Tools

Advancements in technology fundamentally change how we exchange information and knowledge to coordinate activities towards value creation. Our focus tools are meant to provide accessible, versatile and powerful building blocks for value creation relevant to the needs and challenges of value creators in the SEA Region. 

The following tools have been chosen based on their versatility in enabling a wide variety of applications across regions and industries. 

One of the key aspects of an technology is its ability to abstract away unnecessary complexity from a task or process. When selecting technologies, we consider local capacity from both a development perspective and end-user perspective. SaaS solutions and PWAs are great examples of technologies that abstract away complexity from value-chain processes and end-user experiences. 

As technologies continue to develop and the strategic landscape in which they are employed accelerates, the ability to remain agile to evolving business needs becomes more and more critical. The flexibility of any technology solution defines the bounds in which business logic can be achieved. Open source solutions with active communities often achieve sufficient flexibility through networked incentives.

While the broader SEA Region has experienced impressive growth in connectivity over the past decade, most regions beyond the largest urban centers still operate on ≤2G networks. Many existing solutions in developed regions are simply too data to achieve any type of performance with this level of connectivity. Delivery network development and offline access are just a couple ways we work to overcome these challenges. 

Technological confidentiality is roughly equivalent to privacy and is a critical underpinning to any solution as undermining this acts to undermine the entire system. Integrity is about maintaining the consistency, accuracy, and trustworthiness of data over its entire life cycle. Technical confidentiality and integrity are key to establishing and maintaining trust with any end-user and are a critical component for any technology solution. 

Our Approach to Technology Selection:

The following technologies have been chosen based on an regional expansions in Connectivity Capacity as well as the strategic capabilities they lend to our focus markets.   

Abstraction
One of the key aspects of an technology is its ability to abstract away unnecessary complexity from a task or process. When selecting technologies, we consider local capacity from both a development perspective and end-user perspective. SaaS solutions and PWAs are great examples of technologies that abstract away complexity from value-chain processes and end-user experiences. 

Flexibility
As technologies continue to develop and the strategic landscape in which they are employed accelerates, the ability to remain agile to evolving business needs becomes more and more critical. The flexibility of any technology solution defines the bounds in which business logic can be achieved. Open source solutions with active communities often achieve sufficient flexibility through networked incentives. 

Availability  
While the broader SEA Region has experienced impressive growth in connectivity over the past decade, most regions beyond the largest urban centers still operate on 2G networks. Many existing solutions in developed regions are simply too data to achieve any type of performance with this level of connectivity. Delivery network development and offline access are just a couple ways we work to overcome these challenges. 

Confidentiality & Integrity    
Technological confidentiality is roughly equivalent to privacy and is a critical underpinning to any solution as undermining this acts to undermine the entire system. Integrity is about maintaining the consistency, accuracy, and trustworthiness of data over its entire life cycle. Technical confidentiality and integrity are key to establishing and maintaining trust with any end-user and are a critical component for any technology solution. 

Web Apps

Web apps are among the most powerful tools of the modern era. Not only do they provide a browsable(browser) interface to the digital world but they work on nearly any digital device with an internet connection. Although there are many players in this market, Opera and Chrome reign supreme in East Africa, according to statcounter

Like any technical decision, to build a Web App is often a question of means and application. Web apps are almost always easier to build, easier to scale, more reliable and cheaper to maintain. On the other hand, Web apps require a URL to be typed in, are often much slower, less interactive and intuitive. 

Browser operators are trying to change that though. Google recently released a new software development methodology to build Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). Unlike traditional web apps, progressive web apps are a hybrid of regular web pages and a mobile application. This approach attempts to combine features offered by most modern browsers with the benefits of mobile experience. This is especially relevant to regions with poor connectivity as PWAs are connectivity independent as service workers allow work offline, or on low quality networks.

Like any technical decision, to build a Web App is often a question of means and application. Web apps are almost always easier to build, easier to scale, more reliable and cheaper to maintain. On the other hand, Web apps require a URL to be typed in, are often much slower, less interactive and intuitive. 

Browser operators are trying to change that though. Google recently released a new software development methodology to build Progressive Web Apps (PWAs). Unlike traditional web apps, progressive web apps are a hybrid of regular web pages and a mobile application. This approach attempts to combine features offered by most modern browsers with the benefits of mobile experience. This is especially relevant to regions with poor connectivity as PWAs are connectivity independent as service workers allow work offline, or on low quality networks.

Interested how others in Africa are using PWAs? 

Check out how Konga and Jumia are currently using PWAs to increase sales and consumer sentiment. 

Interested in getting started building a PWA? 

Check out Google’s PWA ‘Getting Started‘ guide to learn the basics and see if a PWA is right for you. 

Native Apps

Native mobile apps are built for specific platforms and are written in languages that the platform accepts, for example, Swift and Objective-C for iOS apps and Java for native Android apps. The platform, generally Apple or Google, will provide developers with their own development tools, interface elements, and SDK.

There are many advantages to building native such as speed, responsiveness, app store distribution, access to native APIs, offline experience etc.  While the advantages to Native Apps are numerous, they are almost always more expensive to build and maintain than Web Apps, require continuous updating on the users end to access the latest functionality and often require building two separate apps so users from iOS and Android can use the app. Multiple frameworks, such as Facebook’s React Native have been created to overcome this cross-platform issue but the jury is still out whether or not this approach is more efficient in the long-term. Once again, the decision to go Web or Native comes down to your means and the business case.

There are many advantages to building native such as speed, responsiveness, app store distribution, access to native APIs, offline experience etc.  While the advantages to Native Apps are numerous, they are almost always more expensive to build and maintain than Web Apps, require continuous updating on the users end to access the latest functionality and often require building two separate apps so users from iOS and Android can use the app. Multiple frameworks, such as Facebook’s React Native have been created to overcome this cross-platform issue but the jury is still out whether or not this approach is more efficient in the long-term. Once again, the decision to go Web or Native comes down to your means and the business case.

Interested in building apps for low connectivity?

Start here for a good introduction to the ins and outs of what is and isn’t possible when building apps for low connectivity. 

Want to know more about Web vs. Native? 

Check out this article comparing the pros/cons and business use case of each approach. 

XaaS

The X in XaaS refers to “anything” as a service. XaaS is an umbrella term to encompass SaaS (Software-as-a-Service), PaaS (Platform-as-a-Service), and IaaS (Infrastructure-as-a-Service). XaaS is the essence of cloud computing, a variety of utility-based offerings that can be consumed on almost any model depending on the form of usage.

Software as a Service enables consumers to use the provider’s applications running on a cloud infrastructure, while Platform as a Service deploys consumer-created or acquired applications onto the cloud infrastructure and Infrastructure as a Service provisions processing, storage and other fundamental computing resources for deployment. These services are especially relevant for the SEA region as they promote the goals of accessibility, modularity and scalability. As high-speed networks and broadband continue to expand in the region the cost of server virtualization will continue to decline, lowering barriers to entry. Benefits of XaaS solutions include; lower costs, flexibility, scalability, accessibility, continuous updates and the means to respond quick to changing market needs. 

Software as a Service enables consumers to use the provider’s applications running on a cloud infrastructure, while Platform as a Service deploys consumer-created or acquired applications onto the cloud infrastructure and Infrastructure as a Service provisions processing, storage and other fundamental computing resources for deployment. These services are especially relevant for the SEA region as they promote the goals of accessibility, modularity and scalability. As high-speed networks and broadband continue to expand in the region the cost of server virtualization will continue to decline, lowering barriers to entry. Benefits of XaaS solutions include; lower costs, flexibility, scalability, accessibility, continuous updates and the means to respond quick to changing market needs. 

Interested in taking advantage of XaaS?

Check out this GovLoop pdf on the ins and outs of XaaS and how you can use these tools to work for you. 

Interested in finding XaaS for your needs? 

Explore the Capterra database to see what XaaS solutions work best for your needs. 

Internet of Things (IoT)

According to the World Bank, the Internet of Things revolution will fundamentally alter manufacturing, energy, agriculture, transportation among other industrial sectors of the economy in the decades to come. IoT allows us to gather massive amounts of data from connected humans, machines and infrastructure.

 This, in turn, increases our touch points with reality allowing us to develop more relevant solutions to a variety of problems. Falling costs of sensors, data storage and bandwidth are all converging to enable this IoT revolution. IoT solutions will make distribution networks more efficient and productive. By tracking shipments, detecting road congestion and monitoring container health we can realize tremendous aggregate efficiency gains in agricultural, manufacturing and transport markets alike. With IoT we also have the ability to measure health far from the hospital, enabling us to identify health complications sooner, design more relevant drugs and even develop systems for digitally prescribing them. The possibilities are truly endless, the only limiting factors being connectivity and the willingness to try.

 This, in turn, increases our touch points with reality allowing us to develop more relevant solutions to a variety of problems. Falling costs of sensors, data storage and bandwidth are all converging to enable this IoT revolution. IoT solutions will make distribution networks more efficient and productive. By tracking shipments, detecting road congestion and monitoring container health we can realize tremendous aggregate efficiency gains in agricultural, manufacturing and transport markets alike. With IoT we also have the ability to measure health far from the hospital, enabling us to identify health complications sooner, design more relevant drugs and even develop systems for digitally prescribing them. The possibilities are truly endless, the only limiting factors being connectivity and the willingness to try.

Interested in building getting started with IoT?

Start here for a good introduction to the ins and outs of what is and isn’t possible when using IoT devices.

Want to know more about the state of IoT in Africa? 

Check out this IoT Progress Report for Africa in the International Journal of Computer Science and Software Engineering.

Data Analytics

Data from a vast array of sources is becoming available in many African countries. Machine learning and analysis are being applied to solve real problems on the ground.

 

https://www.forbes.com/sites/insights-cisco/2018/08/15/6-reasons-why-investment-in-analytics-is-essential/ 

 

https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/pdf/10.1111/jpim.12406 

How Geospatial tech can help cities plan for a more sustainable future

http://blogs.worldbank.org/sustainablecities/how-geospatial-technology-can-help-cities-plan-sustainable-future  

Want to know more about Web vs. Native? 

Check out this article comparing the pros/cons and business use case of each approach. 

Future

East Africa offers some of offers some of the most beautiful natural attractions in the world. With national parks, game reserves, marine parks, biosphere reserves, archaeological sites and pristine beaches, this region remains a natural tourism magnet. While opportunities abound, many remain largely unexploited.

Interested in building apps for low connectivity?

Start here for a good introduction to the ins and outs of what is and isn’t possible when building apps for low connectivity. 

Want to know more about Web vs. Native? 

Check out this article comparing the pros/cons and business use case of each approach. 

Have a specific question regarding the SEA Ecosystem?

Have a specific question regarding the SEA Ecosystem?

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© 2019 SEA. All rights reserved.

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