advertisement
Columnists

Technology changing way we do business

In just a decade, the discourse of what we used to know as business or enterprise has changed. In virtually all sectors, technology is playing a unique role whose effect is to make entrepreneurship and technology synonymous.

Most people expected the recent Global Entrepreneurship Summit to address issues on what we used to know as entrepreneurship or doing business. Instead, the debates focused on high-tech applications and their commercialisation. Welcome to the future of business.

Not too long ago, musicians made money from sale of their physical albums. That changed with the entry of online music streaming platforms such as iTunes, Google Play, Pandora, Grooveshark, MySpace and more.

Technology is changing the way music stars are created, with more consecrated through eyeballs, and instant voting.

Online platforms mean artists are no longer confined to live performance to make money, and those who have embraced this disruption are also using it to promote themselves.

advertisement

Some of the platforms pay little but nothing near to yesteryear when top performers signed contracts with global music entertainment houses like Sony for distribution. Behind the scenes, there is a race to define the future of music business.

After years of trying to protect the film industry from emergent free online technologies, film makers seem to have caved in.

Several streaming platforms have emerged like Amazon Prime that are changing business models across the world. It is now more difficult to target teenagers with television adverts since most are busy on the free online music and film platforms.

Now if you need this audience you will have to use platforms such as YouTube. These developments can devastate future business of local ad agencies.

The disruption of the banking sector is ongoing. The Bank of England licensed a startup virtual bank, Atom Bank, as the first alternative to traditional banking services.

The startup, which has been in operation for one year, went through final regulatory approvals before launch. In Kenya where the diffusion of mobile money technology has confounded critics, Atom Bank would find a ready market.

The entry of such disruptors will precipitate other businesses such as biometric security systems and change how we do banking in the future.

The future of transport business is here. Uber and Easy Taxi are in Kenya and disrupting the sector in ways we never imagined. The time when one could exploit unsuspecting passengers is gone.

The convenience of planning your trip without arbitrariness and uncertainty makes the experience of these new technologies more appealing. In the not too distance future, we shall see problems associated with the chaotic matatu sector dealt with using technology.

When this happens, more people will invest in the sector that is dominated by criminal cartels. The business of transportation will change as inefficiencies are eliminated.

Perhaps the greatest disruption will be felt in education. The sector has the most problems that technology can easily address. The lethargy in public education will soon be a thing of the past.

Online content delivered by dedicated tutors who will replace indolent teachers. It is not a question whether this will happen but when.

Some students at university already use Massive Open Online Courses offered by leading universities to supplement their daily lectures, but this will soon disrupt existing learning structures.

Other sectors such as health and agriculture will experience similar disruptions. From driverless cars to big data to the future of the workplace, the future of business is changing.

It may be difficult to accept new technologies in our traditional environments but there may be no choice. The sun will not stand still and it is inevitable that technology will be more ubiquitous.

It is easier to face the facts that we are living in a changing world and adapt. The alternative is that failure to change could be a license to live uncomfortably since everything around us is evolving. We may as well be the change.

Alan Watts, a British-born philosopher, once said, “The only way to make sense out of change is to plunge into it, move with it, and join the dance.”

The writer is a technology enthusiast and an associate professor at University of Nairobi’s Business School.

advertisement