CIO SA Tech news roundup: Collaboration between the CFO and CIO accelerates digital transformation, Huawei’s women in tech initiative, and Nedbank enters the metaverse

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According to Deloitte, CFOs and CIOs can work together to unlock digital transformation and prepare their organisations for long-term growth by developing a common language around technology and reevaluating oversight practices.

According to Deloitte’s Q1 2022 CFO Signals survey, a quarterly survey of Fortune 500 CFOs on business sentiment and strategy, 35 percent of respondents said they had oversight of their organisation’s IT leader, with 28 percent reporting direct oversight.

The survey shows that many organisations are still struggling with the relationship between technology management and value creation. Another recent Deloitte report found that only 35 percent of surveyed companies have a clear process for prioritising IT investments, despite CFOs stating that they understand the importance of IT in maintaining existing operations as new capabilities are created when asked about how IT spend is allocated.

Speaking the same language: Fostering a strong bond between the CFO and CIO necessitates a shared vernacular. CFOs view business health and investment priorities mathematically. They want to know how an investment is increasing revenue or decreasing costs. According to Deloitte’s report on the impact of technology on business value, only 52 percent of surveyed companies have joint tech investment decision-making processes owned by IT and business, indicating yet another linguistic disconnect between C-suite leaders.

In the Q1 2022 CFO Signals survey, “complexity and non-standardization” and “business partnering and alignment” were two of the top three choices for the main barriers to realising value from the IT function. To overcome these, CIOs must communicate more openly with the CFO about how IT supports business goals in order to capture value.

Of course, new technologies can greatly assist these efforts, and business analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) can help provide real-time snapshots of how technology is driving efficiency. CIOs can better communicate their teams’ successes and needs by utilising these tools and presenting takeaways with value-based terminology.

CFOs can help to improve this dialogue as well. Because IT is typically the largest line item in selling, general, and administrative expenses, CFOs can champion a shared language among CIOs to evaluate IT spend by focusing on how improvements in the “I” and “T” can enable value and mitigate risks in tangible business processes. Because many CFOs assign performance metrics to specific business processes, those metrics can become another component of the language required to assess IT.

The modern enterprise is typically reliant on technology to accomplish its goals, but technology leaders continue to struggle with contextualising the subsequent value of investment in their function. Other C-suites may also fail to understand the complexities of IT tools and practices, but the CFO and CIO are critical to ensuring that IT is viewed as a growth lever throughout the organisation.

CFOs and CIOs can work together to unlock digital transformation and prepare their organisations for long-term growth by developing a common language around technology and re-evaluating oversight practices.

Huawei women empowerment initiative
Tech-savvy South African women business owners have been encouraged to apply for Huawei’s 2022 Women in Tech digital skills programme. The programme offers free online training in cloud computing, digital marketing, and leadership development. The training will take place between 28 September and 6 October 2022.

The programme aims to assist women in advancing their skills and utilising new technologies to grow, improve, and digitise their businesses, giving them a competitive advantage in the digital economy.

This year, prizes will be awarded to the top three entrepreneurs chosen at the end of the five-day online training.

The programme will conclude with an in-person networking opportunity at Huawei’s Woodmead office park in Johannesburg. “More and more women entrepreneurs are taking on the role of leader and changing the landscape of leadership across different sectors in South Africa,” says Dr Jude Clark, clinical psychologist, facilitator, executive coach and renowned practitioner in the area of gender and development in South Africa and abroad. Jude is set to deliver the leadership course.

“But for many, there remains a disconnect between their sense of personal power and their vision for their enterprises,” she continues. “This programme explores what it means for a woman entrepreneur to show up in her power and what psychological and relational shifts need to be made in order to align personal power with business vision.”

Pumza Mthethwa, BrandTies’ strategic commercial director, will guide the entrepreneurs through the latest digital marketing trends. She believes that it is more important for business owners to ensure that they do not fall behind in the rapidly changing digital space. “This digital marketing training programme will explore the latest trends and how women-owned businesses can leverage these to grow their businesses,” she says.

Cloud computing training will take place from 28 September 28 to 30 September 2022. Entrepreneurship and Leadership Development will take place on 5 October 2022, and Digital Marketing training will take place on 6 October 2022.

Nedbank: first African bank to enter the metaverse
Nedbank becomes the first African bank to enter the metaverse after securing a 12x12 village in Ubuntuland, a village on Africarare, Africa’s first metaverse.

The move, according to Nedbank, is part of the group’s strategy to lead in digital and go beyond banking by discovering new marketing avenues and leveraging new technologies to better serve its customers.

According to Nedbank, the Nedbank village will focus on customer value, and services will include a variety of experiences ranging from virtual gaming to a sports lounge.

Africarare is a 3D virtual reality immersive hub created by Johannesburg-based innovation company Mann Made. It is home to a metaverse marketplace that features African art and serves as a platform for businesses and artists to display their wares.

“Creating experiences that go beyond banking has always been a focus for Nedbank,” says Khensani Nobanda, group executive for marketing and corporate affairs at Nedbank.

“Our entry into the metaverse is not merely about having a presence in this space; it’s about meeting the needs of our clients on platforms that resonate with them, while offering an array of touch-points that continue to demonstrate our commitment to lead in digital.”

Africarare was billed as the first South African metaverse when it debuted in October last year.

“We are thrilled to welcome Nedbank into Ubuntuland and look forward to creating positive change with them,” states Mic Mann, co-founder and CEO of Africarare. “By entering the metaverse, this organisation will pave the way for new solutions for Africa and play a role in the future of banking in this exciting world.”

Fred Swanepoel, Nedbank CIO, adds: “As Nedbank, we want to remain at the forefront of the technologies that will enable the next wave of digital business models, so we’re investing in Web 3.0 and the newer open source technologies on which the metaverse is built.”

Vodacom spends big on 5G in Limpopo
Vodacom will spend R300 million this year on the Limpopo network, which will go toward expanding broadband coverage in remote areas of the province that have not had access to internet services, as well as driving inclusion for all.

“We are very excited about our network investment for the Limpopo region this financial year, as we aim to ensure that all our customers will benefit from a quality network experience, particularly in rural areas. Expanding access to connectivity forms part of our commitment to building an inclusive digital future while assisting with stimulating socio-economic growth in the province,” says Ridwaan Soomra, managing executive of Vodacom Limpopo Region.

The majority of the capital expenditure will go toward modernising the existing radio network, building new deep rural towers, and improving transmission, including increasing fibre rollout and improving backup power. The investment will also contribute to increased capacity to support the region’s data traffic growth, which increased by 17.4 percent year on year.

“By expanding our 5G footprint, we are supporting the government’s 4IR objectives and accelerating the transition to more digital-based services to take the country forward. This 5G investment will also allow our business clients to launch bespoke solutions that are dependent on high speed and low latency of next generation technology to meet the demands of a digitalised future,” Ridwaan adds.

Vodacom Limpopo has strengthened security and upgraded backup power solutions across the province to ensure that customers remain connected during network challenges such as loadshedding and site vandalism.

More than R100 million has been invested in power outages, with the generator fleet increasing by 35 percent, generator repair spending now 170 percent higher than originally budgeted, and R8 million spent on fuel to keep generators running in the event of a power outage.

“Unfortunately, we have seen a 40 percent increase in vandalism incidents over the past financial year, which has led us to spend in excess of R2.5 million into vandalism repairs. These are resources which could have been better used in expanding connectivity in deep rural areas, so that more people could have access to online services. We continue to encourage communities to speak out against damage to our network infrastructure, which opens doors to participation in the digital economy,” Ridwaan explains.

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