New data has revealed a clear sense of urgency among African businesses in embracing the digital transformation journey with more than three quarters of business leaders believing that they need to transform their organisations into digital businesses to enable future growth. The data which covers 25 African countries, and whose findings your blogger has, 18% of those surveyed indicated that they have a full digital strategy in place, while 35 per cent are in progress with specific digital transformation initiatives for selected parts of their business. Another 23 per cent of respondents have very limited or no strategy in place.The study surveyed 3,120 business leaders from Sub Saharan Africa between January and November 2016. All respondents were pre-qualified as being involved in shaping their organisations’ digital strategy. Sifting through the data, 2016 was a huge year for technology as Africa saw announcements.2017 looks to be an even bigger year as African countries continues to move forward into the digital era. Your blogger has seen new technologies announced such as paying for coffees shops in East Africa and train tickets with smart phone in South Africa. During this year, Africans are set to see a lot more of the digital transformation some of us are sprinting to keep up with. For example, it has recently been forecasted that the total Sub Saharan Africa advertisement market will reach $5bn in 2017, yet more than 50% of this will be spent on digital media. So it appears that as we progress in 2017, more money will be spent on advertising online than it will on more traditional forms of advertisement such as Tv, newspapers, magazines, radio, billboards, posters and buses combined. This is reinforced through popular social media brands that have began offering advertising services on their platforms.
So with new innovation and new ways, Africa is adapting to the fast moving digital age. Technological advancements have led to the fourth industrial revolution, where cutting-edge technologies such as Internet of Things, artificial intelligence and advanced data analytics among others are powered by cloud computing to create limitless new possibilities. The 2016 data shows that business leaders have started to act on the need for digital transformation to address new challenges and opportunities in Africa. Small businesses in rural Africa are ahead of their counterparts in the capital cities when it comes to online strategies are adapting to the new trends. An increasing number of African business owners have understood they had more at stake in the digital revolution.The tyranny of distance has always created challenges for rural businesses in Africa and many of those challenges can be overcome online.Now, thanks to digital revolution, businesses in rural Africa are somewhat at the forefront of taking advantage of online technologies.Certainly in today’s economic environment, businesses in rural Africa need to take advantage of the latest digital technologies in order to have customers find them.Their customers are not just in their local areas, which might be a relatively small community that is geographically close to them.But, if a customer is just with a couple of clicks on mouse, or a swipe on phone, African businesses can be connected to a business from across Africa, from across the continent, or indeed across the world. Your blogger is one of those who believe that this transformation must cover several pillars that matters to the African population and that include among others engaging customers, empowering employees, optimising operations and transforming products, services or business models all of which are enabled by data and the cloud.Its good to see in the report how African businesses have recognised the opportunity that mobile offers and are providing a fantastic experience to existing and potential customers on their apps and websites and haven’t been left behind.