South African companies must overcome barriers to unlock the value of 5G and digital technologies, study
19-01-2022 09:27:00 | by: Pie Kamau | hits: 9876 | Tags:

A growing number of companies in South Africa are showing varying levels of adoption of innovative technologies such as cloud, edge computing, artificial intelligence (AI), and Internet of Things (IoT), according to new research from Accenture and Microsoft.

Eighty percent of SA companies are at various stages of adopting digital technologies, ranging from wide adoption to partial implementation to piloting, and an overwhelming 78% are planning to invest in 5G-enabled campus networks.

Technology and network connectivity infrastructure have become critical strategic imperatives for businesses driven by post-pandemic ways of working and a continuous need to accelerate digital transformation and scaled innovation. Together, Accenture and Microsoft commissioned a study titled, Unfolding the next growth chapter in South Africa, which included a survey of senior technology executives from 100 local enterprises. The aim was to understand their perspectives on 5G impact, adoption, use cases, barriers to adoption, and 5G solution ecosystem and partners. Six key industries were covered in the study: manufacturing, retail, financial services, government, healthcare, and natural resources.                         

Today, most companies are implementing unique technologies and upgrading networks as standalone transformation projects, therefore falling short of delivering holistic business value. Sixty five percent of executives perceive tremendous challenges in navigating the network and digital technology integration complexity, extracting return on investment, and choosing the right partner ecosystem and platform for solutioning.

Amr Kamel, Global Partner Solutions Leader, Microsoft MEA, added, “Our collaborative study with Accenture finds that regional enterprises have a strong appetite to adopt and leverage 5G. It is promising to see how organisations perceive 5G as an accelerator to advance their digital transformation journey and scale innovation. Next-gen network technologies will have a significant impact on business outcomes, and leaders must plan ahead to make the most of them.”       

"While South African enterprises show a clear appetite for new technologies, our joint study reveals that organisations may find it difficult to unlock value from their investments," said Nitesh Singh, managing director of Accenture’s Communications, Media & Technology practice in South Africa. "Across different industries, we see three common barriers, namely: navigating the complexity of new networks and associated technology integration; managing huge investment of resources while extracting business value; and navigating the still-maturing partner and device ecosystem."

Yet, a small group of companies have been able to break through these barriers. The study revealed that a small number of high-performing companies, or "Tech Leaders", are on track to deliver more value than their peers in the next three years. Tech Leaders expect revenue to grow 1.74x faster, expand margins 2x higher and are 84% more likely to see their 5G and network investments result in faster time to market for new products or services.
Setting them apart from the rest of their industry peers, Tech Leaders are more likely to have invested higher in:

  • Advanced networks such as 5G: Leaders expect to invest an incremental 9.4% of their ICT budget on 5G and next-gen networks in the next three years compared to 6.3% by their peers.
  • Innovation capabilities and workforce: Tech Leaders expect to dedicate 11.7% of their ICT budget to innovation in the next three years, compared to 7.2% by their peers. Sixty-nine percent of Tech Leaders, versus 20% of their peers, dedicate more than one-fifth of their workforce to innovation.
  • Converging technologies like cloud, edge, AI, and IoT: Tech Leaders recognise the relevance of the convergence of 5G with digital technologies and see convergent technology platforms as critical enablers of transitioning from a piecemeal approach to a more holistic end-to-end digital transformation. Compared to peers, Leaders are 30% more likely to have transitioned to the cloud and 21% more likely to have implemented edge capabilities.


By preparing the right strategy and partnerships, organisations across Africa can tap into the huge business opportunity offered by next-gen networks and digital technologies.