The impact of COVID-19 is still to be quantified, especially as we are still in the midst of fighting its spread on a global scale. That said, we have already seen the effects it has had on the ICT sphere, with remote working, cyberattacks and digital transformation coming to the fore.
Digital transformation in particular became a top priority for many an organisation, as those who were in the early phases of projects had to ramp up their efforts, while others who had not put anything together, scrambling to do so.
This is something that the Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index 2020 for South Africa has looked at, comparing elements such as the readiness to get projects off the ground locally, compared to other parts of the globe.
The Index, which was unpacked during a media briefing earlier today, surveyed 5 300 C-Suite respondents globally from 23 countries from a variety of industries and functions, according to Dell Technologies.
Looking at the local context, the Index found that 79 percent of South African organisations have fast tracked some of their digital transformation projects this year. Added to this, 84 percent are in the midst of reinventing their business model, which represents 5 percent more than the global average, Dell Technologies explains.
As for how these organisations plan to reinvent, the Index shows that investment in technologies will prove critical. To that end 44 percent intend to invest in AI, which is greater than global average of 33 percent, and 20 percent plan to invest distributed ledgers such as blockchain in the next one to three years.
Hurdles and opportunities
While this Index points to some positives as to how South Africa organisations aim to address digital transformation, looking at the actual data shows that it is harder to achieve in practice.
“The pandemic may have catalysed digital transformation, but continuous transformation is proving difficult to sustain – globally, 94 percent of organisations are facing entrenched barriers to transformation,” notes Dell Technologies.
Highlighting some of the local barriers, the company pinpoints three in particular:
- “Lack of budget and resources (up from second place in 2018)
- Lack of economic growth (a new entry since 2018)
- Lack of the right technology solutions to work at the speed of business (a jump of four places since 2018).”
Another effect of the pandemic has been how organisations have re-prioritised how they plan to invest, with a shift in focus from foundational technologies to emerging ones. This, as Dell Technologies points out, is driven by a desire to become digital enterprises of the future as quickly as possible.
As such, the following five technologies are receiving the most sizeable investments, according to the Index:
- “5G infrastructure (47 percent)
- Artificial Intelligence algorithms (46 percent)
- Real-time applications at the Edge (44 percent)
- Cybersecurity solutions (42 percent)
- Data management tools to transform data into something that is useful and protected (38 percent).”
As for areas of interest moving forward, education and remote learning appear to be a potentially significant ones.
“Recognising the importance of emerging technologies, a high proportion of respondents in South Africa (66 percent) believe remote learning will become more common in the next three to five years,” adds the report.
“This could pave the way for wider educational opportunities for employees and students in the country. In addition, 62 percent see data privacy emerging as a protected basic human right and 61 percent feel we will be part of a more globally connected, remote workforce,” it posits.
Ahead of the curve?
While 2020 proved tough on a myriad fronts for businesses and people alike, the Index does offer up some hope for organisations that wish to respond proactively to challenges in the view of Dell Technologies.
“The Digital Transformation Index 2020 survey for South Africa, undertaken in November and December 2020, is particularly pertinent as it clearly shows that organisations across the country, have already begun to roll-out significant digitalisation initiatives to drive business transformation,” says Doug Woolley, MD for Dell Technologies South Africa.
“These initiatives will start to take shape in 2021. In many cases South African organisations surveyed are ahead of the global average and can be seen to be advocating digital transformation initiatives,” he concludes.
We hope that it is indeed the case, and that an equally tough 2021 will not deter that desire to embrace digital transformation.