Kathy Gibson reports – We need to get on to the digital transformation journey and move along it quickly to take advantage of the opportunities.

This is the word from Mark Walker, associate vice-president: sub-Saharan Africa at IDC, who reiterates how Covid-19 has accelerated the move to digitalisation.

Indeed, the pandemic is thought to have brought digital transformation forward as much as 5,3 years, he adds.

“This is a reality, it is now, it is a journey.”

The key component is focus, and organisations should focus strongly on where they are, where they are going and how they will get there.

Walker explains that the 3rd Platform, comprising mobility, big data/analytics, cloud and social, forms the basis of digital transformation.

We are now seeing these technologies extending into next-generation security, augmented and virtual reality, Internet of Things (IoT), cognitive artificial intelligence (AI) and more.

Organisations across the board need to become digital enabled – and are making moves to do so, Walker adds.

These include government, education, retail, transport, healthcare, services and manufacturing.

According to an IDC survey in May, about 56% of CIOs at large organisations in sub-Saharan Africa are currently engaged in some kind of digital transformation initiatives; 25% are starting this year; 12% are planning in the next two years; and only 8% have no plan.

The key motivations cited for digital transformation are customers excellence and operational excellence.

In South Africa, the key focus is on accelerating existing DX effort to meet new customer and operations agility needs for 58% of respondents.

About 44% of CIOs will continue their digital transformation initiatives as planned at the start of the year.

Meanwhile, 27% are initiating new digital transformation effort to meet the change or changing customer and operation needs.

Banking is big adopter of digital transformation, with Covid-19 driving this faster than ever.

Retail banking is switching to a more digital approach, with 76% of them scaling up their online efforts.

Corporate banking is also switching to a more XaaS model, which will grow to account for 4% of total corporate banking revenues by 2023.

Digital trust and stewardship is under the spotlight, with 89% of banks prioritising data and systems security.

The banks are looking to efficiently and agility, with 52% of organisations looking to cloud-first strategies.

In addition, many banks are looking to partner with fintechs to offer new services on new platforms, Walker adds.

The same picture plays out in most industries, he points out, which different technologies being employed to meet the business needs, with cloud-based platforms often behind the moves.

“There are significant changes in industry and government right now,” Walker says.

Organisations’ success will be predicated on how they deploy technology to meet the new imperatives.

CIOs are still the main driver of technology adoption at 66%, with the CEO/MD driving it in 54% of organisations.

However, the CEO and CIO, plus the CFO, should be working together to drive digital transformation, Walker explains.

There are also implications for human resources, so this discipline needs to be involved in strategy as well.

Chief operating officers will also be deeply involved, prioritising the key functions that will be impacted by digital transformation.

Among the benefits of digital transformation, productivity improvements are top of the chart at 55%, new and expended revenue streams are at 39%; customer advocacy and loyalty at 33%; cost efficiencies at 29%; and process improvements at 25%.

“Of course this comes at a price,” Walker says.

The alignment between lines of business (LoBs)and IT are critical to digital transformation success, with 46% of respondent saying IT develops the technology roadmap on its own, without input from LoBs.

The relationship is ad hoc, say 26% of respondents, with IT providing support and implementing solutions only as requested by LoBs.

IDC warns that DX is a reality. Companies that done adopt it will be left behind

CIOs are urged to accelerate DX, scale digital platform develop d=trust in digital services, and deploy an agile infrastructure.