On Thursday March 29th, First Technology and Axiz hosted a thought leadership business breakfast at Century City’s Conference Centre. We had a great turn out, with business professionals keen to hear insights from our guest speaker and award-winning journalist, Arthur Goldstuck.

If you were lucky enough to secure your seat for the event, thank you for joining us. If you couldn’t make it, we’ve put together a summary of the most impactful topics covered on the day. The theme of the event centred around technological revolution and the impact that advancements like AI, machine learning, blockchain, virtual reality and real-world value intersect. We’ve all heard of these technologies.

It’s also likely that you’ve experienced versions of these technologies and not been aware of it. Did you know that your email spam filtering service is likely powered by machine learning? But how will these and other developments influence our future? What shifts are on the horizon for businesses and consumers? And, how can you better prepare yourself and your business for success?

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Tech titans battling it out

In his opening address, our CTO Fairoz Jaffer took to the stage to share his perspective on the big moves tech giants in North America and Asia are making.

The term ‘Silicone Dragon’ is used to describe China’s position in the tech world. Today, that position is growing.  It is home to seven businesses at the forefront of consumer technology, each building solutions that generate enormous amounts of revenue.

And these tech businesses are not afraid to take on their US competition. A notable example was ride hailing and sharing company Didi Chuxing’s victory over Uber in China.

Jaffer also pointed to other influencers that could stifle technology growth and innovation. Government budget cuts and less innovation are areas where the US may lose its ground to China. For example, Hauwei recently made news after filling a total of 166,000 patents in 2017, with 90 percent of them being for new inventions.

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The quickening is coming

Next, Arthur Goldstuck took the stage to share insights from his travels and research conducted by World Wide Worx. It very quickly became clear that much of what is happening in the technology industry is taking place at a faster rate than ever before.

Disruption, as Goldstuck put it, has always happened, but we’re uniquely positioned to see more disruption take place in the next five to 10 years than ever before.

Goldstuck shared how Virtual Reality has evolved and smart brands are taking advantage of it to build new experiences for consumers. Once such experience was BMW’s use of VR at the annual Consumer Electronics Summit last year.

BMW gave eager consumers that chance to explore the interior of the new X2 using a VR headset, something that’s a first for auto manufacturers. The German auto manufacturer also reports that consumers will be able to completely customise the X2 when visiting dealerships in a few short months.

There’s still progress to be made

But while technology is charging ahead, Goldstuck cautioned the audience not to get caught up in the hype. He mentioned that too often new technology comes out and is not ready for the market, and therefore gets a bad rap.

Drawing on the example of consumer 3D printers, Goldstuck explained that while you can buy a cheap 3D printer, you shouldn’t expect to print anything of quality.

Instead, Goldstuck advises that you pay attention to what’s happening. Your business needs to focus on being on time and using technology that’s ready for the market.

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SA businesses, technology and the future

Recently, we all watched as Facebook came under the microscope for its mismanagement of user data. And Goldstuck warns that no business is exempt from mistakes like these.

According to him, there are three pitfalls that SA businesses should look out for as they navigate this brave new world while adopting new technologies and building valuable customer experiences. They are:

The abuse of customer trust. Trust has always been the cornerstone of business transactions, but as technology removes barriers, trust in your business’s ability to manage user data and do so with great care is becoming a more sensitive topic. Put the right measures in place and focus on bridging any gaps that could be perceived as grey areas about your customer data.

Falling behind the market. Market share can change hands faster today than a decade ago and these rapid and almost vicious displacements are being spearheaded by technology. If your business arrives at the table late, it could miss out on its opportunity for growth. Make sure that your business is constantly paying attention to your landscape and the technologies that influence it.

Running ahead of the market. Adopting new technology that hasn’t quite gained traction in your market could also lead to serious setbacks. It’s important to strike the right balance between exploring new markets, adopting new technology and always be very careful about which basket your eggs are kept in.

Goldstuck also advised that businesses should invest in tools of the digital revolution. Data and analytics are in abundance, making them work for your business can mean the difference between a good strategy and a great one backed by data.

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