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Africa poised for the ‘digitisation of everything’

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By Vukani Mngxati, Chief Executive Officer for Accenture Africa

The ‘digitisation of everything’ trend is evolving at pace and Africa cannot afford to play catch-up. Digital disruption now affects every business, which means pressure is mounting to digitally transform operations if companies hope to remain competitive and relevant.

To do so requires keeping step with the relentless pace of innovation, while rivalling emerging digital native businesses and meeting shifting customer expectations and demands.

I believe that Africa is uniquely poised amid this shifting paradigm as it is largely unconstrained by the challenges posed by overhauling legacy systems. This creates opportunities for businesses on the continent to leverage emerging and maturing digital technologies to truly revolutionise and disrupt the status quo.

Due to the prevailing socio-economic landscape, it is unsurprising to see the ingenuity that has arisen from our proud continent. While these pockets of innovation have helped African nations make significant strides, more can be done to create a prosperous future.

By embracing and tilting toward the future through digital transformation, a unique opportunity exists for African nations to leapfrog other industrialised countries and play a leading role in the modern digital economy.

Those organisations that lag the digital adoption curve will struggle to participate in this digitised future, and with new and nimble disruptive players entering the market, the need to transform at pace has never been more important to corporate Africa.

However, embracing digitisation comes with significant complexities. The challenges most executives currently face include contextualising what digitisation means for their specific business and how they can apply it to meet their unique demands and requirements.

And it is Accenture Africa’s plan to enable this transformation by establishing ourselves as Africa’s digital accelerator and unlocking African abundance for all through the application of digital technologies. We believe that African organisations that embrace and harness digitisation intelligently will improve bottom-lines, while contributing to the economy and creating employment opportunities across the continent.

And as Africa’s most industrialised nation, South Africa is well positioned to drive the digital transformation agenda. Conversations in local boardrooms are already dominated by the need to implement digital capabilities that can boost organisational performance, unlock operational efficiencies and spur new growth.

To meet this demand, Accenture Africa has taken steps to position ourselves at the forefront of discussions around digital transformation. The central tenet of our strategy is applying relevant new technologies for impact in businesses across industries to enable them to “lead in the new”.

Companies need to adopt a new approach to organisational change through a strategy we call ‘a wise pivot’. It involves a series of decisions about how to transform and grow the existing business, and how to continuously and synchronously scale new businesses. A wise pivot also requires the right strategy to ensure the timing, scale and direction of investments are calibrated adequately.

The key to a successful wise pivot is building sufficient investment capacity for change and determining how to release resources within the organisation to enable innovation by design. In this regard, our job is to help legacy businesses pivot their operation decisively and sustainably, while creating synergies between the old and the new to capitalise on opportunities and reimagine new possibilities.

To help companies do so with speed and confidence, we offer an end-to-end solutions set that has been tested time and again both globally and locally. Our capabilities stem from the strength of our transformation acumen.

This is delivered though our corporate leadership, who have a birds-eye view of global industry movements and rapidly evolving innovation and technology trends, and the skills of our digital talent pool, which increasingly comprises individuals from the digitally-savvy Millennial generation. This is coupled with the horse-power of our technology solutions and new capabilities that reside in our leading Accenture Digital customer experience agency and our new local Fjord design studio.

Accenture Africa’s various divisions are already engaging and collaborating with the public and private sectors on projects that will drive social impact on the continent. By leverage technology to solve for big social challenges, such as access to healthcare and housing and the delivery of basic services such as banking, we will change how African citizens work and lives.

Our unique approach will drive the required step-changes and exponential growth needed to transform how companies do business in the digital economy. However, this is a dynamic and continual process and there is no box-drop solution. This is why we also assist clients with change management and constantly engage with them. In this way we build a lasting partnership that is able to unlock long-term value. This will ultimately ensure that Accenture Africa and our South African and African clients are able to compete in the global marketplace, today and into the future.

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Cape Town not so calm – if you’re a driver

Cape Town drivers lose on average 162 hours a year to traffic jams, so will need some tech and a few tips to stay calm

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Cape Town drivers lose, on average, 162 hours a year stuck in traffic jams, and the city is ranked 95th out of around 200 cities, across 38 countries surveyed globally, in terms of congestion issues.

That’s according to the latest INRIX 2018 Global Traffic Scorecard, which is an annual analysis of mobility and congestion trends. The study provides a data-rich evaluation of information collected during peak (slowest) travel times, and inter peak (fastest point between morning and afternoon commutes) travel times. Together they provide a holistic account of congestion throughout the day, delivering in-depth insights for vehicle drivers and policy-makers to make better decisions regarding urban travel and traffic health.

Of the further five South African cities surveyed:

  • Pretoria drivers lose, on average, 143 hours a year stuck in traffic jams, ranking as the 64thmost congested city
  • Johannesburg drivers lose an average of 119 hours annually, ranking 61st
  • Durban drivers lose 72 hours, ranking 141st
  • Port Elizabeth drivers lose 71 hours, ranking 75th
  • And Bloemfontein drivers lose 62 hours, ranking 165th

If these hours sound horrific, spare a thought for the poor drivers in Colombia’s capital city of Bogotá who lose, on average, a whopping 272 hours a year stuck in traffic jams!

On average, drivers’ commutes increase by roughly 30% during peak versus inter-peak hours. And the reality is that congestion issues aren’t going away anytime soon. Not here in SA, or anywhere else in the world. So what can we, as drivers, do to make the situation easier to cope with on our daily commute?

Change of mindset

Stressing about the unavoidable, the inevitable, and all the things that are out of our control – like congestion caused by accidents, faulty street lights, or bad weather – is a waste of energy. We should try finding ways of using that time in our cars more productively, to create a less tense, more positive experience. Learning to change our perspective about this challenging time, and associating it with something enjoyable, can drastically alter our reaction to and engagement with it. Rather than expending all our energy on futile anger and frustration, we can channel our focus on things that relax or energise us instead.

Just one more chapter

Being stuck in traffic usually aggravates us because it feels like a huge waste of valuable time. But like a wise man once said, time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time. Listening to a podcast or audiobook can not only be entertaining, but also educational, which is a brilliant use of your time. Ifyou think of your car as a ‘learning lab’, a mobile university of sorts, and your time spent inside as away to exercise your brain and grow intellectually, you may even find yourself wishing for bad traffic so you have an excuse to carry on listening to your podcast or audiobook.

Tame your inner Hulk

Pulling up a playlist of your favourite, feel-good songs can do wonders to combat stress levels. Downbeat music has been proven to have a mellowing effect on drivers. Making a quick switch to downbeat music shows measurable physiological improvements, with drivers calming down much sooner, and making fewer driving mistakes. So the next time you feel your inner Hulk emerging, crank up the volume on your favourite tunes.

The power of ‘caromatherapy’

There are numerous studies on aromas and their impact on human emotion, behaviour, and performance. Researchers have found that peppermint can enhance mental and athletic performance and cognitive functioning, while cinnamon may improve tasks related to attentional processes and visual-motor response speed. A study from Kyoto University in Japan revealed that participants reported significantly lower hostility and depression scores, and felt more relaxed after awalk through a pine forest. It makes sense then, to incorporate some ‘caromatherapy’ into our lives. There are plenty of off-the-shelf car diffusers available, or you could add a few drops of essential oil to DIY felt air fresheners. Citrus scents like orange or lemon can provide a boost of energy, while rosemary can relieve stress and anxiety. Take care not to hang anything that might obstruct your field of vision though, and always make sure to test out essential oils at home first, in case a scent makes you dizzy or overly relaxed, which could affect driving focus.

Contemplate your navel

The mind is a powerful thing, and simply willing yourself to relax might be the most effective method of all. While we don’t recommend meditating while driving due to safety reasons, breathing exercises can help you stay focused and feeling calm. One useful practice is the one-to-one technique – breathing in and out for the same count with the same intensity. Deep, measured breaths facilitate full oxygen exchange, helping to slow down the rate of your heartbeat and stabilise blood pressure, as opposed to shallow breathing, which doesn’t send enough air to the lowest part of your lungs, causing you to feel anxious and short of breath. Just always keep your eyes on the road, and take care to ensure you’re not so busy counting breaths that your concentration is compromised.

Not all those who wander are lost

Some of our best ideas come in those moments where we’re alone with our own thoughts, able to really reflect on the ideas we have without having something immediate that needs our attention. Allow your mind to wander, and do a little brainstorming. Alternatively, use the time to simply day dream. Remember, downtime is not dead time. It is both necessary, and important for your mental health. Use this time as an opportunity to take care of yourself.

In-built vehicle tech

“As we spend more and more time commuting, cars are being designed to accommodate longer periods behind the wheel,” says Kuda Takura, smart mobility specialist at Ford Motor Company of Southern Africa. “Ford uses human-centric design to deliver vehicles that are inviting, accommodating, and intuitive. For example, our SYNCT infotainment system offers nifty, hands-free functions, like allowing drivers to listen to their texts, change music or climate settings, and make phone calls easily with voice control. Our range of driver-assist technologies, like Adaptive Cruise Control, Pre-Collision Assist with Pedestrian Detection and Semi-Auto Active Park Assist, are also designed to take some of the stress off city driving. If our lifestyle means that we might be spending more time in our cars than we do on holiday, then we should make sure we make the most of that time.”

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Vodacom exits Africa biz services

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Vodacom Group has sold Vodacom Business Africa’s operations in Nigeria, Zambia and Cote d’Ivoire to Andile Ngcaba’s Synergy Communications. The two entities are in the process of concluding the acquisitions, which are subject to the approval of the regulatory authorities within these markets.

Vodacom says the transaction supports the Group’s enterprise strategy in Africa, which has been refocused to grow and strengthen its core business. It will no longer directly service global enterprise customers in these three markets but will rather continue to operate as a pan African telecommunications networks provider through local relationships, like the one with Synergy Communications. 

This acquisition represents a significant milestone in Synergy Communication’s quest to be a leading provider of cloud and digitally based services in key markets across sub-Saharan Africa and provides key additional assets in its build out of a regional footprint. Synergy Communications currently has operations in Botswana, Malawi and Mozambique.

Andile Ngcaba, Chairman of Synergy Communications said: “This is an exciting landmark transaction for Synergy Communications, providing us with additional momentum in the delivery of our strategy as a pan-African enterprise digital Services Provider. Synergy Communications will partner with major global cloud providers and deliver platform-based services to both multi-nationals and local enterprises.”

Shameel Joosub, CEO of Vodacom Group, said: “Vodacom has a clear vision for strengthening our position as a leading pan-African business and will work with local service providers like Synergy Communications to grow in these markets. Crucially, Vodacom is not exiting any of the territories related to this transaction and remains focused on continuing to deliver exceptional service to our global and multinational clients in these markets through long-term commercial agreements. 

“To support the sustainable growth of pan African digital economies and building connected societies, Vodacom will, via local service providers, continue to service clients in each market. We seek to leverage the collective strengths of Vodacom and Synergy Communications to meet the changing requirements of clients across each of these markets.”

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