Business owners don’t need to jump on board every single trend in business and technology that hits the market, says Mushambi Mutuma, tech entrepreneur, sought after speaker and founder of the Johannesburg-based high impact digital company, Altivex Foundry.
This is despite the constant pressure on business owners to keep up with buzzwords like artificial intelligence, innovation and disruption.
Mutuma, who sits on numerous healthtech, fintech, edutech and creative company boards while also advising multiple accelerators and incubators has over 12 years’ experience in building brands and businesses across Africa and the United States.
His first book, Tech Adjacent, is set to be released later this year. The book will delve into the nature and history of technology, unsung African innovation, trends in and the process of innovation, steps to surviving disruption, indicators of future opportunities, and how to predict where technology and business audiences are heading.
When selecting technology for their businesses, business leaders should look to simply embracing the innovations which hold the most potential for their organisations’ success, cautions Mutumba.
Find out from Mutumba which tech trends African entrepreneurs should be following and the dangers of adopting fads.
On picking trends that are relevant to your business
In the current tech context, what is essential is learning and understanding the fundamental principles and pace of technology, disruption and innovation, and leveraging this general understanding to put a strategic plan together.
This plan should throw buzzwords out the window and focus on what is relevant for the particular company, its audience and the industry in which it operates.
Ultimately, it is easier to understand technology when you are focused on the innovation and trends applicable to your own circumstances. Think about it, while Uber, AirBnb and Facebook are grandiose Silicon Valley success stories, their approach, industry and audience are likely to have little relevance to your own market.
On the dangers of following buzzwords and trends
The core challenges of buzzwords and trends are the hype and misunderstanding that come with them. There is typically lots of excitement about new things. In the case of technology these include AI, blockchain, big data and the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
However, the problem is that the majority of us have no idea what these things really mean, how they work and, most importantly, what place they have in our respective businesses or careers. We have to move to a point where we see the value and opportunity, otherwise the words themselves are meaningless.
On the difference between a passing fad and an innovation you should be participating in
Most fads have limited impact and are viewed as nice-to-haves. Consumers now and in the future want to know the value – the problem you are solving and how you are going to make their lives easier, better, faster and/or more efficient.
Regardless of how high-tech or exciting, if an innovation doesn’t have a meaningful sustainable impact, it has no value.
On what trends to adopt within the African context
When it comes to innovation and technology, the age-old stories are from Silicon Valley, the West and Tel Aviv. We [Africa] don’t look at ourselves as leaders in that space.
The global (and local) perception of our continent is that you shouldn’t expect growth or excellence from us, that we can’t impact the world with technology or development and that there are too many issues we need to fix first. However, the closest place in the world for leading Wakanda-like technology is right here at home.
From 3D printed prosthetics and using smart gloves to audio translate sign language, to harnessing kinetic energy to power cities and connecting the human brain to the internet, we are on track to become a technological and scientific super power. All of these are local, African stories. Now is the time for us to reframe our conversations, our decisions and our motivations for a new continent for our children, all rooted in record-breaking excellence.