[Column] Cameron Beveridge: How South African organisations are using tech to succeed despite disruptions
South African small, medium and large enterprises are using technology at an unprecedented scale to help manage the uncertainty and disruption caused by the pandemic and broader changes in the business and consumer landscape.
Hospitals are using technology to improve the patient experience, banks are changing how they engage with customers through digital channels, sales teams are discovering the benefits of real-time insights into orders and sales, and organisations across industries are powering their decision-making with data and analytics.
At a recent award ceremony recognising excellence in digital transformation among African enterprises, the extent to which organisations have embraced digital technologies to power their businesses became clear.
Market leaders such Capitec, Lenmed, and Discovery showed how technology could power innovation and operational excellence through the development of intelligent enterprise capabilities.
An intelligent enterprise integrates technology and business processes to deliver significant value to the business through improved supply chain management, better sales processes, more intelligent spend management, and a transformed talent management capability.
Simply put, an intelligent enterprise has access to accurate real-time data about every aspect of its business, helping it deal with complexity while unlocking greater scope of innovation and efficiency.
And as recent examples show, South African enterprises of various sizes are taking bold strides toward achieving intelligent enterprise capabilities – to the benefit of their customers, their employees and their long-term success.
Scaling banking service excellence
Capitec, one of South Africa’s largest and most innovative banks, faced the challenge of a rapidly growing customer base at a time when pandemic-enforced restrictions disrupted face to face customer operations.
Prior to its award-winning digital transformation project, Capitec grew from acquiring 94 000 customers a month to 160 000 customers a month. With many branches closed and customers avoiding branch visits in light of the dangers posed by COVID-19, Capitec realised its reliance on manual data capturing was hampering its ability to provide seamless customer experiences.
Powered by a dedicated project team that enjoyed full executive support, Capitec implemented a business transformation project that equipped its support services teams with improved data capturing, information analysis and business optimisation.
Capitec can now more easily ensure its support services teams meet their service level agreements and can deliver on the bank’s goal of making banking interactions easier and simpler for customers.
Technology healthcare amid pandemic
Arguably no industry has been under more pressure since the start of the pandemic than the healthcare sector. Hospitals in particular have had to run optimally and ensure no disruption to their operations while also dealing with the impact of COVID-19.
For private hospital group Lenmed, the acquisition of a new hospital in the midst of a global health crisis sparked an award-winning onboarding process to its core systems, in rapid time and with clear cost savings.
The group wanted to bring a new hospital it had acquired into its core SAP system, but understandably couldn’t afford any delays or disruptions to the hospital’s processes.
Using extensive standardisation and templates to limit cost overruns, Lenmed brought the new hospital onboard in under twelve weeks and at a total cost saving of nearly 40%.
The onboarding is also a template for future acquisitions, enabling the group to confidently grow its footprint without the risk of unnecessary interruptions to its core operations.
Talent management transformed
The past 18 months have not only forced vast changes in the ways businesses interact with customers, but also how they attract, manage and retain their employees. When the country first entered into lockdown in March 2020, most businesses had to radically change how they engage with, motivate and empower their workforce.
In the highly competitive financial services sector, building greater employee experiences gives organisations an edge in attracting and retaining top talent. For Discovery, the quality of talent it attracts has played a vital role in the organisation’s success.
Discovery has a stated ambition to have the best people function in the industry, using a strategy that combines data, skills and technology to find, develop and retain its employees. To support and execute this strategy, the company initiated a project named SmartPeople that leverages SAP SuccessFactors to create a standardised, transparent, objective and continuous approach to how Discovery executes its people strategy to drive positive business performance.
This includes recruitment management, which enables the company to track and report on the quality of hires, the types of applicants, where those applicants are from, and more. Using SAP SuccessFactors gives Discovery full visibility over its talent force and pipeline and, since everything from recruitment to onboarding to offboarding is handled via SuccessFactors, the company is able to deliver a consistent and positive employee experience.
As companies continue to operate in an unstable and unpredictable business environment, the role of technology will only grow in importance. However, as these examples illustrate, organisations from all sectors can supercharge their growth and success with the correct investment into intelligent technologies, full support from the C-suite and with clear business value always front and centre in their planning and execution.