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SA Manufacturers fall behind in connectivity

Corporate digital divide holds back uptake, according to the latest report by World Wide Worx in partnership with Syspro.



South African manufacturers have fallen behind the curve of rapid advances in connectivity that make advanced technologies possible, according to research findings revealed today by SYSPRO, in partnership with World Wide Worx.

This is a key finding of a new study entitled ‘The Mobile Corporation in South Africa 2019’, which reveals that manufacturing enterprises typically use slower forms of connectivity than other enterprises in general – resulting in the need to use stopgaps to cross the corporate digital divide. 

The study, based on telephonic interviews with information technology (IT) decision makers at 400 large companies in South Africa, found that, while 63% of manufacturing enterprises regarded fibre-to-the-office as a key technology, this figure leaped to 74% for other industries. Furthermore, it showed rapid uptake of fibre connections by enterprises in general – but with the manufacturing sector lagging. 

“With one of our organisation’s key vertical focuses being that of manufacturing, it was surprising to see that manufacturers in the country prefer legacy forms of connectivity over the unprecedented opportunities that advanced forms of connectivity have proven to offer,” says Mark Wilson, Managing Director of SYSPRO Africa. “This has the potential to have a negative impact not only on productivity and overall output, but also on the abilities of these organisations to remain agile and competitive.”

The survey also revealed the continued importance of Wi-Fi – in particular with the emergence of mobile Wi-Fi devices. Almost half of all respondents, 47%, regard Wi-Fi in the office as important, with similar levels of use across industries. Mobile Wi-Fi is only regarded as important by 23% of respondents, but only 12% regard it as unimportant, indicating that it is beginning to fill the gap left by poor access to other forms of high-speed connectivity. 

Overall, voice communication remains the heart of the corporation, with landlines and basic cell phones being ranked the most important hardware devices by all respondents. However, this area also revealed a massive gap between manufacturers and the rest – with 73% of the former regarding each of these as important, versus 89% for other industries. 

“The research shows that connectivity has become important across all categories of activity, at the workstation, moving about the office environment, and beyond the office,” says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx. 

“This is further emphasised by the fact that the laptop computer has become as important as the desktop machine in corporate South Africa – both are regarded as important by exactly two thirds of respondents. The importance level is the same across all industries, revealing the extent to which mobile productivity has become a pervasive need.” 

Further supporting this conclusion, 42% of respondents reported that employees were away from their desks, on average, around two to three times a day, probably taking their devices along with them to work on-the-go. 

“It’s no surprise that mobility continues to gain increasing prominence as a concept that the fourth industrial revolution has brought with it,” says Wilson. “This is further echoed by the fact that cloud collaboration was rated as important by 79% of companies, indicating the impact of ERP solutions in the cloud.”

Says Goldstuck: “As technology continues to evolve, we will almost certainly see a rise inadoption rate within crucial industries, as well as inthe opportunities that will present themselves fororganisations to transform.”