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Tech trends for 2014

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In 2014, the continued exponential growth in the volume and speed of access to information and communication will have numerous effects.

"It can generate new markets and challenge existing institutions," says Frank Rizzo, technology sector leader at KPMG Africa.

Rizzo points to the US Consumer Electronics Sales and Forecasts (July 2013) report, which projects that industry sales growth will increase by 4.5%, with revenues reaching $211.7 billion in 2014.

The smartphone has made huge inroads across Africa in recent years and this is not set to change any time soon, says George Ferreira, VP and COO of Samsung Electronics Africa. "As a result, building locally relevant content and services directly related to the African market will remain key to consumer electronic brands."

While Gys Kappers, CEO of WyseTalk agrees, he stresses that feature phones should not be ignored. The 300 million feature phones in the market need to be accommodated, says Kappers, adding that apps and services must be developed with feature phones in mind.

Big data and sentiment analysis

"Businesses need to get smarter with their data," says Martin Rennhackkamp, CIO at PBT Group. By using data visualisation to understand and detect valuable insights, big data will become vital to present accurate analytics, which results in simpler and more user-friendly formats for business users.

For Rennhackkamp, social media/social analytics will pose the biggest challenge in the big data space in 2014. "Many organisations are doing, or are interested in doing, sentiment analysis. It's all good to analyse what is being said - and what the sentiment of that is - but we also need to consider the influence and context of the speaker/tweeter/poster - so interest and the application of influence analysis will likely rise."

Maven Agency's Dawie Harmse, co-founder and head of technology at the agency, describes 2013 as the year of big data, adding that the challenge for the future is to analyse and interpret that data in order to generate value for the business. Proper analysis allows the business to target consumers with offerings that fit their interests, he says.

More WiFi, more content

2014 will be a breakout year for WiFi, says Michael Fletcher, sales director for Ruckus Wireless sub-Saharan Africa. "We are likely to see more WiFi in malls, stadiums and public places," he says, adding that places like hotels will be forced to provide good quality WiFi and, in most cases, for free - just like hot water.

And as wireless access increases, Harmse predicts that content generated for a specific target audience is also going to be a big trend. "Delivering personalised experiences to the right audience, at the right time, will prove to be essential, which means brands will need to focus on genuine quality of their content to not only build solid brand awareness but also loyalty."

Harmse adds that the popularity of image sharing sites in 2013 means that, should you want a piece of content to trend in 2014, a lot of images should be included with it. "Images will outrank words for valuable data. Less will become more and a big trend will be to simplify marketing messages in 2014, taking away the guesswork and leaving a solid impression on the consumer."

Finally, the experts believe 2014 will be the year of the consumer. "Growing individual empowerment will present numerous challenges to government structures and business processes, but if harnessed, could unleash significant economic development and social advancement," concludes Rizzo.

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