The COVID-19 Impact On Digital Transformation Projects In SA.

Roan Mackintosh
Managing Director of IncuBeta MEA

“It’s no longer the big beating the small, but the fast beating the slow” (Eric Pearson)

Insights on what’s going on the Industry?

COVID-19 has come along and disrupted everyone’s plans. Many clients are grappling with the change with some projects have either come to a standstill or accelerated at a rapid pace. Clients are being adaptive and very creative in the way they are approaching the LOCK down.

E-commerce brand Loot had to suspend all their operations but are now stocking essentials to remain operational during this time. Same with Takealot. Pure e-commerce brands entering the food market and being adaptive with the times. Other clients had to shut down like Travel and Car Rentals – Tempest and Europcar Rental.

Shoprite is ramping up on their digital transformation projects. They are flying by the seat of their pants. Recently launched their new e-commerce platform 60/60 app. 60 seconds to order and 60 minutes to deliver. With COVID-19, there has been some challenges but see it as an opportunity to go with what they have to ensure continued customer experience. They had to make some changes to make this work.

Banking: Funerals plans and personal loans topics are more relevant. Opportunity for financial brands to be present.  Progress is different within different verticals. COVID-19 is pushing the boundaries and changes the way companies need to respond. Time for brands to re-invent themselves. How fast can they adapt to the new normal.

What happens to brands who have halted their projects?

2 types of brands:
  1. Brands who are reducing costs and freezing all initiatives – these are more risk averse companies. They go into their shells and try to ride out the storms.
  2. Brands who have re-prioritized their projects and using this as an opportunity to adapt quickly.
Are these changes temporary?

People will be working from home alot more and using online services more frequently. Food delivery apps will grow and continue to be utilised post-lock down. The necessity will be the mother of invention in this case. If we look at the socio-economic state of our country, we will still need brick and mortar stores. There will be a definite growth from digital adoption – probably a 10% uplift. There will be a bounce back to normality in a way.

Should brands be utilizing digital consulting services during this time?

It is a lot about executive buy-in. Very often people consider digital transformation as an investment in technology. Technology is only as good as the people and the data that’s’ fed into it. Technology is changing at an exponential rate. Bigger consultancies will do the bigger strategic end-to-end projects across the business. Incubeta will do the operational implementation. Where there are digital mavericks in an analogue world, this is where these projects start and end.

Why brands should consider doing an audit of the maturity framework?

The maturity model gives you a view of where you are currently; where you want to go and the steps you need to take to get you there. Digital transformation is a journey not a destination. It is a process. Each brand will have a bespoke model, which needs to be structured and phased out. Brands do need the assistance of experts who can assist them on the journey. We are in a constant state of change.

The Changing Organisational Structure.

Marketing has traditionally seen as a cost centre with no direct ties to revenue – it was a means to an end. Through DM transformation process, brands are bringing their consumers closer to the centre of their organisations. Marketing becomes a core avenue to bring the customer closer to the brand. As you bring marketing to the core, it becomes less of a cost centre but a revenue generator. You need smart engaged people to drive the business. In the SA marketplace, we are constraints from skillsets. We need Digital Mavericks to drive the new agenda of marketing. We have to bring in different expertise from different areas. Do you in-house or do you out-source? Anything that is core to your business, needs to be in-house. There is an element of having an outside view and adapt accordingly. The value of an outside agency is the exposure to all verticals, which can add value to a brand.

The move is to be adaptive rather than reactive.

Key Take-outs & practical advice for brands to consider:

  1. Do your homework upfront to make decisions that are more informed.
  2. Know what you want out of the project.
  3. Define what is core to your business.
  4. Get executive buy-in and commitment.
  5. Make sure you have funding for some of the projects – consider the cost benefits.
  6. Need a collaborative centre of excellence or set up multi-disciplinary teams.

Roan’s contact details:

Thank you

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