This year is set to be a big year for the country because of the 2010 FIFA World Cup coming to South Africa. But it's also big, given the country is coming out of a recession. Cost-cutting and optimisation are key for companies this year, and mobile technology provides a number of ways for companies to improve efficiencies, while reducing costs.
Here are 10 mobile business trends to be seen in 2010 in line with this.
Mobile MMS statements: this global technology was first developed right here in South Africa. And with companies such as Multichoice, the Ellerines Group and Deloitte all becoming involved in using mobile statements, it will play a big role in reducing costs and improving efficiencies in the sending out of statements. This will also be a driving force in the corporate sector for carbon points, as MMS statements are a green product. In addition, statements may include company specials - opening up another marketing avenue to the client.
Mobile banking: the strong growth of mobile banking will partner with the above trend as people get their statements via MMS, and settle those accounts immediately by logging on via mobile Internet banking. Mobile banking also represents an ideal way for banks to increase reach and reduce queues in branches, lowering costs.
Mobile ticketing: while this technology has been available for some time in South Africa, the integration with companies' backend applications has made mobile ticketing's progress slow. However, as ticketing technology evolves, the likes of the airlines, the Gautrain, movie theatres and more will soon begin using mobile ticketing.
Increased smartphone penetration: smartphones continue to drop in price, increasing their penetration into the market. More sophisticated phones result in more mobile marketing opportunities for companies through mobile web advertising, MMS, mobile branded gaming and more.
Mobile applications: the application stores launched by Apple, Google (Android OS), Nokia and so on are leading to a much wider array of mobile applications, which will drive mobile commerce to be a major force within the next five years - especially as people become more aware of their mobile phone's computing power. Microsoft's Windows Mobile, Symbian's S60, the Maemo platform and RIM's BlackBerry will all contribute to different applications for different lifestyle sectors like business, sport, leisure and so on. These are, of course, linked directly to the growth in smartphone penetration into the market.
Mobile advertising: local mobile websites (mobisites) have carried little advertising in the past as companies came to grips with reaching the market through this new channel and companies with mobisites have looked to boost their readership numbers. However, mobile advertising is on the increase on mobisites, with banner advertising becoming more prevalent and text advertising expected to feature strongly in 2010.
Mobile advertising via MMS, which is already big in this country, will continue to grow as more and more corporate companies use MMS. This technology has proven to have around a 40% response rate in campaigns, which is far higher than traditional marketing response rates.
Mobile marketing diversification and integration: as the suite of mobile marketing options continues to grow, so companies will not only begin to use a broader range of technology within the mobile sphere to interact with their base, but they will also integrate mobile marketing into the traditional marketing mix, with strategic interplay between the two. This will see mobile marketing becoming a real force into the future, with mobile marketing running side by side with traditional marketing in terms of marketing spend.
Mobile broadband usage: this will increase for a host of reasons. Better download speeds; the increase in the number of mobisites and mobile content; the increase of mobile GPS navigator devices in the market (which have a data component); and increased instant messaging usage from mobile phones are just some of the driving factors here.
Mobile TV: DVBH technology has been around for some time. But licensing issues around owning a TV licence and broadcast rights have been holding up the market. However, there appears to be forward movement within the industry now and we could well see an offering coming into the market. While DVBH resolution is not quite as high as PAL, many of the phones support a video-out, which means the phones can be plugged into TV sets. Though this would not provide the viewing quality which most digital TV subscribers are used to, it would open up digital TV to a much wider audience in South Africa.
Location-based mobile services: these will continue to flourish as the social media phenomenon moves into the mapping space and a greater number of phones carry GPS receivers and location-based applications. Mobile marketing based on people's location will also begin to grow in 2010, with increased profiling of users and adverts being served to people based on their locations.
Eddie Groenewald is the CEO of mobile marketing company Multimedia Solutions (www.multimediasolutions.co.za). He has 18 years experience in the telecoms industry, of which more than a decade has been in the mobile sector. He is responsible for driving multimedia solutions business strategy both locally and internationally.
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