Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Big firms keen to invest in brand entrepreneurs

Picture: THINKSTOCKSOUTH African entrepreneurs are likely to soon see the benefits of enterprise-driven innovation — a concept making headway around the world. Large organisations with extensive reach and the means to finance innovation are investing in entrepreneurs to take their brands to new places.

Mondelez International and Unilever are among the big names putting aside money to get entrepreneurs innovating about their brands. According to Unilever chief marketing officer Keith Weed, the company does not have all the answers for taking its brands into the future and is calling on entrepreneurs to bring innovative ideas focused on its brands to the table.

There seem to be two opportunities emerging for entrepreneurs. First, organisations are providing the funds for existing entrepreneurs to innovate focusing on their brand/s. Second, organisations are providing funds for entrepreneurs to get their start-up off the ground by working on innovations for the brand. Either way, the entrepreneur can leverage off the expertise of a major brand while aligning with the brand, and the organisation gets focused innovation.

This wave of involving entrepreneurs in brand innovation could have a major effect on and positive outcome for South Africa’s entrepreneurs. Mobile operators are also calling for innovation and driving it too. Carlos Domingo from Telefonica Digital says introducing Lean and Agile methodologies, rolling out the OpenAPI initiative, and partnering with entrepreneurs to take advantage of disruptive new applications of mobile computing are all necessary to deliver on the promises that the future holds.

Along the lines of innovation, CEOs from some of the world’s largest network operators are saying that the migration from 2G to 3G to 4G has been the fastest technology innovation and adoption in history. Network operators are being pushed to battle with new market opportunities before the previous generation’s ones have been fully realised. Randall Stevenson, CEO of AT&T, says we are moving from the mobile era to the LTE (long-term evolution) and cloud era, for which there isn’t an appropriate name yet. He maintains that the mobile cloud is one of the biggest opportunities and challenges businesses will face in the next three to five years.

With more data consumed last year than in all the previous years combined, data growth continues to cause network management challenges and will have to be an area of innovative thinking for the year ahead.

Mobile networks are carrying the equivalent of 330-billion MP3s a month in data traffic. If only 15% of the mobile subscribers have smartphones and this is the amount of data traffic being consumed, imagine what will happen when the other 85% are smartphoned.
It’s no wonder we need so many undersea cables.

Vodafone’s innovation regarding its tariff allows a single data bundle/contract to be consumed by multiple devices. Gone are the days of topping up three different SIMs with data.

There’s no denying that innovation is going to be the buzz word for this year. Organisations not investing in, embracing and adapting to these innovations will find themselves playing catch-up. It’s an exciting time for entrepreneurs and creative thinkers.

Robinson is director of mobile for NATIVE

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