Information Systems Integration – Tony Messina


Can African Tech Startups Succeed with Google and Facebook Dominating the Industry?

In African markets, information and communication technology are facilitating and improving the process of socioeconomic developments. However, large companies like Google and Facebook are making it difficult for African startups to make a profit. For example, WhatsApp has made texting and calling free which has disrupted the local telecom businesses. Facebook beame the second largest e-commerce company after Jumia, the industry leader in Africa. Facebook has made it possible for merchants to reach millions of potential customers at no cost without having the typical marketplace subscriptions and this causes traditional e-commerce to diminish. With large companies controlling the industry, African startups continue to suffer.

Should these startups focus on niche areas like agriculture tech and waste management? Another option they could consider is relocating to the U.S, specifically Silicon Valley, where they would have better access to enabling infrastructures like finances, talent, and legal systems. What are the benefits of either of these options and what could some potential implications be?

What Our Digital Lives Say About Our Health

Research has shown that our actions on our smartphones, computers, and social media account can indicate a lot about our current well-being. This realization has no led to a new field of study called digital phenotyping, which studies people’s interactions with digital devices to make assessments of their mental and physical health. One company in particular that has made efforts to perform this kind of analysis is Facebook. Facebook has begun to use artificial intelligence to analyze posts, comments, live-stream videos, and status updates for behavior that may indicate severe depression or suicidal thoughts. When it detects these characteristics, the site can send a message to the individual, encouraging them to get professional help.

Other than Facebook, there are other companies working to provide similar services with digital phenotyping. One company called Sharecare offers an app that monitors your stress levels during phone calls to provide an assessment of your current mental health. Others use information about daily smartphone use to gather insight about memory and mood swings.

What do you think about digital phenotyping? Will this be something we see used more in the future? What is the ceiling for the amount of insight it could provide? What do you think the health insurance implications will be? Feel free to leave your comments below.