Fast Company - Most Creative People in Business 2017
Posted By: Fast Company
Yaron Assabi has a passion for all things digital and mobile. In 1988, the economics graduate founded what is known today as the Digital Solutions Group: a company that delivers a differentiated customer experience across multiple touchpoints - a true omni-channel offering.
DSG already has a long list of accolades behind its name, and Assabi is constantly finding new ways to disrupt the ICT landscape; whether founding specialised mobile marketing company BroadBrand, working with United Against Malaria on an e-commerce facility, or partnering with the Maharishi Institute to support virtually-free education for thousands of under-privileged South Africans. The latter two are illustrations of how DSG successfully applies its digital know-how and creativity to social causes.
"Over the years, some of the most fulfilling work we have been involved in has been for good, rather than profit" says Assabi. "DSG stands for Digital Solutions Group, but we also believe it's about 'Doing Something Great'."
The CEO is on the front line of the mobile revolution in South Africa. "Digital disruption and mobile go hand in hand in Africa, as we are a 'mobile-first' continent: 97% of African subscribers access the Internet from their mobile device first. Mobile phones have the highest penetration in terms of consumer reach, while also providing the richest interface in terms of customer engagement, insight and business intelligence."
Assabi praises the sharp integration of the latest disruptive digital tech, apps, cloud services, the Internet of Things, and data and analytics. This effort has enabled South Africa to "leapfrog other nations in the critical areas of mobile learning, integrated customer experience, sales force automation, supply chain transformation, and last-mile delivery processes."
Possibly one of the biggest changes in the coming years, says Assabi, will be more niche branded mobile services emerging in Africa - an area that has enjoyed significant growth globally. He expects to see more competition and innovative mobile offerings as branded services draw a diverse set of players.
The most powerful brand are customer-centric, he believes. Successful companies should not only know their customers are but must also become their customers'advocate. "If a particular organisation or brand is not going to serve them the way they choose, they will find something else."
DSG fulfils this demand by enabling anywhere, anytime access to products and services. For instance, DSG recently partnered with global coffee-house chain Starbucks to develop its Single Customer View strategy that drives My Starbucks Rewards in South Africa. It allows users to register their loyalty cards to view benefits and rewards, and send gift cards to other members via mobile.
Another challenge for brands, says Assabi, is appealing to Generation Z (those born in the mid-1990'and later), who have an "in-built sales resistance". "Advertising has to change, because it's about education, giving information and permissions marketing rather than trying to get their attentions and capture it, because their attention span is something they cherish."
With social and mobile now at customers'fingertips, Assabi believes the rules of the game have changed and brands will have to ensure the are relevant and contextual. "The brands that are going to win in the future are the ones that are really listening to their customers, and use customer insight to reinvent their business and make sure they are relevant."