The AIGS Progress Africa [email protected] Conference has revealed interesting trends for cloud and mobile computing in Africa. The conference, which was attended by software developers, business leaders and international delegates from the United States and Europe, focus on key topics pertinent to the South African marketplace, such as Leadership in the digital age, the cloud and the importance of context-aware technology.
During his keynote address, Dan Veitkus, the General Manager (EMEA) for Progress Software said that South African companies should not let current concerns, such as bandwidth capability, prevent them from innovating for the future. “Instead of focusing on the reasons why technologies such as cloud or mobile computing won’t work, South Africans should focus on the benefits of shifting their business and applications into that space…because it is going to happen,” Veitkus emphasised. “We’re seeing a global change in application development. Technologists need to stop selling these incredible ideas to the heads of IT and start talking to the marketing and sales departments who have the larger budgets and are able to sponsor innovation.”
Dion Picco, the Global Director for Product Management, affirmed this as well. “Next-generation applications are going to be deployed on-premise, cloud and hybrid. It’s a well-known fact that cloud-base solutions are growing at a faster rate than on-premise solutions. Think of the implications for development,” he said. “Mobile will also take centre-stage in the next few years. About half of the world’s population are already carrying handsets capable of rich, mobile commerce. Mobile devices are becoming computers in their own right and with that, ability to use location, motion and context to market to customers has been unlocked.”
Picco believes that mobile will impact the way South Africans do business in the next few years and that technologists must start preparing to meet the demand. “Retailers want to be able to detect their customers when they enter a shopping mall, send them marketing messages via SMS, equip them with the means to pay on the spot via their mobile, and then tweet about the experience…after which sentiment analysis surrounding their twitter activity should be conducted. The technology has to be tailored to meet that need within the next few years.”
The Conference also introduced the !Waytag, a free permanent “address” that moves with users wherever they are. This represents a new era of location-aware marketing and development in the country. “Mobility may be the most important trend affecting businesses today,” said Richard Firth, of !Waytag. “But very companies are effectively operating in that space, globally or locally. We wanted to create a tool that would allow companies to speak to individuals on the move and optimise their customer service according to their location.”
Rick Parry, of AIGS, said that he is pleased that local developers are producing applications that address trends that may seem far-off for South Africa. “Historically, we’ve always been behind the technology curve, so to speak, compared to the rest of the world. However, I’m pleased to see that local companies are not only catching up, but leading, in terms of the development of technology that supports trends like mobility, the cloud, and Big Data.”
Cloud analyst Chantel Lindeman from Frost & Sullivan, digital media expert Neil Jacobsohn and former UK CEO of BMW and Porsche Kevin Gaskell served as keynote speakers as well.