The blistering rate of digital transformation is ‘unapologetic’ and will leave businesses who fail to focus on their journey toward digitalisation behind.
This is according to Mahomed Cassoojee, Vice President and Country Manager at Global software development firm, Software AG. Software AG hosted the 2016 Digital Business Day on 15 September in Johannesburg where delegates were treated to an array of speakers who shared opinion, insight and practical use cases of local and international best practice in digitalisation. Speakers included entrepreneurial evangelist Pavlo Phitidis and successful businessman and speaker, Vusi Thembekwayo.
The day focused on the importance of digitalisation and how it has become an imperative for business in South Africa to change the way they operate. The discussions on the day were guided by the theme, ‘Connecting the dots of people, work and technology’ which was about understanding where an organisation is on their digitalisation journey and where they need to get to.
Speaking at the event, Cassoojee said, “We are living in one of the most transformational ages in human history, not only has the way in which we live, operate and work changed, but it has done so at a blistering rate. Change is unapologetic, and will not be kind to companies that don’t start their journey to digitalisation. You don’t need to know all the details, it’s about deciding not to be mowed over by change, the sooner you start on the journey, the higher your chance of survival will be. Change is inevitable, growth is optional.”
Patrick Shields, CTO of Software AG South Africa, said the most important part of the digital journey is to start. The journey to digitalisation is often hindered by the premise of ‘keeping the lights on’, meeting deadlines, ending current projects, and not focusing on the future. The solution is to adopt a bimodal approach, separating the teams where one focuses on current business operations, whilst the other is working towards the goal of digitalisation.
Matt Smith, CTO: UK, Germany, Nordics, South Africa, Solutions at Software AG, discussed the importance of change management and where to begin: “Begin your digital journey inside your organisation, the culture of a company needs to be the central focus of any change management journey. Culture is made up of history, heritage, and habit; all three are highly resistant to change as they are emotive. The change needs to start at leadership level, only about a third of leaders are mobilisers, and it takes those who aren’t afraid of change to lead the company.”
Mike Slater, COO: Northern Europe and South Africa, told guests that the South African talent is by far the best within the Software AG group, with local talent being headhunted by the global contingent. In addition to the elevated level of skills, the South African line of business was the top performer in the group for 2015, with high expectations for 2016. Slater believes the reason for these two successes lies in the company culture, and the freedom to innovate across all levels within the organisation. “When we look at innovative ideas, most of them come from the actual team, these ideas are being localised and replicated across the entire Software AG stable.”
In closing, Cassoojee advises companies wanting to embark on the journey of digitalisation to work backwards; start with your customers’ needs and answer how you as a business can best meet them. There is a dire need to change the mind-set that mistakes are bad, in fact they are quite the opposite, Cassoojee encourages companies to become unreasonably aspirational. Accepting the status quo is another sure-fire way in which to hinder any success on the journey to a fully digitalised company.