The increased adoption of new and evolving digital technologies will continue to transform the way businesses innovate their operating models, digitise their product and services portfolios and engage with stakeholders.
A Microsoft study conducted in the middle of 2017 put the percentage of South African companies that have already embarked on digital transformation at 48%, while a further 44% plan to begin this journey by mid-2018.
Many global – and local – organisations are already reaping the benefits of connectivity-dependent platforms and applications, such as cloud-based business applications, social media, data analytics, and more recently, IoT, AI, AR, and VR. More than just efficiency gains, companies are seeing the benefits of new and differentiated customer experiences as well as innovative new services and value chains that can be leveraged for growth.
A recent IDC report states that, by 2019, the world’s enterprises will have collectively invested over $7 trillion in transforming their processes and functions to meet the demands of an increasingly digitalised society and economy. For today’s business, it’s no longer a question of whether digital transformation will or should happen; it’s to what extent and how quickly.
The critical success factor of any organisation’s digital transformation journey lies in having the right perspective. Quite simply, an organisation that sees digital transformation just as the acquisition of new technology is likely to end up with a disjointed, ill-fitting set of systems that never quite live up to their potential.
True digital transformation doesn’t happen when an enterprise merely deploys advanced technologies. It happens when the application of these technologies are directed by a robust, forward-looking business strategy that leverages appropriate technologies to create value, competitive advantage and a differentiated position in the markets and industries in which the organisation operates.
While many companies already use business collaboration, planning and management applications to optimise operations, as well as digital-touchpoints to engage with and service customers, the next wave of technologies have the potential to significantly shift these experiences.
Whether a company choses to use cognitive artificial intelligence-driven chatbots to service and support clients, drones for delivery or operations and maintenance purposes, IoT based applications to evolve their physical product based portfolio to a digital services based portfolio, VR technology for organisational training or technical support services, the foundational requirements will be the same.
The digital platforms that deliver these services require reliable, high-speed connectivity. This is where fibre, with its capability to support significant data traffic, fibre has emerged as a key enabler of a connected digital world. The open-access model for fibre connectivity services also reduces the cost-barrier for service providers in delivering digital services since they these services do not require them to invest in network infrastructure, and they can benefit from the economies of scale are achieved by a wholesale open-access provider.
With the business landscape changing so rapidly, South African business is stepping up its digital transformation efforts in a bid to remain relevant. Decision makers should consider that keeping up with better and more efficient ways to do business will never be a once-off event, but will – and should – continue as long as new technologies are introduced. But these emerging and future enterprise technologies will be impossible to deploy without high-speed connectivity and the infrastructure that enables it.
By Vino Govender, Acting Chief Strategy Officer, Dark Fibre Africa