As African organisations undergo digital transformation, understanding this massive shift and how to harness it, will be vital for organisations across the continent. According to Mandla Mbonambi, founding CEO of Africonology, increased access to information, new ways of doing things and consumer consumption patterns will continue to force African organisation to digitise their products and service to provide more flexibility to their customers.
“African organisations can help shape their local economies through digital transformation by adopting megatrend technologies such as cloud computing, mobility, Big Data, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), robotics and social platforms. That said, they must ensure that these technologies fit into their organisations structures, processes, activities and, more importantly, support their business models,” he says. “For digital transformation to yield the desired result of shaping local economies, companies will have to follow a step-by-step approach that includes organisational change management and a shift in both mindset and culture. Creating the right skills set will also be crucial to success.”
Mbonambi believes that digital transformation has the potential of enabling economic growth, job creating and improving the social welfare of the society in which the organisations operates. “As much as digital transformation brings about uncertainty, it can drive positive development and growth on the continent. The early adopters of digital transformation are without fail poised to be the next leaders and many of these fall within the youth of Africa,” he says. “Disruptive technologies because of digital transformation have the potential to meet Africa’s development needs, enabling the different countries to be among some of the fastest-growing economies. This is where the protection of intellectual property, ICT related innovation, and start-up activities is paramount.”
Digital transformation is impacting people’s everyday life and has the power to transform communities and even whole economies in Africa. “Access to mobile phones, especially smartphones, is growing exponentially. This has made information more accessible to people and has changed their lifestyles considerably. This is evident in the growth of online stores, the rise of online transactions through banking apps, access to transport and accommodation and the use of social media to reach customers directly,” says Mbonambi. “Digital currency, such as mobile money, is also a key consideration on the African continent and FinTech’s are disrupting the way traditional banks operate.”
He says the change in effective business models because of digital transformation is creating new rules of engagement, that more traditional organisations must take heed of. “Business models and the way organisations engage with customers must change dramatically. Internally, the way organisations communicate must change, allowing for far greater efficiencies. Companies need to embrace agile methodologies and practices across the organisation, not just in project delivery. DevOps, for example, is one way we have, for example, enabled continuous improvement within our organisation and methodologies.”
Mbonambi says the key to success will lie in understanding what is required to transform your organisation digitally, as it cannot be a ‘one size fits all’ approach. Companies must also not expect to have all the answers all the time. “Each organisation’s needs are unique, therefore it is crucial that transforming digitally is a tool to scale your business, but that it must be underpinned by a solid strategy. You must also find meaningful synergies with other businesses with complementary services as this will drive your growth even further.”