How are you paving your road to be a digital world leader in Africa?

By 2020, more than seven billion people and businesses, and at least 30 billion devices, will be connected to the Internet.*

Predictions on the future of digital consumption no longer shock me and as an enterprise leader, it shouldn’t shock you either. Business IT professionals own a minimum of three devices connected to the internet viz. mobile, tablet and laptop – it’s not a statistic I pulled from a survey, but rather my own observation at every ICT conference I’ve attended in the last 12 months, including AfricaCom 2014 and VAS Africa 2015.

At the VAS Africa 2015 conference, Nevo Hadas, a partner at & Innovation shared his insight on how to strategically ensure that you and your business remain relevant in the digital age. His core message was “People are the digital economy”. Whether we like it or not, the digital business model has landed, and will be grounded for as long as technology evolves and there is a need to develop solutions that drive business efficiency, increase sales and essentially make your business more relevant in today’s digital age. Just as your customers are at the core of your digital innovation sales strategy, so too should your team be.

If your business is offering technology solutions for other businesses to stay ahead of competition, my question is – what are you offering your team to ensure your product stack is not ten steps ahead of your internal digital evolution? Has your business model shifted to complement the pace at which digital disruption is leading change in the workplace? How often do you check in with your staff about the tools they use, or if they have any ideas on how to enhance existing resources to embrace digital disruption the same way we adjust budgets to embrace annual inflation?

Leading digital innovation with your team

This recent article published in Computerworld, ‘The 5 critical pillars of innovation management capability‘ by Nicholas D. Evans — author of a number of books including Business Innovation & Disruptive Technology: Harnessing the Power of Breakthrough Technology…for Competitive Advantage — provides deeper insight on steps to take as you assess and manage innovative change affecting your business internally and externally. Evans specifically notes that “To get everyone on the same page across your organisation, since ‘innovation’ typically means different things to different people, it’s important to come up with precise terminology for innovation and to clearly spell out initiatives, roles and responsibilities to avoid duplication of effort or competition among internal×600

On what level have you discussed or included your core team in the meaning of digital and innovative change within your business? In order for you to be part of a dynamic shift in Africa and to be a leader of digital change on the continent (one of the core tracks at AfricaCom 2015) relevant to our context, it’s essential to ask strategic questions that will unlock the creative juices within your team. Each individual within your organisation – from front desk to top director – has something to offer.

Listening to ideas on the ground for effective, innovative change

In the September issue of Forbes Africa Women, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, the first female chairperson of the African Union Commission, notes that as plans were coming together for the AU’s Agenda 2063 (a 50 year vision for Africa) women farmers noted that a 50 year vision would mean nothing to them if the hoe (a tool used in agriculture) is still used to till the soil. I found it a fitting metaphor for thinking about digital tools used by your team, as you expect innovative change within your business.

Your team is essentially responsible for ‘tilling the soil’ within your business from which new, innovative product offerings grow and creative ideas sprout. Have you consulted with your team on how effective existing tools are and are you listening to their feedback?

In this age of digital disruption, the tools we use to implement change in the technology sector directly impacts the rate at which change takes place. Let’s not forget that acquiring the latest digital tools/ software is not the immediate answer, I’m referring to a resource audit. Having just replaced my laptop from an Apple operating system to Windows, a new interface and desktop apps can be intimidating or cause a migraine if not implemented as part of a strategic shift and consultation with your team.

Are your digital campaigns impacting your bottom line?

The final point that I want to touch on is evaluating how you communicate the shifts in your business objectives to your team and customers.

As an enterprise decision maker, are you resisting communicating these shifts via digital communication channels? In a world where connectivity is the core of efficient, productive, relevant businesses – surely it makes business sense that your value proposition is reaching your target audience in multiple ways online? Not so obvious for most.

Once you allow yourself to embrace this significant digital shift in the enterprise right now – in the same way you allowed yourself to transition from feature phone to smartphone, from zero mobile apps to using at least three mobile apps a day – you will feel a weight lifting off your shoulders when you realise the impact digital campaigns can have on your bottom line.

The ecosystem is changing and will continue to evolve; your digital consumption, that of your customers and team has changed, it’s a blatant fact!

To overcome our biggest fear of no longer being relevant or offering relevant products to the world – WE NEED TO LEAD the digital change INTERNALLY!

*2014, Jorge Lopez,Forbes, Digital business is everyone’s business’



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