including child protection controls, and general privacy rules. Expert opinions and examples from Alan Knott-Craig, Nic Haralambous, CEO of Motribe, Tshepo Selokela, Tech 'Bunny' at Cell C's Customer Support Office and Bradley Shaw, Tech Editor at Rolling Stones Magazine.  The clear message from the panel was that operators really need to modernise and pick up pace if they want to compete with successful social networking players like Mxit. In fact, Alan Knott-Craig did not hold back in letting the audience know that the traffic on operator's networks in a month is comparable to that on Mxit's platform in a day. The network isn't overwhelmed because the software engineering used by Mxit is far more capable than the systems in use by operators - so there are definitely still lessons to be learned.

The rest of the day was dedicated to the inaugural Mobile Marketing Summit, proudly in partnership with the Mobile Marketing Association SA, with a real focus on issues like; how to reach African consumers through mobile, how to guaranty quality content, using mobile to build relationships with lower-income consumers, examining whether Africa is ready for apps, and leveraging the mobile web in a meaningful way. Simultaneously there were fascinating VAS case studies from mPedigree, Orange Community Phone Project, Dr. Math and the BBC Worldeide Service.

This could not have been achieved without event sponsors Comviva, Spice, Business Connexion, Intersec, Huawei, SSD-TECH, Adaffix & Lumata, without whom the free passes for operators, app developers and other key industry segments would not have been possible. Thank you to our Sponsors!

See You Next Year!

Re-Aligned focus for 2013:
Digital Services Africa                    
25-26 June 2013             
Sandton Convention Centre