By Given Majola for IOL
In an ongoing effort to encourage digital innovation by large enterprises, small and medium enterprises (SME’s), as well as to encourage innovation on a broader scale within South Africa, BCX has announced the launch of its first Digital Innovation Report 2022.
BCX chief executive Jonas Bogoshi said the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic was that everyone was trying to solve problems never experienced before.
“At first it was for survival and business continuity, and later for some, it led to considerations for the future. It is without a doubt that digital technologies and digital innovation will play a big part of that future,” Bogoshi said.
World markets have experienced rapid technological changes as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic in pursuit of economic revival. He said the pandemic presented South Africa and much of the developing world with increased challenges, which seemed insurmountable. It had, however, also provided opportunities that must be seized if people were to rebuild the economy and remain competitive within a technologically driven global market.
The recently launched report includes a body of knowledge that outlines current trends and the status of digital innovation in South Africa, at both a micro and macro level. It provides an in depth look at subjects such as global and local trends in innovation, technologies that are fuelling digital innovation, especially in retail.
Regarding the retail sector, the report suggested that digital innovation has had a massive impact on this sector. In 2019, South Africa’s online retail space (or e-commerce industry) was still in its infancy, accounting for only 1.4 percent of total retail spend. However, the onset of the Covid–19 pandemic brought about nationwide lockdowns and restrictions to the movement of consumers.
Retailers needed to reform their business models to attract customers without the enticements of shopping malls. It pushed the pace of change into hyperdrive. The pandemic served as a launchpad for digital innovation, with an increased uptake in e-commerce from online retail and click-and-collect to video streaming. South Africa saw a 50 to 70 percent growth in e-commerce last year.
Similar insights were presented on critical sectors of the economy, such as Banking, Healthcare, and Insurance, amongst others. There were ten case studies included in the report of local companies depicting their journey to success with digital innovation.
“We are at a critical period of our economy – most countries are still reeling from the fourth wave of Covid-19 and are focused on their future sustainability. The world’s larger economies are picking up speed based on substantial stimulus packages and an incredible pace of digital innovation. We are playing catch-up and must act if we are to compete, ” Bogoshi said.
According to the report, South Africa has, however, greatly increased its adoption of digital technologies over the past 18 months. Although digital innovation and transformation have been priorities for South African organisations for a number of years, the Covid-19 pandemic has escalated the importance of digital innovation to ‘survival level’. The report cites a study indicating 79 percent of organisations in South Africa had fast-tracked digital transformation programmes by the end of 2020.
The BCX report said a positive aspect of Covid-19 had been the impetus it created for digital innovation, which was never experienced before in modern history. From the way people worked and the way bought groceries, to the way they received healthcare and carried out their jobs, the necessity for less physical contact had opened a gateway for digital innovation from which they stood to benefit for decades to come.
Bogoshi said: “The BCX Digital Innovation report 2022 highlights the opportunities that our current circumstances present for large-scale transformation of South Africa through digital innovation. It should be an inclusive journey, ultimately leading to benefits for all, whilst limiting the negative impacts of rapid changes we will most likely continue to experience for years to come.”