By Kathy Gibson – Companies no longer really have a choice about whether to become digital enterprises: the decision now is about when and how.

“Digital is changing the world – how we work, learn, and behave,” says Mike Sutcliff, group chief executive at Accenture Digital, which today launched its South African operation.

He points out that four of the world’s top brands – Apple, Google, IBM and Microsoft – are digital at heart; and digital companies significantly outperform their competitors.

Sutcliff says that, surprisingly, a lot of new technology innovation is coming from the Fortune 500 companies rather than the traditional technology leaders.

“Companies are having to ask themselves whether they want to be disrupted, or to be the disrupter.”

The idea of the digital enterprise has gone beyond the implementation of apps and even the selection of devices, Sutcliff adds. “None of these things works without the platforms; without the ability to connect everything together and do something with it.”

As technology takes over people’s lives, the amount of data being consumed is extraordinary, he adds. In the last two years, more data has been generated and stored than ever before. Fortunately, the cost and complexity of storing and managing this data has come down as well – management drops by 80% each year – which opens up massive opportunities for companies.

“It means that if you want to communicate with your customers, it’s a lot easier. The customer has his own device and someone has made the massive investments in storage that you can take advantage of at very little cost. This means you can re-imagine your business in ways that would not have worked economically even a year ago.

“The world is changing because the cost of computing has come down – and it’s not just the cost of computer but also the cost of storage, bandwidth and connectivity, coupled with the ubiquitous nature of mobile devices.”
South Africa is in a good place to take advantage of the new technologies, Sutcliff adds. “South Africa is at the edge of an inflexion point.”

Accenture Digital is a division of Accenture that focuses on working with customers to develop strategies and technologies in the digital world. It employs about 30 000 people around the world and has made huge investments in both acquisitions and innovation development.