Technology enables transformation but people make it happen

September 25th, 2014, Published in Articles: EngineerIT


The ICT industry has enormous potential to change the world for the better – economically, socially, politically and environmentally. We shape and determine the future state of our economy and society and I believe we have an obligation to ensure we play a positive role here.

Saki Missaikos: "We have the technology and we have the people who have shown their resourcefulness on this continent time and time again."

Saki Missaikos: “We have the technology and we have the people who have shown their resourcefulness on this continent time and time again.”

Connectivity – and the technology that it enables – is vital for growth on this continent, but unless we look at technology and people in the same picture, we will miss the opportunity to make the real difference. We often look at the technology and not the people, or vice versa, yet they are inextricably linked, and neither flourishes without the other. After all, it is society that shapes technology, which in turn drives consumer and business expectations. If we start looking at technology from the perspective of not only how people are using the technology, but why, then the technology experiences can be far richer and more meaningful.

We need to look at what we are now starting to demand – instant gratification, especially in the mobile age. We don’t want to worry about the technology we are using, but now just expect that the entire economy runs on a “mobile first” principle.

Take the rise of a number of new companies, such as Uber and Airbnb. They have capitalised, and are maximising on, combining the online experience with the physical experience. They are utilising technology that has been around for a long time, extending the great online experience into the physical world. For them it is about the end to end customer experience – from when they search and click to being delivered the services.

When you think about it, it really is the ultimate in a “last minute” economy where we have a PC and an internet connection in our pocket and expect it to deliver, when we want it. In short your phone is your one-button help tool.

The convergence of the online and physical worlds is the future of service excellence. Technology is now being applied in new ways to combine the best of both worlds and industries from retail, manufacturing, mining, telecoms and just about every industry has to relook, rethink and re-engineer their customer service models to cater to today’s last minute, always-on consumer. And this consumer lives in a world where the immediacy of online must equal the same immediacy in the physical world.

We have the technology and we have the people who have shown their resourcefulness on this continent time and time again. With connectivity the possibilities are endless.

Affordable access is paramount to drive the economy and to ensure social inclusion. With ubiquitous broadband, socioeconomic development has no boundaries. We know there is the technology to make this happen. Now it has to be about will. So whilst technology is the enabler it is the people who live on the African continent who are going to determine where we go. We need to have conversations around collaboration, cooperation and sharing in terms of infrastructure with the aim of getting more people online.

I look forward to the day when Africans say “Can you imagine that just three years ago there were areas with no connectivity?”  Who knows, through a more connected continent and innovation driven through the people of Africa, we could produce an Uber for health care or education. The possibilities are endless.

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