Picture the 1980s businessman dictating an important message for his assistant to type and fax to his client. Time is money – but it certainly seemed to move a little slower a few decades ago. As the fax machine transformed the traditional posting system, as email transformed the fax, and as instant messaging transformed email, the world has begun to realise that digital transformation is here to stay. There can be no denying that those who embrace it are empowering their businesses to perform better.
Deloitte’s 2017 Digital Business Global Executive Study and Research Project, conducted in collaboration with MIT Sloan Management Review, revealed five key practices that organisations must employ to achieve digital maturity. These practices are: “implementing systemic changes in how businesses organise and develop workforces, spur workplace innovation, and cultivate digitally minded cultures and experiences; playing the long game; scaling small digital experiments into enterprise-wide initiatives that have business impact; becoming talent magnets; and securing leaders with the vision necessary to lead a digital strategy and a willingness to commit resources to achieve this vision.”
What does this mean for African businesses? How can Africa embrace digital transformation, ensuring that it is contextually relevant and universally applied? According to Heilet Scholtz, Executive at Softworx, Infor’s Master Partner in Africa, both data and automation play critical roles. “The process, the science behind digital transformation, is incredibly important. This, combined with automation and data, ensures visibility throughout the entire process.”
Sankie Hancke, Project Services Executive at Softworx, adds that there are five key areas of consideration when embarking on the digital transformation journey. “Many businesses are already transforming themselves without even realising it – and they’re experiencing benefits. Imagine how much better their businesses could perform if they intentionally and strategically approached their own digital transformation? Through the application and harnessing of: the Internet of Things (IoT); business intelligence (BI) and data analytics; mobile; cloud; and social, this is possible.”
Infor confirms that IoT is a key driver of innovation in the digital economy. “The connectivity enabled by the IoT and Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) disrupts not only specific business areas but also entire industries. Successful organisations are using the technology to become more strategic and efficient.”
BI and analytics offer businesses greater insights into their business operations, where inefficiencies are prevalent, and how to become more proactive. “This allows for advanced planning and forecasting. Analytics change the rules of business, allowing management to analyse trends faster, interpret signals better, and uncover profitable new ways to ensure customer satisfaction,” adds Hancke.
Innovations in mobile digital solutions bolsters productivity, giving employees the power to do business from anywhere, at any time, in real-time. “Whether in Field Service, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), Enterprise Asset Management (EAM), or in any other area of operation, mobile solutions (such as email and systems integration) delivers productivity, proactivity and the ability to do business on the move,” says Scholtz.
The Cloud is an inevitable and important stop on the digital transformation journey. It entails storing and accessing data and programmes over the Internet, rather than a hard drive. Infor confirms that modern cloud companies use proven public clouds and don’t build data centers. The move to the cloud offers great protection from data loss and delivers flexible solutions. Businesses can be fully deployed in the cloud, use a combination of on-premise and cloud deployment, or choose to stay on-premise.
In any business, connecting with employees is key. Social business platforms go beyond posts, likes, and followers to deliver innovative tools and capabilities that are specialised for the enterprise. These platforms inspire business collaboration, provide analytics, and encourage greater process management. Hancke confirms that; “This empowers businesses to eliminate operational silos and connect employees across the enterprise.”
Technology is often at the heart of digital transformation, but this isn’t a technology initiative. “It’s a business strategy. It requires progress, training and enablement. It delivers results,” concludes Scholtz.