South Africa’s pitiful internet speeds and hideously expensive data tariffs are just two of the many reasons why the future of communication in this country is not easily apparent.
In the rest of the world, particularly in countries where governments understand the importance of internet access and telecoms companies are not short-sightedly profiteering for all they are worth, a clear and definite trend has emerged.
In a word, it is video.
This is not only because technology is making video both easy and economical to produce even by rank amateurs, but also because consumers have become lazy.
Too lazy, frankly, to grind their way through the written word and favouring having it run before them in moving pictures with commentary or talking heads.
A cursory glance at the more popular social media such as Facebook and Twitter will show that the ratio of embedded videos to the written word has increased enormously over the past year alone.
Newly developed mobile applications are making it easier and easier for consumers to access, download and store video material for future viewing and sharing.
And even in business, video is becoming the dominant medium of everything from sales pitches, product demonstrations, corporate bragging and presentations of every possible form imaginable.
Global research carried out by my marketing colleague Sean Twomey last year showed that when it comes to online tutoring and courses in commercial skills, the move has been almost entirely to video instead of reams of the written word.
News websites, particularly those operated by newspapers, are also beginning to see a marked increase in video content.
Crowdfunding proposals as well as commercial pitches to companies are now in video form instead of those lengthy printed documents no one ever reads.
In some cases, public companies are producing their annual reports in video with interactive facilities to allow download of balance sheets and so forth.
This global move to video represents enormous opportunities for media and marketers.
Product placement and branded content is most effective in video form.
And with citizen journalism coming into its own with the help of advanced mobile phone technology, on the spot information is becoming a critical part of global broadcasters’ fare.
It is, in my opinion, quite remarkable that South Africa’s government and most if its political parties, remain so fast asleep when it comes to the benefits to the country of fast, cheap internet access.
Right now the authorities are treating the internet and access to it, as some sort of luxury.
It is not. To any country with aspirations to economic progress, skills education and general prosperity, internet access is as important as water and electricity.
Unfortunately the internet is tucked in among all the other state-run disasters such as the SABC, SAA and Eskom.
We are being left behind.
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