Digital transformation: SA businesses need to adapt or cease to exist
During a recent Business Day Dialogue, in partnership with Kolleno, industry experts discussed the challenges facing CFOs post-Covid and how to overcome them
In the past few years, finance leaders in SA have been faced with unprecedented challenges in their response to the global Covid-19 pandemic.
As businesses look ahead to the next “new normal”, a fresh set of challenges have emerged as CFOs and leaders respond to inflationary pressures, climbing energy prices, strained supply and the threat of a looming downturn.
In a recent Business Day Dialogue, in partnership with Kolleno, host Alishia Seckam spoke to SA business leaders on how CFOs and executives are responding to uncertainty and positioning themselves for growth through automation and digitalisation.
Seckam asked Rowan de Klerk, The Financial Directors and CFO Centre CEO, what obstacles CFOs encounter with digital transformation in the SA business climate.
De Klerk compared SA to a boat in the ocean, saying the country is a smaller vessel compared to global players. “SA needs to watch what is happening globally so we can reinvent ourselves.”
Bongi Ngoma, head of audit at the Auditor-General of SA, said the cost of doing business is increasing, making the role of the CFO more difficult. Pre-Covid decisions were tricky, but the addition of real estate pressures and hybrid work models have made it more challenging.
Sipha Ndawonde, who leads Africa operations at Kolleno, said digital transformation meant looking at a business strategically. “You are trying to ensure the repetitive actions taking place in the organisation are helping you enforce the strategy you’ve decided on.”
Ndawonde said it was all about having the right information to respond accurately and that digital transformation helped one do one's job more efficiently.
Watch the full discussion above:
The CFO at the University of Cape Town and the SA Institute of Chartered Accountants chair, Vincent Motholo, said organisations needed to adapt or cease to exist. “Finance is strategically positioned in organisations and it can’t exist in silos; it has to work collaboratively with other departments.”
De Klerk also highlighted the importance of data analytics of financial and non-financial information, and the role of leadership in analysing this data to make better choices in moving the business forward.
“Culture is key. If people are not adaptable and open to change, that makes culture a big barrier,” he said. It was about understanding that digitalisation was not a destination, but a journey.
Regardless of the size of your business, identifying where you are and where you want to be is the first step. Embracing change, and investing in the right technology and training will result in better data analytics and rolling forecasts.
Digital transformation remains imperative for any business that wants to remain top of mind for their customers. Business leaders are using digital transformation to let go of mundane tasks and focus on innovative and profitable business opportunities to enhance agility, speed and data-driven decisions — while designing a business that’s future-fit.
This article was paid for by Kolleno.