A few thoughts about the status of social media and the role of carriers in the Middle East

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I have just delivered my presentation on Social Media and brand advocacy here in Cairo. The feedback was great and I enjoyed the presentation and interactivity very much. Eric Huberlant, CTO at Orange Labs in Cairo, has taken over from me in order to present his thoughts on Social Networks in the Middle East. Here they are in random order :

  • without "pipes", nothing happens, social media is addicted to bandwidth, and carriers, mostly mobile have a role to play in that space
  • social media explosion is causing pipes to burst triggering serious concerns and the need to find positive solutions,
  • it's possible to establish gateways between the world of the carrier and the world of UGC: for instance, sms gateways, notifications, linked to social networks,
  • packages for families and firends because mobile carriers are already very present amongst families,
  • voice is still a way forward for operators to serve those - mostly in the middle East, who are not yet included in social networks,
  • the penetration of broadband in Africa is 5% and this is very disappointing. Despite the price issue, this can be explained by the lack of relevant content and namely in local languages (not just Arabic),
  • There are 1 billion Internet users who only have access through the mobile and this is where the growth will happen in the Middle East,
  • Egypt's population growing by 1.5-2 additional people every year, this is causing major issues and needs be addressed by carriers as requirements evolve rapidly in the country. There are similar issues in neighbouring countries,
  • one of the most important areas of interest is how to curb literacy issues - still staggering in the region - in order to help them publish (and read) through voice, rather than using a keyboard,
  • carriers have great assets, Eric added, such as the phonebook, and all the CRM data - while respecting privacy and not replicating issues such as the one that Facebook is facing in Germany - which can be used to service consumers in the Middle East.

The rest of the meeting will be dedicated to find out new ways to serve local carriers in Middle East and Africa, not just Mobinil.

Yann Gourvennec

I specialize in information systems, HighTech marketing and Web marketing. I am author and contributor to numerous books and the CEO of Visionary Marketing. As such, I contribute regularly on this blog for Orange Business Services account on cloud computing and cloud storage topics.