Digital transformation or digitalization is the hot new thing. It’s the process of transforming your company to make it more competitive, efficient and effective, all while changing the way everyone thinks about business and explores new ways of working. Nowadays, there is almost no platform where technology is not used, tracked and developed. In digital transformation, new software is implemented, a new platform is acquired, a specific type of training is provided, a framework or methodology is used, the definition of an entire area or company is altered, a new company strategy is adopted and many opportunities present themselves.
To digitally transform anything, experts and thought leaders recommend digital transformation models that focus on four main topics. According to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, CEOs should focus on these key areas in digital transformation:
- Empowering employees: organizational transformations, including digital ones, require employee motivation and skills to succeed.
- Engaging customers: businesses must meet the evolving expectations of today's customers in order to be successful, which means engaging customers in the same way they engage employees to create a customer experience that is consistent, unified and modern.
- Optimizing operations: the modernization of IT infrastructure is one of the best ways to boost organizational efficiency and effectiveness.
- Innovating services and products: In the modern age, innovation is one of the best ways to boost success, enabling companies to improve their market position, capture more revenue and stay relevant.
Organizations can change the way they operate and deliver value to customers and stakeholders using the right strategy, approach and execution.
Africa’s prospects are getting brighter
Africa is the last frontier of large global expansion opportunities for western companies. Statista reported that despite Africa having almost 1.4 billion people, 500 million+ internet users, and 330 million+ e-commerce consumers, it still doesn't appear on the radar of many investors or businesses outside the continent. Across Africa, the internet-based economy is on the rise. In the past decade alone, several African nations have achieved sustained growth in internet-driven GDP (iGDP) – in many cases doubling from 1.5% to more than 3% since 2012.
Some countries are on a particularly rapid path. Kenya, Morocco, Senegal, and South Africa, for instance, will have an iGDP of approximately 6% by 2050, similar to what the U.S. has today. While others, like Ghana, are set to reach between 4%-5% iGDP. Sustained by these exciting trends, the internet economy could contribute up to $180B to the African economy by 2025 and $712B by 2050, according to Google/ IFC. Africa's fast-evolving tech ecosystem offers an excellent opportunity for both tech and non-tech companies to establish themselves on the continent, as a wide range of lagging and leading indicators collectively point towards accelerated growth. Even more exciting, Africa’s 522 million internet users today are expected to expand by 11% over the next decade to comprise 16% of the global total, according to the ITU.
Local digital transformation progresses
Digitalization is clearly linked to economic growth, and Africa is well-positioned to benefit from it. Across the continent, 40% of the population (over 500 million people) now have internet access, with each 10% increase, Africa can be expected to see a 2.5% increase in GDP per capita, compared with 2% globally, according to Google/IFC. Local businesses have been capitalizing on these promising trends; in the last two years, the use of digital tools and platforms in business flowed freely.
From the governmental side, there are also some very encouraging and positive signs. A number of promising, pro-innovation initiatives have recently been introduced to accelerate tech growth, including programs such as the Tunisian Startup Act, which is intended to foster and incentivize tech entrepreneurship. In addition, the Nigerian government is also planning to set up a center for AI and Robotics, and Egypt has already launched an AI Portal that aims to showcase the country’s progress in digitalization and highlight its AI projects and events.
As presented, many signs are pointing the way to a bright digital future for Africa. So how does the continent move forward?
Global companies provide an example to fast-follow, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Orange, to name a few. These companies have invested heavily in digital infrastructure and upskilling in the last several years to further improve the tech ecosystem’s foundations. Companies such as these have achieved success by partnering with local governments and businesses to better navigate the regulatory environment and meet the needs and wants of the local population, all while making sure that products and services meet local requirements.
Furthermore, using low-code platforms helps to unlock innovation by providing it to business users who are familiar with and understand operational challenges. Such business utilizers can create functional prototypes and iterate toward fully functional applications. Plus, low-code platforms can reduce turnaround time for building new apps by 90%. Low-code solutions can also provide a disruptive opportunity to democratize digital innovation in Africa. As well as accelerating the continent's digital transformation, these technologies can also empower a whole new generation of African developers to achieve innovation at scale and create powerful new solutions for the African market. This, in turn, could help local tech companies succeed on both the local and global stage.
Another technology that helps accelerate digital transformation is cloud computing. Even though cloud computing services had already grown tremendously over the past decade, the pandemic gave them a new level of relevance. With most offices having closed for a while due to the health crisis, remote work filled many gaps, and is looking like it’s here to stay. In this continuing framework, having a strong cloud computing infrastructure has become a vital element of business operations. In order to accelerate its digital transformation, any organization can focus on these three aspects of cloud computing: storage, computing resources and scalability.
The world is driven by the collection of technology strategies that everyone implements. As we step into the "new normal," integrating modern technologies into business operations will be key to success. Right now, there’s a window of opportunity for organizations of all sizes to undertake improvements that will scale over time.