Western Cape Business News

Send  Share  RSS  Twitter  30 Jan 2009

MANAGEMENT: Technology Holds the Key


Recent Western Cape Business News

The future will be characterised by increasingly rapid change brought about by, among other things, technological innovation. The irony surrounding new technology, however, is that it can also be disruptive – which means leaders must have “the ability to adapt” to the challenges inherent in the process of change, Francois Groepe, CEO of Media24, told the new intake of MBA students at the academic opening ceremony of the University of Stellenbosch Business School (USB).

Groepe, an alumnus of the USB, was the guest speaker of the academic opening ceremony held last week. He told the group of about 150 students, as well as academics and staff, that a certain type of leadership is needed to deal with constant change and chaos.

Groepe said “The ability to adapt is the singular most important trait of a leader.” Other traits he deemed important are the ability to inspire people, personal honesty, and the ability to look beyond the visible and to see the big picture when faced with an issue.

Change manifests itself in various ways, the first being through networking and technology which is often disruptive and unsettling, said Groepe. “In the digital age we are connected wirelessly to a network 24/7 and communicate across time zones all the time. This has fundamentally changed social behaviour patterns.

“There is, of course, a price to be paid … and this includes consequences like a deterioration in social and inter-personal skills, arthritis of the thumbs and possibly being dumped [as a suitor] via sms, to name but a few,” he added in lighter vein.

Groepe said another big shift is the migration away from physical assets to intangible assets. “The shift has accelerated as a result of technology and financial engineering.” Evidence of financial engineering is the large – “often exotic and complex” – derivative instruments that evolve continuously. However, he says that financial authorities are “notorious” for failing to regulate these derivative instruments effectively – playing a part in the implosion of financial markets worldwide.

“What is therefore very evident is that as we move forward the ‘booms and busts’ will be far more accentuated because of this inter-connected world and the fact that much global commerce is in the form of financial transactions.” He said “regrettably” there will be no respite from these changes or from severe systemic shocks.

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