Director of Deloitte Digital, Andre Hugo, holds the latest information about digital in South Africa and how it is impacting businesses. We talk to him about how digital has disrupted various industries, the future of digital and how conventional communication has transformed.
Hi Andre. What typical conventions in communication have been disrupted by the digital age?
It depends on what platforms you are referring to. If you are looking at the social cluster of Twitter, SMS, Yammer and Mxit then typical syntax and old school grammar has been thrown out the window to accommodate the 140 character space available to you in which to communicate. On Blogs and e-mail, however – yes old school but still part of the digital age – the communication conventions remain by and large intact. If you are looking at the cultural impact or behavioral impact of digital, this is where you see the largest disruptions compared to normal face to face interactions. On social platforms communication is less formal and barriers to traditional hierarchies are non-existent. For example, anyone has access to a CEO if they are on Twitter, yammer or IM and they converse freely and informally. Yet you put the same two people in a room face to face and the interaction fundamentally changes because of the hierarchy associated with titles.
Which technologies are considered perhaps more harmful than helpful?
All technologies are both helpful and harmful, it all depends on how and for what purpose you use them. 20 years ago if you were in an accident you had to rely on landlines or CB radios to get medical help to the scene of the accident. Nowadays the majority of people have cell phones. The down side here is that the cell phone may have caused the accident that you are reporting to emergency services because the driver or pedestrian involved was more than likely texting whilst on the move. Therefore it’s all about what you use the technology for and when you use it.
Which industries are most affected by the rapid growth of digital?
Locally, the Financial Services are the leaders in adoption, it’s amazing to think that with your cell phone you have a bank in your pocket. I think the last time I was in a physical bricks and mortar bank was 10 years ago when I went in to collect my new cards and open an account. A number of other industries like retail and professional services are a close second. The industry that has the most to gain from digital adoption is the medical industry. Through effective adoption, patients, medical doctors and caregivers will have access to information that previously was restricted to traditional and urban centers.
Can you give an example of industries or companies that have not embraced digital and continue to succeed without its influence?
Nope, all industries have embraced digital in some form or another. It’s just the degree of adoption that varies.
What do you think is next with regards to digital disruptions?
Two trends that are worth watching.
Firstly, gamification. Yes it’s a suitcase term because it’s immediately associated with Angry Birds, Eve Online or Words with Friends but it’s really about the use of game dynamics to drive employee engagement, recruitment, knowledge sharing, strategy and business scenario simulation in a digital word and then taking those skills learnt and using them in your day to day business environment to improve productivity.
Secondly, BYOA. Bring Your Own Application. More and more companies are adopting cloud based solutions, have policies to cater for bring your own devices, and are building enterprise applications suites to make their employees more productive and engaged. The question I ask is, why build these applications suites? The real opportunity lies in the creation of widgets or application elements that can be aggregated together by an individual to make their own application driving pure end-user customization.
Do you think there will ever come a time in future when we discard digital and go back to basics?
No, because the two are totally integrated and this is where a number of companies and individuals locally, are missing the boat. Digital is not a separate strategy or tool to be used in isolation. Organizations that will succeed and grow are those that have a clear business strategy that articulates business growth or cost optimization as focus areas. They then have a clearly defined complimentary Digital strategy that looks at all aspects of their organization, not just brand and advertising on digital channels. The strategies are base lined and have clear tangible key performance indicators in place which are measured and adapted on a regular basis.
What one digital item could you not live without?
My cell phone without a doubt! I can work on it, capture memories, learn on it, organize my life, bank on it, use it for gaming, reading books, and oh yes – it does make phone calls.
I think that option is true for most of us! Thanks for your time, Andre. We appreciate your expertise. Follow Andre on Twitter here.
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