Digital transformation is a term that has been bandied about quite often in recent years, with all businesses being told of its importance and the need to have a strategy in place to ensure they’re ready to embrace it.

With all this rhetoric, is anything tangible being done?

This is one of the outcomes that Dell’s recent Digital Transformation Index (DTI) tried to ascertain, with it making quite a few interesting findings when it comes to the local business landscape, with 100 South African business leaders being surveyed.

Cause for optimism?

One of the interesting findings of the DTI, which digitally maps transformation progress of mid to large-sized companies and examines the hopes and fears of business leaders, is the fact that 13 percent of SA business heads believe their organisation will struggle to meet changing customer demands within just five years and 19 percent fear they’ll be left behind.

These are fairly low percentages, especially when you consider that 90 percent of businesses note that they are facing major impediments to digital transformation. Perhaps the former numbers are as low as they are, as business leaders are trying to remain as optimistic about digital transformation as possible, but the DTI does not delve into that detail.

When it comes to tracking the current state of digital transformation locally, the DTI notes that only 8 percent of organisations class themselves as digital leaders, with transformation in all its guises ingrained into the DNA of the business as Dell terms it.

The vast majority of companies surveyed in the DTI are classed in the digital evaluators category at 39 percent. Digital evaluators are defined as cautiously and gradually embracing digital transformation, looking to plan and invest for the future.

Overcoming barriers

Shifting back to the barriers that are impeding digital transformation for companies locally, the DTI was able to identify five specific issues that are arising.

The top five barriers to digital transformation are:

  • Lack of the right in-house skill sets and expertise
  • Data privacy and cybersecurity concerns
  • Lack of budget and resources
  • Regulation or legislative changes
  • Lack of alignment and collaboration across the company.

“We’ve talked about being on the cusp of tremendous change for some time now. That’s no longer the case,” says Doug Woolley, GM of Dell EMC South Africa.

“The next digital era has arrived and it’s reshaping the way we live, work and conduct business. Which means that time is of the essence. Genuine transformation needs to happen now, and it needs to be radical,” he adds.

Acutely aware of the barriers that stand in their way, the DTI also discovered that these companies are taking steps to be better prepared for digital transformation, as well as ensuring that they do not get outmanoeuvred by other more agile organisations.

Some of the methods being employed include looking at digital technologies to accelerate new product and services development, creating the right skills sets and expertise in-house, and sharing knowledge across functions.

“It’s an exciting time to be in business. We’re at a crucial intersection – where technology, business and mankind meet to create a better, more connected world,” notes Woolley.

“However, only technology-centered organisations will reap the rewards offered by a digital business model, including the ability to move quickly, to automate everything and to delight customers. This is why digital transformation needs to be a number one priority,” he concludes.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]