[Column] Marilyn Moodley: Five ways IT companies can grow in Africa
Securing meaningful, sustainable growth in Africa requires a precise skillset with an airtight strategy, the right product fit with a tailored understanding of the market, and crucially, forward-looking leadership. On the back of two high profile customer wins in the financial services sector. Accelerated digital transformation presents exciting new opportunities for growth that are finally being shaped by and for African people and reflects on the five ways IT companies can grow in Africa.
Build a network of partnerships
Partnerships are extremely important in the technology and solutions ecosystem – in fact they are the bedrock of success. In West, East and Central Africa we depend heavily on our partners in country to ensure we can deliver, and at the same time, impact and grow the partner business. The potential in Africa is immense, but having the understanding of each country’s unique IT environment in addition to the various statutory requirements dictates the best strategy to follow.
Facilitating collaboration between local and global teams and across different territories is a fine balancing act. It demands trusting your team, insisting on transparency, and clearly communicating expectations. In practical terms, and in SoftwareONE’s case, we work within our federation and our business model of global service delivery teams within African geographies. This has proven to work remarkably well as global resources are leveraged by local teams on the ground who understand their home markets better than anyone else.
Adapt your business model
The reality is business models have changed and will continue to evolve apace as African businesses embrace several key digital transformation strategies. Just one example of change in action is how software vendors have drastically dropped their rebates and incentives over the last five years. These, in addition to recent economic and social headwinds, has forced many partners to quickly adapt to stay competitive. SoftwareONE’s own journey has been to take deliberate steps to transform into a human technology centre that serves African businesses. We’ve moved far beyond our roots of being a licensing partner. We are now the go-to solutions partner for the delivery of cloud strategies, migrations, deployments, advisory services, and more. We combine our legacy licensing knowledge with our technology expertise to bring about commercial and digital transformation.
Find the balance between in person and remote
The need for people to be the driving force behind technology became even more apparent during the Covid-19 pandemic. Nothing beats having a direct face-to-face in-person conversation with a business partner. Ensuring teams are empowered and given the knowledge and tools to assist clients to achieve their business objectives is more important than ever.
Have a people-centric attitude
People do business with people. There is no silver bullet to minimise risk, streamline business processes, and reduce costs, and certainly no way to guarantee growth, but there is an attitude and approach that makes the chances of success more likely. It pays to be patient and never fast-track an engagement. It’s vital to always listen. With passion and persistence, it is possible to deliver the kind of wins that make an enormous difference to the way African organisations do business.
Build long term trust
Creative problem solving, going the extra mile, collaboration, and dedication are all key attributes many businesses claim to have, but few truly live by. Living up to the brand promise while staying true to clear vision is what gives clients a reason to believe. It’s what gives highly efficient teams their superpower. Better still, it ensures our customers know we’re here to walk the entire journey with them, not just sign the deal and walk away.