Digital transformation is not a new concept, and South African businesses have steadily evolved and increased their inclusion of digital tools over time, with a faster influx happening over the past three years.
The adoption rate has accelerated due to the pandemic. Businesses were forced to adopt new ways of working, and digital transformation forms part of that. In some industries, readily available client options have increased as internet speed has also improved.
But how do companies determine what kind of digital intervention is needed for their business and who to partner with? According to Ian Nel, Strategic Planning & Programs Director at Canon Southern Africa, it comes down to people, process and then technology. “Digital adoption starts with understanding the needs of the environment that we work in and the benefits of the solution. For example, Canon work with its key customers in helping them highlight where their challenges are and what type of benefits technological intervention can bring”.
Challenges can present themselves in many parts of an organisation, including their systems, content, and security. The benefits of digital transformation can range from improved productivity and visibility within processes to improved accountability and a greater sense of transparency. One of the biggest advantages is creating a system-driven process that doesn’t need human interaction.
While businesses might be eager to establish the latest technological solutions in their organisation, it is important that business owners look at the bigger picture and establish key considerations before introducing new systems to their employee’s environment. “Businesses need to consider their need for compliance, and if the technological solution they are investing in is scalable, irrespective of their current size. Before you deploy technological solutions, it’s imperative to understand the needs of your processes and people”, says Nel.
Adapting to new ways of working is one thing, but how can businesses leverage new technologies to prepare for the future? Every organisation has an element of four things: HR, Finance, Sales & Marketing, and Operations & Logistics. “Understanding the key touch point in those areas will help businesses apply the best tailored solutions for their needs. With cloud-enabled devices we can increase scalability and work collaboration, while advanced capturing and automated process solutions can help CFOs manage costs as more people are working and printing from home”, explains Nel.
“In the beginning of the pandemic, we all had to accelerate our transformation. At Canon we started with connected thinking. We had to ask the right questions on every touch point in the business: What are we accountable for? How do we improve on what we’re doing? Is there a technological solution that can assist? We started with our people, looking at each department’s needs separately. Following that, we reviewed our compliance within data privacy (POPI act) and internal processes, identifying bottlenecks in our systems and procedures,” says Nel.
Businesses that feel overwhelmed or pressured to find digital solutions for every problem right away need to remember that no business is static, they’re dynamic. “It’s about constant improvements as we go along. The fact that we have such a good product suite means we can use our content management solutions in our own organisation. For example, after onboarding a new warehouse provider, and deploying a new ERP system, we reviewed our current processes and automated them using Therefore and office 365m with SharePoint,” further explains Nel.
“Transforming digitally begins with connected thinking across the board from stakeholders, CEOs, and CFOs. You have to assess where you’re at and understand that needs may vary from department to department. You need to measure how time-consuming manual tasks are, establish what can be automated, and find suitable solutions that can be scaled as your business adjusts” concludes Nel.