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Modern applications critical for African business growth

Ian Jansen van Rensburg, lead technologist at VMware Africa

While fibre expanding across the African continent, most companies have been leveraging mobile technologies to ensure customers still have access to their products and services from anywhere they have an internet connection.

African businesses are beginning to fully embrace the underlying concepts of digital transformation, with opportunities ripe to overhaul legacy infrastructure and applications, and replace them with more innovative ones.

Employees are even using the likes of 3G and 4G to remain connected to the organisational back-end and do more away from the office than ever while remote working.

Given that 5G is around the corner, this will only accelerate the process further as concepts such as edge computing and the Internet of Things become a reality for many African enterprises.

Mobile infrastructure and the cloud form just part of the equation of what the modern African business needs to remain competitive in a digital world.

Fundamentally, organisations require modern applications capable of unlocking the true value of the data at their disposal.

This can be done not only more efficiently, but faster and using things such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), and automation.

Cynics may argue that these could result in job cuts, a significant concern given the high rate of unemployment on the continent, the reverse is also true. By automating much of the menial, administration-heavy tasks, companies are positioning employees to upskill themselves with the capabilities needed to take digital initiatives at their organisations to a new level.

This reskilling of what they know and do is also dictated by how modern applications marry the best of data analysis, cloud computing, mobile usage, and an open standards approach to give significantly improved flexibility to adapt to changing market conditions.

Creating opportunities with partners

Take Kubernetes as an example. an open-source container orchestration platform that enables the operation of an elastic Web server framework for cloud applications. Kubernetes can support data centre outsourcing to public cloud service providers or can be used for Web hosting at scale. Kubernetes assist in migrating legacy applications to what can be described as a more modern, container-based cloud environment.

Think of it as the fuel giving the digital transformation initiatives of a company the injection it needs to straddle the gap between the cloud and what it has been doing on-premise.

Strong relationships between organisations and their technology partners are critical as most businesses in a competitive landscape want to remain solely focused on maintaining growth and not be stuck in the bits and bytes of their cloud transformation.

All told, Africa is at the cusp of an exciting new era as businesses move into a digital-ready mindset. How these companies continue to innovate and bring their own unique twist to the application environment will be a fascinating one to watch.

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