The 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR) is already here in Africa and achieving Digital Maturity is the imperative to thrive or survive in this age.
According to Louis Otieno, Director Corporate Affairs-Microsoft4Afrika, the maturity requires Digital Transformation.
“4IR which like its technological predecessors will be disruptive, creating opportunities and risks – albeit at a far more rapid pace. We’ve all heard about its elements including AI, IoT and Big Data among others,” said Otieno.
As he laid emphasis on Cloud Systems, Otieno said: “The impact appears of cloud underappreciated and yet it is what will power the rapid transformations in the 4IR. In fact, I would characterize the coming year as the “Year to Scale”. Scaling up and scaling down to opportunities,” he said.
He further explained that the likes of Microsoft, Amazon and Google had exceeded the tipping point of 10,000 servers in their public clouds, achieving hyper-scale. Through economies of scale, the companies can provide cloud computing services at costs lower than can achieved even by the largest of corporate and governments.
He also touched on the role of the CIO that he termed as an increasingly critical function even here in Africa.
He said that most CIOs will lead the digital transformation in organizations to digital maturity by developing and executing a Digital Strategy that achieves the following four things.
- Engage more customers. This means reaching more customers while keeping existing customers.
- Empower your employees. People is your most important asset. Your employees must to provided access to all digital resources to allow them to maximize their productivity.
- Optimize operations. Operational efficiency and agility is a winning trait in the increasingly global and competitive business environment.
- Transform products and services. Innovation and responsiveness to customer needs is critical for the acquisition and retention of customers.
“By doing so, you will be overcoming the internal blockers to digital maturity. The end game is to build a customer-centric organization that will positively impact the top line by leveraging the increasingly affordable and accessible hyper-cloud computing services,” he added.
At 1B+ people, Africa is a viable market today. Given it is relatively young, it is a guaranteed market tomorrow. Further, there is increasingly affordable devices and connectivity in Africa.
Mr. Otieno also touched on external blockers that hinder digital transformation. He said that policies were the major blocks which range from the presence of inappropriate ones; the absence of required ones; and certainly, the non-standardization of policies across African borders,
The 4IR is about Data (the new Oil) and free data-flows define a single market. To create and enable the market of one Africa of 1B+ people and to take advantage of the disruptions and opportunities that come with the 4IR, we must have standardized and enabling policies around Spectrum, Data Residency, Data Privacy, Data Protection and Cyber Security, said Otieno.
As a solution, Otieno said that the 2018 organisation must start developing these enabling policies with close collaboration between Government and Private Sector, leveraging ongoing efforts by regional bodies like the AU, COMESA, ECOWAS, EAC, SADC and others.
“Upon achieving this single market, CIOs can start focusing on leveraging the 4IR technologies like AI, IoT, Big Data Analytics to scale and grow their businesses,” he concluded.