By Magnus Nmonwu, Regional Director for Sage West Africa
The next industrial revolution has arrived in Africa, and it will help make businesses of all sizes more efficient, productive and profitable. This fourth industrial revolution could help power West African companies to become major global players. However, the big question is – how will this help transform your business?
Industry 4.0 is enabled by technological advances such as cloud computing and automation. The falling price of sensors, connected devices and smarter artificial intelligence has aided its adoption in business operational processes. It is built on the next-generation of business management solutions, which offers a more flexible and modular alternative to the rigid, monolithic enterprise resource planning (ERP) systems of the past years.
According to IDC, the biggest challenge for West African CIOs is to obtain budgets for IT investment (48%), and 40% agreed that another challenge is to gain executive buy-in and support for strategic and innovative IT projects.
If you are a West African business considering an enterprise applications suite and need to know if you are ready for Industry 4.0, ask yourself the following questions:
1. Are you geared for a mobile workforce?
In an Industry 4.0 world, people across the supply chain (including partners and customers) need access to an easy-to-use solution that is accessible anywhere, and built for collaboration. A mobile workforce can be hugely beneficial to businesses, especially in mega-cities like Lagos, where people spend hours sitting in traffic. This is a significant amount of time which could be used making critical business decisions. Research by transport firm, Planet Projects, shows that three of every 10 years spent in Lagos is lost to traffic.
Your software needs to be ready for a workforce reared on mobile apps and social media platforms. It must be attractive and intuitive; it must also provide information, services and apps to employees, customers, and other stakeholders wherever they are.
2. Is your software modular and flexible?
The world is changing at a rapid pace, with the introduction of the Internet of Things, smarter robotics, machine learning and other disruptive technologies in the manufacturing world. To keep up, you need a stable and solid yet adaptable business management solution that can accommodate new technology trends as well as new business models. Does your solution make it easy to introduce new supply chain partnerships? Does it make it relatively simple to add new technologies to your environment? Better still, does your solution have the flexibility to adapt to the changing business landscape?
3. Can you scale to cater for big data from thousands, or even millions of devices and sensors?
One of the most important qualities of a good business solution for the digital era is the ability to manage an overwhelming amount of real-time and near real-time information. You will need to be able to leverage data from millions of devices and users on the Internet to drive better decision-making. You can use this data to understand consumer behaviour, perform financial investigations, carry out predictive maintenance or drive sales optimisation.
4. Accelerating into the next generation
To take advantage of Industry 4.0, manufacturers that currently have legacy systems in place need to accelerate implementation of modern IT applications. New-age solutions like Sage X3 are designed to deliver faster, simpler and flexible business management solutions, without the complexity that typically comes with old-fashioned ERP systems or the rigidity associated with older systems.