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Why Sustainable Supply Chains are Critical for the Channel

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By Bradley Pulford

The need for sustainable business practices is becoming weightier by the moment. With headlines dominated by protesting students and images of plastic waste polluting our waterways and oceans, we now live in a world that is awakened to the necessity for businesses to ensure they are not negatively impacting our planet but helping to reduce their carbon footprint.

As Gen Z enters the workforce with clear purpose and enlightened consumers put pressure on businesses to offer transparency around supply chains, all industries are faced with the same prospect: adapt or be disrupted.

Success is, and will increasingly be, defined by a business’ ability to demonstrate its focus on sustainability.

That means more than just lip service, and for the channel it requires smarter collaboration and shared goals. From energy hungry data centres, to increasingly complex supply chains, the technology sector has a huge role to play. Like all other industries there are environmental, social and economic implications.

In fact, the technology that is set to tighten up sustainable practices will by default be data-centric and lead to further pressure on the channel to build environmentally sensitive, resource savvy supply chains and practices.

By now we all know that a data explosion is on the horizon. According to an IDC report, the Global Datasphere – a measure of how much new data is created and replicated each year – will grow by more than five times over the next seven years. The total amount of new data created in 2025 is forecast to increase to 175ZB from 33ZB in 2018.

The report suggests that nearly a third of the Global Datasphere will be driven by growth of video surveillance, signals from IoT devices, metadata, and entertainment.

One of the top five fastest-growing segments of data creation is attributed to user-created and user-consumed online video like YouTube. We’re on the cusp of an incredibly exciting moment technologically and businesses are looking for trusted advisors to provide intimate knowledge of their environments, to guide them through tailored transformations that enable them to seize the opportunities afoot. And sustainability must be a part of this equation.

Some businesses may still be ‘scratching their heads’ when it comes to truly understanding what the term sustainability means for them.

For example, Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) is a process by which public authorities seek to achieve the right balance between the three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social and environmental – when procuring goods, services or works at all stages of the project.

This is the point at which channel partners could find themselves in a tight spot, when a potential customer asks at the point of tender how their business is working towards minimising its impact on the world? Those prepared with comprehensive and concrete proof-points are more likely to win the deal – and rightly so.

As the IT industry grows and data centres boom, it is important that partners take this seriously. But ultimately, businesses need to be led by example – and that needs to be set by the government. Improvements in sustainability practices can be influenced from the outside in, with the EU Public Procurement Directive of 2014 stating that businesses must consider how sustainable their IT choices are, instead of focusing on competitive pricing, the initiative is there.

But this needs to backed-up by and scaled out with businesses across all industries being held to account under the same guidelines – creating standardised and easily navigable goals.

Take for example, the EU Commission-funded EURECA project, which was set up to help public sector organisations across seven European countries to identify the environmental and financial impacts of their data centres.

In 2018, after three years of work, the project revealed that assessing 350 public sector data centres helped save 45 gigawatt hours of energy a year and €4.5m in cost savings annually.

This calls to attention both the environmental and financial burdens that hidden unsustainable practices and technologies can bring to an organization, as well as the substantial gains that can be made from tweaks to existing process and operations.

With pressure from end-customers and policy-led sustainability requirements and government initiatives raising the bar, channel partners need to look internally, too. After all, trust in a company starts with transparency and customers expect it.

This means creating open, knowledge sharing relationships with partners and peers in order to progress sustainable working practices – and from collaboration, innovation is born. Supporting and empowering those in the supply chain to evolve and align will only bolster transparency and trust.

Ultimately, progressing towards sustainable supply chain goals gives businesses a competitive edge, while contributing to the ongoing innovation set to enable future businesses – in a world where environmental and social resources are gold. But no partner is in it alone, the extraordinary is only achieved together and that includes sustainability.

Bradley Pulford, is Senior Director, Channel Sales, Africa, Dell


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E-Business

Sterling Bank Adopts Blockchain Technology to Revolutionise Credential Verification

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Sterling Bank, has partnered with the School of Politics, Policy, and Governance (SPPG) to revolutionise credential verification through blockchain technology.

The bank in a statement noted that this collaboration marks a significant milestone in enhancing the efficiency, security, and accessibility of academic credentials in Nigeria.

Commenting on the collaboration, the Chief Growth Officer Sterling Bank, Obinna Ukachukwu, stated: “We are thrilled to partner with VX Technologies and SPPG to introduce this game-changing initiative.

“We believe in the power of innovation to drive progress and transform lives at Sterling Bank. By supporting the adoption of blockchain technology in education, we are not only revolutionizing credential verification but also advancing our H.E.A.R.T strategy for Education, which prioritizes Access and Equity.”

On his part, Ryan Hawkos, Director of Operations, VX Technologies, added: “We are pleased to acknowledge the impactful generosity of Sterling Bank, who has provided the funding necessary for the initial phase of this project. This support ensures that thousands of SPPG alumni can access their digital certificates, with the first one thousand certificates being provided at no cost.”

According to the Chief Executive Officer of SPPG, Alero Ayida-Otobo, “Sterling Bank’s commitment to quality and positive educational experiences for people is yet again demonstrated here in their commitment to supporting the adoption of innovative technology across the educational ecosystem.

“We are one of the first institutions in Nigeria to embrace blockchain for academic credential management, and we look forward to a near future where this is the norm across Nigeria,” he added.


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NDPC Slams N400m Fine on Four Banks, Three Firms for Data Violation

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Nigeria Data Protection Commission (NDPC), has fined four banks and three companies N400 million for breaching data of Nigerians.

NDPC Slams N400m Fine on Four Banks, Three Firms for Data Violation

Vincent Olatunji, national commissioner, NDPC,

The NDPC also said that over the past year, more than 1000 financial institutions, schools, insurance companies, and consultancy firms have undergone investigations for breaches of citizens’ data.

Vincent Olatunji, national commissioner, NDPC, disclosed this while speaking of the implementation of the NDPC Act, since June 14 when the nation’s data protection law was enacted.

He added that there are ongoing investigations concerning data infractions.

According to Olatunji the activities of the NDPC have led to increased levels of compliance with the Nigeria Data Protection Act in both the private and public sectors.

He said: “When we started, the level of compliance within the private sector was about 49 percent while the public sector was 4 percent. But today, private sector compliance is above 55, while the public sector has reached 15 percent,” Olatunji said.

“The nation’s data ecosystem is now worth over N10 billion and the commission considers it imperative to ensure that citizens’ data are safe, secure and protected in line with global best standards and practices.”

He further said Nigeria is now at the forefront of the activities of the global data assembly due to the Data Protection Act 2023 and the impact of the data ecosystem on the national economy as nations like Kenya, Ghana, China, Singapore, and Malaysia, among others now share experiences with Nigeria.

“The Data Protection Act 2023 is a major milestone for Nigeria. Mr President laid our apprehension to rest when he signed the Act on June 12, 2023,” he said.

“It was a major turnaround for the industry. Now the data ecosystem is beyond everybody because it is a global phenomenon due to the impact of technology.

“In terms of jobs and wealth creation, promotion of tourism, perception and attraction of foreign direct investments into Nigeria, we have taken a leapfrog and even overtaken some countries.

“And that’s why Nigeria was given the hosting right for 2024 All African Data Protection Commission’s and Institutions. About 30 countries will be here next year for the event.”

Olatunji said the NDPC now collaborates with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), the Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency of Nigeria (SMEDAN), and other regulatory organisations to make sure stakeholders under their supervision abide by the Data Protection Act.

According to Olatunji, capacity building, awareness raising, and stakeholder engagement have raised the bar for compliance within the ecosystem.

He also said to check the activities of digital loan platforms, the commission collaborated with CBN, the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) and other regulatory authorities.

The national commissioner, however, said awareness would continue to be created for vulnerable Nigerians who become victims of the loan sharks due to ignorance.

Olatunji also said the country’s population and landmass are a challenge to a total clampdown on the digital loan sharks as most of them operate from isolated or remote areas without known addresses.

 

 

 


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AI in African Marketing: Transforming Customer Engagement and Efficiency

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By Reuben Kalu

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is revolutionizing industries globally, and marketing is no exception. For organizations in Africa, adopting AI marketing strategies presents a significant opportunity to enhance competitiveness, drive growth, and navigate the complexities of the digital landscape.

AI in African Marketing: Transforming Customer Engagement and Efficiency

This essay explores how African organizations can effectively leverage AI marketing to gain a competitive edge, focusing on the benefits, strategies, and practical applications.

Understanding AI Marketing

AI marketing involves using artificial intelligence technologies to analyze data, automate tasks, and optimize marketing efforts.

It encompasses a wide range of tools and techniques, including machine learning, natural language processing, predictive analytics, and chatbot automation.

These technologies enable marketers to gain deeper insights into consumer behavior, personalize marketing campaigns, and improve overall efficiency.

Benefits of AI Marketing for African Organizations

Enhanced Customer Insights:

AI tools can analyze vast amounts of data to uncover patterns and trends that provide valuable insights into customer preferences and behaviors.

This enables organizations to tailor their marketing strategies to better meet the needs and expectations of their target audience.

Personalized Marketing:

AI allows for hyper-personalization of marketing campaigns.

By analyzing individual customer data, organizations can create personalized content, offers, and recommendations, leading to higher engagement rates and improved customer satisfaction.

Improved Efficiency and Productivity:

AI can automate repetitive marketing tasks such as data analysis, content creation, and customer segmentation.

This frees up time for marketers to focus on strategic activities and creative thinking, thereby increasing overall productivity.

Predictive Analytics:

AI-powered predictive analytics can forecast future trends, consumer behavior, and market dynamics. This helps organizations to make data-driven decisions, optimize marketing strategies, and stay ahead of the competition.

Cost Savings:

By automating routine tasks and optimizing marketing efforts, AI can reduce operational costs. Additionally, more targeted and effective marketing campaigns lead to better returns on investment (ROI).

Strategies for Implementing AI Marketing

  1. Invest in Data Infrastructure

The foundation of effective AI marketing is high-quality data. Organizations need to invest in robust data infrastructure to collect, store, and manage data from various sources. This includes customer data, social media interactions, website analytics, and sales records. Implementing data management platforms (DMPs) and customer relationship management (CRM) systems can help in organizing and leveraging data for AI applications.

  1. Adopt AI Tools and Platforms

There are numerous AI tools and platforms available that cater to different aspects of marketing. Organizations should evaluate their specific needs and choose the right tools to integrate into their marketing operations. Some popular AI marketing tools include:

Google Analytics: For data analysis and insights.

HubSpot: For marketing automation and CRM.

Hootsuite: For social media management.

IBM Watson: For advanced AI applications like predictive analytics and chatbot automation.

  1. Focus on Customer Experience

AI can significantly enhance customer experience by providing personalized and timely interactions. Implementing AI-powered chatbots and virtual assistants can offer 24/7 customer support, answer queries, and assist with transactions. Additionally, using AI to analyze customer feedback and sentiment can help in improving products and services.

  1. Leverage Predictive Analytics

Predictive analytics uses historical data and machine learning algorithms to predict future outcomes. African organizations can leverage predictive analytics to forecast demand, identify emerging trends, and optimize marketing campaigns. For instance, retailers can use predictive analytics to manage inventory and reduce stockouts.

  1. Create Personalized Content

AI can help in creating personalized content that resonates with the target audience. Content recommendation engines, powered by AI, can suggest relevant articles, videos, or products to individual users based on their past behavior and preferences. This enhances user engagement and drives conversions.

  1. Optimize Ad Campaigns

AI can optimize advertising campaigns by analyzing performance data and making real-time adjustments. Programmatic advertising platforms use AI to automatically buy and place ads in the most effective channels, targeting the right audience at the right time. This improves ad performance and reduces wasted ad spend.

  1. Train and Upskill Employees

To successfully implement AI marketing, organizations need to invest in training and upskilling their employees. Marketing teams should be well-versed in AI technologies and their applications. Providing training programs, workshops, and certifications can help in building the necessary skills and knowledge.

  1. Collaborate with AI Experts

Collaborating with AI experts and technology partners can provide valuable insights and guidance. Organizations can work with AI consultants, data scientists, and technology vendors to develop and implement effective AI marketing strategies. These collaborations can also help in staying updated with the latest AI trends and innovations.

Practical Applications of AI Marketing in African Organizations

  1. Retail Industry

The retail industry in Africa can benefit immensely from AI marketing. By analyzing customer data, retailers can understand shopping patterns, preferences, and trends. AI can also help in managing inventory, predicting demand, and optimizing pricing strategies. Personalized marketing campaigns can drive customer loyalty and increase sales.

  1. Financial Services

AI marketing can transform the financial services sector by providing personalized financial advice, automating customer support, and detecting fraudulent activities. Banks and financial institutions can use AI to analyze transaction data, identify potential risks, and offer tailored financial products and services to customers.

  1. Healthcare

In the healthcare sector, AI can improve patient engagement and communication. AI-powered chatbots can provide instant responses to patient queries, schedule appointments, and offer medical advice. Predictive analytics can help in identifying health trends and managing resources effectively.

  1. Travel and Tourism

The travel and tourism industry can leverage AI to enhance customer experience and streamline operations. AI can analyze travel data to offer personalized travel recommendations, optimize pricing, and manage bookings. Chatbots can provide real-time assistance to travelers, helping with itineraries, reservations, and travel updates.

  1. Agriculture

AI can revolutionize agriculture in Africa by providing data-driven insights into crop management, weather patterns, and soil conditions. Farmers can use AI to optimize irrigation, predict crop yields, and manage pests. AI-powered platforms can connect farmers with buyers, improving market access and profitability.

  1. Education

In the education sector, AI can personalize learning experiences, automate administrative tasks, and provide insights into student performance. Educational institutions can use AI to offer tailored learning programs, monitor student progress, and identify areas for improvement.

Case Studies of AI Marketing Success in Africa

  1. Jumia

Jumia, Africa’s leading e-commerce platform, has successfully integrated AI into its marketing strategies. By analyzing customer data, Jumia offers personalized product recommendations and targeted marketing campaigns. AI-powered chatbots provide instant customer support, enhancing the shopping experience.

  1. MTN

MTN, a major telecommunications company in Africa, uses AI to optimize its marketing efforts.

By leveraging predictive analytics, MTN can identify customer churn, personalize offers, and improve customer retention.

AI-driven insights help in understanding customer preferences and tailoring marketing strategies accordingly.

 

  1. Flutterwave

Flutterwave, a leading fintech company in Africa, uses AI to enhance its financial services. AI-powered fraud detection systems help in identifying and preventing fraudulent transactions. Personalized marketing campaigns drive customer engagement and increase the adoption of Flutterwave’s payment solutions.

Challenges and Considerations

While the benefits of AI marketing are significant, there are also challenges that African organizations need to consider:

Data Privacy and Security:

Collecting and analyzing customer data raises concerns about privacy and security. Organizations must ensure compliance with data protection regulations and implement robust security measures to protect sensitive information.

Cost and Resource Constraints:

Implementing AI marketing requires significant investment in technology, infrastructure, and talent. Organizations with limited resources may find it challenging to adopt AI solutions. Exploring partnerships and collaborations can help mitigate these constraints.

Talent Shortage:

There is a shortage of skilled AI professionals in Africa. Organizations need to invest in training and development programs to build the necessary expertise. Collaborating with academic institutions and technology partners can also help in addressing this talent gap.

Cultural and Market Diversity:

Africa is a diverse continent with varying cultural and market dynamics. AI marketing strategies need to be tailored to local contexts and preferences. Understanding regional differences and customizing approaches can enhance the effectiveness of AI marketing campaigns.

Conclusion

AI marketing presents a transformative opportunity for African organizations to enhance their competitiveness and drive growth.

By investing in data infrastructure, adopting AI tools, and focusing on customer experience, organizations can unlock the full potential of AI marketing.

Practical applications across various industries, such as retail, financial services, healthcare, travel, agriculture, and education, demonstrate the versatility and impact of AI.

Despite the challenges, the benefits of AI marketing far outweigh the risks. By addressing data privacy concerns, managing resource constraints, building talent, and understanding cultural diversity, African organizations can successfully implement AI marketing strategies.

Embracing AI marketing will not only improve marketing efficiency but also contribute to the overall economic development of the continent.

In conclusion, the future of marketing in Africa lies in the intelligent use of AI. Organizations that proactively adopt and integrate AI marketing will be better positioned to compete in the global market, drive innovation, and achieve sustainable growth.

 

 

 


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