Africa’s first Chair in Digital Business is to be established at the Wits Business School through an initial five-year funding commitment from Telkom.
This is in line with leading academic institutions around the world where the digital aspect of business is becoming an essential part of business studies.
“This Chair is a first for South Africa and the continent and will ensure that as a business school located in the economic heart of Africa, we are at the forefront of delivering important research and relevant programmes that are essential for doing business in today’s digitised world,” says Professor Steve Bluen, Head of the Wits Business School. “The impact of this Chair is significant. Not only will it contribute to the economy by developing essential skills that will boost employment and encourage start-ups, but it responds directly to the Science, Technology and Innovation Strategy adopted by the African Union in 2014 that aims to reposition the continent as a collection of technology-driven economies, ensuring the sustainable growth of the countries within.”
The rapid development of information and communication technologies around the world and across the continent means that these days the internet is a key part of most businesses. Nearly every company or institution has online operations and many businesses now operate solely online.
Wits Business School also plans to conduct research in the field of digital business in Africa, and advance awareness of digital business and readiness by engaging with business, government and communities.
“A digital business removes the barriers of time and distance, creating local jobs that can compete in a global market,” says Professor Chris van der Hoven, Academic Director at the Wits Business School. “As we stand on the brink of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, business persons must understand the challenges, opportunities and risks of digital business, and be able to develop and implement digital business strategies, including digital management, web and data analytics and digital marketing in order to remain competitive locally and globally.”
Potential future developments include the Wits Business School offering a Master of Management in Digital Business, and the establishment of a Centre for Digital Business.
Sipho Maseko, Group Chief Executive at Telkom, said the availability of studies in digital business was an essential development for Africa and South Africa.
“Most businesses are, to an ever-increasing extent, online business. The next generation of business people will be even more exposed to new technologies, along with the threats and opportunities of digital disruption. Unless digital business is part of the business model, companies won’t survive.
“The old analogue approach is history. Digitalisation is helping companies achieve their business goals in a new real-time and information-rich marketplace. This is the world our young people are entering.”
Maseko said the collaboration with the Wits Business School would also help to identify and develop black South African and African talent in the field of digital business.
Professor Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of Wits University, says, “The Telkom Chair is a welcome addition to Wits’ suite of data science and big data courses and research, as well as to our new innovation hub, the Tshimologong Precinct, in Braamfontein. The development of a successful technology ecosystem is crucial to economic growth and international competitiveness, and I have no doubt that these cutting edge offerings will be central to this.”
In addition to its initial R32.7 million funding over five years, Telkom would create a black internship programme for Wits Business School students. Telkom would also offer free digital business training to its own staff, and particularly executives studying for a master’s degree in digital business.
3D printed room-service? Visit the hotel of tomorrow
To mark its 100th birthday, Hilton predicts the trends that will change travel and hospitality in the next 100 years.
Intergalactic getaways, fast-food nutrient pills, 2-3 hour working days and adaptable, personalised rooms that can transport guests everywhere from jungles to mountain ranges. These are some of the predictions for the next 100 years that the Hilton hotel group has put together in celebration of its 100th anniversary.
In a report supported by expert insight from the fields of sustainability, innovation, design, human relations and nutrition, findings reveal the impact of the growing sophistication of technology and climate change on the hotel industry in the future.
Key predictions for the hotel of the future include:
Personalisation is King
- Technology will allow every space, fitting and furnishing to continuously update to respond to an individual’s real-time needs – the Lobby will conjure up anything from a tranquil spa to a buzzy bar, giving every guest the perfect, personal welcome
- From temperature and lighting, to entertainment and beyond, microchips under the skin will enable us to wirelessly control the setting around us based on what we need, whenever we need it
The Human Touch
- In a world filled with Artificial Intelligence, human contact and the personal touch will be more critical and sought after than ever
- Technology will free up time for hotel staff to focus on what matters most: helping guests to connect with one another and building memorable moments
‘Sustainable Everything’ – The Role of Responsibility
- Only businesses that are inherently responsible will survive the next century
- Sustainability will be baked into everything about a hotel’s design – from weather-proofed domes, to buildings made from ocean-dredged plastic
- Hotels will act as the Town Hall of any community, managing local resources and contributing to the areas they serve with community-tended insect farms and vertical hydroponic crop gardens
Menu Surprises and Personalisation
- Our diets will include more plant-based recipes and some surprising sources of protein – Beetle Bolognese, Plankton Pies and Seaweed Green Velvet Cake will be menu staples!
- Decadent 3D-printed dinners and room service will provide unrivalled plate personalisation
- Chefs will be provided with biometric data for each guest, automatically creating meals based on preferences and nutritional requirements
Futuristic Fitness and Digital Detoxes
- Outswim a virtual sea turtle in the pool, or challenge yourself to climb the digital face of Mount Everest, your exercise routine will be as unique as you are. What’s more, exercise energy generated from workouts will be used to power the hotel, providing a zero-impact, circular system. Guests could even earn rewards based on reaching workout targets
- Pick up where you left off with trackable workouts and holographic personal trainers
- Offline will be the new luxury as we seek to find moments of tech-free time
“Since its inception in 1919, Hilton has pioneered the hospitality industry, introducing first-to-market concepts such as air-conditioning and in-room televisions. Last year, Hilton also became the first hospitality company to set science-based targets to reduce its environmental impact,” said Simon Vincent, EVP & President, EMEA, Hilton. “We enter our second century with the same commitment to innovation, harnessing the power of our people and technology to respond to guest demands. Our research paints an exciting future for the hospitality industry, highlighting the growing importance of human interaction in an increasingly tech-centric world.”
Futurologist Gerd Leonhard said: “In 2119 we will still be searching for unique experiences, but they will be more personalised than ever. As technology shapes our lives we will seek out moments of offline connection with others, including hotel team members who will help us truly get what we need from our stays. 100 years from now hotels will have to create opportunities to converse, collaborate and connect, delivering moments that matter, individually, to each and every guest.”
Gadget ed to chair Digital Council
Specialist financial services provider Sasfin Bank has established a Digital Advisory Council to provide the market with industry-leading expertise and insights on trends shaping the use of technology in financial services.
Digitalisation is one of the most powerful forces for change shaping Finance today. This has turned Fintech into one of the most vibrant sectors in both information technology and among start-ups, generating billions of dollars in investment and development globally. The South African fintech space is dynamic, and Sasfin is playing a leading role in the transformation of local financial services and the resulting enhancement of customer experiences.
“We have been investing in fintech development in-house and acquiring or integrating fintech start-ups,” says Sasfin CEO Michael Sassoon. “Over the last year we have built further digital offerings, integrated via APIs into leading businesses and invested in fintechs. We built and launched B\\YOND, an innovative digital business banking platform and SWIP, a digital wealth and investing platform. We have invested in Payabill, an online SME lender and DMA, a digital trading platform. We recently announced our alliance banking relationship, leveraging open banking, with Hello Paisa to offer seamless banking to the unbanked. We feel that there is a huge opportunity to improve the experience of South African businesses and savers through using technology. We have therefore created an independent forum to assess how to even better improve financial services for South Africans by leveraging the digital economy.”
Arthur Goldstuck, founder of high-tech research consultancy World Wide Worx, editor-in-chief of Gadget, and a globally respected technology analyst has accepted Sasfin’s invitation to head up the Sasfin Digital Advisory Council, an independent think tank that will help Sasfin and its clients decipher the fintech present and future.
“The Sasfin Digital Advisory Council is broader than providing only the bank with a source of insight on how digital services are evolving and lessons from across the world,” said CEO Michael Sassoon. “Sasfin has been involved in fintech investing for many years and we are leveraging this experience as well as the experience of independent experts such as Arthur to provide insights and guidance to interested stakeholders in this space.”
The team appointed to the Digital Advisory Council is being selected for the breadth and range of knowledge they would bring to the table, with further appointments to the Council being announced soon. There will also be room for the Council to co-opt specialist expertise as it is required.
Goldstuck, who has been covering the fintech sector as an analyst, commentator and columnist for many years, says he sees the role as a welcome challenge.
“There has been a long-standing need for a clear understanding of the impact being made by fintech today, and the exponential change it will cause tomorrow,” said Goldstuck. “My role will be, partly, to curate the wide spectrum of fintech and digitalisation knowledge and insights that the members will bring to the Digital Advisory Council, and help create scenarios that businesses and policymakers may use to navigate the future – both inside and outside Sasfin.”