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                           



3 Jul 2012

Operators need other players in digital services ecosystem to drive traffic on their networks

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

**** Join us for Day 2 - Tweet about the show #VASAfrica ****    

Today saw the opening of the second annual VAS Africa Com Conference & Exhibition. At the Hilton Hotel in Sandton, Johannesburg, 600 per-registered delegates congregated at this exciting, industry leading event. This year saw huge expansion of the conference from 2011, including an inaugural APPGIG on the opening day, specifically tailored to independent app developers.  This was of course alongside the usual Strategic Keynotes that delegates expect of Com World Series events, with thought leaders and decision makers from organisations across the ecosystem taking to the stage.

Highlights in Day 1 of the conference included a strategic panel debating how best to drive demand for data services, and ensure that all parties benefit. Panellists included the CCO for broadband and data services from Econet Wireless Zimbabwe, Leon De Fleoriot, Bryan Nelson who manages business development for Google, Jose Henriques, CMO for Unitel Angola, Tim Walter, Executive Head of Marketing at Nashua Mobile and Nicholas Okoye, President & CEO of Anabel Mobile - the device manufacturer.

The main message from this panel highlighted that operators are prioritising services which will drive data growth, but don't necessarily have all the means to succeed on their own. In fact, they very much need other parts of the ecosystem, including OTT players with millions of subscribers, the local content providers, app developers and the device manufacturers. These other players wanted to encourage closer partnerships with operators, and more transparency - it was clear that nobody thought it is quite easy enough yet, so there's more work to do and further partnerships to be formed.

After the keynote, the conference split into focus streams, offering greater choice of content, and even more expert speakers.  Conference Manager, Emily Martyr, commented that "VAS Africa 2012 provided an unrivalled opportunity for learning and networking, thanks to the focus on VAS across disciplines, including the big strategic picture, mobile financial services, enterprise services, and more." The greater choice of topics enabled delegates to meet like-minded peers with similar business challenges and concerns.

These meetings were greatly benefitted by the dedicated networking time provided by the event organisers, including the successful VIP Speed Networking session, and then the more relaxed Evening Networking Drinks - delegates certainly made the most of each and every opportunity to talk and exchange ideas.

All in all Day one was a great success, in no small part thanks to the 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.

Day 2 holds even more content and networking & learning opportunities. Google will be presenting other opening keynote, followed by an extended discussion on content, apps and social media - with top speakers including Vodacom SA's Managing Executive for Digital Media, Prins Mhlanga, Universal Music South Africa's MD, Randall Abrahams, mLab SA's CEO, Ben Zaaiman, Mxit's CEO, Alan Knott-Craig, to mention just a few.

Day 2 also heralds the flag ship Mobile Marketing Summit, in partnership with the Mobile Marketing Association - it's a chance for delegates to get a better understanding of the opportunities and challenges in the mobile marketing & advertising space, and a forum at which to mingle with large brands leveraging the mobile channel in Africa.

Finally, the Com World Series team, organisers of VAS Africa made the exciting announcement that the 2013 event will be realigned with changing market priorities, and will change from VAS Africa, to be called Digital Services Africa in 2013! This change is reflecting the expansive services now available over mobile and digital channels - no longer do all players recognise the term Value Added Services, but in fact more segments of the ecosystem will be included in this umbrella event name, including cloud, m2m, TV, IPTV & other content broadcasting, and more! It's one not to be missed.

What are your thoughts on this year's Vas Africa Conference and exhibition?   
Tweet about your experience using #VASAfrica @allaboutcom on twitter!
Take a look at the photos from the packed busy conference on Google+
Click here: http://bit.ly/NtIVod
Big thank you to our 2012 Sponsors:

BCX (Business Connexion)
Join us for Day 2! 

How to get there:
Hilton Sandton
138 Rivonia Road
South Africa
Tel: +27 011 322 1888
View the directions: http://bit.ly/9orv4V