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Digital transformation can be daunting, but start by asking yourself: "What won't change in my business?" Then focus on delivering that customer value through technology, says Dave Duarte, founder of the digital communications consultancy, Treeshake.
Speaking at a recent Investec Cash Investments Business Matters event in Johannesburg, digital expert Duarte explained how companies can decide where to start digitising by looking at the reality when it comes to their business, as well as at the trends and the available technologies.
“Base your business on the truth: What isn't going to change? When you know that, when you're focused on the customer value, you don't have to wait for your competitors to act," says Duarte.
"You can align with the trends in delivering that value – say, speed or service – and then you can start experimenting with the technologies."
Invest in skills and technology
At the top of Duarte’s list of what businesses should invest in as the Fourth Industrial Revolution takes shape, are technology and skills.
However, investment in technology and skills is not just about individual business; rather, it's about a country collective.
In a country of more than 55 million people, with 38 million unique internet users, Duarte stresses the importance of internet connectivity in the world right now, adding: "Connectivity is vital for service delivery."
The shift to a digital world is affecting every industry. For instance, education is seeing a move to e-learning, while transportation is experiencing the phenomenon of self-driving cars as a reality.
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What won't change in your business? When you know that, you can align with the trends in delivering that value – say, speed or service – and then you can start experimenting with the technologies.
So, how can SA prepare for the Fourth Industrial Revolution? Duarte says the country will need to focus on education first.
"We need to get skills right at the fundamental level, at the early childhood development learning phase. The first 6 000 days of a child's life are crucial," says Duarte. It's something President Cyril Ramaphosa is also advocating for.
In his State of the Nation Address 2019, the president announced that more than 700 000 children are already accessing early childhood education. He also highlighted plans to provide every learner in SA with digital workbooks and textbooks on a tablet device over the next six years.
However small or big interventions may be in the business sector or in the country as a whole, it is clear that investing in technology and skills holds great potential for SA.
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About the author
Lead digital content producer
Ingrid Booth is a consumer magazine journalist who made the successful transition to corporate PR and back into digital publishing. As part of Investec's Brand Centre digital content team, her role entails coordinating and producing multi-media content from across the Group for Investec's publishing platform, Focus.