Most businesses have used ICT to automate and streamline their operational activities. Large businesses usually have enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems on-premises, and small businesses are accessing ERP functionality in the cloud, ensuring they have an integrated insight into all aspects of their business.
The problem, however, is that all these systems are internally focused. Even customer relationship management (CRM) systems are more about managing customer detail than actually interacting directly with the customer. True, CRM-driven marketing campaigns enable one to reach customers with some information that is as useful to them as it is to the company. But, it's a rare organisation that can land a piece of highly personalised information capable of changing the customer's behaviour on the device of the customer's choosing. Equally rare are organisations that have mobilised their field staff and can, therefore, both increase and speed up sales.
Yet, customers expect the businesses with which they interact to have digital and mobile capabilities. They drift away from those that don't, and towards those that do, says Ralph Clark, Eastern Cape Regional Group Executive at Britehouse.
This is as true in Port Elizabeth as it is in industrial and commercial centres all around the world. The universal nature of the digital revolution is one of the reasons that Dimension Data, which is part of the global NTT Group, has acquired 100% of the shares in Britehouse. Britehouse anticipated the digital shift very early, setting up a division focused on helping customers digitise their businesses.
Dimension Data itself made a strategic decision some years ago to include software development in what had been its mainstream business of providing network and infrastructure services and solutions. Software is the modern business differentiator – particularly in the digital arena, where apps drive customer experience and loyalty.
As part of its software development focus, Dimension Data acquired local company, dataflo, which had pioneered FMCG capabilities that gave organisations a competitive edge and got the stamp of approval from global companies like Coca-Cola.
These capabilities have now been rolled up, via Dimension Data Application Services, into Britehouse, where they have a digital focus. Why should this matter to organisations in Port Elizabeth? Because there's a clue for your organisations in the significant investment that a company like Dimension Data has made in digital expertise.
If Dimension Data is pinning its sustainability on the ability to deliver digital solutions, your own company might need to take digital seriously, too. All the more so if your customers are thinking in digital terms. Can you really afford to ignore a trend that is becoming the driving force behind the way the modern world functions?