Opinion: Digital Transformation (Leveraging from Tech to Gain a Competitive Advantage)

Salutations! Over the last few weeks, we've talked about the importance of adopting a digital transformation strategy as an organization. We have discussed how this new phenomenon has changed the way we do business. This week, we will look at some of the technologies that organizations have been using over the last 5 to 10 years to gain a competitive advantage. 

Watching a movie back then VS watching a movie now 

I'll kick start this article with a story of the time that I went to watch a movie back in 2008. It was the Dark Knight. The full journey that I went through as a customer is as follows: Initially, I found out about the movie on a flyer that was given by the local cinema company. Upon receiving this information, I shared it with my friends in normal social circles. And then I took transport to the cinema, waited in a queue, paid for the service with cash, and then went in to watch the movie. 

When analyzing the exact same customer journey today, down to the same movie; you will find that I wouldn’t even have to leave my house to complete the full customer journey. Today, I found out about a movie on social media. In my case, Twitter. Once I found out about the movie, I went on to my Netflix account. This way, I was able to watch the movie in the comfort of my home, without ever having to go anywhere without ever having to transact using hard cash. And as a result, we realize that the difference between back then and now there's so much data that has been collected throughout the value chain. 

What has changed 

Back to the particular example that I just gave, I found the movie information through social media and could immediately share this information with my friends and acquaintances on social media. This is a different situation from back then when I would see this information or a flyer and would only be able to immediately share it with the people around me. 

Another closed data point is that back then when I had to pay, the payment was made using cash, and not too much information was deciphered about me as a customer. But on the other hand, in today’s time, when I paid for my Netflix subscription they were able to know how I paid through digital means. 

How industries use big data 

So, you realize that as a result, a lot of data is being collected by organizations across the value chain. All the way from marketing, to operations to processes and even down to after-sales. And as a result, this has been transfused to even more and more industries, such as mining, where, for example, a local mining company is currently using big data analytics to be able to accurately predict when their machines will need maintenance. This phenomenon of Big Data has led to organizations having a large set of data at their disposal that they've now been able to use to solve large business problems through analytics. As a result, organizations from insurance to manufacturing, to mining and across the respective value chains of each, are able to use this to see real benefits. We can look at the insurance industry in South Africa as an example. 

A couple of companies that we've worked within the past have shown that they're now using big data to try and identify fraudulent claims. Consequently, these insurance companies are now able to reduce their losses, as they can now be able to pinpoint fraudulent cases much more efficiently. In addition to that, banks have also been able to use big data analytics to find out which clients would be more likely to default on their loans and which would be able to actually make the obligation. Additionally, we've also worked with some doctors who have been able to use big data to personalize treatments for their clientele depending on large data sets that they have amassed over the years. 

Cloud computing 

An additional technology that organizations have been leveraging to improve the organization over the last 5 or 10 years has been cloud computing. It's like having a supercomputer that is stored elsewhere that your computer connects to, in order to execute the tasks. So, the hardware limitations of your organization can no longer limit how much data you're able to process, how many tasks you are able to execute and how much data you're able to ultimately store. 

As a result, we have seen across multiple organizations we have worked with, organizations have started to use the cloud to execute multiple tasks within their organizations. For example one of our clients in Mozambique, a large manufacturing firm has been able to use cloud computing to enable the organization to work across multiple locations, yet share the same set of data. 

Benefits of big data 

Big data has been complemented by the rise of cloud computing. And as a result, you find that optimizations are now able to scale the data across multiple platforms because they have got a supercomputer, namely the cloud, that is able to store and process their data. As an organization, you can be able to leverage big data, big data analytics, and the rise of the cloud by ensuring that you create a sufficient data strategy to capture data throughout the value chain. This way you can use the data to decipher and discover meaningful trends to help you leverage the clear benefits of these technologies. 

Ultimately, I certainly hope that you were able to gain insights into what some of these new technologies are and gain ideas of how you can use them within your organization. Join us next week as we explore more and more of these technologies and how they can help you gain a competitive advantage as an organization.

By Tavonga Muchuchuti

Tavonga is the Managing Director of Xavier Africa, a software development agency based in Gaborone, Botswana

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