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26 March 2020

What drives us to be connected?


Forming bonds, building relationships, and staying connected is at the core of society. From physical social gatherings to virtual social networks, people need each other. But why do we have such an inherent desire to be connected?

In his book Social: Why Our Brains Are Wired to Connect, social psychology professor Matthew Lieberman makes the case that human beings have a natural and innate need to bond and that our need to connect is as fundamental as our need for food and water. He writes that from the day we are born we are profoundly shaped by our social environment and that we suffer greatly when our social bonds are threatened or severed. Although we might not like it, our well-being depends on our connections with others.

It’s, therefore, no surprise that more than 4.5 billion people around the world now use the Internet, while 3.8 billion stay connected through social media networks. This, according to according to DataReportal’s Digital 2020: Global Digital Overview, means that an impressive 60% of the world’s population is already online. Through interconnected devices like smartphones, smartwatches, and home-automation systems, we can stay connected with others while our savvy devices also stay connected to one another.

Behind our human need to be connected and the devices we depend on for a digital lifestyle lies the foundation of connectivity: reliable, high-speed fibre.

Vino Govender, the Executive: Strategy, Mergers and Acquisitions, and Innovation at Dark Fibre Africa, says that the demand to be connected from various business verticals as well as private consumption is what drives them to supply the infrastructure needed for fibre. “The way Dark Fibre Africa functions from a wholesale, open-access perspective is that we work via channels and partners, like mobile-network operators, Internet service providers, and over-the-top providers, to deliver digital services and applications,” Govender explains. “We build our network to meet current and future demand for connectivity.” Govender adds that it’s important for providers like DFA to maintain a very close relationship with their wholesale channels to understand their current and future needs.

DFA plans their fibre supply not only by considering capacity and reach but also by looking at what types of technologies they should apply in their network to boost efficiency. “One of the key focus areas that drives our business is our own digital transformation,” Govender says. “Because our own transformation is centred on providing a customer experience that is delivered by operational efficiency and a frictionless customer journey, we strive to deliver a zero-touch, predictable, and reliable experience for our customers as part of our integrated customer-value proposition. This implies that we will extend the depth to which we leverage a data-analytics-driven approach to product development, network planning, network operations and maintenance, and customer service. As an example, we take a much deeper look at the network optimization and commercialization by using third-party data, such a geospatial data, to plan optimal routes along the network, so that we cover markets that need to be served both now and in the future.”

As the world evolves through the Fourth Industrial Revolution, one has to constantly look at the next set of needs or emerging technologies that serve as the drivers of connectivity. Govender projects that new technologies might not be the sole demand drivers. But the innovation that leverages those technologies to develop new use cases – upon which disruptive business models are built – will be. The impact hat COVID-19 has had on global economies, society, and our way of life has forced us to relook at how we prioritize the decisions we make and the broader effect this will have not just on industries but, more importantly, on people. As we move forward, we will have to pay a lot more attention to how we balance what we do from a technology and digitilization perspective against the impact that will have on society, people, and our way of life. However, what is certain is that this low-touch economy into which we have entered is the new normal and is one in which connectivity will play a central and critical role in all spheres of life – work, play, and learning.

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