Top executives from the companies leading African and Middle Eastern small, medium and micro-enterprises (SMMEs) into the digital age believe the biggest challenges that their customers face are acquiring and retaining customers and finding the financing they require to remain in business.
These were among the findings of a survey BigFive Digital conducted among leaders of media, telecom, banking, and software companies selling digital products and services to SMMEs. Software companies primarily including those offering marketing and financially related technologies (martech and fintech).
BigFive Co-founder Paul Plant summarized these findings to kick off May’s inaugural BigFive Summit in Cape Town. The survey’s objective was to get s sense of what issues were top of mind for the BigFive Summit’s target audience, those bringing digital products and services to the SMME market.
A key question facing the BigFive audience is how prepared are SMMEs in the region to begin using digital products to create and manage digital presence; acquire, retain and engage with customers; accept payments, and other key business functions. The answer was, to summarize, kind of ready.
Fewer than 10% of survey respondents described their SMME customers and prospects as “very ready.”
The survey, which drew 48 responses from senior executives, also asked industry leaders to rate which issues were most worrisome for their own businesses. Acquiring customers, facing economic uncertainty and finding and retaining qualified staff rated as the top three answers.
Where publishers and other SMME sellers invest is a good indication of where they see the biggest opportunities. The executives responding to our survey cited partnerships, product development and adding service/support capabilities as their top three investment priorities.
Finally, the survey asked respondents to share which products they now offer and which they plan to add to their portfolios in the near term.
Not surprisingly websites, social media, and other digital marketing staples ranked at or near the top for current and future offerings. What is notable is the appearance of “all-in-one software” and “payments” to the mix of future product offerings. This is likely a sign that the global trends of the software as a service (SaaS) as a key offering to the SMME market has reached Africa’s shores.
Paul rounded the presentation off with these key takeaways.
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