Embrace digital transformation to address new competitive forces in Africa

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    Jean-Philippe Courtois, Executive VP and President, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations

    As digitalization has become more prevelant everywhere, every organization today and in future have no choice but to consider evolving their business model and technology capabilities to address new competitive forces wit it, Jean-Philippe Courtois, Executive VP and President, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations emphacised during an interview with CIO East Africa. 

    Stressing that organizations who don’t embrace digital transformation risk falling behind, Courtois observed that while several companies have continued to complain about shrinking budgets, they have no option but to fix the mindset and the budget in their quest to fit in the journey of an already disrupted market.

    “Businesses and entire industries have been transforming at an accelerated rate, and today every company is becoming a digital company. Disruption is real. Currently 80 percent of business leaders believe their industry will be disrupted by 2020,” said Courtois.

    “Businesses and entire industries have been transforming at an accelerated rate, and today every company is becoming a digital company. Disruption is real. Currently 80 percent of business leaders believe their industry will be disrupted by 2020.” Jean-Philippe Courtois, Executive VP and President, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations

    At Microsoft, we talk about ‘Tech Intensity’. What I mean by that is the fusion of a company’s business capabilities with its ability to develop digital competencies, creating an environment where new technology can be adopted, fast.

    According to Courtois, many Microsoft customers already have a coherent digital transformation strategy in place, a position that prompts for businesses to plan and deploy systems on how businesses are going to maximize the use of technology.

    Giving M-KOPA an initiative infused with AI that he is so passionate about, Courtois pointed out that the ingenious invention is one has both a societal and commercial benefit. It was a 2018 Airband Grant Fund winner, a program part of our Microsoft Airband Initiative, to extend internet connectivity around the globe. The company is already the largest provider of solar home systems in East Africa, providing pay-as-you-go access to clean energy solutions that displace kerosene. To date, it has already connected over 700,000 homes, delivering affordable clean energy to 3.5M people.

    While noting that digital transformation isn’t just about technology but about a cultural transformation,Courtois observed that cultural transformation where employees are empowered to take risks and encouraged to innovate is critical.

    From a spotcheck, culture is deeply ingrained and can be slow to shift. It is not just about corporate values on a wall – it requires a complete overhaul of systems, symbols and behaviors said Courtois who leads Microsoft’s commercial business across 124 subsidiaries worldwide.

    From cloud services to mixed reality and AI, Courtois  is also responsible for driving strategic planning, running global operations and shaping growth initiatives in developed and emerging markets is assertive that one has to tranform everything, right from how we make decisions and how we work to deciding how and what we measure.

    Evidently passionate about helping businesses digitally transform with the right strategy, he averred of being so committed to support initiatives and technology lined to unlock new ways of working, new business models and new revenue streams: “I speak from experience, as Microsoft has been on its own transformation journey. We have learned a lot and understand that cultural transformation is an ongoing process that requires leadership from the front.”

    With customers and employees expecting more, Courtois advocates for strategic implementation of intelligent cloud services to maintain competitive edge. He believes that leaders must prepare employees for a digital future and to reach a stage where they are excited at the prospect of technology because they have the skills they need to thrive.

    As in many regions, Africa still suffers from a skills gap said Courtois. According to a recent worldwide survey conducted by Microsoft, Africa like in many other regions suffers from a skills gap . The report established that 37 percent of respondents in the region cited lack of skills as the main barrier to cloud adoption.  As new technologies increasingly pervade society, every individual needs to be equipped with the skills they need to realize their potential. This means we have a collective responsibility to close the skills gap, ensuring increased economic impact across Africa and opportunities for all.

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