Technological advancements have transformed many aspects of our daily and working lives. The technology age has changed the business landscape. We are constantly confronted by the digital economy and its demands for us to respond to the 4th Industrial Revolution which has transformed the nature of work. Employees are not tied to their desks any longer and can work from anywhere as long as there is Wi-Fi and electricity. In order to grow our economy, key areas need to be addressed, transformed and reimagined.

Reimagining Entrepreneurship

The use of social media for increasing brand awareness is emerging rapidly and proves to be a powerful tool for the success of businesses. Entrepreneurs are able to have presence and decrease marketing costs by effectively advertising on social media, such as creating space on Facebook for instance. While social media positively impacts businesses and entrepreneurship, the digital divide refers to the exclusion of certain groups, especially those based in rural areas and townships, and those excluded from educational opportunities. These same groups are unable to efficiently respond to the nature and scope of the demands presented by the digital economy.

‘Township entrepreneurs’ unfortunately are not afforded equal opportunities to succeed in comparison to those based in more affluent suburbs and families. Nonetheless, entrepreneurs have the responsibility to continually innovate, adapt to challenges and find solutions to keep up with the modern changes.

Reimagining Leadership and Skills development

Businesses require different skillsets to maximize the benefits that come with technological advances. Customers desire to engage with brands differently, they want personalized and convenient experiences. To answer this call, a human-centered, people-focused leadership style will help to motivate employees and give the customers the experience they long for resulting in a thriving business – even in uncertain times.

As machines are taking up some roles that were previously executed by humans, we need to focus on perfecting those activities that machines are unable to do: building deep long-lasting relationships which becomes the cornerstone of success in business. When planning to outmaneuver technological machines in the workplace, critical thinking – with the human touch – is the core skill that is required. Analysis, evaluation and continual improvement keep an organization one step ahead. Trends and changes are taken into consideration and deductions are made resulting in an informed direction for the organization.

Reimagining Society

It is crucial to note that while World Economic Forum Global Risks Report 2017 remains optimistic that interconnectivity and digitalization has the potential to raise income levels and improve the quality of life for all, it is clear that these benefits flow to a small group of more educated, more affluent and more linked to higher development.

Approximately one-third of the world’s population (2.4 billion) lack clean drinking water and safe sanitation while around one-sixth have no electricity. These groups have evidently missed out on the benefits of the past industrial revolutions that promised to positively affect lives. These excluded groups are mostly women in the informal sector who are uneducated, the poor who are predominately black. These people often reside in rural areas or townships.

While the digital revolution means that more than 3 billion people now have access to the internet to explore cryptocurrency, social media to build relationships, online shopping, researching, job hunting and keeping up with current news, more than half of the world’s population have never heard of the 4th Industrial Revolution.

There is an urgent need for both public and private leaders to ensure the quality access of the internet for all people. Education plays a pivotal role in ensuring that people are able to use the products and services offered by technology advancements. The private sector must offer certain services at no data cost and set up network hubs to assist in providing access to all.  Lastly, civil society has a role to advocate and put pressure on both private and public leaders to bridge the digital divide. Movements such as #DataMustFall should continue gaining momentum and become more than just a hashtag.

Having entrepreneurs and companies that not only positively respond to technological advances but establish innovative ways of doing business, will propel the economy forward.