Unpacking digital transformation

Joanne Carew
By Joanne Carew, ITWeb Cape-based contributor.
Cape Town, 06 Mar 2019
Troye Griffiths, a director at ESTEQ.
Troye Griffiths, a director at ESTEQ.

Any digital transformation journey must start with clarifying exactly what digitalisation means. For one company it may just mean going paperless, for another it may be modernising a 20-year-old telephony system.

Achieving digital transformation success was the topic of a panel discussion on the first afternoon of Africa Tech Week, taking place in Cape Town this week.

"Ask first," noted Mervyn George, SAP business architect. It's a good idea to start any digital transformation drive by asking what you are trying to achieve, who you are trying to service and, most importantly, asking why you are doing this in the first place.

There is always opportunity to innovate. Sometimes that means creating something totally novel and creative and sometimes it's about just doing something better and faster, explained Troye Griffiths, a director at ESTEQ.

But we must not become too focused on the newest and latest offerings. Where many businesses struggle is cutting out the noise and finding the right technology they need to innovate and evolve, he added.

When it comes to digital transformation, Wendy Tembedza, a senior associate at Webber Wentzel, stressed the importance of transferring knowledge from one department to another. If the finance team made a tech investment mistake, it should share the experience gained with other departments across the business so they do not fall into the same trap.

We are living in a world where data has become this incredibly valuable commodity, added Tembedza. Using this information to achieve digital transformation success is all about understanding the data and using it to make better decisions around clients, products and the business.

Anyone with a smartphone knows how important it is to properly back up the device when getting a new one, noted George. This is an example of managing data on an individual level.

Now imagine how much must go into managing data as a company with multiple employees, or handling the amount of data generated by something like the Square Kilometre Array telescope project, he added.

In each instance, the information would be useless if we are not able to understand it and if it is not accessible when we need it, George explained.

There are a lot of components in this digital transformation recipe, said Griffiths. One is having the technological and digital maturity to leverage these innovations effectively. Another is around funding. And another relates to having the infrastructure to do all this.

"It's about having the right mix that fits for what you need," concluded Tembedza.