Digital mapping services have emerged as one of the most powerful growth areas in information technology in South Africa, this according to a survey by World Wide Worx, conducted with the backing of digital mapping provider mapIT, 76% of South African corporations and 38% of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) spend more than 2% of their information technology (IT) budgets on mapping services.
The same proportion of SMEs spend more than R50 000 a year on digital mapping, while 79% of corporates have higher budgets – 22% of corporates spend more than R500 000 on digital mapping every year.
“Digital mapping is proving to be the hidden secret weapon of South African business,” says mapIT chief executive officer Etienne Louw. “The research underlines the extent to which large and small businesses alike depend on digital maps not only for navigation and tracking, but also for efficiency, productivity and security.”
The survey was conducted through interviews with 111 IT and logistics decision-makers at South African corporations and 400 business decision-makers at SMEs across South Africa.
“The biggest surprise in the findings was the extent to which budgets are growing,” says World Wide Worx managing director Arthur Goldstuck. “Two-thirds of large corporations and SMEs alike – 69% and 66% respectively – intend to increase their spending on digital mapping services in 2013.”
The primary uses of mapping services revolved around asset tracking services, such as fleet management, vehicle tracking and recovery and navigation. However, marketing was beginning to play an increasing role.
A third of SMEs – 35% – are using digital mapping for location-based marketing (LBM), while a further 19% plan to do so in 2013 – taking the total to more than half. The coming year will see similar take-up in the corporate environment, with 41% already using LBM, and a further 15% intending to do so.
Aside from increasing budgets, the potential for growth in the sector is significant, with more than a quarter of SMEs – 27% – having a budget of less than R10 000 for digital mapping. Among corporates, 21% spend less than R50 000 a year.
“The results speak for themselves,” says Louw. “Those who invest more, are gaining greater advantage.”
Goldstuck adds: “The main reason companies don’t use digital mapping is that they don’t know what it has to offer. A quarter of SMEs say lack of knowledge is the main obstacle to using such tools. For corporations, there were no significant obstacles to using such services.”
Other key data
Most common reasons for using digital mapping services:
For SMEs, it enhances: security (59%), efficiency (39%), productivity (38%).
For corporates, it enhances: security (63%), efficiency (59%), productivity (58%).
Importance of digital mapping services:
SMEs: Exactly 50% say the services are important to their business, with only 24% saying its not important.
Corporates: 66% said the services are important to their business.
Satisfaction with digital mapping services:
SMEs: A high 72% are satisfied with the quality of the service. Only 8% were not satisfied.
Corporates: A high 76% were satisfied with the quality of service. Only 9% were not satisfied.
World Wide Worx is headed by Arthur Goldstuck, a pioneer in the South African market in the use of the Internet as a tool for productivity. He developed the first South African benchmarks for web site usability and strategy, and has represented South Africa on judging panels for events ranging from the International Advertising Festival in Cannes and the Global Mobile Awards at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. He is also author of a range of books dealing with issues as diverse as business on the Internet and urban legends in southern Africa, and is an award-winning IT journalist, having been honoured in three separate categories of the Telkom ICT Journalist of the Year awards from 2002 to 2004. He is editor-in-chief of Gadget magazine, which also supplies the Tech & Gadgets content for the MSN portal in South Africa.
He is regarded as South Africa’s leading expert on Internet and mobile technology trends and leads several major annual studies, including Internet Access in South Africa, the Mobility research project, which includes a nationally representative survey of consumers, SMEs and corporations, and SME Survey, the original representative research project on the dynamics of small and medium enterprises.