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Insight from Business Day Focus 4.0

The Business Day Focus 4.0 Conference held at the beginning of March this year, aimed at exploring the implications of the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) on our economy and society.
The presence of leading Hi-tech companies’ CEOs as keynote speakers and in panel discussions illustrated the importance of this topic to the business world.

Below are my three main takes from the conference:

1. It is not a matter of “if” but a matter of “when” we adapt to the 4IR

According to MD Tech Accenture, Kirstan Sita, 85% of South African companies are vulnerable to future disruption (Accenture research).
One of the reasons companies fail is if they missed, or not responded fast enough, to changes in the market (Prof Bran Armstrong, Wits Business School). The more we delay our adopting to changes, the more we widen the gap.
The challenges of poor infrastructure development and the need for cities to work collaboratively towards the creation of smart cities was alerted by Liquid Telecom CEO Reshaad Sha.
It was reiterated that government has to elevate infrastructure as high priority and enable connectivity (survival need) in an equal distributed manner.

2. Technology is neutral. It is what we do with it that matters

Alison Jacobson from the Field Institute, argued that before looking at digital strategy of the business one needs to look at the business strategy and the specific needs of the business through the customers’ needs. “Do you understand your customers? Only then deploy the technology”. Competitiveness in the market and creating the competitive advantage has to be customer-centric.
Devina Maharaj from Digital Investec Bank recommended “Understand the needs first, than plug the gap with the relevant tech solution”.
According to Prof Brian, there are many reasons to automate. Machines have many advantages over human being. If the first and second industrial revolutions were about ‘machines enhancing power’ the third and fourth industrial revolutions are about ‘machines enhancing human brain power’. We need to stay alert in the wake of the ‘digital vortex’ upon us and be ahead of it.

3. Range of skills are needed for the future workforce

Assaf Luxembourg, Business Development Consultant from Israel, noted that ‘technology changes fast, but culture changes are slower’. He then recommended that each individual see himself/ herself as a ‘business unit’, as the ‘CEO of themselves’ and seek to promote oneself. Adjusting to the dynamic nature of the market he says, is to think as entrepreneur and not as employee (even if you are one).
Dr Tashmia Ismail-Saville, CEO of YES, said that tech skills can be easily taught, the need is to create mechanisms to ensure that resources are available to the youth in all communities as in some of them access is limited.
The real skill needed to adjust to 4IR as noted by Alison are the abilities to identify the problem and use critical problem solving and team work.
We should ask, ‘how do we become the best version of ourselves by using technology’ and plan for our career to ensure relevance for the future.

Be ahead of the 'Digital Vortex'
Be ahead of the ‘Digital Vortex’

Preparing for Corona is unpredictable as predicting the future

The Corona virus crisis hitting the world country by country on a daily basis makes one realise the sad, known fact that we cannot predict the future.
When we started this new year of 2020, or when we approach new month, week or day, we need to be prepared for changes, knowing that change is the only certain thing we can be sure of.
Whether we run a company, manage teams, train/ teach, in retail, health, education or any other industry we should be prepared to surf the wave of change and be able to adapt to it’s implications.

The epidemic caused by the Corona virus is a an example of a case that can impact almost every area in our lives and change the way we do things, go to work, school or maintain our health. Technology has a role to play in assisting ‘surfing the wave’ and we could be applying new ways of doing things as we learning and adapting to new realities.

Though we can’t predict the future, we can prepare for what we think it will bring. Learning from countries impacted by the virus, we can, each in our own industry, think on measures to take to alleviate the impact that the changes may bring into our lives. 

As schools close down due to concerns of the epidemic spreading, we should explore online learning platforms to ensure that learning and the schooling is not disturbed.
Online applications could also help with identifying the symptoms and alert on areas that are impacted by the virus.

Please share – What measures did you take or are preparing yourself to take in light of the Corona?