Chase transformation not simply digitisation



Everywhere you turn, teams are working to infuse technology into various value chains to achieve a net benefit. Technology, for the most part, is an enabler. The unfortunate attendant truth is that its application in many instances is in search of a panacea where more rigor, diligence, or better strategy is required to either remedy a poor position or improve on a business' strong points.

Many businesses need to invest in transformation and not simply digitisation. It requires business owners and their teams to look at their products, services, and operations with a fresh pair of eyes, adopting a first principles mindset to establish what gaps and opportunities exist for them in the short, medium to long- term. A surprising discovery may be that digitisation emerges as a tiny sliver in the larger strategic pie.

A blind rush into digitisation can hurt the business, creating new stress points or amplifying inherent weaknesses. Implementation of any strategy carries a cost. Therefore, one must be careful not to cause a build-up of resistance from the internal and external publics from a poorly informed or executed digitisation agenda that does not consider all the other moving parts of the business.

A good use case to juxtapose the two is the public transport sector. To be specific, the short-haul segment as experienced in our cities. The industry has seen many companies take a swipe at opportunities present. Focus went to payments.

Everyone from banks, telcos, multinational corporations, and startups wants a piece of the estimated Sh200 billion-turnover sector. Epic fails across the board with the push to cash lite and bus hailing, but the attempts continue.

Now players in the value chain as it currently exists are cautious about any interventions targeted at public transport, including those pushed by the government in a bid to reel in the 'chaos'.

Adopting mobile money, cards, and having apps for booking seats, et cetera, is digitalisation, which assumes digitisation primitives. Moreover, you can digitise deficient processes and experiences exacerbating matters.

Transformation calls for you to turn everything on its head. That different perspective that I mentioned earlier. Addressing the concerns of all who participate in the value chain, what would it take to meet the needs and ambitions of discerning commuters, operators, financiers, manufacturers, and regulators? What about financial and business models?

There isn't a singular correct answer, but one thing holds regardless of sector. Transformation should manifest in a marked departure from the status quo.

Mr Njihia is the head of business and partnerships at Sure Corporation | | @mbuguanjihia