Technology adoption barriers prevent IT growth in Africa: IBM study

A recent IBM study found that while nearly 87 percent of African IT leaders rank new technologies such as analytics, cloud, mobile and social media as being critical to business success, only 53 percent are pushing forward with adoption.

The survey of 180 Africa-based IT leaders across 29 industries in Egypt, South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria and Morocco revealed that 36 percent of the African businesses embracing emerging technologies could be considered “Pacesetters” amongst their peers in terms of their focus on prioritizing and rapidly adopting technologies.

African economies are expected to sustain high levels of economic growth over the next decade, boosting consumer-facing industries by an estimated US$400 billion by 2020. Sectors pegged for growth include retail/wholesale, retail banking, telecommunications and tourism.

African People

While this growth presents an enormous opportunity for African businesses, the IBM  study found that a lack of technology adoption is preventing many African businesses from achieving growth and progress.

“The primary reasons for not moving on adoption were a need for technology leaders to play a greater role in strategic business leadership, a lack of IT skills development across the continent, and information security concerns,” said IBM general manager for East Africa, Nicholas Nesbitt.

African businesses identified as Pacesetters in the IBM survey take a very different approach to addressing IT concerns. For example, 85 percent of Pacesetters link IT investments to business outcomes, compared with 67 percent of their peers. 79 percent of Pacesetters use metrics and scorecards to assess IT risk, compared to 46 percent of their peers. 46 percent of Pacesetters develop IT skills to meet future business needs, compared to 26 percent of their peers.

Forward-thinking African companies have found ways to empower their IT leaders  through a cultural shift, the report adds. The Pacesetters also garner management support and view IT as integral to business strategy, not just a supporting player in the company’s success, the survey said.

This level of internal engagement requires clear, open communication and collaboration between IT leaders and their business peers, something the Pacesetters do 40 percent more often, according to the IBM survey.

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