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Technology allows businesses to leapfrog legacy business models. Picture: SUPPLIED/PEXELS
Technology allows businesses to leapfrog legacy business models. Picture: SUPPLIED/PEXELS

As the global economy recovers from Covid-19, there is an opportunity for the world to prioritise digital transformation to build business resilience.

However, the journey towards digital transformation is not straightforward and will continue to present many challenges that leaders will have to overcome to build future-fit organisations.

A recent Business Day Focus 4.0 digital dialogue, in partnership with BCX, Johannesburg Business School (JBS) and Liberty Two Degrees, highlighted the importance of a business strategy that embraces digital transformation.

The dialogue also analysed how effective leadership and change management can shape an engaged workforce to drive business stability, employee experience, customer satisfaction and profits. 

Prof Randall Carolissen, dean of the JBS, said tools enabling digital transformation have already been in existence for some time. The JBS has geared itself around an innovative teaching style that focuses on the complex environment of the digital era. 

He said the Covid-19 pandemic fast-tracked many businesses’ digital transformation efforts, and businesses that adjusted their operations quickly and responded to lockdowns and supply chain constraints proactively, have ensured they are better positioned to face future risks.

Technology allows businesses to leapfrog legacy business models. It also allows businesses to protect themselves against more tech-savvy competitors.

However, successfully implementing technology requires the business to be willing to change and have a change manager in place to drive the change agenda. 

Liberty Two Degrees is a real estate investment trust  that co-owns Sandton City, Eastgate Shopping Centre and Midlands Mall, among other assets. Chief information officer Pat Masithela said that though the pandemic made a strong case for digital transformation, it was important that it be underpinned by clear business objectives. This would prevent the deployment of expensive solutions that do not deliver value to the business. 

He emphasised the importance of taking people in the organisation along on the digital transformation journey for them to identify with its aims and objectives and buy into the process.  

Abdool Saib, chief of converged communications at information and communications technology company BCX, said there is a tendency to underestimate the complexity of getting an entire ecosystem transformed and fully operational. Chief among these is ensuring the business has the necessary skills to implement it and that it is sufficiently adaptable to pivot.  

Businesses need to create competencies around digital vocabulary and take their people on the digital journey in an inclusive way. At the same time, companies need to consider cybersecurity in an increasingly digital world.

Despite these challenges, he said, it’s important that companies remember this is an opportunity for them to improve themselves and be more resilient.