Technology underpins the ability of South African companies to innovate continuously, spurring growth, writes Indran Naick, cloud ecosystems and enterprise development leader at IBM South Africa.
Across the continent we see more and more forward-thinking empowering applications of technology. There is a surge in tech start-ups and a swell in the optimism for what technology can do to help the manifold challenges facing the continent.
Companies like the winner of IBM Smart Camp 2015 in South Africa, micro jobbing platform M4JAM (Money for Jam), are shaking up industry with their disruptive business models. They are on a mission to change the world one micro job at a time – disrupting traditional players in the research, mystery shopping, merchandising and brand activation sector. Their engaging platform enables their community of over 90000 people the opportunity to earn money by using their smart phones as they go about their daily routines.
In just under 15 months M4JAM has been able to demonstrate value to 95 of the biggest brands in South Africa. Providing them with real time data which, with the help of Pondering Panda, is now being turned into real time insights. This access to immediate information allows brands the opportunity to change strategy or respond to market changes while a promotion is on or product is still offered.
Real time, in the moment insights, is proving to be a significant competitive advantage for companies embracing M4JAM.
Interestingly, it’s not alone. Multiple smaller niche digital companies are challenging the status quo and embracing the notion – disrupt or be disrupted.
These disruptors are doing something different. They are leveraging the key digital transformations to reinvent – if not invent – their business processes.
Using new mobile apps to bring data and decision making to the fingertips of people at the front lines, disruptors are enabling the people who need to respond. In doing this they enable the organisation to become more nimble and provide better service.
Today more data, insight and capabilities are available in both employee and customer devices at the point of action, enabling faster, better decisions and action in the business moment. Disruptors are using insight from nontraditional data – social data from the likes of Twitter, the Internet of Things (IoT), wearable devices and m2m to capture insight and create new business moments.
Disruptors are also focusing on creating their unique differentiation and sourcing from developer communities to help complete complex products and solutions. They are leveraging digital services from a broad ecosystem so they can focus on their core competencies. Pretty smart, right?
Yet these new perspectives and approaches are grounded firmly in digital business transformation. Understand which business processes are going to change, which ones are impacted and which have potential for improvement with technology – specifically cloud.
Above all, disruptors understand the next generation of IT is built around a hybrid cloud. That’s cloud that uses private cloud foundation combined with the strategic integration and use of public cloud services. The best of both worlds so to speak.
Cloud technology in this hybrid format offers the company the ability to securely connect apps, data and services across the cloud and traditional systems – along with devices – and also seamlessly weave data and services with APIs to create new apps.
Now imagine using the insight from that data in real time business critical processes and you can begin to grasp just how this new hybrid cloud provides access to a wealth of data for innovation.
Another example of this born-on-the cloud innovation is from a company called Figtory, a small mobile development shop that has adopted Bluemix and Softlayer to accelerate their product development lifecycle. The IBM cloud platforms gave them the ability to quickly host and test new products and services. They can now quickly turn innovations into prototypes to show their prospective clients what the finished product might look like, reducing the cycle time from weeks to days.
So, while there may not be a “one size fits all” remedy for business today, or a cloud solution that fits every situation, there is a growing awareness that cloud technology enables and accelerates digital business. It’s the transformation required to disrupt or avoid being disrupted.