Channel businesses should aim for digital inclusion

While the term ‘digital disruption’ continues to instil a sense of urgency and pressure among businesses, especially among smaller channel operators, the reality is that businesses should aim for digital inclusion and adopt an intelligent, clear approach.

It is a clear misperception of the reality of the marketplace and of being a part of the digital landscape, says Chris Daffy, Chief Commercial Officer at MobileData, a South African technology service provider focused on payment facilitation, mobile virtual operator enablement and prepaid electronic value distribution.

He says many smaller operators do business under the false belief that inclusion requires a substantial investment in time, money and other resources.

“Like any business it is best to start with a plan. The amount of people needed is relative to your circumstances and size,” says Daffy.

And any plan to become digitally inclusive should start with web presence – and head straight to www.startwithwhy.com to secure a simple website landing page with contact details.

Says Daffy, “You could even do this for free with Facebook.  if you have a home industry and want to sell stuff online then you need the web site to have e-commerce capabilities, with a shopping mall and checkout.”

MobileData explains that social media and networks represent a plethora of readily available resources that can be exploited to enforce an effective digital inclusion plan.

“In this day and age YouTube and Google is your friend, if you want to know how to do it, then just ask. You must come up with a social media (interactive Web 2.0 Internet-based applications) plan and stick to it. Only use the social media suitable for you. This includes: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest etc,” Daffy continues.

“Once you are active on a site like Facebook ensure you stick to it. All of these have options to enhance your services and advertise for a small fee. This is an easy way to get going. You can also use bots to automate your social media interactions. (controversial but it does work – ask Bell Pottinger!),” he adds.

Aim for nothing less than brilliant user interface! UI.

MobileData’s viewpoint is before acquiring a web presence, it is important to understand the complexity involved – with user experience being the predominant factor.

The company explains that a site has to be effective, easily navigated, functional and interesting, anything less will impact negatively on user experience and ultimately do more harm than good for a business.

“As the complexity and requirements become greater, it is probably a good idea to pay someone,” says Daffy. “The same goes for an app.”

The first question to ask is ‘why is this required’?  if there is a valid reason, then a good multi-form function web page can achieve the results required – until a bespoke native iOS and Android App is required.

“The next step is to have an SEO (search engine optimisation) plan. It is useless to have a web page and no one can find it. Google AdWords are relatively inexpensive and you can do this yourself. Use the interactive tools and online tuition to be able to use Google Analytics. As with building your site when the complexity grows think of outsourcing,” Daffy concludes.

MobileData explains that while cost is always a consideration, especially for small channel operators. In the case of digital inclusion, evaluating the cost is a matter of determining the price of not having someone attend to the inclusive decisions made.