IT the centre of growth strategy for SA businesses

EMC has announced the results of its survey into IT transformation, revealing that 78 per cent of South African businesses surveyed will undergo transformational change over the next year.

EMC has surveyed decision makers across South Africa's ICT landscape to find out what they believe to be top priorities. (Image: google/

The findings revealed that the top business concerns for companies in South Africa include:

  •  Increasing revenue – 55 per cent
  •  Improving governance and compliance – 50 per cent
  •  Enhancing customer experience/engagement/communications – 47 per cent

Such priorities demonstrate organisations are no longer simply undertaking business transformation to cut costs, but are instead using it to actively drive growth. 

These findings are reflected in the approach businesses are taking to IT transformation. 78 per cent of businesses in South Africa stated that they are progressing or planning to progress with the transformational change to their IT function over the next 12 months.

The survey also highlighted that the top five IT priorities for businesses in South Africa are: 

  • Data storage/management – 61 per cent
  • Maintenance of existing technologies – software and hardware – 58 per cent
  • Cloud computing – 57 per cent
  • Data backup and recovery – 52 per cent
  • Further technology (systems, applications and data) integration/process management – 52 per cent

The survey also demonstrates that organisations are looking to IT to support their business goals. In fact, around three quarters of businesses can be seen to have directly aligned their IT strategies with their wider business goals, demonstrating that IT is now seen as a driver for growth rather than as a cost centre.

IT skills are evolving

Importantly, the research reveals that it is not just businesses and IT functions that are transforming, but the roles of IT workers are also undergoing rapid change. There is growing awareness that the advent of cloud computing and Big Data analytics – two of the most disruptive technologies of this decade – will lead to the emergence of new roles within IT departments.

In fact, over 74 per cent of businesses stated that they believe cloud computing will create new roles and responsibilities for IT staff over the next three years, with 65 per cent stating that Big Data would do the same.

This will include job roles such as the Cloud Architect and the Data Scientist. Businesses in South Africa are confident that they are ready for this changing landscape, with 76 per cent of businesses confident their IT organisation currently has the right level of skills and knowledge in place to achieve their IT priorities successfully.

Big Data to create new winners and losers  

In South Africa, nearly two thirds of organisations agree that Big Data analytics will create the new winners and losers in their industry over the next five years, with the consultancy sector agreeing with this statement the most (77 per cent).

Additionally, 74 per cent stated that they have either deployed Big Data analytics tools or plan to consider new analytics tools within the next 12 months, with a further 37 per cent stating that enhanced data management and analysis/analytics is a business priority for their organisation. It is therefore clear that the race to make the most of this disruptive technology is now well under way, with the winners and losers to be decided by the rate at which they can deploy Big Data analytics.

Trust remains important to SA businesses

As Big Data analytics works its way up the corporate agenda, there is also evidence that businesses in South Africa are beginning to realise that as the value of their data increases, so does the need to protect it. 81 per cent of businesses surveyed stated that data security and governance is a major concern for their businesses while a further 36 per cent named network security as an IT priority. In addition, 52 per cent of respondents cited backup and recovery as a priority. These results demonstrate just how important issues of data privacy, security and protection are to the modern enterprise. 

Cloud displaces traditional IT architectures

EMC’s research has also revealed that businesses are increasingly looking to the cloud to help transform their businesses, with 57 per cent stating it as a clear priority for their organisation. In fact, six in ten respondents believe cloud architectures will replace traditional IT infrastructures within their organisation within the next three years, rising to 74 per cent in the telecoms sector. It is clear from this research that cloud computing is playing a critical role in helping businesses transform their business operations.

“This research shows that companies in South Africa are increasingly transforming their businesses to harness the benefits of cloud and Big Data analytics. It is clear that these changes are being pursued in order to meet the wider aims of the organisation, demonstrating that IT transformation is not an end in itself, but a facilitator of wider business success. Organisations that wish to leverage the technologies fully will need to embrace new roles, such as the Data Scientist and Cloud Architect, and enable new ways of working. By transforming their business, IT and employee structures, companies in South Africa will find they have greater control of their operations and the ability to gain better insights into their markets, customers and products,” says Servaas Venter, Acting Country Manager, EMC Southern Africa.

Staff Writer