Accenture CEO addresses innovation challenges in South Africa

How IoT will help bridge the digital divide in Africa
William Mzimba, Chief Executive of Vodacom Business.
Accenture’s Innovation Conference 2017 addresses innovation in South Africa
William Mzimba, Chief Executive of Accenture South Africa and Chairman of Accenture Africa.

On 17 October 2017 Accenture hosted the 2017 Accenture Innovation Index and conference in Johannesburg, South Africa. The conference addressed some of the findings of the Accenture Innovation Index 2017. According to the Accenture Innovation Index, innovation is taking a back seat as companies grapple with economic uncertainties.

William Mzimba, Chief Executive of Accenture South Africa and Chairman of Accenture Africa said, “We are not doing well in terms of adopting the disruptive technologies that are bringing about the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We do not see enough innovation in this space, we do not see enough resources being channelled to creatively solve the unique problems that South Africa has today.”

The Accenture index measured innovation maturity across five stages namely; Innovation Strategy, Ideation, Absorption, Execution as well as Benefits and Impact. Throughout the stages, Accenture found that as companies mature their innovation capability, their focus shifts from just developing ideas towards a more comprehensive innovation value chain. Early innovation initiatives focused almost exclusively on brainstorming and ideation. This has recently been augmented with a concerted effort to ensure that relevant ideas are well executed.

Speaking about South Africa’s position, Mzimba said, “To get the results on the platform index that we did in the G20 countries, we surveyed five key points namely the digital user savviness, digital entrepreneurship, the adoption of digital technologies, and the policy on the regulatory framework to see how coherent it is to enable a thriving platform economy. We found that out of the G20 countries, South Africa was third last.”

Mzimba says the lack of innovation growth can be attributed to the rate of unemployment in the country. He says that South Africa is not innovative enough to create solutions to current problems.

Innovation and Cybersecurity
Addressing cybercrime in Africa can be done by firstly creating the need for protection, says Mzimba. “At the moment we underestimate the cybersecurity threat and we are not ploughing enough resources to protect our boundaries and borders. Just as we have the army to protect us against invasion, we need protection against cyber attacks.”

Mzimba says that in order to address cybersecurity talent shortages, we must start with awareness and the need to do something about the problem. He says that all of this requires the powers that are in the private sector and the government sector to channel resources and find people who have the ability to create solutions around cybersecurity.

The Index notes that South African companies preparing for 2018 should take note of how Innovation Leaders enable, measure and drive success.

By Fundisiwe Maseko
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