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“Technology is fast disrupting business on a global scale and south africa is no exception exception so how do our businesses evolve joining me with more is gareth reese he the head of global partnerships at irt nxt gareth. Thank you so much for joining us thank you good to speak you gareth you travel quite extensively evaluating different technologies and youths around the world visiting innovation labs. How do you feel south africa. Compares with what s happening on a global scale.
I think there s a tendency to think that south africa is quite far behind. I don t necessarily share that sentiment. I believe that south africa specifically in terms of some of the young innovative companies that are growing up in south africa and actually on the continent in more in general they re solving for problems that the west don t know they have yet. And what s interesting is it s resulting in quite a lot of reverse innovation.
Where we re solving for these very real problems in south africa and then they translates incredibly well into more developed economies. So to give an example it next in particular had to solve in the industrial iot space. How we deal with expensive data and very slow connectivity because when you go and in silicon valley. I can send as much data into the cloud as i want and i can use machine learning to come up with clever predictive models and really nice graphics and all those things.
When i m in rustenberg on a 2g age network. Those things aren t possible so we were forced to think about how do we manage more of the information on the edge itself. So actually in the operational environment. But still have the ability to leverage the power of these large platforms so so to answer your question directly.
I think. There are a lot of young companies that have solved for frictions in the developing market space. That are now becoming large issues in the west. Even simple things like again in iot and most companies were looking at the sensitive cloud approach where i i have this information from census.
I m gonna send it into the cloud and then from there i m gonna make it work now we re seeing the huge risks in cybersecurity with having all these separate devices that don t have protection on them plugging into a network of a naval ship. Or a nuclear power station. So now we re saying. How do we go and actually bring more of the security down to the edge.
And we ended up solving for that because the problems that we had in africa not necessarily because of abundance of technology. So i think that south africa is creating some incredible ip and a lot of our corporates are engaging with those companies. But it is still relatively early days. I think south african corporates are conservative they tend to work with larger more established technology companies.
But i m seeing a lot of movement. Now and programs from these companies to very actively engage with these technologies to create a business. That s interesting that you mentioned or that you made the distinction between young emerging companies that are coming up with this innovative technology. These ideas and ip and corporates kind of in the background being more conservative.
Why why aren t corporates responding. It the person who developed the first electric light bulb was not the guy who made candles he didn t try to make a better way of making lights by creating a light bulb you try to make a bit of candy. So the problem that we have with corporates is they ve been very successful in what they ve been doing in the past so they have the tendency to try and just do it better and more efficient and then we have this focus on cost cutting and efficiencies and what ends up happening is you end up stripping out the innovation and just driving cost optimization. But what happens is those linear business models get intersected by technology and their technology is usually coming from companies that can t compete with the large organizations because they don t ever scale.
So they need to leverage these two technologies to compete. But then as soon as they get to an equal playing field the corporates can t keep up anymore because they re going linear and these guys have exponential business models. What then usually happens is large amounts of partnering and often acquisitions where a large company might now go and buy a younger company. But even in that domain is a huge amount of risk because you might go and buy.
This company bring it into your bureaucratic organization and kill what makes it special. So. The question is how do you go and as a corporate. You can t be as flexible and as agile as a young company it s not possible you just is too much entropy in your system.
All right so you have to figure out agile governance structures that allow you to play with best of breed technology players but without stifling their innovation and i think that corporates are getting better at it. But ultimately their dominant logic is to persist the core business form. So it s this agility that s going to be the key to corporates remaining relevant. I think so and maybe to unpack what do you mean by agility is we need to recognize that we can t always take the whole organization into the future right so you now call telco business or call banking business.
You need the the the corvette business to just be a better bank and to be a bit of talca and they must do that okay. But the growth. The new value will come in the ecosystems that you build around that core. And what s very very important is to make sure that you govern those adjacencies differently.
Because if i m trying to manage this on my you know three times. Annual feedback session to the board. You ll never be able to manage it in our world in our tunics at the moment in a week in two weeks. So much can happen our clock speed is just so much faster.
We re engaging with more more people more customers you know in a corporate. You can go and have a meeting on monday and not think about it again until next week tuesday. And that s quite common a week in a corporate is nothing a week in a young company a whole world can changing week. What i m trying to say is that don t knock the corporate.
They can t be as agile as a young company because they ve got risk and they ve got brand and governance and they ve got all kinds of things that they need to look after so let them be a corporate for me. It s very exciting to see someone like stuart fund. A pin from ned bank. Having this disruptive mandate inside the bank.
I mean banks are not necessarily known for being particularly disruptive. They they invest in disruptive companies. But what they re actually doing is is putting on balance sheet money into creating new value propositions to customers outside of core banking. Which is really really exciting it doesn t stop them from being a bank that has covenants and governance and structure.
Because it needs those things. But now you can also still have your cake and eat it to an extent you also mentioned there that banks need to govern some of these structures that they re creating outside. They re called structured differently in an environment as heavily regulated as banking and with good reason. How do they actually navigate this that s a very good question and i think things like you know the blockchain are going to the regulations are going to be emerging in many cases only once the business model actually disrupts the market will the regulation come and i m sorry to mention uber.
Because that s like i know known to saying. It would be these days. But and if you look at what happened with uber they were successful but in france that was shut down. But yeah they were you know hugely successful and and that is a an interesting dynamic that will continue to play out and we look at things like the blockchain that will now be regulated in russia and regulated in china like a currency.
So how much of the benefit of the technology will actually accrue into the market will be dependent on how regulation manages us another one is drones. So right now i appreciate that you don t want to have just drones flying around in the street. Because firstly with crashes is probably not kill me. Because it weighs 20.
Kilograms and secondly. I don t want you flying into my garden and affecting my personal space. But do i see the value of the police being able to deploy a drone and chase a criminal running from house to house. Absolutely now how do you go and just oppose the the need and the value it can create with the need for personal privacy and protection and i think.
This is going to be a consistent fight and and maybe not fight. I think that regulators are going to need to become more more agile themselves. And to be able to work with these technologies in order to come up with models that minimize the potential negative side effects to people in the economy. But maximize the value creation in the destruction.
Yeah. Thank you so much for your insight. Today. That s gareth priest.
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How do our businesses evolve? Gareth Rees, head of Global Partnerships at IoT.nxt, talks to Moneyweb journalist Prinesha Naidoo about this in more detail.