The Role of Technology in Business Transformation and Creating Sustainable Enterprises in Africa

As the world grapples with supply chain disruptions and stifled economic growth in the aftermath of COVID, the role of technology in business transformation, particularly in Africa, has never been more prominent. The need for companies to quickly pivot to mitigate risks and adapt has never been greater.

Technology has had a significant impact on people’s lives worldwide. In the African context, where poverty, unemployment, and inequality continue to be persistent challenges, technology has the potential to significantly improve the lives of Africans by enabling the creation of financially, socially, and environmentally sustainable companies. At the recent Europe-Africa Business Forum hosted by the African Development Bank, African countries were urged to prioritize the development of circular value chains to address some of these perennial challenges by accelerating industrialization and job creation.

Our SAP Africa Managing Director, Cathy Smith, articulated the role of technology in Africa’s development. “At SAP we believe in the power of technology for good to create a more prosperous and equal future for all. By developing digital skills to increase employability, by transforming industries and education systems, by providing access to quality healthcare, we can uplift societies and economies. Through our end-to-end technology solutions, we bring our vision of making the world run better and improving peoples’ lives to the fore. We believe that technology has the potential to transform industries, uplift communities, grow economies and preserve the environment”.

Technology has the potential to play a critical role in the development of circular economies in Africa, particularly in the development of efficient supply chains as well as the adoption of sustainable production methods that prioritize sustainable business practices, covering all aspects of the triple bottom line financial, social and environmental sustainability.

The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) coined the term “technology ecoadvantage” to describe the mindset of companies that use technology to gain a competitive advantage. It is worth noting that these companies incorporate technologies such as Internet of Things (IoT) and Advanced Analytics, into their processes and operations to enable profitable solutions that also prioritize environmental, social, and governance objectives. These companies use technology as a key differentiator to overcome constraints and unlock new opportunities.

While the formal business sector in Africa is dominated by Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), the adoption, application, and leveraging of technology in business is typically limited to large companies with financial and human resource muscle. This emphasizes the importance of ensuring that SMEs can follow in the footsteps of their larger siblings and reap the many benefits of technology. This is especially important because SMEs employ the majority of Africa’s workforce and are critical to accelerating the continent’s industrialization and job creation.

The days of costly and time-consuming implementations are over. Technology solutions such as Enterprise Resource Planning, Supplier and Customer Experience Management, Digital Supply Chain, and Human Resources Management, to name a few, are now available on the cloud. This significantly reduces the time required for technology implementation, adoption, and actual value realization.

The cloud has eliminated the need for large capital investments in infrastructure to run these solutions, allowing smaller companies to direct scarce financial resources into their core businesses rather than costly infrastructure. The cloud also enables smaller companies to scale up or scale down these solutions as their operations and companies grow.

SAP will be hosting the Business Transformation Tour. The main event will take place on April 5th, and companies of all sizes will be able to learn how to use technology to drive business transformation. In addition, between March and June, we will host a series of eleven industry events spanning manufacturing, government, retail, financial services, mining, and many more.

Please use this link to register and learn more about how some of our customers in different industries are leveraging our solutions to drive sustainable business transformation.