1 Feb 2021


1 Feb 2021

Digital used to be about coding and IT; now it's becoming a people business.” Mary Kate Loftus

The sudden onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic globally forced people and all sectors to abide to regulations, especially the practice of social distancing to prevent the spreading of the virus which has already claimed millions of lives. This crisis forces everyone, including businesses, education, entertainment, and medical sectors to rethink and fast track the necessity of digital tools to operate remotely and effectively while staying ahead of competitors.

Hence, according to Protiviti Member Firm SkX (2020), the key drivers behind digitisation efforts are as follows:

a) Improving customer engagement
b) Digitising products
c) Exploring new business models
d) Improving decision making
e) Driving operational efficiencies

New set of relevant skills

The biggest challenge industries are experiencing is not necessarily technology but digital IQ. It is critical that executive management have digital skills to lead and communicate the transformation. Furthermore, the employees that are responsible to roll out digital processes and services should have the right digital qualifications or skills.

The lack of the most basic and/or sophisticated digital skills means that South Africa will not be able to compete competitively against first world and developing economies such as the United States, United Kingdom, Nigeria, and China.

In the PwC’s Strategy & Global Digital Operations Study (2018) 1,155 executives at global manufacturing companies in 26 countries participated in a survey, and findings showed that there were no Digital Champions among the South African companies that participated in
the survey

Evidently, South African business and education leaders are not collectively making innovative and serious strides to initiate digital transformation that will place its economy on a competitive global scale.

Evidently, South African business and education leaders are not collectively making innovative and serious strides to initiate digital transformation that will place its economy on a competitive global scale.

Digitalisation: 3-month programme

FRTC has embraced lifelong learning and the necessity of individuals, graduates, the self-employed, professionals and school leavers skilling themselves with the fundamental digital functions that will add value to an organisation’s operations, personal efficiency, career progression and customer needs.

The Director of FRTC Bernadette Felix emphasis, ‘We cannot afford to ignore the fundamental changes the 4th Industrial Revolution and COVID -19 has imposed on the economy and on our lives, therefore, we are offering Digitalisation a short 3-month programme that skills and prepares any individual to apply basic but fundamental digital functions in any environment’.

The Digitalisation programme focuses on core functions required in any work environment to increase productivity and competitiveness, such as:

a) Streamlining user experience
b) Speeding up interaction between businesses and clients
c) Resulting in better products and superior cost-efficiency
d) Securing a computer network from intruders, against targeted attackers and opportunistic malware.

Digitisation does not necessarily lead to the reduction of human jobs

Like millions of South Africans, FRTC shared the concern that digitalisation may lead to job losses. However, research proves otherwise, that digitalisation does not necessarily lead to the reduction of human jobs; instead, it creates different ways of entering the job market through the structuring of new or upgraded skills.

In the research paper: The future of work in South Africa: Digitisation, productivity, and job creation, the following findings reinforce the potential of digitalisation creating jobs (Magwentshu & Rajagopaul et al: 2019):

a) Digitisation and automation could result in a net gain of up to 1.2 million jobs in South Africa by 2030, and companies need to move fast to capitalise on these opportunities.

b) A large proportion of the potential 1.2 million jobs would go to women, and digitisation could trigger a breakthrough in women’s empowerment.

c) Although digitisation will be disruptive, it has the potential to raise productivity and operational efficiency in businesses across sectors, to deliver better outcomes for both customers and citizens, and to create millions of high-quality jobs.

d) The accelerated adoption of digital technologies could triple South Africa’s productivity growth, more than double growth in per capita income, and add more than a percentage point to South Africa’s real GDP growth rate over the next decade.

Digitalisation is an inevitable phenomenon that has already made a significant impact in our personal lives, education and the way business is done to improve the customer’s experience on a highly competitive level. Therefore, it is important for businesses to employ skilled people to direct their strategies towards cumulating resilience and optimization to ensure business continuity through any challenges.

“The biggest part of our digital transformation is changing the way we think.” Monique Shivanandan


  1. In PwC’s Strategy & Global Digital Operations Study, 2018 South Africa falling behind with digital transformation (online)
    h-africa-falling-behind-with-digital-transformation.html [Accessed on 29 December 2020]
  2. Magwentshu, M., Rajagopaul, A., Chui, M., & Singh, A. 2019 The future of work in South Africa: Digitisation productivity andjob creation (online) [Accessed on 2 January 2021]
  3. Orrill, D. 2019 How digitalisation is changing the job market - Is South Africa prepared? (online) 6/22/193120.html [Accessed on 30 December 2020]
  4. Protiviti 2020 Digital Transformation (online) [Accessed on 31 December 2020]

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