KPMG's Frank Rizzo talks disruptive tech trends with CFOs

KPMG Technology Sector Leader for Africa Frank Rizzo delivered a Master Class on trends in data analytics, business intelligence and technology at our Get Smart event at the Johannesburg Stock Exchange on 17 February.

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In his introduction, he outlined six key tech trends that are shaping the business landscape:

  1. Cloud computing - Internet-based access and exchange to resources coupled with web-based access to low-cost computing and applications is proving to be a disruptive force on the African continent.
  2. Cyber-security - Rizzo identified this a leading trend in 2015 as cybercrime escalates and governments intensify their efforts to secure state assets. As an example, he mentioned the unprecedented $1 billion bank cyber-robbery by a multinational gang of hackers.
  3. Gamification - "Making a game of how we interact with our customers as businesses and our workforces is changing the nature of corporate communication," said Rizzo, citing Discovery's innovative points-based car insurance scheme as an example.
  4. Mobile Communication - "Across the continent, mobile is exploding, offering opportunities to access business services and content," he said.
  5. Social Media - Linked to the rise of mobile, Rizzo said the uptake of social media in Africa was "encouraging" and was creating a revolution in customer relations.
  6. Data and Analytics - The influx of various data and matching internal data with externally sourced information will open up a range of opportunities.

Rizzo was later joined by CFOs Brett Tromp (Discovery Health), Greg Davis (Standard Bank Africa) and Deon Fredericks (Telkom), as well as lifehacker Martijn Aslander, for a discussion and to field questions from the assembled captains of industry.

In response to a query from Tromp about how much resources should be allocated to cyber-security, Rizzo said it was dependent on the value of the data that need protection. "How much value do you need to protect? Remember that it is a question of when, rather than if, when it comes to cyber-security breaches. The best way to go about it is to find the core data that needs protection and leave the rest to the public domain," he said. Rizzo added that current thinking favoured an "airport" approach to security, rather than the "castle-and-moat" mode of old.

Rizzo quelled Fredericks' fears that technological advances would have a negative impact on South Africa's already woeful unemployment rate. "Technology will create jobs we cannot even dream of right now. The power of machines and the ingenuity of human beings can be formidable," said Rizzo. He agreed with Fredericks that formal education for accountants and other finance professionals needed to be revamped to allow them to cope with the fast pace of change and develop a more creative outlook on business.

Aslander had the final word, supported by Rizzo, calling for companies to embrace change and adopt a consumer-centric strategy to remain relevant. "The only way to compete with the new breed of entrepreneurs is to win the hearts and minds of your customers. If they love you, you will always be ahead of your rivals. Concentrate on doing good works."