Orange Business sponsors IoT Forum Africa 2019

Held annually in Johannesburg, South Africa, the Internet of Things Forum Africa (IoTFA) is the premier African event on IoT and is a key regional event for Orange Business.

IoTFA focuses on how IoT can deliver unprecedented intelligence to drive performance, growth and profitability for African businesses. The event provides a platform for all players to share their knowledge of real-world IoT trends, challenges and solutions.

My colleague Toros Esim, Head of Digital Retail and Regional Director of Digital Strategy for the Middle East/Africa region, was a keynote speaker at the event. He said that African retailers have the opportunity to re-imagine a data-driven approach through a defined business transformation process.

We believe that transforming retail starts with the business model, not the technology. The real opportunity for digital business transformation is the development of a new business model, aligned with customer expectations and driven by customer data.

It was clear from listening to the other speakers and the panel discussions that the primary adopters of IoT in Africa are the Mining, Manufacturing, Agriculture and Healthcare industries.

In terms of challenges to adoption, most organizations cited budget constraints and uncertainty around the business case for IoT. For example, they suffered from perpetual POC syndrome, where continuous scope creep proves that problems and outcomes are often not clearly defined, and as a result, the ROI is not sufficiently demonstrated.

In South Africa specifically, skills determine the roadmap for the development of the country’s IoT journey. Across all sectors and industries, skill shortages remain a challenge; however, most industry players are cautiously optimistic about addressing this challenge through the execution of skill-based strategies.

We believe that to build a new business model for retail, retailers first need to understand what they want to improve. In fact, asking the right questions is the first step in finding the answers.

And this rings true for all sectors – the conversation on digital transformation has to be centered around problem solving, not around IoT, devices or any other solution. It is important that organizations are able to identify their specific problems or challenges and then look at how digital business technology and IoT can assist in solving them.

Moving away from challenges, the forum made it clear that local industry players and customer stakeholders alike are convinced that IoT has the ability to take their businesses to the next level and why this technological and data-driven revolution is important for Africa.

As Nelson Mandela famously said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

Keith Matthews
Keith Matthews

As South African Country Manager for Orange Business, I am responsible for executing business strategies in the Sub-Saharan Africa region. I have spent 25 years as an intrapreneur for multinational companies in the IT, telecommunications and technology sectors.

In my spare time, I am a family man who is known to dabble in fly-fishing, golf and learning to play the guitar.