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How digital disruption is shaping Africa

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Digital disruption
How digital disruption is shaping Africa.
(Image Source: http://ebooks.capgemini-consulting.com/)

Some of the foremost challenges and drivers that African and global businesses face today when it comes to digital disruption are practically universal. On a global scale, these hurdles include efficiency, sustainability, regulations, customer intimacy and innovation.

However, each industry has a different journey ahead and it’s all about reaching a new kind of consumer who thrives on digital interaction. This means organisations should not only become digital, but rather become something unique.

Companies born digitally have changed customer expectations. This is sometimes referred to as the GAFA (Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple) experience.
Consider the following:

  • 42% of in-store shoppers search for information online while in-store, a truly omni-channel behaviour
  • 75% of consumers say they will stop doing business with a company following a bad experience
  • 85% of consumers expect to do things by themselves. By 2020, 85% of relationships with a company will happen without interacting with a human
  • 68% of consumers leave a website if the experience is bad

If we look at specific solutions that exist to support businesses as they approach the future of digital, we see that everything except experiences is becoming commoditised. Companies should, therefore, introduce offerings that will compete with digitally native companies.

Business as usual types of offerings will not be good enough; organisations need to come up with agile, future-proof, one-click, self-served and omni-channel solutions. Some companies also prefer subscription-based services (and micro services), including agreed revenue sharing models with vendors.

From an architectural aspect, solutions should be natively cloud-enabled, smaller, configurable, interchangeable functional blocks that can easily be assembled as parts of different configurations and compositions to prevent re-engineering high-cost, time-consuming multi-million dollar projects.

Disrupt rather than be disrupted
If you had to describe today’s service culture in one word, it would be ‘now’. Take a look at all the services around us that deliver almost instantly. We can book flights to an exotic location while heading to a work meeting, deliver flowers to be received the same day across the globe, or use an app to order dinner from a hot new restaurant delivered to your home.

What most consumers fail to think about is the technology that enables a truly mobile lifestyle. Consumers are also privy to rewarding digital experiences from brands such as Amazon, Netflix and Uber. Behind the scenes, it is the mobile network operators that have to maintain the infrastructure and systems being used by service providers like these.

Despite being the enabler for so many services that consumers love, our research has shown that operators often find themselves being compared to the digital experience they deliver. Wherever you are in the world, digital transformation is all around us and it has become critical to transform with it.

Before any of this can happen, a few things need to take place to ensure business agility. Lean and agile is top of the agenda while the business becomes more complex. The business and technology evolutions have implications and new requirements on the IT landscape.

Everyone, across Africa and globally, wants simplified, rational, automated and responsive processes and organisations. However, few know how to disentangle rigid, tightly knitted legacy IT landscapes to create a configurable and automated platform that enables agile, speedy and flexible bi-modal operations. IT is not a question of making old processes digital. Rather, it is about rethinking the entire operating model.

From our expertise and experience working with operators across the globe, we have created a set of principles that outline a clear path to becoming a powerful digital enterprise based on six core principles:

Target a unique digital position
A successful transformation should always be a journey towards a clear destination. The first step in any transformation must always be to define that destination and let it steer actions and the experiences created for customers.

Design magical experiences
The front-end should be a starting point for a love story with a company’s brand. Brands that excel at creating great customer experiences grow revenues four to eight percent and get up to 14 times larger lifetime value from customers.

Engage with the digital services ecosystem
Telecommunications was built on two simple services: voice and text. Today, consumers look for much more than that. The good news is that businesses don’t have to do it all by themselves. Collaborate with a wider service ecosystem and open closed systems to become an essential hub in the digital ecosystem.

Create services at digital speed
Customers expect new services before they even know they need them. Companies need to break down silos inside the organisation to make collaboration easier, on top of a modern, catalogue-based platform.

Operate a digital organisation
Not being fully digital could soon put companies out of business, but building a digital operating model is not a question of one size fits all. Businesses need to think about the unique experience they want to create and let that impact the organisation, culture, processes and the way they run their technology.

Evolve technology into digital
As Africa moves into digital, we need to treat it with respect and then make it a thing of the past. Either businesses choose an incremental path, gradually replacing legacy systems, or they choose a side-by-side approach where they build a fully-functional architecture to live alongside legacy and move entire chunks of functionality to the new environment.

By Indranil Das, Head of Digital Services, Ericsson MMEA

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