East African businesses urged to leverage digital transformation for new revenue streams

Social, Mobile, Analytics and Cloud technologies seen as greatest opportunity for growth

East African CIOs have today been urged to leverage social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies to create new revenue streams, increase productivity and transform their business models; in the rush to adopt digital transformation for improved customer experience in the face of an economic slowdown.

The sentiments were shared at the IDC CIO Summit that brought together CIOs from the region seeking to highlight the role of ICT in business transformation.

(TOP: Nikki Summers, Regional Director, Sage East Africa).

“Cloud adoption across the East Africa region is picking up and CIOs should leverage the power of SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) technologies to help businesses create new revenue streams,” said Nikki Summers, Regional Director, Sage East Africa.

With an increased adoption to new technologies, the biggest challenge for CIOs in East Africa remains finding the right talent. According to an IDC research, CIOs are using digital transformation to improve customer experience to cater to new demands for better, faster and more personalized service. They are however faced with a high rate of change, making constant upskilling critical.

In addition, Summit speakers also noted that CIOs are struggling to find time to innovate and lead change while maintaining operational efficiency in a secure environment. An age-old problem that has been intensified by the need to adapt and change faster than ever before even as their teams are required to find time to innovate and learn on the job.

“Some of the challenges faced by CIOs in East Africa include; leading innovation, finding the right IT talent, getting executive buy-in and managing ROI, which remains the same across the globe. We therefore need to rebalance our business IT portfolios, predict what new ‘third platform’ skills will be required, those that will become obsolete and start preparing,” said Jyoti Lalchandani, IDC’s Group VP and Regional MD for the Middle East, Africa and Turkey.

In the past, IT decisions and investments were predominately made by the IT department but businesses are today seeing the emergence of a new class of IT buyers. Marketing, HR and sales now all have a vested interest in technology that support their function and CIOs face the challenge of balancing requests with available budget and ensuring seamless integration into the enterprise to avoid creating a ‘forest of technology silos’.

In addition to digital transformation projects requiring buy-in from across the business, constant innovation has given rise to a host of security concerns. Further, IDC’s research shows that a lack of adequate budget and of employee adherence to security policies topping the list of security challenges in East Africa. In addition to change management and regular security audits, companies should be doing their own regular research into emerging threats to ensure that they are adequately prepared to face them.

“We can’t set up annual ‘classroom style’ training seminars and expect to keep up anymore, learning needs to be part of any business culture and it must include a strong element of experimentation. Our biggest risk is not trying new things but as leaders we must be comfortable with potentially failing and recovering quickly,” added Summers.

“Ultimately, CIOs today should be less ‘engineering’ and more ‘pioneering’ to ride this wave of innovation.”

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