Interview: Steve Tzikakis

What is being done to implement new technologies and know-how into industrial processes?

STEVE TZIKAKIS: Algerian companies today are playing on a global stage. To compete, they must continually improve both productivity and efficiency. The good news is that they can now take advantage of the increasing accessibility of innovative technologies.

The combination of powerful industrial and information capabilities promotes efficiency, which translates into profitability. Algerian business leaders are aware of this, as evidenced by the evolution of the technology-inclined mindset. It is therefore up to leading technology firms to promote this awareness among all Algerian stakeholders by advising them on the simplest and most robust transformative technologies available to enhance their competitiveness.

It is critical that business leaders, and especially those of large companies, become aware of the strategic importance and the implications of their technological choices. These are not technical issues, but strategic considerations that often involve a complete transformation of a company business model, as well as the organisational and cultural effects thereof.

How can African firms use the tools of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to leverage their advantages?

TZIKAKIS: Forward-looking African companies are simplifying their operations and reacting quickly to both customer expectations and market changes, including to the price volatility of oil and gas, by improving revenue protection with smart utility grids, while manufacturers are integrating IT and operational technologies.

The digital era has brought with it a set of mature technologies, such as big data, real-time analytics and in-memory platforms, that can reduce complexity for African firms. Running operations simply, with business models that can be reimagined based on insights, not trends, matters more than ever in a digital economy, as it ultimately serves the customers, not the processes.

Paradoxically, Africa’s biggest opportunity comes from the low rate of technology adoption, as businesses have the ability to look ahead and innovate without constraint. In addition, young and connected populations will act as catalysts for digital transformation and accelerate the adoption of new capabilities, which will drive growth and change across the entire continent.

What challenges do African states face in implementing comprehensive digitalisation strategies?

TZIKAKIS: Many African states face huge challenges. Urbanisation is happening at an unprecedented rate, demographics are changing, economies are being disrupted and the public’s trust is shaky. Expectations for what governments can and should do are rising, but budgets are shrinking. It is challenging for governments struggle to serve and protect all. The potential for improving lives has never been higher, while the risks of social exclusion and deteriorating livelihoods, health and security have never been so great.

Every market is driven by a relentless wave of change. For businesses and organisations, superior experience is key with consumers demanding more personalised, proactive and faster services. This is happening as businesses seek to make better choices with scarce capital, understand growing data volumes and innovate rapidly.

A generational shift in thinking has created a more purpose-driven society than ever before, and citizens and businesses are making choices to improve outcomes for their communities. While this is increasingly reflected in state strategies and policies, African governments need to do more to improve access to services, cater to those with special needs and provide a safety net to protect the most vulnerable in society.

In many places, structures, processes, models and data gathering and analysis do not yet support digital realities. We are well into an era of perpetual disruption, and it will be states that need to plan for, adapt to and manage the impacts of change on economies and jobs.