Digital Transformation @ work

We have been involved in business transformations in large and small organisations using technology for many years, so a couple of years ago, we started Metatrans and focused on helping businesses adapt to the changing environment using digital transformation.

Today we want to talk about digital transformation @ work in South Africa.  Geoff, our esteemed Director, recently completed research for his degree on the topic of whether digital transformation increases organisational competitiveness and would like to share some of the results with you.

First we need some context of this challenging environment.

Everyone knows that Companies are struggling, the traditional business models are no longer as successful as they once were.

Here is a quick view of some of the companies that you don’t see around anymore. The question we always ask ourselves is whether digital transformation would have been able to make a difference?

The challenges being faced by companies is not unique to South Africa, and a comparison of US retails stores value between 2006 and 2016 clearly shows that that they are not as valuable as they were 10 years ago, most stores have lost significant value. The only outlier is Amazon, which is known as a digital company.

A closer look at AMAZON vs WALMART paints a very interesting picture

These stats compare the retail sales in the US. Walmart was a traditional brick and mortar store, and amazon an online store.

On the retail side, Amazon tailors itself to a higher income demographic, while a larger proportion of Americans shop at Walmart especially for basic goods.

As you can see in the pic above, Walmart are focused on growing their online business and Amazon is growing their brick and mortar stores. It has become evident that a combination of online and physical stores are still optimum, and customer retention will boil down to convenience, costs and experience.

In the words of Jeff Bezos – “In todays era of volatility, there is no other way but to re-invent. The only sustainable advantage you can have over others is agility, that’s it. Because nothing else is sustainable, everything else you create, somebody else will replicate.”

Digital Economy

The digital economy (or the pervasive use of IT) has been the key factor responsible for reversing the 20-year productivity slowdown from the mid-1970s to the mid-1990s and in driving today’s robust productivity growth.

In the digital economy, it is even more important to understand where the world is going than where it stands today. With the rapid advance of exponential technologies, outdated technologies quickly become obsolete, new technologies are reborn, and some might just be in the process of being developed in the most far-flung places around the world.

The digital evolution index of 2017, reflects three notable countries – Singapore, New Zealand, and the UAE. Each has a unique policy-led digital strategy.

South Africa, which could have significant opportunity, will gain momentum by improving providing more of the population access to the internet.  It was encouraging to hear that Vumatel are looking to put affordable data in the Alexandra township. Digital flows are now responsible for more GDP growth globally than trade in traditional goods.

Organisations wanting to remain competitive need to embrace digital transformation, but what is digital transformation?

We constantly need to learn and use new skills to progress, as soon as we rely on what we have or what we know, we stagnate.  There are so many definitions of digital transformation that it is easy to get confused about what it is exactly.

A common definition is: “The use of technology to radically improve performance or reach of enterprises”  and not just implementing digital for the sake of it.

But what are companies transforming to, it is important to have a vision of the end result, these are some characteristics of the digital age, characteristics of successful digital companies.


Digital is something you are, not something you do, digital isn’t a list of things to do. It’s about how you think, how you behave, what you value, and what drives decisions in your organisation.

Digital isn’t just about organisations that deliver primarily digital products and services, either. A digital organisation is one that can operate effectively in our digital age…

In the digital age, the most successful organisations are united and animated by a clear sense of purpose, for both employees and customers. This is more than having a vision and a mission; it goes to the heart of why your organisation exists in the world.

The challenge is even more demanding because of the relentless, increasing pace of change. These are some of the triggers driving digital transformation.

Digital transformation triggers


 Customers are becoming more demanding and less tolerant of poor service. The ease at which customers can find value and services is creating a change in customer behaviour. This is in turn driving companies to ensure that they are delivering value to customers

 Improving efficiencies

Almost half of companies we looked at were using digital to improve their efficiencies, typically through automation or cost scaling. In an age where operational excellence is the norm, companies must be careful to not limit their focus to survival rather than creating a source of comparative advantage.

If you want to see how your organisation can Adapt to the Future, using RPA, Blockchain or IoT, Why not give us a call?