Regulars at FASA’s Speed Networking Seminar Series have come to realise that every event surpasses the previous one in relevance of the topics chosen and the quality of the presenters. The September event was no exception. World-renowned strategist Graeme Codrington talked about the new world of work while Mynhardt Oosthuizen, franchisor of the Oasis Water brand, offered practical insights into keeping a brand successful through lean times. Kurt Illetschko summarised events for those who couldn’t attend.
Speed dating session
Following breakfast, the first item on the agenda was a speed dating session with a business focus. Delegates sat in rows facing each other and had 1 minute each to establish a relationship before moving on to the next partner. MC Paul Rotherham handled proceedings with aplomb and much fun was had by all.
The new world of work
In his presentation, Graeme explained that although change has always been with us, it never before in the history of mankind manifested itself in such a profound manner. Disruptive forces rule the world and leave us with only one certainty, namely that tomorrow, nothing will be the same as it was yesterday. This means that the rules for success and failure are constantly rewritten but the good news is that sheer size alone is no longer a guarantee for success. Nimbleness is key!
Types of changes
Graeme gave some examples of changes that are currently taking place:
- Climate change
This is a natural phenomenon that has created a massive industry in the realm of alternative power and other initiatives designed to build a green economy.
- Rapid globalisation
People interact with each other in real time, with neither distance nor political borders having much impact. Because communication has become fast and cheap, today’s cybercitizens purchase goods and services via the Internet.
- Technological advances
These have changed the way we work and where we work, with working from anywhere anytime becoming increasingly commonplace. In this context, it is noteworthy that today’s average smartphone offers 1,700 times more computing power than NASA had at its disposal when they sent Neil Armstrong to the moon.
Real life examples
A Volvo model that parks itself automatically is due to be released shortly and other companies are sure to follow suit. In a separate development, driverless cars are being field-tested in Las Vegas in normal traffic and 3 D printers that can reproduce anything from a lost shirt button to a broken machine part have become commercially available.
Sounds like science-fiction but it’s happening right now, and it’s no longer the sole domain of the rich either. For example, a fully functional smartphone can be bought in various parts of Africa for as little as $35 and free WiFi is becoming increasingly available.
The impact of these developments is immediate and massive. To survive, companies need to embrace change now but unfortunately, South Africa is lagging behind. Something needs to happen, and it needs to happen fast. Graeme summarises it using the acronym SMART:
S ocial – get your customers to talk to you and tell you what they want, how they want it, where they want it and by when it must be delivered.
M obile – reach customers through the media of their choice, with smartphone apps comfortably leading the way.
A nalytics – this involves analysing customer data intelligently and putting emphasis on SEO
R eal time – keeping office hours has become a thing of the past because people are no longer willing to wait. It’s a case of 24/7 or bust!
T echnology-enabled – the Internet of Things helps companies to increase efficiencies and personalise service.
A change in attitude is needed
To ensure the survival of their companies, entrepreneurs must unlearn old habits while learning new ones. The first lesson is to embrace change without losing the all-important personal touch.
Life expectancy has skyrocketed, from 47 years for people born in 1914 to 100 years plus for people born during the 1990s. This creates an interesting diversity of target markets alert entrepreneurs will exploit.
Finding a new way of interacting with employees is another success driver. With tomorrow’s workforce being a smart workforce, entrepreneurs need to use the new media to truly connect with them.
In closing, Graeme reiterated that the future is now. To prosper in this exciting new environment requires agility, flexibility and a truly customer-centric approach.