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Digital transformation spurs innovation in telecom industry

The digital revolution is impacting everything from economy, innovation, science and education, to health, sustainability, governance and lifestyles. Digital technologies will fundamentally change business models, institutions and society as whole, as new ecosystems emerge.

It is the backbone of economic, technological, and social prosperity after the industrial revolution. The importance of digital transformation is crucial for any modern company and more so for the telecommunication industry that has played a central role in rolling out digital solutions in the modern age.

In the past five years ago Vodacom Tanzania unveiled it vision of leading Tanzania into the digital age and transform lives through technology. At the heart of this vision is a desire to create a digital society.

We have seen Vodacom successfully deliver on this vision by not only connecting Tanzania to the world through affordable access to the internet but also by rolling out products and services that meet both customer current and future needs.

“Two things, Infrastructure and innovation,” Said Nguvu Kamando, the newly appointed Digital Director at Vodacom Tanzania heading the Digital and Value Added Services (VAS) directorate.

Mr Nguvu’s department is an important one as the leading telco strategically embraces digital transformation as digitization reshapes the industry landscape.

“One of the fundamental pillars of creating a digital society is investing in worldclass infrastructure and we have invested heavily on this to build a state of the art network that offers the best user experience. Ultimately the customer doesn’t care if the network they are on is 2G, 3G, 4G or Wi-Fi as long as their experience is seamless – that is why Vodacom has heavily invested in ensuring a seamless experience. Our infrastructure is fine end-to-end from the backbone to the core cable and radio network which we continue to upgrade to meet customer demands.” said Nguvu.

With the proper infrastructure in place, the company shifted focus to roll out innovative products and service which not only meet real challenges faced by Tanzanians but also deliver a seamless customer experience.

“We believe in the power of technology to change lives, as a telco we aim at improving lives by providing cutting edge digital products and solutions to problems facing our society in business, health, education and many more sectors”. In today’s highly competitive marketplace, innovation has become a necessity.

Innovation allows companies to grow, not only in profits, but in market share and brand recognition. Nurturing ideas and innovation is a principle that Vodacom operates by and the digital Department is driven by a mantra s proudly displayed in Nguvu’s office – We are inspired by Ideas & Ambition!

“At Vodacom we welcome and celebrate new ideas ensuring that we translate them into reality. One of the main ways we do that is encourage staff ideas - we hold hackathons and competitions across the company devised to garner ideas from employees whose day job isn’t centered on new product development. No Idea is too small and everyone is encouraged to participate, we even have an inventor incentive program to encourage employees to submit new and useful ideas” said Nguvu As Tanzania embraces digitization, technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT), connecting things and people are becoming a reality and Vodacom has used the technology to create digital solutions for health care, agriculture, transportation, education, stock management to even SIM management all offering great productivity.

“Because we embrace a digital-first mindset, we have the drive to experiment and create new technologies that customers need and want, so we welcome new ideas, we test and evaluate them to see their impact on revenue, community and planet before rolling them to the market” Said Nguvu.

Creating a culture of innovation requires a complete change of mindset and way of working. The spiri at Vodacom requires experimenting and learning fast so agility is everything.

“As part of our drive to become a digitally-led company, we are among the first companies in Tanzania to adopt Agile structures, principles and tools, which we anticipate will stimulate innovation and realize material efficiency and productivity gainsright now we have agile teams across departments,” he said.

Agile squads at Vodacom which are comprised of young, dynamic and energetic individuals has been responsible for rolling our products and services in market, one of these products “My Vodacom App” was developed by these teams and has revolutionized customer experienced for us. Another challenge that the squads was able to respond to swiftly was biometric registration where the team developed a system that reduced the time and cost of registration” he said.

According to Nguvu, a superior network, IoT innovations, and mobile financial services present incredible opportunities for ideas, innovations and technologies that will help to improve society make our lives easier, healthier, smarter and more fulfilling lives which is why a telco like Vodacom is well placed to support digital transformation.

The Vodacom Digital accelerator is a strategic move by the company to help grow digital startups that come up with innovative solutions for social problems through financing, partnership and mentoring.

The accelerator received over 600 applicants in different areas such as education, health, finance etc where 15 of them were selected for incubation to turn them into revenue generating applications for the Tanzanian consumer.

“Vodacom supports the innovation ecosystem because we want to see transformation through technology. We recently opened our M-Pesa API giving local to local and international developers an opportunity to create innovative products and services by integrating into our superior mobile money service. The opportunities are endless and as a telco, we welcome innovation.” Said Nguvu.

In addition, Vodacom has been pushing for inclusive digitization so that everyone everywhere can reap the benefits of a digitized economy in key sectors such as education, health, agriculture etc.

Programs such as Instant schools, Code like a Girl, pushing for affordable smartphone penetration are helping make it a reality. The future is indeed exciting

Kamal Group, the Dar es Salaam-based steel ...

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Author: BUSINESS STANDARD Reporter

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