The machines are coming. Are you ready?

November 2nd, 2017, Published in Articles: PositionIT

Clare van Zwieten

Revolution is in the air, and it has nothing to do with President Zuma.  Industry disruptors are continuing to head our way in a series of waves; transforming the business world and rocking the comfort zones of established, successful organisations across all business sectors. No-one is immune.

Following the enthusiastic embracing of Uber and Airbnb by consumers, traditional industries are re-examining their organisations and attempting to identify vulnerabilities to technological disruptors as well as opportunities to become their own disruptors.

Fuelled by innovative digital technologies in conjunction with machine-learning capabilities, new ground is being broken every day, creating opportunities for entrepreneurial individuals to carve a niche for themselves in the world of business. Attending the MTN Business Digital Entrepreneur Masterclass recently, it was eye-opening to see how many people, from all walks of life, are ready to embrace this opportunity.

The delegates came in their hundreds to learn from industry experts how to harness the digital industrial revolution and stimulate the growth of their businesses. They were urged to embrace technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine-learning, augmented reality, and big data analytics, in order to ensure that they would remain relevant in this evolving world. They were not worried about losing their jobs; far from it. They were concerned with growing their businesses and identifying opportunities to get ahead of competitors.

Geomatics professionals pride themselves on the learning and training they have undergone in order to reach their elevated status as knowledge workers; however all of this will eventually count for naught unless they too embrace this technological wave. A switch in mind-set is required, with an emphasis on identifying the business value and opportunities for innovation arising from the increased array of enhanced technological offerings.

It is a fact that machine learning is going to result in humans losing jobs, especially people doing repetitive, mundane tasks. But machines are also going to free people up, enabling them to be more innovative and creative with the knowledge that they have acquired.

Whether you work with geographical information systems and geospatial data; whether you work as an engineering, land, or mine surveyor; whether you work as a remote sensing scientist or a hydrographer; you need to accept that the machines are coming. If you are an employer, you will have to up your game in order to identify and seize new business opportunities as they open up, and if you are an employee, you will need to do the same in order to justify your relevance to your organisation.

As December heads our way and we become increasingly concerned about South Africa and its future, take heart from the fact that not even Zuma can stand in the way of this tsunami of technological disruption. Innovation is going to take place, with or without him.

Send your comments to positionit@ee.co.za

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