By Ivy Njeru, Account Executive at Infobip Kenya
Digital transformation is well underway in the East Africa region, with Kenya specifically at the forefront of the emerging technology innovation landscape on the continent.
This is largely due to the government’s heavy investment in the country’s broadband sector, with no less than four undersea fibre optic cables now landing off the coast of Kenya. This, in turn, has driven widespread fixed and mobile internet penetration in the country to a level of 85.2% of the population.
Additionally, Kenya recently became the second country on the continent to launch a 5G network. The initial rollout covers four towns and is expected to grow to nine over the next year. It is expected that the launch of 5G services will be a boost for technology adoption and innovation among local businesses.
Fundamentally, the adoption of 5G technology will transform the way people live and work, with faster connectivity speeds supporting the rollout of better services and innovative solutions that are likely to span various industries and business sectors. For example, this technology will enable the establishment of smart cities, smart homes, smart agriculture, as well as connected healthcare and vehicles.
New ways to communicate
There is no doubt that Kenya’s growing internet penetration has also significantly changed the way in which people communicate. The availability of high-speed connectivity has seen an increasing number of people using chat apps to communicate, rather than relying on traditional voice calls. This has also invariably led to an uptake of social media and messaging platforms as a means of communication between brands and consumers and will require businesses to deliver an enhanced customer experience (CX).
One of the biggest benefits of 5G connectivity is the delivery of high-speed internet, which allows for better quality of video streaming and rich media sharing, enabling an improved CX. It is therefore important that companies continue to invest in technology that drives customer engagement.
However, in order to develop successful communication strategies, organisations must be aware of the fact that customer communication preferences have changed, with people expecting to interact with brands anytime, anywhere, and over any device. To remain relevant, brands must be able to deliver highly personalised and meaningful content over their customers’ preferred channels.
To do this effectively, organisations must know their customers and ensure that they are able to connect with them on whichever channel they may choose to use. For example, if a customer is mostly using WhatsApp as their preferred channel of communication, they will most likely want their bank to also be available on this platform.
Boosting the economy
Robust connectivity and digital technology will also boost the country’s economy by driving competitiveness and eCommerce. It will provide economic growth too by facilitating innovation that will see companies able to introduce new products and services faster than ever before. Most companies in Kenya are increasingly taking advantage of the high connectivity rate across the region to keep up with digital customer expectations. This practice is set to gather further momentum and lead not only to increased operational efficiency, but also help brands differentiate, as they leverage smart and connected devices to create new services aligned with brand promises
Digital transformation of this type will positively impact productivity too with more streamlined approaches and automation. Technologies such as Machine Learning (ML), AI, IOT all thrive on 5G and will enable companies to replace costly and cumbersome manual processes. Many conversations will be able to take place using chatbots for example, which further increase efficiencies for customer facing businesses, while customers will delight in the speed of response and resolution to queries.
Moreover, robust connectivity and digital technology is also key for obtaining Business Intelligence (BI) that will ultimately accelerate and drive revenue growth as more information on customer trends, intent and preferences will be available in the market. Businesses will be able to innovate around the availability of this data and deliver better products and services, thus leading to more growth.
As digital transformation continues to advance across the African continent, digital platforms are fast becoming the preferred channels to accessing products and services for a growing number of people. Mobile operators are doing their part in upgrading infrastructure and deploying 5G. Therefore, investing in the right technology and communication solutions today will form the bedrock for Kenya’s future economic success.