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Picture: 123RF/KHENG HO TOH
Picture: 123RF/KHENG HO TOH

Business and government have talked about the need for digital transformation for years, but progress has been slow up to March 2020, when Covid-19 forced change. Lockdown drove home the message that digital transformation is now a critical success factor not only for surviving such unexpected shocks but also the post-Covid world, whatever that turns out to be. 

In particular, the impact of the past six months on people has provided the spark needed to drive progress relating to the key pillars of digital transformation, revenue, innovation, customers, finance and operations. 

These pillars are in turn supported by crucial enabling technologies, namely data integration, hybrid-cloud strategy and cybersecurity. These technologies enable an organisation to compete with new market entrants who already have them in place – a world one in which no technology assets should be on the balance sheet, and everything should be procured “as a service”. 

Research conducted for Cisco by World Wide Worx suggests that just over a third (37%) of SA organisations rolled out a digital strategy that enabled remote working when the first lockdown was announced, and 63% admitted they were ill-prepared for the shift to remote working. Anecdotal evidence backs this up; many corporate IT teams had to make an almost superhuman effort to get their workforces working remotely — an admirable response in extraordinary circumstances. But the lesson is clear: digital transformation is essential to build resilience into operating models.

In this context, organisations need to put themselves in a position to benefit from the fourth industrial revolution (4IR), but also to be prepared for what comes next. In short: it’s time to stop just talking about digital transformation and 4IR, and make them a reality.

To achieve this, organisations need to adopt an integrated approach called Enterprise 5.0. Becoming an Enterprise 5.0 will allow organisations to become 4IR-ready, to their benefit; more important still, it will position them to proactively adapt to whatever comes next — presumably the fifth industrial revolution (5IR) which, in line with the speeded-up pace of change, is likely just around the corner.

Enterprise 5.0. Picture: SUPPLIED/4 SIGHT HOLDINGS
Enterprise 5.0. Picture: SUPPLIED/4 SIGHT HOLDINGS

Making it real

4Sight’s experience shows that to design, implement and then successfully use these technologies, it’s necessary to integrate the three facets of the enterprise: information technologies (IT), operational technology (OT) and the business environment (BE).

4IR technologies depend on the data generated by the operational systems (on the factory floor, the plant, the fleet, the shop floor, the mine) being made available to the IT systems so that all the data is available to support managers with better decision-making — and that the resulting insights are delivered to the managers in the BE as and when needed. 

Three areas of strategic focus underlie this essential integration, the core of Enterprise 5.0: 

Hybrid cloud: As we are in an era of abundant, affordable connectivity, the cloud has become a credible platform for the integrated Enterprise 5.0. But many organisations still have significant on-premise investments and thus a cloud migration strategy that makes sense is critical.

Data integration: Data is now well-recognised as a key corporate asset, but it cannot be useful if it is not complete (hence the integration of IT and OT) and of good quality. As an example of what can be done, we recently developed a dashboard to enable mine foremen to have up-to-date information available (from both IT and OT systems) as they conduct their kick-off meetings for each shift: who is present, who should be present and what equipment is needed. 

About the author: 4Sight Holdings CEO Tertius Zitzke. Picture: SUPPLIED
About the author: 4Sight Holdings CEO Tertius Zitzke. Picture: SUPPLIED

Cybersecurity: The move to digital online technologies creates a key vulnerability that criminal syndicates and others are only too keen to exploit. Partnering with a leading cloud provider like Microsoft with Azure, for example, goes a long way towards resolving this problem. 

Organisations that integrate or better converge IT, OT and BE, and get their cloud, data and security strategies right, will find themselves able to benefit from the 4IR — and ready for 5IR. 

Here are some questions to help test your transformation pulse: 

  • Do you have real-time financial dashboards so you do not have to wait for month end?
  • Can you see your growth pipeline in real time, including new and vested business ratios?
  • Can you see your production forecast in real time?
  • Can you monitor your cashflow in real time?
  • Can you see your people and their productivity figures in real time? 
  • Can you see your customer and vendor relations in real time?
  • Do you have an innovation and product strategy for the new economy?

For more information on Enterprise 5.0, register for 4Sight’s upcoming virtual summit, Converge Summit 2020. Go to www.registertoday.co.za and register for free to attend. 

This article was paid for by 4Sight Holdings.

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