Digital mapping: hidden secret of SA business

Digital mapping services have emerged as one of the most powerful growth areas in information technology in South Africa.

January 22, 2013

Digital mapping services have emerged as one of the most powerful growth areas in information technology in South Africa.

According to a survey by World Wide Worx, conducted with the backing of digital mapping provider mapIT, 76% of South African corporations and 38% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) spend more than 2% of their information technology (IT) budgets on mapping services.

The same proportion of SMEs spend more than R50 000 a year on digital mapping, while 79% of corporates have higher budgets – 22% of corporates spend more than R500 000 on digital mapping every year.

“Digital mapping is proving to be the hidden secret weapon of South African business,” says mapIT chief executive officer Etienne Louw. “The research underlines the extent to which large and small businesses alike depend on digital maps not only for navigation and tracking, but also for efficiency, productivity and security.”

The survey was conducted through interviews with 111 IT and logistics decision-makers at South African corporations and 400 business decision-makers at SMEs across South Africa.

“The biggest surprise in the findings was the extent to which budgets are growing,” says World Wide Worx managing director Arthur Goldstuck. “Two-thirds of large corporations and SMEs alike – 69% and 66% respectively – intend to increase their spending on digital mapping services in 2013.”

The primary uses of mapping services revolved around asset tracking services, such as fleet management, vehicle tracking and recovery and navigation. However, marketing was beginning to play an increasing role.

A third of SMEs – 35% – are using digital mapping for location-based marketing (LBM), while a further 19% plan to do so in 2013 – taking the total to more than half. The coming year will see similar take-up in the corporate environment, with 41% already using LBM, and a further 15% intending to do so.

Aside from increasing budgets, the potential for growth in the sector is significant, with more than a quarter of SMEs – 27% – having a budget of less than R10 000 for digital mapping. Among corporates, 21% spend less than R50 000 a year.

“The results speak for themselves,” says Louw. “Those who invest more, are gaining greater advantage.”

Goldstuck adds: “The main reason companies don’t use digital mapping is that they don’t know what it has to offer. A quarter of SMEs say lack of knowledge is the main obstacle to using such tools. For corporations, there were no significant obstacles to using such services.”

Other key data

Most common reasons for using digital mapping services:
For SMEs, it enhances: security (59%), efficiency (39%), productivity (38%).
For corporates, it enhances: security (63%), efficiency (59%), productivity (58%).

Importance of digital mapping services
SMEs: Exactly 50% say the services are important to their business, with only 24% saying its not important.
Corporates: 66% said the services are important to their business.

Satisfaction with digital mapping services
SMEs: A high 72% are satisfied with the quality of the service. Only 8% were not satisfied.
Corporates: A high 76% were satisfied with the quality of service. Only 9% were not satisfied.