The digital disconnect: study shows missed opportunity for business innovation and growth in South A

Citrix research highlights IT skills shortages and sense of complacency as risks to the future of SA businesses

A new research reveals digital transformation readiness does not top the priority list of the South African business decision maker. The study, which was commissioned by Citrix and conducted by BMI-TechKnowledge (BMI-T), examined the impact of ICT on South African businesses. It involved a total of 329 interviews with both business leaders and technical respondents from 254 companies.

Keeping the lights on

The report suggests a sense of complacency among the South African business community regarding investment in progressive technologies. Fifty-three percent of all respondents are opting to invest in technologies simply for the benefit of ‘keeping the lights on’ rather than for competitive-edge innovation. Companies are arguably at risk of becoming irrelevant on a global stage, as other countries surge ahead with digital transformation projects to create innovative and technology-driven businesses.

Digital is vital to future successThe disconnect between technical workers and business respondents is also clear. Technical respondents better understood the vital importance of digital transformation to improve performance and – ultimately - transform a company.As many as 83 percent of the technical respondents identified a direct link between digital transformation and the achievement of strategic business objectives. However, only 31 percent of business respondents specified that their organisation had been driving digital transformation at the highest level. Business leaders are therefore failing to acknowledge the need to proactively invest in the future today. In line with this finding, 56 percent of all respondents identified skills shortages as the top challenge to achieving technological innovation.

Access to people with the right skill-sets to manage the new age of data-driven systems is important, yet tough, in the current market.Despite this recognition, 75 percent of respondents did not see the need for a Chief Digital Officer and only around 5 percent of respondents regarded technology as a threat to their current job role. The general consensus was that human input would always be a necessity; and nearly 35 percent of business respondents ultimately didn’t see technology having any impact on their role at all.Arriving at the holy trinityOn the flip side, all respondents understood that the right investment could result in improvements to growth, innovation and productivity. Respondents felt that should a business invest in the right technologies to enable digitisation, there would be a 53 percent improvement in productivity, a 68 percent improvement in business growth and a 69 percent improvement in innovation. Technologies such as virtualisation and cloud computing were viewed as most likely to transform businesses in the foreseeable future.

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