Digital Disruption – The “Catch Up” Game that Africa is Playing

In spite of the surge in technological innovations around the world, Africa seems left behind, struggling to understand, catch up and apply leading technological innovations into businesses and industries. The digital disruption in various areas of the society and marketplace dealings, caused by these innovations makes it obvious that Africa has a long way to go.

Despite Africa’s challenges, there can be a quick turnaround if the continent embraces the principles behind some of today’s technology if the leaders of sectors open their minds to understand the “why” and “how” of these technologies.  

The strategy being implemented in top corporations around the world stems from the ability to apply technological innovations like the Enterprise Resource Planning, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) and other Artificial intelligence (AI) software technology to track customer requirements, orders, payment processes and delivery in one system. Without some of these technologies and structures, many of these corporations will not be able to compete globally. 

Implementing Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)

Enterprise Resource Planning is a process used by companies to manage and integrate the important parts of their businesses. According to The Aberdeen Group, 96% of top-performing growing businesses rely on ERP. Many ERP software applications exist to help companies to implement resource planning, running the organization on a single platform by integrating all the necessary processes. An ERP software system can integrate several business processes like planning, purchasing, inventory, sales, marketing, finance, and human resources on one platform. You can think of an ERP system as the glue that binds together the different computer systems for a large organization. 

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ERP has been able to help organizations all around the world to experience data reliability, as this organizational data or product can be assessed by employees and potential clients from any part of the world if stored in the cloud. These data can be easily assessed, updated and reviewed. The ERP also gives the executives clear visibility into the various arms of the organization. Scalability is one of the advantages of ERP, no matter how small your organization is, the ERP can be implemented and as your organization grows, it grows with it. 

Nobody wants to run a business where each department functions separately from the other. Collaboration between departments is a crucial and often necessary part of the business, especially because business projects often involve more than just one department. With the data entered into ERP system being centralized and consistent, there’s no reason why departments can’t work together, sharing information and collaborating whenever it is needed. The platform also gives employees the ability to work from any part of the world. So, your employee can travel for a business meeting in the UK and still work on the platform as though he is physically present in the office building in Africa 

An ERP solution eliminates repetitive processes and greatly reduces the need to manually enter information, which not only improves user productivity but also eliminates the possibility of inaccurate data which could lead to costly business mistakes. The implementation of an ERP system will also improve daily business activities by streamlining business processes.

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The Robotic Process Automation

One of the wonders and revolutions the ERP platform has brought to several thriving organizations is the Robotic Process Automation. This might sound complex however it is simply a computer algorithm written to process transactions based on specific needs. It has been used by organizations to substitute manual accounting processes like account payable, contract admin, rebates and returns. Just one of the automation can do the work of 30 employees or more. There is the added benefit of automation being constantly available; no sick leaves or PTO, vacations, or lateness. This means that most of the limitations in a process (based on human factors) is eliminated. 

Firms all over the world are embracing Robotic Process Automation (RPA). It streamlines enterprise operation and helps to reduce cost. With RPA, businesses can automate mundane rules-based business processes, enabling business users to devote more time to serving customers or higher-value work.

RPA is an application of technology governed by business logic and structured inputs, aimed at automating business processes. Using RPA tools, a company can configure the software to capture and interpret applications for processing a transaction, manipulating data, triggering responses and communicating with other digital systems. 

I know this brings us to the question: “how can we rely on the automation codes built in the system by the developers and programmers?” A strict information security policy adherence comes into play here, so does compliance with stipulated Information Technology general controls. Globally, they are defined as ethical standards for IT personnel having professional certifications, and accountability in areas of access management, change management and IT operations. We can expound on these as we take the first step by holding conversations with our IT teams on process automation and improvement. 

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The good news is that we can reduce the human factor in the day-to-day running of businesses. Whether your business is a small or medium scale firm, it makes no difference. The first step is starting a conversation with your IT department or consulting an IT expert and running your business processes through this expert to see the areas that can be automated. A simple step of issuing electronic receipts to customers or scanning purchased items so that the information reflects on the warehouse inventory can make a huge difference in sales, savings, and process effectiveness.  

The world has become a global village; a principle that works effectively in other parts of the world can do the same in our part of the world. 

References 

Tucci, Linda. (August 16, 2019). “Digital disruption.” TechTarget 

Labarre, Olivia. (April 14, 2019). “Enterprise Resource Planning.” Investopedia 

Wedell, Wayne. (June 18, 2019). “Benefits of ERP: 15 Advantages of ERP Software.” WorkWise

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