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Innovation in an era of massive change

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Kathy Gibson reports from the MTN IoT Conference in Sandton – The whole ICT industry is going through massive change, mirroring the enormous transition taking place in business at large.
“We call this the vortex of change,” says Videsha Proothveerajh, GM; southern Africa at Intel. “by the end of 2017, 70% of global CEOs will have digital transformation at the centre of this strategies.”
Things we weren’t even thinking about just a couple of years ago are rapidly becoming reality, she says.
“We need to figure out what is going on – because it is no longer business as usual.”
The changes are being driven by the new Industrial Revolution, Proothveerajh says. “And the pace of change is increasing,” she adds.
In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we will see the merging of the physical, digital and biological – and we are already seeing this happen.
We can’t sit back and worry about it in five years’ time, The ones that innovate and adapt will survive. The ones that fall by the wayside are the ones that are too slow.”
A number of technologies are driving these changes, Proothveerajh adds. These include 4D printing, cognitive systems, smart machines, merged reality, wearable technology, distributed ledgers and 5G connectivity.
Not only is innovation happening everywhere, it is noticeable in industries not normally associated with technological leadership.
“Every industry is having to re-invent itself.”
This means he competitive landscape is change – and its changing fast. Businesses are getting squeezed between their traditional competitors – that they know about – and new disruptive business – that they don’t anticipate.
“The important thing is to understand is that with these challenges there are also huge opportunities. It’s about who leads the charge and comes up with new business modes.”
In the future, though, profitability won’t be the only measure of success, Proothveerajh says. “We now talk about social and environmental indicators as well.”
Interestingly, new business models are not necessarily more cost-effective than traditional models. But customers like the whole experience – form sharing to co-creation, Proothveerajh points out.
Social responsibility has been shown to have a positive impact on attracting the right workforce and increases brand value by as much as 10% as well.
Environmental issues ar also top of mind and sustainable businesses see a positive impact on their bottom lines.
“There is always a dark side,” Proothveerajh says. “There will always be pain, but the important thing is about how you manage that pain.”
New challenges include business risk in the form of cyber-crime, the social impact in terms of job losses and disruption, and regulation and control that is lagging technology advances.
“You need to manage the risk and partner with trusted advisers,” Proothveerajh. “But the risk of doing nothing is huge. This is the age of digital Darwinism – we need to re-invent through in ovation, harnessing technology to create disruptive forces that move us forward.”
In this era of massive change, data is the new currency – and IoT is an enabler and disrupter, Proothveerajh says. But it is also a catalyst for change.
“It is not just about the things – it’s about the things, the cloud and the network. So we have to ensure we bring proper solutions to bear.”
The 85% of devices that are unconnected, and as they move on to the network economies of scale will bring prices down. “And this spells huge opportunity,” she says.
Intel’s strategy is about connecting the unconnected, making devices smart and then intelligent.