With a digital world in constant flux, businesses, governments and societies need to keep pace and the word coming out of the Gartner Symposium in Cape Town is that Africa is well placed to dod this.
“The digital world is in a constant upgrade. The customer’s power is upgrading. The competition, is upgrading. The technology that was upon us gradually over the past, is now here,” said Gartner’s Vice President Peter Sondergaard,
In an African context, Sondergaard gave an example of how bettering the infrastructure can help the South African government.
According to him, the government is required to keep spare parts for the rail system for the next 35 years. If we put sensors on those train parts now, we will have a better understanding in the future as to which parts are prone to reparations.
That will in part reduce the time it takes to make repairs and have less break downs – which will make commuters happier.
He also added that in some ways Africa is faster with upgrading infrastructure when compared to North America or Western Europe.
“A good example is the road ways. There are some better upgraded roads in South Africa than in the States, that will never be upgraded. There is an opportunity for developing nations to leapfrog infrastructure that will represent a greater opportunity in the future,” he said.
But he did note however, that cost optimisation and infrastructure optimisation are two of the biggest hurdles to actually get going.
Part and parcel of infrastructure upgrades are giving the people, consumers and clients what they want, when they want it.
One of those technologies that have been steadily been making its way into the market is Virtual Reality (VR).
A couple of years ago was just a talked-about technology. Today, seemingly every company is developing systems and applications that integrate with VR.
It is not going to take decades for the technology to become mainstream and everyday, but only a few short years.
The same goes for Artificial Intelligence (AI). What used to featured heavily in sci-fi films have now become a common occurrence for companies which use AI for predictions, analytics and machine learning.
“What used to be a vision, is now a project today. IT can sometimes feel like chaos with no stability, but if companies and organisations just keep their systems upgraded, you can lead the change in the world,” Sondergaard said.
To tie that into South Africa’s rail system, imagine if we had the same sensors connected to an AI that can provide useful information at the press of a button.
The AI will also over time be able to predict which parts will need repairs even before the operators will know about a fault. It will be able to learn how the trains operate, the schedules that it follow and which routes are the most popular.
“It will reshape businesses, but it will also reshape how people live. It is time to build again on a scale that you have never seen before,” Sondergaard said generally about a digital strategy.
If companies and organisations get it right, Sondergaard added that more infrastructure will be built than we ever have. In fact, he explained that more infrastructure has already been built over the last 100 years than what has been built in all civilisation.
“Get it right, and our children’s children will prosper in a very different world – in a digital society. This will be the most important thing that you will you accomplish in the next decade.”