Zunaid Parker started out pursuing financial services at Allan Gray, but soon found his passion in Market Research. He joined a market research agency and later got the opportunity to take on the role of Industry Analyst with SWAT (a MIH Internet think tank). Zunaid is now the business manager of Whoswho.co.za, where he continues to thrive. Heavy Chef chatted to him about the digital products at Naspers and how their professional network differs from LinkedIn.
Hi Zunaid. Explain to us what your position is.
I am responsible for strategic direction and business development at Whoswho.co.za. The Who’s Who of Southern Africa platform is part of Naspers’ Touchlab, a unit comprising of various Internet start-up projects.
Give us some insight into the new professional linking service that you are offering, and how it differs from previous ones such as LinkedIn?
The Whos Who brand has exceptionally strong lineage. Whoswho.co.za is the digitally converged product of a 100 year old publication that has come to represent the classic source of information on influencers and leaders throughout the Southern African region. It then goes to say that Whos Who differs from LinkedIn in that it is hyper localised. Whilst both platforms are orientated towards establishing a platform for professionals, LinkedIn’s differentiating element is that it is more orientated towards serving its core function as a recruitment tool. For Whoswho.co.za, the recognition is that the internet is shifting from anonymity to being defined; our positioning is therefore focused on becoming the defacto platform for user and company personal branding and reputation management.
A unique feature that we will be intensifying in the future is our ranking algorithm. Users earn validations and badges according to an amalgamation of factors such as working, academic and other merit experiences. And graciously, we would like to boast that Whoswho.co.za has exceptional SEO. Being part of large media network has its benefits.
Can you share with us some of the new products that Whoswho.co.za will be launching?
We were inspired by the thought that we can revel in SA featuring the Design Capital of the world. We therefore eagerly looking to extend user profiles to display portfolios. We will work at making it as generic as possible, so that it works equally for an architect, graphic designer or code, as it would for a stamp collector or property agent.
Something closer to home though, we are releasing the Whos Who Press Office in conjunction with News24. The press release system is a ripe avenue for public notifications and promotional items, as it has the ability to include video and the actual web content. We sought to design a Press Release eco-system that will leverage both the credibility of the Who’s Who brand, and the audience of South Africa’s most visited online news content site. Additionally, we have designed an intelligent system that interested parties can subscribe to, the functionality being that selected industry and companies press releases will be pushed to the recipient. Did I mention we have fantastic SEO?
How does one go about monetizing digital products? Is there a recipe for this to be successful?
Mmm, you take a vessel and in it you throw a value proposition, a touch of uniqueness and lots of convenience and relevance. Then allow to simmer with a bit of patience. Serve to a well-researched audience accompanied with endurance and persistence.
What new things are you experimenting with in the Media24 division?
Being part of one of the globally competing media concerns, means that we are sitting on a wealth of integration prospects that exist within the Naspers group. We are therefore looking to engage internal synergies to develop a truly converged platform by leveraging content from group companies.
Lastly, who is the one person on Whoswho.co.za that you would love to meet up with and why?
There are two individuals. Firstly, Siyabulela Xusa. the kid is a Harvard studying Rocket Scientist from the Eastern Cape and NASA named a minor planet near Jupiter after him after he discovered it and his developing new energy technology. And Naledi Pandor, our minister of Education. I would like to meet her in order to convince her to bring code writing into the syllabus.
Thanks for your insight, Zunaid. Follow him on Twitter here.