In brief

In brief

  • Accenture's latest research in collaboration with Microsoft shows that a new generation of technologies can transform business in South Africa.
  • 5G networks and converging technologies will change how enterprises operate, unleashing innovation and market opportunities.
  • Most companies today are implementing individual technologies and upgrading networks as standalone transformation projects.
  • "Tech Leaders" distinguish themselves by investing in advanced networks, such as 5G, as a strategic asset, alongside other digital capabilities.

South African businesses stand to benefit from the convergence, innovation and transformation that technologies such as 5G allows. However, to realize the full benefits of advances in network connectivity and digital technologies, companies will not only have to invest in a suite of new convergent technology solutions. They will also need to carry out organizational and cultural change, elevate the next-gen connectivity and technology agenda on the C-suite radar, and develop the internal skills needed to put these solutions at the base of innovation and company growth. This will not be easy, and companies may have concerns over the complexity of associated technology integration, extracting return on investment, and choosing the appropriate partner ecosystem and platform for solutioning.

However, if organizations are prepared to rise to the challenge, they stand to realize significant financial and operational benefits. New research from Accenture shows that leading companies in South Africa are already unlocking considerable value from 5G and converging technologies. These "Tech Leaders", as we call them, are on track to grow revenues and drive innovation far ahead of their peers. In this report, we reveal what sets Tech Leaders apart and how others can learn from their experience—accelerating the transition to the next-gen enterprise and avoiding obstacles along the way. We also look through the lens of key industries to explore the consumer and enterprise impacts, the most significant use cases, and the outlook for 5G and converging technologies.

The time is now

The next generation of mobile networks, combined with technologies like AI, cloud, and edge, will be exponentially different. These transformative technologies present disruptive opportunities far outside the scope of normal business activities, unleashing new operating models and opportunities for enterprises.


of companies are at various stages of adopting digital technologies, ranging from wide adoption to partial implementation to piloting


say they are planning to invest an incremental 3-10% of their IT budget on advanced networks like 5G in the next 3 years


of respondents are planning to invest in 5G-enabled campus networks

Although South Africa is the most advanced 5G market in the region, mass deployment and adoption are still some time away. Government has been slow to act on infrastructure and policy barriers, and to establish the legislation needed to foster innovation. Meanwhile, legal disputes between ICASA and local operators have pushed back a much awaited 5G spectrum auction until at least early 2022. In spite of the headwinds, network operators are pressing ahead with 5G network development. The enterprise market in South Africa is expected to be the main driver of more sophisticated use cases, with 5G enabling new technologies such as IoT, real-time analytics, AI and augmented/virtual reality (AR/VR). Across the country, businesses are getting ready for a technology revolution, doubling down on 5G and converging technology investments.

View from the industries

Why these technologies— and why now? Across multiple industries in South Africa, we see three key trends driving enterprise investments:

The new post-pandemic way of working

COVID-19 has provided a harsh reminder of the need to have robust, well-connected digital infrastructures in place. And enterprises’ future budgets reflect that reality. Research from Gartner shows that, globally, almost 70% of organizations using cloud services today plan to increase their cloud spending in the wake of the disruption caused by COVID-19. It also found that 66% of enterprises globally increased or maintained their AI investments since the start of the pandemic, while 75% will continue or start new AI initiatives in 2021. Companies are also investing significantly in their networks. Nearly 45 % of worldwide and U.S. respondents to IDC's Future Enterprise Resiliency & Spending Survey plan to increase spending on 4G/5G wireless/ cellular connectivity in 2021.

"South African businesses stand to benefit from the convergence, innovation and transformation that technologies such as 5G allows, but will need to invest strategically."

— KGOMOTSO LEBELE, Managing Director – Technology Africa

The push for accelerating digital transformation

True digital transformation can only happen when next generation technologies (cloud, edge, AI) and networks (5G) come together. As per IDC spending on digital transformation is set to gather even more pace in the post-pandemic period, increasing from 25% of total IT spending in 2020 to 37% in 2024. According to ICASA, the advancement of 4IR technologies depends heavily on the capabilities of 5G networks. Connecting billions of devices requires stable networks, capable of supporting exponentially higher capacity and speed requirements. In South Africa, 5G will become the foundation for key digital platform ecosystems, which will drive the 4IR in the country and accelerate organizations’ digital transformations.

The need to explore innovation and disruptive opportunities

Organizations across South Africa are looking to accelerate innovation to support business and operating model reinvention, fast-tracking transformation programs to future proof their businesses. Accenture’s 2020 Innovation Maturity Index shows that 85% of South African companies are vulnerable to future disruption. Indicating that companies are in dire need to ramp up their innovation capabilities. Companies on the winning side of disruption deliberately build innovation into their businesses, and embed innovation into their strategy, culture and architecture. Companies must make innovation a priority and intensify their efforts if they are to compete both nationally and on the global stage.

Kgomotso Lebele

Managing Director – Technology Lead Accenture in Africa

Willie Schoeman

Managing Director – Cloud First Lead Accenture in Africa

Nitesh Singh

Managing Director – Communications, Media and Technology Accenture in Africa


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