Whether the pandemic eases sooner or later, the reality is that it has changed and transformed the way business is done across the world by accelerating digitization – hence, the earlier companies embrace and invest in it, the better for them if they want to remain in business and be competitive, digital and financial experts have said.
Speaking at a conference organised by Republic Bank and the Business and Financial Times (B&FT) in Accra under the theme ‘Digitisation, Artificial Intelligence and Future of Things: The impact and immense opportunities for Ghanaian businesses’, the panellists agreed that going forward the usual way of carrying out business will become obsolete; hence the need to quickly adapt to the changing environment in order to satisfy customers’ needs.
Managing Director of Republic Bank Ghana, Farid Antar, said like every other crisis, the coronavirus pandemic has provided an opportunity for businesses to be innovative and change their old of way of doing things.
“Every crisis has a silver-lining opportunity, and the pandemic has shown us that we can move faster and better. The hope and expectations are that people will realise the ease of doing business. For example, a survey was conducted in Europe about how many people would like to go back to the office full time when things get back to normal.
“And I think about 60 percent or so said they would not like to go back full time. If you can be as productive and accountable from a remote location, why not? It also saves overhead costs because you don’t need physical offices etc. So, it could be a win-win situation if managed well.
“I hope that when we come back to what we consider as being normal, we don’t forget the positive lessons we have learned from the pandemic. And I don’t expect we will forget,” he said in an interview with the B&FT.
Also adding his voice to the aggressive push for digitisation, CEO of Reset Global People, Kwame Opoku, said though Ghanaian businesses are taking advantage of social media for marketing purposes, there is still a huge potential they have not tapped when it comes to digitisation.
“If you look at Ghanaian businesses, probably the only area they have sort of taken advantage of is that of marketing by using social media. But there is so much more to digitisation than social media and selling your services online. In terms of infrastructure, the value chain process, faster ways of producing, I believe that there’s still a long way to go.”
To him, for the digitisation drive to be successful there will be need for clear government policy to guide the process and encourage it across all sectors.
“Unfortunately, whether you like it or not, organisations like government are going to be important. Government will have to play a role – but it starts with policy, and policy is one of the bottlenecks we have. Moving forward, that should be one of the things we look at,” he said.
Another panellist, Ernestina Appiah, CEO-Ghana Code Club, said while advocating for a digitised economy, it is important that both businesses and consumers have a good understanding of the tools used so the system can be successfully implemented for the transformation to be far-reaching.
“To be able to embrace digitisation and know what is trending, we should always be ready to upskill. For example, if you are a small business and you do not have much money to invest in others branding your company for you, you can just pick up a short online course to develop your own website or become your own social media manager.
“For now, literates or those who have had a university education or other college qualifications are able to know and depend on social media to market their business. It is left with the market women and those in the indigenous market-setting to be able to learn how to actually have an online presence,” she said.