Digital transformation has become one of the most important strategic priorities for enterprises in the always-on world of business. By integrating technology into all facets of the organisation, decision-makers are preparing themselves to benefit from a connected future. But are African firms ready to take the leap?
Enterprises across industry sectors are faced with an increasingly tech-savvy customer base. These stakeholders have vastly different expectations from the business to what they had just 18 months ago. More affordable mobile devices and improved data coverage are resulting in a larger connected population that expect a business to service their needs irrespective of location, time of day, and device used.
With customers focusing on digital transformation from their own perspectives, new avenues are continually being discovered using the technology at their disposal. This is resulting in a significant amount of data being generated and new business streams being created. Changing approaches make accessing this data and customer channels more efficient but the enterprise still needs to find a way to drive this transformation more effectively. And while the temptation is there to continually embrace new technology, decision-makers should not forget the importance of ensuring availability of data.
After all, having access to data is imperative for an enterprise to make informed and quick decisions that can see it benefit from digital transformation. A data-driven approach therefore becomes key, as businesses across the continent realise that transformation needs to happen. In fact, companies realise that if they are to remain relevant with their customer base, they must embrace the digital way of accessing data and connecting with all their stakeholders.
Fortunately, using an ever-growing data set makes the process much easier. Many African organisations are offloading their traditional tape backups into the cloud and are starting to become more agile in this new digital environment.
In fact, countries like South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania, and several others are actively driving digital change and a transformation of both internal and external processes. Consider the impact that mobile payment solutions like M-Pesa and EcoCash have had on reaching the sizeable unbanked segment of the African market.
African organisations also have the additional benefit of not being as reliant on legacy devices and infrastructure as their counterparts in the developed world. One just needs to see how mobile technologies have been embraced to overcome the challenge of rolling out landlines to rural areas to understand the benefits this focus on new technologies bring. This is giving them even further impetus to drive change in their data-driven environments and transform their businesses.
This evolution to a digital business is seeing the focus being placed on having access to data. Getting a full view of all organisational data as well as the strategic insights derived by it are business imperatives in the transformation process. Consider then what the impact would be when that data is unavailable due to disaster or when the necessary business continuity steps are not being taken.
It is therefore vital for a digital transformation strategy to incorporate an availability focus as well. This availability is more than just having backups in place; it is about completely aligning to the business continuity components of the organisation.
Just as all the other processes of the always-on enterprise need to adapt to digital, so too must disaster recovery and business continuity. With data being the currency of the connected landscape, not having access to it could be catastrophic for the livelihood of the business. Already, customers are measuring the reputation of a business by being able to access its website and using online services to engage with the company. If that is not working, the financial and brand damage will be significant.
Therefore, in the move to embrace digital transformation, decision-makers need to be aware of the importance of safeguarding their data as well. With African enterprises preparing for this environment and shifting their focus to digital, they must complete the circle and incorporate their data backup strategies as well.
The digital transformation journey has begun, and Africa is putting itself in a strong position to benefit from it across business sectors.
By Claude Schuck