All businesses are having to transform digitally and embrace technology to survive in this smart digital world, says digital technology solutions provider Etion.
“We’re living in a technology-driven environment that is defined by a succession of catchphrases such as digitalisation, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, Big Data and artificial intelligence,”
says Etion chief digital officer Maeson Maherry.
However, Maherry says he is somewhat cynical about the use – and possibly overuse – of terminology in the information technology (IT) industry. “There’s very much a tendency to coin a phrase and tout that as the next new thing, but in reality, it’s just a new term for an existing technology that’s perhaps being used in a different manner.”
Regardless of the terminology used to describe it, South African businesses are having to change radically – through digitalisation – to stay abreast of global competition. Maherry sees two main reasons for the drive towards digital: the most important one is businesses have to transform to meet the expectations of a society that will not tolerate complexity or long delays in their business dealings. Company owners want the same ease of use from their business transactions that they experience on social media or using applications on their smartphones.
“Society is driving change in business, you can’t be slow and cumbersome or people will take their business elsewhere. If you look at how companies have transformed to accommodate this expectation, we now have job roles like user-experience developers and customer feedback specialists, who are employed to look at a button and evaluate how the customer is going to experience using it. It’s no longer enough just to make things work. Businesses are implementing digital transformation to meet the expectations of society today.”
The second main driver for digitalisation, according to Maherry, is to enable the business to be more responsive to its market and more cost effective in its dealings. “If you put intelligence and automation at the centre of everything that your business does and digitalise all your processes, there isn’t a business out there that won’t reap the benefits.”
He goes on to talk about some of the benefits that all businesses can derive from digitalisation. “The ability to on-board customers, employees, suppliers and devices onto the network in a simple and easy way has long been a requirement by business. Digitalisation enables that, by automating the required processes so that it pretty much becomes a box ticking exercise that doesn’t require an IT professional.”
Another bottleneck for the majority of businesses is the processing of contracts. “If you can eliminate the manual tasks around printing, scanning, couriering and storage of paper-based contracts by digitalising the processes and the documents themselves, you’ll save money and simplify the entire process, making it more convenient and secure for all parties.”
A big strength of digitalisation lies in helping businesses to be compliant with data privacy laws, and although the Protection of Personal Information Act has not come into force yet, it is only a matter of time before all businesses will have to comply.
Over and above compliance, businesses need to protect their intellectual property and other confidential information from their competitors. With the advent of the cloud, there are greater concerns around keeping both internal and external communication private at all times.
Finally, if businesses are going to transact with people, it needs to be frictionless. The business, its customers and its partners or suppliers need to be able to interact from any device, anywhere and anytime.
To achieve all the above, the modern business has to adopt intelligence and automation, otherwise it will just be too slow. Essentially, all businesses have to become IT-dependent if they want to be agile.
Originally published on www.engineeringnews.co.za