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Disrupting business as usual

Tim Bishop, director at Deloitte Digital. Tim Bishop, director at Deloitte Digital.

DELOITTE’s fifth annual Tech Trends report highlights 10 trends that could have an impact on South African companies over the coming 18 to 24 months.

As the title of the report, “Inspiring Disruption”, suggests, these trends provoke disruption by having the potential to reshape organisations, business models and even entire industries in South Africa. I agree with the sentiments of my colleague, Kamal Ramsingh, Technology Leader for Africa at Deloitte, who says, “While some of these technologies might seem far-fetched, the reality is that the evolving competitive landscape means they can provide companies with a distinct business advantage.”

Take the idea of the Chief Information Officer (CIO) as venture capitalist. Venture capitalists are mostly shrewd business people who manage investment portfolios with great agility. They continually evaluate performance based on value, risk and reward. In the same way, CIOs are called to juggle an ever-growing portfolio of projects, from long-term strategic initiatives to keeping the lights on. CIOs need to understand their assets – hardware, software, facilities, contracts, vendors and, most importantly, people. The CIO’s balancing act is delicate – driving for more nimble, responsive delivery, while maintaining architectural integrity and building systems that run.

Wearable technology, also known as on-body computing devices, is another promising trend. They can take the form of glasses, watches, badges or bracelets and are particularly relevant in businesses where the use of a laptop or tablet poses health and safety hazards. The potential is tremendous – hands-free technology can reshape how work gets done, how decisions are made and how you engage with customers, employees and partners. While consumer wearables such as Google Glass are in the spotlight now, we expect business to drive acceptance and transform the use of this new technology.

Lastly, industrialised crowdsourcing is a disruptive trend that allows companies to tap into the collective experience outside of organisational boundaries.

By adopting crowd-sourcing, companies can source specialised skills from anyone, anywhere – for everything from data collection and coding to advanced analytics and product development. The potential to reduce the cost of doing business makes this trend very attractive, but there are broader implications for innovation in the workplace. As Sun Microsystems co-founder Bill Joy so famously put it, “No matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else.”

Given the rapid speed of technological change, it is clear that companies need to be forward-thinking to develop strategies that can keep pace. While consumer technology has an excuse to lag in South Africa, due to economic factors and variants in LSMs, there is no excuse for businesses to trail behind. They have the resources to keep up to date with the latest technology and cannot afford to be left behind. The “we’re African” excuse doesn’t cut it anymore – there are several large brands based here in the Western Cape that operate globally. Understanding these tech trends will help businesses remain relevant and shape tomorrow – to inspire, create and transform business as usual.

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