By Craig Taylor
It’s amazing to witness first-hand the rate of change and perception of technology in Kenya. I think back to the first time I visited East Africa in 2008 and the first generation of smartphones were starting to penetrate the market. There was a real buzz about the potential ways these could be used to change the way people worked and lived. Until recently it has felt that progress has been a little slow given the potentially unlimited ways we can use mobile technology if we put our minds to it.
Admittedly, there has been true innovation in the mobile money space, it was pioneered in Kenya, but if you look at the other ways people use their smartphone, it seems quite ordinary and merely utilises the native features of the device – listening to radio, taking photographs, browsing the web and playing games. Given the majority of people in the region now carry an incredibly powerful computer in their pocket linked up to the internet, I’d expect more…
I guess this is the way the people in the UK use their phones too, so it isn’t that surprising. However, what we’re seeing now is people and companies demanding we really unlock the power of the smartphone backed up by more recent technology developments such as cloud and improvements to telecommunications, and think outside the box and create apps or companions to the smartphone that will address real business, economic or social problems.
There’s been several moments over the last few weeks that moment of realisation came that Kenya’s perception of technology had changed. We were being challenged by customers that we weren’t being innovative enough or seeing the bigger vision! This is really exciting as customers are now driving the discussion about what VetAfrica should provide, but also quite alarming as previously we’ve held back in certain situations as we didn’t think the market was ready.
Another concept that’s becoming better understood is SaaS (Software as a service). It feels like Cojengo and our customers have been on a SaaS journey together, when we first started Cojengo focussed on creating a mobile app only, but overtime it’s become clear we need a dashboard for customers to view their data (now VetAfrica Hub), we also need a way to communicate with vets to improve and enhance the app (yep, all done online, this is VetAfrica Expert), so we’ve built up our own SaaS offering and the customer has helped us on that journey and they’ve learned to appreciate the benefits of SaaS too.
We’re now at a point where we can offer accurate livestock diagnosis in the field using the power of the smartphone, linked up to the Cloud because of investment in telecommunications, this is then presented in different ways to different users via our online suite of tools all paid for on a subscription basis.
If you think about it, this is a really nice coming together of all the small shifts in technology over the last 7 years that’s made this possible and there’s no turning back now, Kenya has caught up and in some cases has overtaken the ways we’re using technology in Europe.