Schalk Burger, Creamer Media senior contributing editor

Most South African companies, 80%, are adopting digital technologies and 78% plan to invest in fifth-generation- (5G-) enabled campus networks.

However, 65% of executives perceive tremendous challenges in navigating the network and digital technology integration complexity, extracting return on investment and choosing the right partner ecosystem and platform to provide solutions, the ‘Unfolding the next growth chapter in South Africa’ study shows.

The study, undertaken by information technology services and consulting company Accenture and information technology multinational Microsoft, surveyed senior technology executives from 100 local enterprises in the manufacturing, retail, financial services, government, healthcare and natural resources industries. It gauged their perspectives on 5G impact, adoption, use cases and barriers to adoption, as well as the 5G solution ecosystem and partners.

A growing number of companies in South Africa are showing varying levels of adoption of innovative technologies, such as cloud, edge computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT), and adoption of digital technologies, ranging from wide adoption to partial implementation to piloting.

However, most companies are implementing technologies and upgrading networks as standalone transformation projects; therefore, falling short of delivering holistic business value.

“Across different industries, we see three common barriers, namely navigating the complexity of new networks and associated technology integration, managing huge investment of resources while extracting business value and navigating the still-maturing partner and device ecosystem,” says Accenture South Africa communications, media and technology practice MD Nitesh Singh.

“While South African enterprises show a clear appetite for new technologies, our joint study reveals that organisations may find it difficult to unlock value from their investments.”

Companies that have been able to break through these barriers have advanced networks, with the leading companies investing an incremental 9.4% of their information and communications technology budget on advanced next-generation networks. Similarly, these companies dedicate 11.7% of this budget and 20% of their workforce to innovation.

Further, companies that are able to overcome challenges are converging technologies such as cloud, edge, AI and IoT.

“The leading companies in South Africa recognise the relevance of the convergence of 5G with digital technologies and see convergent technology platforms as critical enablers of transitioning from a piecemeal approach to a more holistic end-to-end digital transformation. Compared to their peers, these companies are 30% more likely to have transitioned to the cloud and 21% more likely to have implemented edge capabilities,” the report shows.

These technology leader companies expect revenue to grow 1.74-times faster and expand their margins two-times higher, and are 84% more likely to see their 5G and network investments result in faster time to market for new products or services.

“The study finds that regional enterprises have a strong appetite to adopt and leverage 5G. It is promising to see how organisations perceive 5G as an accelerator to advance their digital transformation journey and scale innovation.

“Next-generation network technologies will have a significant impact on business outcomes and leaders must plan ahead to make the most of them,” says Microsoft Middle East and Africa global partner solutions leader Amr Kamel.

By preparing the right strategy and partnerships, organisations across Africa can tap into the huge business opportunity offered by next-generation networks and digital technologies, Microsoft and Accenture say.

Published by Engineering News on 20 January 2022. To view online, click here.
John Watling

Nitesh Singh, Managing Director, Communications, Media and
Technology for Accenture in Africa