November 09, 2020

Digital economy: the new competitive advantage in an era of change

By Byron Clatterbuck, Chief Executive Officer at SEACOM

The world is evolving at breakneck speed. People, businesses, devices, data, and processes are all interconnected, and this state of hyperconnectivity is not only transforming life as we know it, but the global economy too.  

Business success in this modern, digitalised economy comes down to adaptability: the new competitive advantage in an era of change. 

Reimagining the global economy

The digital economy refers to the economy and economic activities that rely on digital computing technologies. The value of the digital economy was approximately $11.5 trillion in 2019, or 15.5% of global GDP. Even more notably, the World Economic Forum estimates that a staggering 70% of new value created in the global economy over the next decade will be in the form of digitally enabled business.

Of course, stable infrastructure and Internet availability have been (and still are) critical for powering the digital economy – that’s why SEACOM is so committed to empowering business connectivity. Cloud technology is another driving force behind the growth of the digital economy, and it has given many businesses the opportunity to compete in larger markets, streamline their operations, improve productivity, explore new business models, and reduce unnecessary costs

While this innovation is revolutionising many parts of the world, we cannot ignore other parts that don’t have access to the tools needed to participate in a digital economy. We must be mindful to prioritise infrastructure roll out so that everyone has an equal opportunity to thrive in an increasingly digital age. 

Forced acceleration

There’s a good reason so many businesses that operate in the digital economy have been labelled ‘disruptors’. And businesses that fail to account for the changes that the digital economy brings face declining revenues or worse, closure. 

Over the last few months, people have been forced to change how they work, and businesses have had to facilitate this change. With a large portion of people now working from home, an almost overnight digital migration had to take place. While many businesses thrived, others couldn’t manage the change at first. But now some businesses are using a hybrid model to avoid full-time office work, and certain companies have even gone as far as to say that they’ll never go back to the office. 

Digital transformation providing opportunities in Africa

This digital economy cannot truly thrive in Africa until we have developed stable, reliable infrastructure within the continent – as well as between the continent and the rest of the world – that can support world-class Internet connectivity. This will require not only more international subsea cables to handle increased traffic volumes, but also diversity from these cables. At SEACOM, we understand that new cables should be built on different routings and end up in different landing stations. This will ensure that Africa has a diverse – and therefore more resilient – international backbone for data traffic. 

We also need more diversified and better protected terrestrial routes that connect key metropolitan centres, and more fibre within metros to connect homes and businesses. An interconnected world ultimately relies on physical data connectivity and, as such, we need to start driving the implementation of resilient data services at affordable costs to be able to connect with the rest of the world. 

The journey to a flourishing digital economy starts with us. Find out about our cloud solutions or our enterprise security solutions and start taking advantage of the opportunities the digital economy brings.