African businesses and entrepreneurs embracing digital transformation

Ibrahim Youssry

Ibrahim Youssry

Partner Content: Microsoft

By Ibrahim Youssry – Regional General Manager, MEA Multi-Country Cluster (North, West, East & Southern Africa, Levant & Pakistan countries) – Microsoft

Our region has a rich legacy of entrepreneurship and innovation. What’s so exciting to me is seeing how Africa and the Middle East are building upon this foundation to embrace the newest wave of change and digital transformation.

We’re in the midst of the most amazing technological evolution I have ever witnessed. Digital transformation is forever changing the way we work and live. From harnessing the Internet of Things (IoT) to improve the safety of our roadways, to embracing cloud-based collaboration tools that break down barriers in the competitive global economy, to using AI to preserve and protect the planet and the culture we’ve created upon it, the potential is endless and exciting.

At Microsoft, we don’t celebrate technology for its own sake, but rather for what our partners can accomplish with it. It’s our mission to empower every person and organisation on the planet to achieve more. This focus on our customers and partners in Africa and the Middle East is what inspires us and gives meaning to our work.

Partnering to embrace tech intensity

To succeed at computing becomes increasingly embedded in our world, every institution and every organisation will need to have tech intensity. At the end of the day, every company is a software company, every company is a digital organisation.

Tech intensity is a simple formula, but it’s critical when we think about the opportunity ahead. Each person in our institutions and organisations, whether in the public or private sector, will have to develop digital capability on top of the technology we are adopting.

Seizing the huge opportunity created by new technology can seem daunting when faced alone. The key is finding the right trusted partner for your business. Microsoft is committed to helping our partners to achieve their digital transformation outcomes: to empower their people, engage their customers, transform products and optimise operations.

Harnessing the era of intelligent cloud and intelligent edge with Azure

For businesses in Africa to thrive in the fourth industrial revolution, they must embrace explosive advances in cloud technology. Computing is being embedded into the world. It’s predicted that there will be an astounding 50 billion connected devices by 2030. Computing is becoming ubiquitous, distributed and has the ability to adapt to a wide range of inputs such as touch, speed, vision and gesture. This is what we mean by the intelligent edge. The intelligent edge is fueled by the intelligent cloud, which is the underpinning of successful digital transformation.

Not all clouds are created equal. What sets Microsoft Azure apart is the partner approach we take with customers to drive success for their business, meeting them where they are. We are building every layer – the database layer, the runtime layer, the infrastructure layer – to meet the new, real-world needs of our customers.

Geographically, Azure has more regions than any other cloud provider, with 54 data centre regions, including the Middle East and Africa. Digitally, Azure offers more flexibility with our hybrid approach, offering a full spectrum of infrastructure, platform and software capabilities for any sized company.

Advances in the intelligent cloud are helping uplift almost every sector of the economy. We see this reflected in Microsoft’s recent partnership with Standard Bank – the largest bank in Africa – where together we aim to accelerate innovation and ultimately have a positive impact on the African continent.

By creating a centre of excellence based on Microsoft technologies and running on Azure, the bank’s various business units can quickly create apps and solutions in areas such as ATM management. At the end of the day, the bank will be able to transform its processes, increase efficiencies and completely change the way it operates. More importantly, partnerships like these will help to spark financial services innovation in our region.

Joining the future of work with Teams

In addition to cloud technology creating industry shifting innovation, it is unlocking exciting changes in the way we work and collaborate. Cloud powered tools such as Microsoft Teams create a hub for teamwork that boost productivity, innovation and collaboration.

FilmoRealty is one of the 500,000 organisations around the world using Teams to transform their business. Nigeria-based FilmoRealty is a leading proptech (property technology) and real estate service company. The company chose Microsoft 365 for its cloud based, highly secure workplace tools to embrace its new proptech business strategy.

FilmoRealty manages projects in eight states across Nigeria and needed a reliable collaboration platform to facilitate virtual teamwork across their many worksites. Today, the company uses Teams to boost efficiency and agility in order to manage simultaneous projects, utilising chat, video calls, coauthoring and integrated applications such as Forms checklists.

Because Teams runs on Microsoft Azure, they never have to worry about server outages in one location halting workflow across the company. This also meant that when FilmoRealty won a large international contract, they could easily collaborate with clients across the world.

And at the same time the company is expanding its business, the virtual collaboration Teams provides allows FilmoReality to stay lean. The company intends on reducing administrative costs by 20 percent over the next year, translating into savings it can pass to customers.

Partnership is the key to success

Across Africa and the Middle East, countries are poised to take hold of the opportunities presented by the Fourth Industrial Revolution. During this unprecedented time of disruption and opportunity, companies need to be able to rely on a solid partner network more than ever before.

In much the same way as collaboration between individuals with different skill sets can help to sharpen performance, so partnerships between companies with different specialisations can foster true innovation.

Innovation is no longer a nice-to-have, but rather a business imperative, and companies need strong partner networks if they are to succeed.