Partners address the changing digital world at CIO South Africa’s first-ever Pitch Fest

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Top CIOs hear about the solutions that are helping organisations to get ready for the future.

On the evening of 11 August, some of South Africa’s leading CIOs gathered at Marble Restaurant in Rosebank for a three-course meal with partner pitches on the side. The partner pitches were timed at five minutes each, during which event sponsors had the opportunity to convey their value proposition.

The future of the CIO role

First up on the “catwalk” was iOCO head of digital innovation Alex Pryor, representing principal partner EOH, who said: “The role of the CIO is changing. The next technological revolution is already here and we’re only beginning to realise it now.”

She then proceeded to ask the attendees some questions about the future, their futures, and the future of their businesses:

  1. How will central bank digital currencies affect your business?
  2. How will your payment systems have to change as blockchain and the likes change how we do payments?
  3. With the rise of NFTs, what will your businesses’ assets look like in the future?
  4. Your next generation of customers is already operating in the metaverse. How is this going to affect and change the way you do business?

She said that the CIOs in the room can’t ignore the fact that their roles are changing, and explained that it’s less about digitally transforming your business, and more about digitally evolving it. “EOH is here to help you do just that,” she concluded.

Applications are the new business

Next on the catwalk, Vallance Subban, regional manager of AppDynamics, echoed the theme of change, saying: “We live in a time of unprecedented change. Technology impacts almost every aspect of our daily lives; from the way we live, to the way we work, and the way we learn.”

He explained that applications are now the business. “They’re the way businesses engage with customers and drive revenue. Because of this, businesses are committed more than ever to making their digital experiences better, easier, and more engaging for their users. This has forced businesses to drive faster innovation cycles, contributing to a world of constant change for IT.”

Vallance further added that, in a world where apps are now the business, companies are facing many challenges to meet the expectations of their end users. “Eighty-five percent of technologists state that quickly cutting through noise caused by the ever-increasing volumes of data to identify root causes of performance issues will represent a significant challenge in the year ahead,” he said.

However, AppDynamics has accelerated issue detection by 70 percent, reducing downtime and service interruption by as much as 60 percent.

He concluded with a simple anecdote: “Applications are the business, experience is the currency, and optimisation is the profit.”

Answering bold questions

SAS representatives Stephan Wessels, head of customer advisory, and Essie Mokgonyana, country manager, were up next. “At SAS we ask bold questions with outrageous and impossible answers waiting to be discovered,” they said. “All we have to do is ask the data, analyse it, shape it and make it work smarter for everyone, everywhere.”

Stephan introduced the SAS Viya, an end-to-end platform that brings together and prepares data for your analysts, who then use the data to create models that you can implement to execute your business strategy.

He explained that with SAS you can turn data into the answers that move the world forward into new digital frontiers.

“If you are responsible for analytics, you can talk to us to find out how you can answer the big and bold questions,” Essie concluded.

Keeping up with the change

During his five minutes, Jannie Malan, principal solution consultant at Workday, said there’s an ever-increasing gap between changing business demands and organisations’ ability to keep up. “IT teams are pivotal to enabling an adaptable organisation that’s able to face the changes and challenges.”

These challenges include:

  • Inelastic operations
  • Calcified processes
  • Siloed data
  • Brittle, costly and complex integrations
  • Lacklustre experiences for employees
  • Innovation risk

Jannie explained that the Workday enterprise management cloud platform contains four elements that provide adaptability, namely:

  1. True cloud, which offers resilience, elasticity and security.
  2. An intelligent data core, which brings together external and financial data to present a single version of the truth.
  3. Completely configurable frameworks, which securely activate processes, define user and data access, drive transactions, inform decisions, ensure compliance and provide purposeful and adaptable reporting.
  4. Personalised, omnichannel experience, which keeps users in the flow of their work, with a tailored experience that fosters productivity and greater engagement.

“If you are a visionary CIO wanting to lead the change to close the digital gap and get away from legacy ERP, then chat to Workday,” he concluded.

Becoming life-centric

Next on the catwalk, sales and commerce lead of Africa, Mushambi Mutuma, introduced the newly rebranded Accenture Song. “Over the last two years, businesses have shifted from being customer-centric to achieving relevance through life centricity. This means you’re not only focusing on the buyer, but understanding their whole lives and the impact our products have on them and the environment,” he explained.

“For everyone in this room, growth is one of your biggest responsibilities and is essential to how you leverage the business. Growth and success are directly related to how you are relevant to your customers,” Mushambi said.

He added that Accenture Song is purpose-filled to help businesses serve the modern customer and their ever-evolving needs, and that they are also driving growth beyond that. “How do we do this? First we see, using analytics and data combined with creativity to make great decisions. Then we solve, using impactful technology-led ideas to create value for our customers. Lastly, we simplify by bringing back the human experience and making sure what we offer is valuable for the customers.”

Aligning with new expectations

Solutions sales lead Archimides Panagiotides was up next, revealing that Software AG was one of the best kept software secrets around. “We’re a 53-year-old company founded on the idea that data is important. While data today takes on a whole new meaning, we still believe it will change the world.”

He explained that customers are facing new pressures which are changing the way they do things and what they are expecting from service providers. “Because of this, we need to look at what our customers need and change our processes to make sure they’re aligned to the new ways of doing business.”

Archimides further added that, because of changing customer expectations, IT has also had to change how they’re working. “Software AG has a number of technologies that help you understand and improve your business processes,” he concluded.

Embarking on a transformation journey

The last pitch of the evening came from EOH chief commercial officer Ziaad Suleman, who said: “Everyone in this room tonight has the power to solve any IT requirement to improve not only our enterprises but also the country.”

He explained that EOH has undergone changes for the better over the last couple of years and is ready to bring the value of their truly South African brand, with many different products and technologies, to the new digital world. “We provide end-to-end help on all our customers’ digital transformation, regardless of where they find themself on their journey. Should you choose to partner with any of the services that have made a pitch tonight, we can assist you on that journey.”

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