Kathy Gibson reports – Businesses today operate in an environment of global challenges such as economic and global uncertainties that impact profit margins and supply chains.

Kholiwe Makhohliso, MD: southern Africa at SAP Africa, believes that within these challenges are opportunities – and organisations need to leverage these wherever possible.

“In Africa, we are faced with our fair share of challenges – and the opportunities that come with them,” she says. “As organisations, we need to tap into these opportunities, building competitive edge and driving growth.

“And technology can enable organisations, helping them to stay ahead of the competition by successfully leveraging innovation; and by driving sustainability and business growth.”

SAP is key to continuous innovation, Makhohliso says, building on four key pillars.

The first is cloud ERP, which allows customers to streamline operations to drive growth. “By liberating their technology, customers can gain competitive edge, flexibility and the power to innovate.”

Because SAP embeds AI in its platform and solutions, predictive analytics is enabled, to enhance decision-making. “Customers can rest easy with our AI solutions because of the seamless integration.”

Makhohliso believes that SAP’s commitment to innovation and customers’ success set the company apart, and this is key to the second pillar: innovation on the business and technology platform.

“This allows our customers to analyse data, build applications and integrate systems by providing an efficient way to connect and transform. And out low-code, no-code approach lets business users create value out of the data sitting in ERP systems.

“Our AI strategy enables SAP to further build applications as an enabler and to target challenges,” she adds. “By liberating data, we enable a profound understanding of the challenges and opportunities.”

The third pillar, supply chain, is relevant to businesses of every size and in in every industry. “They all need to manage their supply chain, so they need an integrated solution,” Makhohliso points out.

“I believe that we understand the supply chain at SAP. We are in an exciting space, and are embedding AI into the supply chain technology.”

The fourth pillar, business transformation, is core to keeping organisations agile and competitive.

“AI is improving and optimising the roots of business by optimising and managing all the business process, and helping businesses to make more informed decisions,” Makhohliso says.

On the subject of AI, she believes the opportunities for Africa are huge. “The technology is gaining momentum, and we can see practical use cases that can help to solve the continent’s challenges.”

SAP is involved in helping to enhance youth potential, empowering startups, driving access to digital technologies, closing the skills gap, and developing the AI opportunities.

“AI’s adoption in African business has the potential to catalyse growth for businesses and for the continent as a whole,” Makhohliso says.

According to Bertrin Pekeur, SAP business group lead at Accenture, the challenging global economy, inflationary pressures, and depressed revenues have put African enterprises under significant pressure.

“As a result, enterprises are turning their focus to how technologies such as AI and cloud can help them overcome challenges and increase the rate of innovation. The rapid adoption of AI is creating unprecedented opportunities in digital literacy, the creation of new products, improvements to services and greater productivity. This is helping African organisations transform how they do business, how they interact with their employees, and how they engage with customers.”

Innovation has become essential to the survival of businesses as the accelerating impact of disruptive forces such as technology, climate change, geopolitical upheaval and economic headwinds lead to constrained growth and uncertainty. According to Accenture Technology Vision, 93% of executives agree that, with rapid technological advancements, it is more important than ever for organisation to innovate with purpose.

Thabiso Hlatshwayo, senior manager: solution consulting at OpenText Africa, adds that innovation unlocks a world of possibilities for African enterprises and allows them to compete on the global stage.

“Africa typically doesn’t have access to the same resources as more developed markets and often lags in its adoption of new technologies. Enter innovation, which levels the playing field. From agriculture to healthcare, technology-driven innovation is not only solving challenges unique to Africa, but delivering solutions that can be exported to the rest of the world.”