What Every Business and IT Leader Can Learn From Africa About Digital Transformation

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Digital transformation is playing a key role in Africa’s development and is a driving force behind the continent’s fastest-growing economies.


Elsbeth McSorley, MEGA International
MEGA International will be sponsoring the virtual IRM UK Enterprise Architecture & Business Process Management Conference Europe 26-29 October 2020, the conferences are co-located with the Business Change & Transformation Conference Europe
This article was previously published here.

Yes, that’s right, Africa. What can Africa teach us about digital growth and transformation? A lot. An entire continent that has seen more than its fair share of troubles is also rapidly advancing and experiencing significant transformation. Africa’s struggles are far from over, but there’s great hope that the continent is beginning to emerge from the shadows and confront the many challenges that have plagued it for decades.

An example of this new drive for modernization is the African Union Agenda 2063 which is “a strategic framework for the socio-economic transformation of the continent over the next 50 years. Its builds on, and seeks to accelerate the implementation of past and existing continental initiatives for growth and sustainable development.” The creation of this framework, covering the years 2014-2023, shows great initiative on the part of the African Union and its desire to lead Africa towards innovation and “accelerate Africa’s political, social, economic and technological transformation while continuing the Pan African drive for self-determination, freedom, progress and collective prosperity.” The agenda’s motto is for the continent to become the Africa We Want By 2063.

The importance of establishing a vision for any digital transformation project

Africa We Want By 2063. Let that sink in for a minute. What a great vision and mission. Every transformation project must begin with a clear, strong vision. Without a well-defined vision of what you’re working towards, how can you stay on track? How will you know when you’ve reached your goal and truly completed a successful business transformation? The African Union has built an entire campaign around Africa We Want By 2063 so that all levels of the government, the public sector, and private citizens can collectively rally around one goal and work towards a shared mission.

Before embarking on your digital transformation journey, your company will need a well-defined vision that is clearly communicated to all organizational levels and on an on-going basis. The more frequent the communication the better. Status updates, changes to the plan, new developments, milestones achieved, all this should be clearly and frequently communicated to keep everyone invested in the project, and aware of all developments.

Tackle your toughest challenges to transform your business

Just like Africa, if your business wants to transform and seeks significant growth and change, you’re going to have to aggressively tackle your biggest, toughest challenges head-on. Shying away from your business’s weaknesses and troubles isn’t an option – it’s a sure path towards failure. With market place changes occurring at an unprecedented pace, any business that is stagnant and not constantly innovating, transforming, and improving isn’t just going to tread water but will sink. Not a pleasant thought but the tough reality of today’s ultra-competitive business world.

Almost 70 percent of the African population lives without Internet access. Much of this population lives in small, remote, rural areas that are impoverished with little access to education. Africa’s digital growth is going to take time and will come up against difficult hurdles that can’t be turned away from. Creative thinking, innovative ideas, persistence, grit, and determination are going to be necessary from all levels of Africa’s government and the public to achieve the transformation goal by 2063. The takeaway message here is that your business is sure to face difficult challenges on the road to transformation but navigate through them, not away from them, that’s the key to a successful transformation.

Support from leadership isn’t optional for a successful digital transformation

Unfortunately, most companies fail at transformation, depressing but true. But it doesn’t need to be this way. What’s the number one thing that often kills transformation projects? Lack of support from senior leadership. It’s easy to get on board at the beginning of a new transformation project – it’s an exciting, new shiny thing. But to achieve success, it’s imperative that support for the project remains strong and has effective, committed leadership. Leaders who are completely supportive of transformation initiatives and can drive their vision will succeed. Lack of leadership will without a doubt lead to another failed transformation attempt.

It’s not all doom and gloom by any means, but you must be proactive and serious about continual business transformation and in strong support of it. “Digital transformation is impacting people’s everyday life and has the power to transform communities and even whole economies in Africa,” reports an IT News Africa article.

If Africa can tackle some of the most severe and challenging issues on the planet through transformation projects, you should feel confident that your business can certainly take on a digital transformation initiative. Let Africa inspire you to transform your company, modernize, and achieve greatness.

Founded in 1991, MEGA International have been a global market leader for over ten years. We partner with customers to improve governance and accelerate transformation by leveraging technology. Rooted in our values, we believe that innovation, performance, agility and people are the keys to success – and together accelerate the creation of value.

Copyright Elsbeth McSorley, MEGA International

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