Drone delivery service Zipline raises US$190-million in new funding

Zipline links up
to fresh funding  

Round values venture
at over US$1-billion.

Tuesday, May 21st

SA ahead of global digital transformation curve

SA ahead of global digital transformation curve

South Africa has been ranked among the top 10 countries leading the digital transformation change required to compete in 21st century economies.

This is according to the Dell Digital Transformation Index conducted in partnership with research firm Vanson Bourne.

The research ranks SA among the top 10 countries that are home to firms leading the digital business maturity level by implementing innovative systems that provide work-anywhere capabilities and turn data into business intelligence, among other initiatives.

The research surveyed 4 600 business leaders from medium to large companies across 42 countries and sub-regions, to gauge their organisations' digital transformation journey by examining their IT strategy and workforce transformation initiatives.

The index found that when ranked by their digital maturity, firms from developing markets were leading the pack, while some developed markets are lagging behind.

Indian businesses head the adoption curve, followed closely by Brazil and Thailand. SA ranks ninth out of 41 countries with a maturity score of 50, not far from India's 58.

The US, the only developed nation in the top 10, is ranked sixth with a score of 52. Australia is ranked 13th, China 16th and the UK 19th. Countries such as Japan, South Korea and Singapore - often seen as technology leaders - sit at the bottom end of the index.

"It's very good to see SA rank so highly, but not that much of a surprise," says Doug Woolley, GM of Dell EMC South Africa.

"Local businesses are careful and even conservative, but they are also interested in efficiency and progress. A few years ago, many were still holding back, but that has been changing fast. They are looking for efficiencies and to become more nimble. I also believe there's a greater sense of urgency and clarity in developing markets such as ours. The market environment has been tough and that's sharpening senses."

Trailblazing technologies such as telematics, artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation were among the innovations that received more investments by organisations from developing nations. The ability to access business systems on a phone or laptop hundreds of kilometres away was also targeted for investment.

SA's state of innovation

Tshilidzi Marwala, vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Johannesburg, explains that while local organisations are succeeding in some areas of digital transformation, they lag behind in other areas.

"The area that we are doing well is in adoption of digital technologies such as AI and big data analytics," he notes.

"The main problem is that we do not have enough people who understand these technologies. There is not enough university-industry collaboration that will collectively tackle problems using these technologies in a way that will give us a comparative advantage. Additionally, there is poor understanding of what these technologies mean: AI and machine learning are poorly understood concepts in SA."

In terms of SA's comparison to global countries, Marwala explains that while South African organisations have an inclination to adopt digital, they face stumbling blocks along the way.

"The main difference is SA's readiness to innovate around the latest technologies. What we are doing is to take these technologies and deploy them, oftentimes out of context, because managers do not understand the outcomes expected from these technologies.

"Globally, for example, companies such as Goldman Sachs have people who specifically look into deployment and return on investment of these technologies. These people often have doctoral qualifications, meaning they are at the cutting-edge of the available knowledge. I do not see this in SA and certainly not on the same scale."

According to research conducted by Forrester in 2018, CIOs globally tried to wrestle with rapidly changing market conditions by being bold and promoting complex, ambitious digital transformation strategies. But many of these efforts failed, stalled, or fell short.

"The lesson for 2019 is clear: think big, but act pragmatically. Smart firms will execute digital with surgical precision to build a strong foundation, and position themselves to come out swinging in 2020 and beyond," says Forrester.

According to research conducted by Accenture, digital technologies can generate more than R5 trillion in value for South African industry and society over the next decade, through the use of technologies in key industry sectors, including agriculture, public infrastructure and administration, financial services and manufacturing.

Dell Digital Transformation Index: Most digitally mature countries:

  • India
  • Brazil
  • Thailand
  • Mexico
  • Colombia
  • US
  • Taiwan
  • Turkey
  • South Africa
  • Portugal

Least digitally mature countries (from bottom up):

  • Japan
  • Denmark
  • France
  • Belgium
  • Singapore
  • South Korea
  • Netherlands
  • Finland
  • New Zealand
  • Czech Republic

ALSO ON ITWEB AFRICA

Westcon-Comstor on display at ITWeb Security Summit Published on 21 May 2019

The company will showcase its full security portfolio at the 2019 ITWeb Security Summit, from 27-31 May at the Sandton Convention Centre.

Zambia officials, Huawei mum on 5G project plans Published on 14 May 2019

Country's Minister of Communication and Transport says no details are yet available on relevant time frames or related costs.

Futuresense first in SA with Oracle Budgeting and Planning Cloud CEI status Published on 09 May 2019

Futuresense is the first Oracle partner to receive Cloud Excellence Implementer (CEI) status for Budgeting and Planning Cloud Services in South Africa.

30,000 Google Africa Certifications Scholarships for 2019 Published on 15 April 2019

Company confirms applications are open for next round.