Using local technology to create relevant solutions for South African public sector and business that will transform industry and economy
It has been a long, hard year for government and citizens alike. The lockdown has placed necessary limitations on business and industry, impacting on service delivery, growth and economy. As the country moves into the second wave of the COVID-19 infection and we remain hopeful, as new vaccines emerge, this is the time to focus on local innovation and technology investment to aid digital transformation and shift the boundaries set in place by the pandemic to ensure business continuity. According to Sina Mvoko, Managing Executive: Public Sector at BCX, it is time for South African innovation to come to the fore and for companies to develop locally relevant solutions that can transform the sector and economy.
The unprecedented level of disruption the Covid-19 pandemic has heaped upon society is not something that should be feared or viewed as a temporary moment in history. This is a pivotal point, one that will make disruption a way of life for the near future and, possibly, forever.
At the Vision Beyond 2020 conference presented by BCX recently, this message was emphasised again and again by speakers and panellists. There will be more disruption, not less, in a post-Covid-19 world. It presents opportunities for meaningful and permanent change and discussions about the economy, health, climate, governance and the work-life balance. Disruption is an opportunity for all to become disruptors.
Change was happening before the pandemic. Last year, 140 000 jobs were lost on the High Street in the United Kingdom. Banks have retrenched staff as fewer customers visited branches. Digital transformation was already affecting the world.
As South Africa develops and deepens its rapidly growing relationship with digital transformation, there remains one irrefutable, essential and pressing truth: connectivity is the gateway to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
It was, along with the country’s need for a sustainable and consistent power supply, a dominant theme across all of the panels at the recent annual Directors Event futured by BCX. A gathering of some of the sharpest minds from business and society, ‘South Africa’s biggest board meeting’, as it is known, was held virtually for the first time, demonstrating and emphasising the point that without a wider and stronger access to the internet, the take-up of 4IR in this country will face a battle.
As South Africa’s digital transformation continues apace during these difficult times, the maxim that the fourth industrial revolution is a journey and not a destination is a mantra that will serve the country well.
While digitisation is a sea-change of approach for some, that does not necessarily mean businesses need to approach 4IR and their technology systems as though they are reinventing the wheel. It is as much about the modernisation of systems and structure to introduce the necessary competences that will see them well on this journey.
In the age of the pandemic, for retail companies that have dragged their feet rather than sprinting toward digital transformation, itmay already be too late. As “retail futurist” Doug Stephens explains, in response to the restrictions on movement forced upon the market by Covid-19 – lockdown, social distancing, quarantine, self-isolation – “Consumers go looking for alternatives to get them through the short term, but those alternatives may change their behaviour over the long term.