Our Digital and Tech programme is a key focus and we recently partnered with AfricaCom, the largest tech conference in Africa, on two of their new streams: Internet of Things (IoT) and Smart Cities Africa, and Big Data.

Pieter Vorster, Chief Analytics Officer: Big Data and Analytics at Barclays Africa on Data Analytics and Actionable Insights, spoke about how real-time CRM is the best actionable insights businesses can have. Pieter said that data is increasing and companies need an omni-channel analytics platform linking digital assets to call centres and face-to-face engagements. Then analytics gets close to predicting near real-time behaviour. ABSA banks 7 of the 9 major retailers and they are working on predicting life stages, spend patterns and understanding consumer behaviour for timely product offer placement. Artificial intelligence bots are now reacting like, and computing much more information than, humans and ABSA conducted an interesting Facebook campaign with a bot to engage with millennials who are less prone to having credit cards. The take-up rate was 26% from engaging with the bot, 66% when offered a free product, and a five times better ROI than traditional campaigns.

In the Roadmap to Smart Cape Town session, Rudy Abrahams, Manager: SAP ERP Support Centre, City of Cape Town highlighted the City of Cape Town approach to Smart City initiatives. As urbanisation increases, the City of Cape Town has a focused strategy from the top: Mayor Patricia de Lille said that “the City will be driven by data and evidence, focusing relentlessly on our customers: the people of Cape Town.” The City has had a few key projects as part of their journey towards a Digital City: the Smart Cape launch; the SAP-ERP system launch – globally recognised for a visionary use of IT by Computer World Honors 21 Century Achievement Award; the roll-out of the broadband Metro Area Network; and the creation of a Digital City Strategy with a Digital City Work Group. The City’s Digital City Strategy has four pillars including; Digital Government, Digital Inclusion, Digital Economy and Digital Infrastructure with key projects in each pillar. Rudy encouraged greater collaboration between business and the City and urged the use of City data though the Open Data portal.

Simon Carpenter, Chief Technology Officer, SAP highlighted that by 2050, 80% of the world’s population will be urbanised, generating 80% of GDP, but consuming 80% of the world’s resources. Africa’s rate of urbanisation is the highest in the world. Smart Cities understand that data is the new oil and every city needs to become more effective and efficient to drive economic growth. The digital revolution is going to be profound, but data needs to provide implementable insight to be valuable. Every city must re-imagine the digital future with a digital platform such as the SAP HANA Platform to ensure data integration.

Wolf Stinnes, Chief Solutions Architect for Smart Cities and IoT, Dimension Data MEA said IoT is everywhere and sensors have become more affordable with greater computational ability enabling cities to do more with less. The IoT World Forum IoT Reference Model shows what IoT entails from physical devices and controllers, to edge computing and collaboration. The real value of the data is correlation of different data sets over time. Supporting Smart Cape Town, Dimension Data projects with the City have included the enhanced facilities management platform for multi-factor analysis of building and systems performance; the Cape Town Stadium which was built as a smart building; and the MyCiTi wifi bus pilot.