ISACA Conference: CIO panel examines tech's role in business

Lungile Msomi
By Lungile Msomi, ITWeb journalist
Johannesburg, 10 Oct 2023
Technology can help understand consumer behaviour.
Technology can help understand consumer behaviour.

Understanding what consumers want and using new technologies to improve operations and meet customer expectations is crucial in today’s business.

This emerged during a panel discussion on navigating the digital landscape which took place during the ISACA SA Chapter conference, being held in Johannesburg this week. 

The panellists discussed the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) on businesses, pointing out that AI technologies have evolved to the point where they can interact with humans and provide invaluable insights into consumer behaviour – a capability deemed crucial for ensuring business continuity in the digital age.

Pragasen Pather, CIO at Sun International, highlighted the use of technologies like behavioural modelling and AI to enhance the customer experience. He explained how Sun International uses customer data to create personalised experiences. “For example, if our data shows that a family likes to eat a certain fast food restaurant; we make sure they have vouchers for that restaurant available to them as they check in.”

Pather also stressed the significance of adhering to data protection regulations like POPIA to maintain consumer trust.

Justin Williams, CISO at MTN, shared how MTN is integrating AI into its data management system. This data-driven approach enables them to provide personalised deals in data, minutes, and phone plans. 

Reshenn Dhewnarian, strategist at Sisekelo Institute of Business and Technology, emphasised Africa's potential to become a global services hub by harnessing AI. “By strategically using AI, Africa can centralise services for the rest of the world, paving the way for enhanced business performance and global competitiveness.”

The panellists stressed that while the private sector is increasingly adopting emerging technologies, there's a crucial need for public institutions to embrace these innovations as well.

Aletta Von Tramp, director at the Institute of Commercial Practitioners, said the public sector lags due to a lack of digital education, outdated equipment and inefficient spending. “Overcoming resistance to adopting new tech often rests on users' ability to adapt. Therefore, upskilling plays a pivotal role in the digitisation journey of the public sector,” concluded Von Tramp.