Challenges Faced in South Africa Haven’t Stopped Its Race to Join a Digital Future

The health of the IT landscape in South Africa and the country’s position in both the continental and worldwide markets could come into question.

But we really need to be looking within our borders as to how South Africa will fare in the long run and how the tech sector can aid in a more positive outcome.

South Africa’s Race to Join the Digital Global Village

The race is on. South Africa has been slow to adopt technology in the past, but due to COVID-19, we’ve seen improved connectivity, digital competition, and more and more evidence that we are part of a global village.

This has opened us up to massive opportunities outside the borders of South Africa and created a huge number of jobs in the local technology sector.

Regardless of what sector, most organisations, including those in South Africa, have indicated that they’re in the process of transforming their business through technology. But we know, these transitions don’t happen overnight.

Initially, private and public organisations had implemented either digital or cloud strategies but now they’re forced to adapt and drive digital transformation, while also gaining the associated objectives of improved customer experience and optimisation of costs from non-traditional business models.

To get ready for the exponential change that Covid-19 has introduced, any old or disparate IT systems will need upgrading or replacing. This creates new opportunities to introduce cloud computing to help accelerate digital transformation. However, cost implications are a key factor in harmonising and upgrading existing IT infrastructure or migrating workloads to the cloud.

According to the third annual Nutrix Enterprise Cloud Index, the vast majority of IT respondents in South Africa (88%) and globally (87%) reported that hybrid cloud is the ideal infrastructure model for their organisation.

Only 14% of respondents in South Africa reported running traditional non-cloud-enabled datacenters (or on-premise as it’s known) exclusively, compared to the global average of 18%.

Penetration in South Africa is expected to drop to just 3% within the next five years, while the use of hybrid cloud is expected to increase by 31% over that same time.

Overall, new investment in infrastructure and new technology is required to help accelerate digital transformation and the adoption of modern applications.

South African Challenges Can Be Overcome by Skill Development

The challenges facing South African businesses, however, are the lack of IT and cloud skills and the impact the brain drain is having on our country, coupled with the ever-present risks posed by blackouts due to load shedding.

Even so, South Africa still boasts better ICT infrastructure, with investors and tech adopters really looking to South Africa as a beacon and forerunner.

We should be looking to collaborate with fellow African countries like Nigeria with their large workforce, good skills, tech-savvy users – not just in terms of Tech Trade Expos, but real-world opportunities to improve the lives of many Africans.

It is imperative to prioritise the incubation and acceleration of young talent to get the desired skills.

Universities across the country are focusing on creating the right skills, with majors in augmented and virtual reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, cryptocurrency, and cloud, etc. In fact, schools are even beginning the introduction of coding and robotics into the national curriculum.

Tech in SA is on its Way Up

What is really encouraging to see, are the “born in the cloud” tech start-ups that then really drive innovation.

While Public Sector is lagging somewhat, they’ve still made bold moves with potential legislation around cloud and data, so South Africa is really heading into exciting times.

At the same time system integrators, tech start-ups, major corporations in financial services, telcos, commercial and other businesses locally are on par with our global counterparts, all successful in technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML), robotic process automation (RPA), cloud, open-source and to a lesser degree Blockchain.

These organisations have seen that using these technologies drive the above-mentioned business objectives.

While there is still more progress to be made, we are excited that government embraces new tech in its Fourth Industrial Revolution framework.

It is encouraging to know that government sees the importance of tech skills and supports implementation in the primary and secondary education curriculum.

South Africa is in a great position to accelerate digital transformation through innovation, and we’re working to build open ecosystems for tech start-ups and third-party developers to produce significant solutions for the continent.

By Stephen Bottger, Executive of DevOps Professional Services at Altron Systems Integration.

Edited by Luis Monzon
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