If nothing else, the pandemic has driven home how important remote working and embracing technology are set to become for business

In this edition of Business Day Spotlight, we’re in discussion with one of the country’s foremost business leaders in technology investment in Africa.

Our host Mudiwa Gavaza is joined by Cathy Smith, MD at SAP Africa, one the world’s largest enterprise software companies in the world.

Join the conversation: Click here for the podcast.

Smith begins by giving us an overview of SAP’s operations in Africa.

She says COVID-19 has been very challenging for the company and clients alike. On one hand, SAP was the first major corporate to shut its doors and to work remotely at the start of March when the threat first appeared in SA. On the other hand, it also had to manage the same transition for clients that may or may not have had remote working capabilities or plans in place.

Given the changes to how people operate, Smith says the pandemic has been good for driving the adoption of cloud-based services on the continent with more people working remotely. Africa has leap-frogged the rest of the world in its use of mobile technologies but is slow in adopting cloud services. This period has emphasised the need for wider use this technology, she says.

A number of technology companies have benefited from the greater reliance on tech and the internet in the past few months. That said, there is no guarantee this will continue. Uncertainty is a fact of life that has been driven home by the pandemic, she says.

In giving her outlook for the SA and African economy, Smith advocates for a greater role by social enterprise. She says this crisis will force changes to how things have been done and that a more compassionate view and role of companies is certainly needed to make sure everyone makes it through this time with minimal damage.

Her words for business leaders feeling the weight of these trying times are: “You’re not alone,” adding that this an opportunity for leaders to come together and support each other in the name of a shared vision and making sure that companies are still standing when the dust settles on Covid-19.