Everyone deserves the benefits of a modern connected life, which is why MTN Business continues to spearhead digital transformation through its continued sponsorship of the MTN Business App of the Year Awards, just one part of how we’re investing in the growth of the South African app ecosystem.
This project spearheads progress by creating a platform for solutions that make a better South Africa possible by nurturing entrepreneurship. Thus, the awards have a double impact: not only do they provide solutions for some of South Africans’ most pressing business and personal needs, they also offer developers the opportunity to make a meaningful living from their passion projects.
As a complementary project, the MTN Business App Academy has made a meaningful contribution to this process. We launched this initiative because we noticed that entries for the MTN Business App of the Year Awards were stagnated, and we wanted to stimulate even more interest and activity in the sector.
The Academy was born out of an awareness that there were many insightful people who had ideas for app-based solutions that responded to everyday challenges, but they weren’t developers and they didn’t know how or where to connect with the right people. Similarly, there are so many developers who are brilliant at coding and creating applications – but who don’t have insight into the nuanced challenges faced by varying clients, environments, or ecosystems.
The first round of entries for the MTN Business App Academy vastly exceeded our expectations: we were hoping for 50 entrants, and instead received 200. However, it was then that the pandemic struck and Level 5 risk management regulations were implemented – but a quick pivot to an online environment boosted enrolments to close on 1000! If ever proof was needed that the fourth industrial revolution enables digital transformation, it was certainly very clear at that moment!
Our drivers behind the MTN Business App of the Year Awards, and now the MTN Business App Academy, are to create and highlight a marketplace so that end users are aware of the vast range of home-grown South African apps that are available to them, and where they can actively engage with them. This in turn facilitates the apps’ commercial success for those that developed them, making success more accessible and achievable, so that they no longer have to wait for that ‘stroke of luck’ for their app to be noticed and adopted.
MTN Business’s investment into the app ecosystem is just one proof-point of how we are evolving from our legacy as a telco that provided voice and data connectivity to our clients, to our future as a techco that provides meaningful technology based solutions to our clients. This goes far beyond connecting people via voice and data – it includes mobile financial services and enterprise solutions, among others, as we continue our leadership in digital transformation.
We’ve done this in response to changing South African consumer behavior, which we’ve noticed is slowly moving more and more towards digital transformation. We’re helping consumers along this journey with ‘baby’ steps, with first-time users starting with entry-level games before venturing into news feeds and social media. The final leap of faith is into app-based financial services, which unleashes a whole new universe of potential solutions, including cashless and cardless transactions, and customized content based on location.
Part of this journey is helping technology skeptics understand that not everyone – or every app – is out to take something from them and that digitalization is indeed a journey towards progress. It’s true of this journey that the more accustomed users become to the few apps that they start out with, the more open they are to trying new apps, which in turn offer new ways of solving everyday challenges.
These ‘baby’ steps in the journey towards digitalization have seen a dramatic increase in data consumption, with MTN Business customers using 50% more data during the hard lockdown periods during 2020, compared to similar periods the previous year. This increase in data use can be ascribed to an increase in the number of websites and apps used by people confined to their homes, as well as increased online engagement, as many turned to online platforms to keep a semblance of contact with their friends, family, and work colleagues.
Our focus on encouraging app development is about creating a community where creators and consumers can meet, and to promote networking between those with ideas, and those with the ability to make those ideas into reality. There’s already been success with platforms like Matric Live. Already we have seen big names emerge from our Awards, such as Snapscan and Bottles, which underscores the importance of investing in innovation.
The opportunities really are endless – as endless as South Africans imaginations, and their determination to overcome every obstacle in their path with passion and creative energy. It’s this combination that’s sure to see many more successful South African app-based businesses emerging – and we’re only too glad to have created platforms that can help them succeed.