Digital transformation on the horizon in SA
By Kerry Hope, Business Development Manager, Magic Software South Africa.
An infusion of cloud computing power and new enterprise mobility platforms have accelerated the implementation of disruptive technologies. According to a Microsoft study, 48% of South African organisations have already begun a digital transformation journey, and 44% are planning to do so within the next 12 months.
Here are a number of examples of the latest innovations that are reshaping the IT landscape in South Africa:
Cloud computing comes to SA
Cloud computing is one of the big enablers of digital transformation, lowering development costs, while providing better data availability and increased scalability and flexibility, says Kerry Hope, Business Development Manager, Magic Software South Africa.
Microsoft announced this week the planned opening of its first cloud data centre in Johannesburg, and Cape Town by 2018, to more efficiently deliver its various services, like Office 365 and Azure cloud computing services, to their South African customers.
IBM opened its IBM Cloud Data Center last year, providing enterprise customers in South Africa access to IBM's global network of cloud data centres, including access to services for building cloud solutions. Delivering fast, easy and automated access to public, private and hybrid cloud services, IBM Cloud provides analytics, mobile, networking, storage, Internet of things (IOT) and cognitive computing.
The first wave of IBM Cloud applications has already been developed using cognitive computing.
Working with South Africa's Metropolitan Health, IBM launched the first commercial application of Watson in South Africa that improves clinical decision-making, personalises care pathways, improves quality of care and lowers costs. Future areas for development include solutions leveraging genomic information to improve diagnosis and treatment of disease.
Advances in enterprise mobility
While big players are bringing the underpinning infrastructure for innovation, South African entrepreneurs are making important inroads in the area of fintech and healthcare.
iKhokha provides innovative payment services for SMEs, enabling them to accept cash, card and mobile payments as well as take an optional cash advance based on trading history. The cash advance offered is calculated based on card transaction history; the more companies process through iKhokha, the bigger the amount they are qualified to receive. Repayments are made automatically as a fixed percentage of daily card sales.
First National Bank (FNB) has launched a number of convenient financial mobile apps based on its fintech platform. The mobile platform allows FNB to integrate into an external partner system to deliver retail shopping coupons to FNB customers. Customers can also buy vouchers with eBucks or rands while shopping in-store or online, and then to gift to any mobile number. Launched on the same platform, #House brings home buyers and sellers together. The power of #House is realised with pre-approved finance applications where customers can instantly request and receive pre-approval from FNB based on their credit score and affordability.
In the Western Cape of South Africa, an mHealth application has been developed in order to facilitate rapid diagnosis and adequate care of patients with acute burns. The main features of the solution include a smartphone-based application, a server-side system for relay of information between the point-of-care and burns specialists (also known as tele-experts), a Web-based interface, as well as the storage of pictures and data.
According to Ericsson, by 2019 there will be 930 million mobile phones in Africa, almost one for every person, which is more than electricity penetration. Now, people are able to connect, get news, trade, get access to healthcare and even transfer money. Low code development platforms for system integration and application development can even accelerate innovation further.
New technologies are triggering business growth in South Africa, refuting the strategy of "business as usual". Now it's all about leveraging computing power and the high penetration of mobile phones to discover the best way to join the forces of digital transformation.