Lockdown was a catalyst for businesses around the country to re-evaluate their product offerings, business models and systems. Businesses that are digitally enabled have a significant competitive advantage over those that are not, particularly as more customers are choosing to shop online.

The recent Business Day Focus 4.0 LIVE webinar, in partnership with Clickatell and Triple4, discussed the benefits of a digitally enabled business and how technology can grow a business.

In 2020, 21.9-million users in SA made online purchases, indicating that the size of the online market in the country is already significant, said Casper de Villiers, senior vice-president of data: compliance and shared services operations at Clickatell, a specialist in mobile chat solutions. The company offers real-time customer engagement and transaction platforms that enable businesses to connect, interact and transact with their customers via mobile chat and other digital channels.

The pandemic gave businesses and consumers pushed companies to become more digitally enabled. The result has been a significant mindshift as more people realise the convenience of online shopping — and this will only accelerate, said De Villiers.

“Those businesses that aren’t digitally enabled have lost out,” he said, adding that digitally enabled businesses are able to reach more customers and sell more products.

De Villiers said digitally-enabled businesses are more innovative, and technology is the fuel for job opportunities.

Companies that had already considered cloud and had some kind of recovery and continuity strategy in place were in a better position going into the lockdown than those that were not, said Kevin Craig Mortimer, CEO of Triple4, an IT management company. Triple4 provides support services to its customers, including helping them unlock the value of having an efficient IT infrastructure in their business. This value includes increased revenue, saved time and enhanced competitiveness.

If a crisis such as the pandemic was ever going to happen, this was a better time for it to occur than in previous years, said Mortimer.

The first step to any digital enablement is to get all stakeholders in the business to buy into the digital transformation journey and to manage any fear that may exist. No hurdles, he said, are insurmountable.

Mortimer said digital transformation can ensure quick wins to allow for business growth.

Digital transformation is no longer an option, said Alison Jacobson, director of The Field Institute. It’s about doing business better and doing more with less, and more efficiently — with the help of technology.

The biggest barriers to change, Jacobson said, are fear, ignorance and inertia. Digital literacy is about the desire to keep learning. And while there is a perception that digital transformation is expensive, there are affordable commoditised solutions available, particularly where back-office management and HR solutions are concerned.

Digital transformation doesn’t have to encompass the entire business from the outset, she said, but could be limited to electronic invoicing, the finance system or even electronic document signing, the latter which has become a popular option during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Watch the full webinar below:

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