by Katlego Moutlana. 2019 is the year in which we expect local, African brands and businesses to use more forward-looking technologies to improve their customer experience and develop quality, well-designed products and strategies that will pull people from the rest of the world to play on our continent.

In a world where we constantly find ourselves in new phases of innovation and technological advancement, our continent is a region where smart technology is about to take flight. Although many of our lives remain untouched by intelligent systems, the increased adoption of smart phones, falling data costs, a growing entrepreneurial scene and ground-breaking investment in tech means that we are poised to leapfrog into an era of smarter technological solutions.

So, what are these technologies?


For a start, artificial intelligence (AI). This tech will power customer-service interactions in the coming years as it’s able to process information that once required human interaction. With this type of capability at our fingerprints, companies are already leveraging AI for key activities, such as improving customer experience (CX)ratings, increasing revenue and targeting key market segments.

Forbes even reported recently that 75% of companies using AI have seen customer service ratings increase by an average of 10%. This increase in satisfaction may be the difference between closing a sale or losing a customer to a competitor. So, simply placing the right chat feature on your website may increase lead conversions by up to 40%.

The good news is that this trend is also taking off closer to home. Nigerian startup,, has developed a chatbot that allows users to make payments and send money to friends and family via messaging. The company uses AI to understand user requests, drive conversations, understand user spending habits and prevent fraud.

Another Nigerian startup, Aajoh, aims to relieve the high patient-to-doctor ratio by getting patients to send their symptoms via audio, text or image and then getting AI to diagnose their medical conditions.

VR and AR

The second trend is virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR). Remember the hysteria around Pokémon Go a few years ago? What an incredibly clever way to show people the magic of VR and AR, as both offer companies a unique way for customers to experience and engage with their brands. Ikea, for example, launched its Virtual Reality Kitchen, an app designed to let customers try out customised products before buying them.

Internet of Elephants, a start-up based in Nairobi, is building an app-based game of the same name. Users are able to select different animals and ‘place’ them into their real-world environments in order to learn more about their native and other, wildlife. Users can learn more about the animals through a reference guide in the app, as well as by walking around the physical world and playing games based on the migratory paths of each animal.

In 2019, we anticipate brands taking steps to reimagine VR and AR in a way that brings even more value to a customer’s experience.

Voice recognition

Third on the list, and growing at speed, is voice recognition. As the tech grows and consumers welcome the convenience of intelligent voice search with open arms, marketers need to start considering the difference between how customers speak and how they would type words into a search engine. This will all impact the tone of a brand, so it has to be more conversational to align it to voice search. And, of course, it must be optimised for mobile.

Based on the insight that doctors are better at talking than typing, the Muhimbili National Hospital (MNH) in Dar es Salaam recently became the first public hospital in Tanzania to use voice-recognition technology. A doctor can now record a patient’s information by simply speaking through a voice recorder, and the information is then transmitted into an image through a computerised system as the diagnosis is being made. The result? Faster and better reporting, increased patient satisfaction and improved patient care.


Last, but by no means least, there’s the video phenomenon. As our attention spans get shorter and shorter, video continues to eat the web, with predictions that 90% of all internet traffic will be video based in 2019 (source: Cisco).

Most people would rather watch a vlog (blogs enabled and delivered by video) than read an ordinary blog post. Brands have started to publish video enthusiastically but, more often than not, it’s still an afterthought. Video content marketing only works when it delivers what the customer wants, when and how they want it.

When done right, with an effective strategy, compelling content and an adequate budget, video is able to achieve impressive results such as generating leads, educating customers and engaging audiences. The authenticity of live video feeds will continue to explode, but the real differentiator is originality of content.

Spend on content is increasing exponentially and, because we become bored so quickly, brands that use original content to engage and excite will win the hearts and purse-strings of customers.

2019 is set to be a year for us to set a new African standard, with tech at the heart of delivering superior customer experience and positively positioning our brands on the global stage for innovation, inspiration and invention. In my opinion there’s never been a better time for you to make the trends, not follow them.

See also


MarkLives logoWhat are the industry expectations for the marketing and advertising industry in 2019? Kicking off our “Big Q”  column for the year, a panel of key agency and marketing executives discusses the macro environment, budgets, changes in messaging, movement in the industry and any consumer and communication trends they’ll be looking out for in the year ahead. 

As head of strategy at Mortimer Harvey, Katlego Moutlana leverages her experience in the FMCG and banking industries and guides the brand strategy of blue-chip clients. Career high points include working as brand experience manager when Virgin Mobile was launched and working on the Vodacom account at Ireland/Davenport (now Collective ID). She has lectured part-time at AAA School of Advertising.

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One reply on “#BigQ2019: Don’t get left behind in 2019”

  1. Informative and well written article on, “Don’t get left behind in 2019”.

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