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How To Turn Your Company Into An Industry Disruptor

Embracing today’s rapidly-evolving technologies is a sure-fire way to turn your innovative idea into a genuine game-changer.

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There has probably never been a more exciting time to own a small business than right now. One only has to look at the ways in which small companies are leveraging technology as a means to compete head-to-head with large, well-established enterprises to realise that in today’s world, size really doesn’t count anymore.

Of course, the wonderful opportunities presented by technology’s evolution are counterbalanced by the fact that, well, it’s technology.

Terms like ‘cloud computing’, ‘mobility’, ‘big data’ and ‘the Internet of Things’ (IoT) may be familiar in some sense, but as an entrepreneur, their true value to your business may escape you. And yet, these are the keys to a whole new way of doing business.

Related: 3 Signs Your Company Needs An Intervention

Embrace the ‘Idea Economy’

All of the terms mentioned above, along with social media, form the basis of what is referred to as the ‘Idea Economy’. In this new world, the judicious use of IT will enable even a small business to create new opportunities and launch industry-defining products.

You only need to look to the success of Uber, the poster child for creating new opportunities, as an example.

Read more on the Uber Story here.

Wouldn’t you just love to create an entirely new business model that so thoroughly disrupts the industry norm? Of course you would. This is the crux of the Idea Economy: The ability to turn an idea into a new product or service easily, by making effective use of these new technologies, which are perfectly geared towards disrupting the status quo.

The good news is that as complicated and ‘big business’ as cloud computing, mobility, big data analytics and the IoT may sound, they are, in fact, tools that are easily accessible and affordable to businesses of all sizes.

Select your technology infrastructure carefully

Remember that while Uber started off as the completely out-of-left-field vision of its creator, its success is ultimately built on the technology platform it runs on. If you want your own ideas to succeed, you will have to have not only the same kind of innovative vision, but real technological agility.

You will need to be nimble if you are going to quickly turn ideas into reality, and your technology platform will need to be the same.

Investing in Composable Architecture will give you the foundation from which to easily launch your industry-disrupting idea. You have ideas that are unlike anything anyone else has come up with, so you should invest in an IT infrastructure that can be composed and recomposed to meet these shifting demands.

Related: Information Technology: Is It A Man’s World?

Choose the right partner

But, I hear you ask, how can I ever leverage all these new-fangled technologies to turn my business into a success?

The answer to that is quite simple: You don’t have to do it alone. There is no reason you should have to do this all by yourself – even Batman has Robin, so find yourself a partner that is well versed in the ways of technology and work with them.

The right partner will be an enterprise that has knowledge and experience in the realms of hardware, software and services. Allying yourself with a large technology partner will lend muscle to your smaller company’s agility. And it will give you the opportunity to access the specialist IT skills of an organisation that can then assist you in developing an effective roadmap to get you from where you are right now, to where you want to be in the future.

In the end, your flexibility and agility are already two of your biggest weapons in standing toe-to-toe with the current market-leading enterprises. By embracing the Idea Economy, implementing the right technology infrastructure and finding a skilled partner, you will quickly find that in a world where industry disruption is fast becoming the norm, you will the disruptor, rather than one of the disrupted.

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Rethinking Learning In The 21st Century

The changing world of work has disrupted the three elements of the traditional ‘career’: Expertise, duration, and rewards.

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Traditionally the concept of a ‘career’ was considered to include three elements:

  1. A career represented our expertise, our profession, and ultimately our identity.
  2. A career was something that built over time and endured. It gave us the opportunity to progress and advance.
  3. A career gave us financial and psychological rewards. It made life meaningful and paid us enough to live well.

The changing world of work has disrupted all three elements: Expertise, duration, and rewards.

A career can now be as long as 60 years; at the same time, due to rapid advancements in technology and the changes that bring about in the workplace, skill sets can become obsolete in as little as five years.

Increasingly, companies need to rethink the way in which careers are managed and learning opportunities are delivered, and many have already begun to overhaul their career models and L&D (Learning and Development) infrastructure in line with the digital age.

Related: Your Investment In Knowledge

Employees’ learning behaviour is also changing. In the past, employees were able to obtain the skills required for their career early on and as a once-off; now, the career itself is a journey of learning, up-skilling, re-skilling and continuous reinvention to remain relevant and to thrive in the changing world of work.

Older employees who studied at a time where most of one’s learning occurred prior to entering the workplace, find themselves working alongside millennials who place greater value on learning and progression rather than on earning potential as a first priority.

Eighty-three percent of the respondents surveyed in Deloitte’s 2017 Global Human Capital Trends survey say their organisations are shifting to flexible, open career models that offer enriching assignments, projects, and experiences rather than a static career progression.

However, in today’s fast-paced business world, even if companies are restructuring L&D delivery, no one is going to make you engage in a strategy that is essential to your future success – continuous learning. You will have to take the initiative yourself.

Noted self-help expert W. Clement Stone, in his many writings on this topic, recommended that one spends anywhere from a half-hour to two hours a day in study and thinking time. This tireless dedication, combined with an insatiable curiosity, will equip you to excel in the future world of work. What’s more, learning new skills and knowledge can be fun!

The good news for both companies and for employees is that an explosion of high-quality content and digital delivery models offers employees ready access to continuous learning. The Wits DigitalCampus offers a range of accredited and fully online short courses to support your continuous learning.

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Your Investment In Knowledge

When you understand the value of knowledge, in this world where technology is rendering previously expensive products or services much cheaper (and even free), it’s just a matter of getting more of it. Dedicate yourself to constant learning!

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Most people spend their lives collecting, spending, and worrying about money — so much so, in fact, that they say they “don’t have time” to learn something new.

However, some of smartest and busiest people in the world — Barack Obama, Warren Buffet and Bill Gates — all spend at least one hour a day on deliberate learning. They see what others don’t: That learning is the single best investment of our time that we can make. As Benjamin Franklin said long ago, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”

When you understand the value of knowledge, in this world where technology is rendering previously expensive products or services much cheaper (and even free), it’s just a matter of getting more of it. Dedicate yourself to constant learning!

One of the very benefits of ongoing technological advances is that it empowers an accelerated and personalised learning experience that puts the learner in the driver’s seat. Modern learning harnesses the speed, power and ubiquity of digital capability. Online platforms, software and mobile devices means that the traditional hurdles to learning — such as income, status and location — have just about disappeared. Knowledge can now be gained by anyone with the passion to pursue it and the commitment to stick with it.

Related: Building Customer Relationships

We are only at the tipping point of what future learning technology can deliver. Artificial intelligence (AI) will transform all aspects of human capital management, including learning. Technology-enabled learning will be immediate and directly relevant to the task, for example:

  • personally tailored learning content and experiences delivered to you as and when you want or need them
  • chatbots and virtual assistants can source and categorise the information that you need for optimal decision-making
  • augmented and virtual reality simulations can provide a multi-sensory experience to speed up and embed learning.

Additionally, social connectivity already enables user-generated content to outpace and outstrip what traditional education and learning institutions can deliver.

Knowledge may be the new money but, unlike money, you don’t lose it when you use knowledge or give it away. Transferring knowledge anywhere in the world is free and instant. It’s fun to acquire and it makes your brain work better. It helps you think bigger and beyond your circumstances. It puts your life in perspective by essentially helping you live many lives in one life through other people’s experiences and wisdom.

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Are You Struggling To Find Financing For Your SME? Try Alternative Finance

If you don’t qualify for traditional funding or if it isn’t the right fit for your SME why not explore alternative funding? We specialise in alternative financing options by providing in-depth and custom plans for you and your business needs.

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Alternative Finance is finance beyond the traditional – it is defined by the financiers’ area of specialisation – by what they specialise in, whom they serve, and how they provide their funding. It does not replace traditional finance but rather functions as a complementary and additional form of funding.

Alternative financiers are specialists – they focus on a particular need and on a specific audience. As a result their ‘how’ is customised to deal with their chosen target market and for this targets unique needs. This applies to the funder’s processes and to their level of flexibility around things such as collateral.

An example of this is that a SME may have an existing R1 million overdraft (their traditional finance) secured by R 1.5 million collateral but suddenly they need R5 million for some kind of contract or bridging finance – they need it fast and don’t have that extent of collateral.

The traditional funder cannot provide what they need, their process is too long and their flexibility is too low. An alternative financier providing bridging finance and specialising in SMEs is ideally positioned to fill this gap.

One of the most significant differences between a traditional funder and an alternative financier is in their process. In the case of the alternative financier, they have often chosen to deal exclusively with a particular customer base, for example SMEs. As a result, this funder has both an affinity and contextually relevant empathy in working with SMEs.

Not only do they speak the same language the funder also has an appreciation for the time and material constraints of the SME and has developed their processes to cater to this market. This applies most notably to the turnaround time of the funding need and to the assessment aspect – where flexibility around things such as collateral is vital in making the finance happen for the SME.

A traditional funder is unable to meet the deadline of a bridging finance need, submitted on an urgent basis, where the finance is needed as soon as 2-3 days from time of application. A specialised or alternative funder is able to do exactly this. A traditional funder is also unable to find creative methods in solving the SMEs lack of high-value collateral in applying for finance.

This SME has generally already used their high-value collateral for traditional credit facilities but now needs funding for growth or resolution of a temporary cash flow challenge. An alternative financier is able to look at such an application in a different way, and has most likely already established alternative ways to make this happen for the SME.

Related: 5 Key Questions To Answer For Raising Funding

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