The success of South African business depends largely on its ability to capitalise on the demands of the 21st century and using advanced technology effectively to accelerate business growth is one of them.

After all, the Fourth Industrial Revolution – an era marked by emerging technology breakthroughs in a number of fields including robotics, artificial intelligence and blockchain requires that businesses embrace innovation, or get left behind. While South African businesses are generally on-par with the rest of the world when it comes to embracing advanced technology in-house, there’s still a lot of work to be done, especially for the bigger fish in the corporate world.

“Tech is changing and disrupting the way we operate, and businesses, especially large scale organisations need to be far more reactive to this. Advanced technology presents great opportunity for businesses that choose to take it on-board and great threat for those who choose not to embrace it,” says Ryan Martyn, co-founder of Syntech – a tech-based firm that sources industry-leading technology products from around the world for distribution in sub-Saharan Africa.

As businesses prepare to reflect on 2018 and look at ways in which to improve operations in 2019, Martyn says factoring in the tech that is set to disrupt 2019 is a good idea.

Top three tech advancements that are expected to disrupt business in 2019

  • Smart power monitoring and management systems which allows business and homeowners to monitor their daily electricity consumption by the minute, demonstrates which device uses more electricity and how to cut down. “Syntech has already begun testing a device that fits onto existing prepaid electricity meters with full remote monitoring functionality,” says Martyn.
  • Cloud based services enable businesses to access and analyse current data instantly and make informed decisions. These services are relatively inexpensive and are available without the infrastructure costs that would have previously made them inaccessible to smaller companies. Cloud based services also make it easier for businesses to operate beyond the geographic boundaries that restricted trade in the past.
  • Blockchain technology will continue to grow despite the uncertainty surrounding Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Blockchains provide a solution to digitally facilitate and regulate transactions with security technology that cannot be hacked. Over time this technology will replace traditional processes and audit trails and disrupt industries, from insurance to conveyancing to financial trading or transfers.

“Technology plays an essential role in the way businesses operate, and has the ability to contribute significantly to its effective running, regardless of the size. In fact, tech allows business to do exponentially more in less amount of time as before, which bodes well for productivity,” Martyn says.

Despite a common thought, especially in developing nations that technology could potentially do the work of human beings, eventually leading to job losses, Martyn says this could be easily addressed. He advises that business and industry upskill and develop staff and make room for positions that require human interaction.

“We can’t shy away from the fact that tech has a monumental role to play in running a business. This means that if embraced correctly, the roles of human beings will simply evolve. If we can empower our workforce to control and produce mechanised products, these can become globally demanded commodities. Therefore it’s businesses’ responsibility to train staff in-line with the tech demands and embrace the opportunities that come with it. If we can get that right, businesses and individuals will prosper,” he says.

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