I'm the founder of FutureWork IQ where I spend my time assisting businesses to design digital workplaces or “offices in the cloud.” These environments enable companies to allow flexible and remote working for their teams. I also teach the digital literacy, fluency, communication and collaboration skills needed to work in these modern technology-rich workplaces.

Take a careful look at this graphic. Can you find South Africa? Found us?

SA Digital Literacy

We are listed along with Peru, Pakistan, Egypt and Thailand.

All these countries, including South Africa are in the “Watch Out” Zone. What does that mean?

“Watch Out countries face significant challenges with their low state of digitalization and low momentum; in some cases, these countries are moving backward in their pace of digitalization.” (Rest of the Zones defined here: These are the worlds most digitally advanced countries)

As the rest of the world evolves, at speed, into digital societies, where businesses and individuals are increasingly plugged into the rapidly expanding digital economy, South Africa, in general, is being left behind. We are going to pay a heavy price for this. Why? “Because digital flows are now responsible for more GDP growth globally than trade in traditional goods.” – Digital Planet 2017

In the work we do (helping companies build digital workplaces) we see this play out daily. There is a general tardiness amongst business leaders to aggressively digitize their businesses. There is a “business as usual” mentality. There is a complacency with regard to upskilling their workforces especially as it relates to digital literacy and fluency.

“There has never been a time of greater promise, or greater peril.” — Professor Klaus Schwab

This general (and I say “general” because there are exceptions) situation in SA creates a HUGE opportunity for businesses that move fast to become digital businesses. Companies that do become digital, at the moment, are about 26% more profitable than their peers, plus it enables them to participate in the global digital economy vs being confined to local markets.

What does it take to become a digital business?

There are four areas a business needs to digitize to become a “digital business.”

  1. The customer experience
  2. Supplier interactions
  3. The Workplace (ie building a Digital Workplace)
  4. Connecting any physical products to the internet (IoT)

And then 5) ensuring you have a data and analytics platform which contains information management and analytical capabilities so that you can create data-driven decision making, making you a “smart” business.

In a nutshell smart leaders are asking “how can we ensure that our business interfaces seamlessly with the digital planet.” The rewards on the other side of answering this question are massive.