Unlocking the power of digital transformation through people

Digital transformation will unlock a multitude of new business opportunities – but doing this through your people is key

The business landscape across South Africa, the wider African continent, and globally, is experiencing a seismic shift where technology continues to permeate every aspect of our lives. Our world  is becoming increasingly fast-paced and interconnected – a trend that is being spurred on by the rapid advancement of digital technologies that are reshaping industries and redefining the rules of competition.

“Digital transformation is not about the technology itself, but about how technology can offer better solutions to traditional problems, enable creativity and innovation, and keep organisations competitive in an increasingly digital world.”

Marthle du Plessis, PwC Africa Workforce of the Future Platform Leader

To achieve transformation in today’s context, success relies on addressing the new competitive dynamics that exist across the business landscape. This means that companies must build differentiating capabilities that enable them to deliver value in a unique way, work with digitally enabled ecosystems and tackle some of the world’s biggest problems. 

In PwC’s newly released report, Unlocking the power of digital transformation through people, we explore how people and businesses are using innovation to do things differently - which speaks to the essence of digital transformation.

Evolve or die

According to PwC’s 26th Annual CEO Survey, 40% of the 4,000+ global CEO respondents indicated that their organisation would no longer be economically viable in ten years’ time if they continue on their current course. This figure was closer to 50% for CEOs in Africa. Most of them feel it is critically important to reinvent their businesses for the future. 

Du Plessis says that when an organisation plans to unlock future innovative opportunities to allow for business reinvention, digital transformation needs to be front and centre.

“Digital transformation is the catalyst that empowers organisations to unlock new opportunities, transcend traditional boundaries and deliver unparalleled value to their customers.”

Marthle du Plessis, PwC Africa Workforce of the Future Platform Leader

Prioritising and encouraging innovation 

Forty-three percent of global CEOs said that leaders in their organisations don’t often encourage debate and dissent. This was further reflected in PwC’s 2023 Global Workforce Hopes and Fears Survey, in which 53% of Africa’s workforce said their managers consider their viewpoint when making decisions, while only 31% tolerate small-scale failures.

“For digital transformations to succeed, innovation needs to be front and centre. However, if business leaders are not tolerating small scale failures, innovation will not be encouraged. People need to be encouraged to use technology to reinvent business practices for new opportunities as well as allow themselves to accelerate.”

Marthle du Plessis, PwC Africa Workforce of the Future Platform Leader

Engaging people to accelerate, while fostering a culture of trust 

According to the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Report 2023, technology adoption will remain a key driver of business transformation in the next five years.

“The impact of most technologies on jobs is expected to be largely positive over the next five years. The human-machine frontier has shifted, with businesses introducing automation into their operations at a slower pace than previously anticipated. The fastest-growing roles relative to their size today are driven by technology, digitalisation and sustainability.”

Isabel Papadakis, PwC South Africa Alliances Leader

In tandem with business transformation, business leaders also need to develop a holistic workforce strategy aligned to the organisation’s business imperatives, purpose and values.

“This is where investments in upskilling and talent development to build people’s capabilities are crucial. It’s also important to prioritise critical behaviours that shape your culture and garner the support of the majority of employees — an essential step to the success of digital transformation.”

Marthle du Plessis, PwC Africa Workforce of the Future Platform Leader

Why tech-investments are a winning recipe 

When assessing how business leaders see the value of technology, our CEO Survey indicates that leaders view tech-enabled investments as a top priority. Around three-quarters of companies globally are focusing on automation, upskilling, and deploying advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence – with 80% of CEOs in Africa indicating that they would prioritise their investment in these areas, especially in the financial services industry. 

Coupled with tech-investments should also be a key focus on getting things right at a data level.

“The nicest car won’t move if you don’t have the fuel for it. To fuel the platform, organisations must understand how to set up their data for success or they will find themselves deriving a fraction of the potential value they could be gaining from it.”

Marthle du Plessis, PwC Africa Workforce of the Future Platform Leader

“When your whole world changes, you can’t run your business the same old way. Real cultural and workplace changes are vital for a new vision to take hold. An empowered workforce with the right tools is happier and more productive. Powered by our own digital transformation — and in strong alliance with our technology partners — PwC can help you to provide what your people and organisation need to innovate, grow and continue to thrive.”

Isabel Papadakis, PwC South Africa Alliances Leader

Contact us

Rianté Padayachee

Rianté Padayachee

Media and Communications Specialist, Strategy& South Africa

Tel: +27 (0) 11 797 5727

Verena Koobair

Verena Koobair

Integrated Content Lead, Strategy& South Africa

Tel: +27 (0) 11 797 4873

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