Impacting society: Shifts in digital trends

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BY VICTOR ADAR 

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xpeditions Maasai Safaris Limited, Valentines Cake House and BIZNA Kenya painted a bright picture as far as the digital landscape is concerned at a forum on Digital Trends 2019 that was sponsored by Safaricom Limited.

What stood out at the event that was recently held in Nairobi was the fact that techies and corporate organisations are foreseeing fundamental shifts in the digital landscape that will transform consumer behaviour, e-commerce, digital marketing and mobile communication in the near future.

Speakers at the forum where top 25 women and top 25 men in digital sphere in 2018 were unveiled noted that although a lot of developments have been realised in the landscape in 2018, new trends that will redefine consumer behaviour and service delivery will be witnessed in 2019. In fact, it was all of the key differentiators that include new aggregated mobile apps, creativity in content marketing, and artificial intelligence.

Safaricom chief customer care officer, Sylvia Mulinge, observed that due to the increasing demand by consumers for convenience and simplicity when interacting with apps, developers will more likely introduce super apps that aggregate several applications into one that is more user-friendly.

“There is a high probability that for every application that one installs on phone he or she is likely to delete another one because of issues to do with phone memory, so the apps that will tick in the market are those that can deliver more than one service and is easy to interact with,” she said.

Ms Mulinge further noted that artificial intelligence will revolutionalise customer service in 2019 with many service providers opting for chatbots, which act as virtual assistants within mobile applications. The chatbots, already employed by several corporates, can reduce customer service costs by up to 30% and speed up response time by 80% in answering routine questions. For example, Safaricom uses the Zuri chatbot to answer customer queries.

In addition, Mulinge said that companies on the e-commerce platforms will have to personalise customer experience if they are to remain in business. About 48% of consumers, she said, spend more money when shopping online if their experience is personalised and this can most likely bring up to 15% profit boost for companies that personalise e-commerce.

At the same time, East Africa Breweries Limited head of media futures and digital, Waithera Kabiru, said content will still remain key in 2019 and a lot of creativity will be required to successfully deliver messages to target audience.

Ms Kabiru noted that more and more brands will continue to leverage on video content to tell their stories and products. “We will continue to see a rise in video marketing but the success will depend on the content and creativity employed,” she said, adding that there will be increased use of consumers as influencers to push content online.

Joe Njeru, who is chief executive officer of Zilojo, also predicted continued growth of e-commerce, noting that in 2017 alone, 6% of all purchases were online. The influencer marketing, he said will continue to fragment into smaller units with popular influencers being superseded by unknown infinitesimal ones. Mr Njeru said: “Marketers will also go back to the basics where the key thing is to offer solutions and not just to bring on new innovations just for the sake of it.”

The 2018 honourees

The list of Top 25 Women in Digital 2018 unveiled at the same event includes women from corporate, sports, media and entertainment among other industries. They are media personalities Carol Radull, Caroline Kimutai, Grace Msalame and Janet Mbugua, and bloggers Njeri Wangari and Kaluhi Adagala.

Others are Grace Murugi (digital strategist at Safaricom Limited), Josephine Mwangi (communications, marketing and stakeholder relations manager at Nailab Incubation Centre), and Liz Njambi (marketing manager for Uber across East Africa).

Martin Muli, the director of Digitalk Africa Limited said that the top 25 men and women in digital arena are truly remarkable experts in their fields who are passionate about improving the society.

“I offer my sincere congratulations to the 2018 honourees,” said Muli. “Most of them have gone an extra mile to grow the industry and impact the society positively through knowledge sharing, mentorship and community based initiatives that go beyond personal gain… They are innovators, entrepreneurs, corporate trendsetters doing big and small things through digital to make the world a better place.”

Mr Muli further said that the process of nominating the top 25 has been refined to unearth hard working women who may not be in the limelight but have done immense work to better themselves and the society. The process focuses on entrepreneurship, career and innovation. 

The inaugural “Top 25 Women in Digital” recognition happened in 2017 honouring the most influential women in digital sphere in Kenya. However, “The Top 25 Men in Digital” has been included for the first time this year, and indication that digital landscape is continuing to grow.

The top 25 men include comedian Timothy Kimani (alias Njugush), Jumuia Kenya’s MD, Sam Chappate, blogger Jackson Biko, founder of Nendo Mark Kaigwa, Kenya Bloggers Association Chairman Kennedy Kachwanya, and Zilojo CEO Joe Muriithi.

This year, more than 80% of those who have been honoured are career women creating a great need to invest more in entrepreneurship and innovation. More than 70% of the top men are entrepreneurs, a great indication of diverse interest between men and women and the need to bridge the gap.

The transformative nature of the program is unprecedented since it dives deep into knowledge transfer, discovery of girls interested in digital innovation, entrepreneurship and career, knowledge transfer and linkage with the right ecosystem for economic empowerment.