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Digital the only way for companies to adapt and thrive

Read time 2min 30sec
Sarel Naude, digital psychiatrist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise.
Sarel Naude, digital psychiatrist at Hewlett Packard Enterprise.

The ‘new normal’ is characterised by a massive and unstoppable shift to digital, and businesses will have to adapt accordingly – and quickly – in order to grow in future.

This emerged at a webinar on enabling business to emerge stronger, hosted by Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE) and First Technology, in collaboration with ITWeb, this week.

Sarel Naude, digital psychiatrist at HPE, said while the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) had until recently been expected to be the biggest disruption in history, the COVID-19 pandemic is proving to be even more disruptive than even the 4IR. 

Citing McKinsey research, Naude said businesses that thrived in the pandemic had been those that were agile and resilient, and those that had redeployed talent, pivoted production, shifted operations, launched new business models and multiplied productivity. Many had also removed silos, adopted new technology overnight, and accelerated decision-making, among other measures.

“The pandemic and lockdown also accelerated digital adoption, driving accelerated digital sales across B2B and B2C. Customers are switching to digital channels and companies will have to accelerate their transformation in line with this,” he said. 

The digital agenda for recovery had to include refocusing digital efforts to align with changing customer expectations, using data and AI to improve business operations, selectively modernising technology capabilities, upskilling workforces and accelerating operations, he said. 

Naude highlighted that HPE’s intelligent data platform and HPE Greenlake were designed to support these transformations.

Another important change would be in how organisations financed their digital transformation. Anton Pauw, finance area manager at HPE Financial Services in South Africa, said the everything-as-a-service (XaaS) model is set to drive accelerated change. 

“Businesses can no longer afford to keep obsolete systems alive; they need to gain access to advanced technologies, paying only for what they use and eliminating costly over-provisioning and under-utilisation. XaaS allows them to do this, and enables them to scale easily and improve their agility and time to market,” he said.

Pauw noted that HPE CEO and president Antonio Neri has committed to transitioning HPE to an XaaS company by 2022. 

“After over 70 years as a traditional hardware manufacturer, we have had to change, and this unique approach to as-a-service gives our customers new choice and flexibility to grow and innovate in future,” he said.

Also speaking during the webinar, Lee den Hond, extreme athlete and award-winning businesswoman, outlined learnings from her experience in successfully summiting Everest, which were applicable to the uncertain business environment today. 

She said survival and success depended on factors such good leadership, preparation and teamwork, but having the right mindset is crucial. “You have to manage the situation – don’t let it manage you.”

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