Digital transformation has been accelerating well before the pandemic, but the speed and scale at which it is being applied these days is unprecedented. From digitation of core processes to connecting the extending enterprise, to giving visibility to social interactions, we can now see the flows across an ecosystem, in a way we could only imagine a few years ago. And with such an ability, some are taking advantage of these new capabilities more than others.
In a recent McKinsey article, the gap between best and least-performing industries post the pandemic was estimated at a staggering 80%. Measured over four distinct phases, the gap seems to increase as we extend into the recovery period. In fact, some industries are projected to reflect negative growth well beyond 2021.
More telling though was the gap between the best and worst performing firms within an industry, and much of this gap can be traced back to the ability to acquire and adopt new capabilities. This is where digitization plays a key role, and where it can contribute to an organisation, not only with customer and supply chain partners, but with broader stakeholders. The digital premium we are seeing extends well beyond activities within.
Let’s take an example. Altron is a South African-born ICT company, operating in seven African markets, which finds itself in the midst of transition. Led by CEO Mteto Nyati, who joined the group in 2017, it endured a painful restructuring, which extended over a three-year period. The “one Altron vision’” sees the business break-down silos, dispose of non-core assets and make several acquisitions, as it aims to bring digital capabilities to its customers, in the areas of data, cloud services, and automation.
I was in conversation this week with Zipporah Maubane, until recently the Head of Group Marketing, Communication & Investor Relations at Altron. We spoke about the state of digital transformation in 2021 and how it is unlocking value, not only in the much-spoken about areas of customer experience, supply chain and operations, but in the relationship with other key stakeholders, including investors.
Zipporah highlighted three shifts taking place, which influence the premium placed over digitally-transformed organisations:
- The ability to engage stakeholders more frequently: Providing greater access and more frequent updates is certainly a good start, yet it can be leveraged to change the nature of conversation between executives and the investor community. Armed with digital tools, investors can probe and test the investment proposition, from various data sources and similarly an organisation can provide richer information and engage in a more strategic conversation – about its direction, opportunity areas and risks. Organisations such as Altron, she highlights, have given special attention to how investor information is curated digitally, sharing new perspectives with the investor community, in real time.
- The ability to use rich media helps engage investors and increase reach beyond the formal engagement cycle, something which Altron found particularly useful, as the investor value proposition has shifted and the reach by new investors has grown, with a keen interest in the direction of their Altron 2.0 strategy. Management at Altron now engage across the globe with 2-3 hour webinar broadcast live to all. This has saved time for both management and investors.
- The maturity of organisations to adopt digital capabilities has an impact on how they are perceived by the market. In a world in which the gap between best and worst performing firms, in an industry, is widening, the ability to engage in digital transformation, at scale, points to adaptability and the ability to learn, at a scale which can test the limits of any organisation. At Altron, for example, digital engagements provide management with data analytics that can help them prepare for future investor engagements, and help execute follow-up meetings between analysts and management timeously.
The faster we learn, the more we are to adapt, not merely follow digital transformation trends, has not gone unnoticed by investors – and the data at their disposal is growing. Thank you Zipporah for a rich conversation and highlighting the digital premium, in our relationships with stakeholders.
My conversation with Zipporah will be published, as part of our podcast series, Hidden Growth Champions.
Have a good weekend everyone!
Saar Ben-Attar (Chief Instigator)
Leadering: The Ways Visionary Leaders Play Bigger, by Nancy Giordano
Zipporah Maubane is the latest member of our Transition Advisory Board, a forum of seasoned executives, who have grown and transformed organisations, in times of transition. Each brings a unique perspective into the transition journey, what makes a transition successful and a wealth of experience in critical capability areas. A thought leader in digital transformation, having worked in organisations diverse as BP, Sasol, Coca Cola and most recently Altron, Zipporah applies digital capabilities in the field of marketing, communications and reputation management.