I started my working life at 19, fresh out of college, as an intern at the then leading web development house in East Africa, 3Mice.
In hindsight, 3Mice was a corporate incubator of sorts stemming from the companies that its employees went on to start after their stint there, Cellulant being the most visible.
I have fond memories of experimenting with technology, then dubbed ‘new media’; the era of intranets, extranets and fancy rich media setups that we suffered through with less than stellar internet connectivity.
What stood out for me was the mix of talent on the floor, not just skills-wise but also in age. Just the right mix of youthful exuberance and curiosity in its naivety and seasoned hands on business and engineering working in tandem. This made for great product discovery and direction with a broad array of inputs and insights from team members and their interactions with clients.
This mix allowed the company to stay abreast with movements in the industry, what was becoming vogue and what was falling out of taste. It served the company well for its time.
Fast forward to the present, and corporate entities are falling over themselves to set up or be part of an accelerator or incubator, an act of self-preservation given the daily onslaught across all sectors from new technologies and entrants staking a claim to market and wallet share.
What I find as a curious oversight is that for most of these interventions, those leading the charge are not tuning their radar to pick signals from further afield to determine what is coming next and will define future markets.
At the turn of the century when I was absorbed into the working cycle, it was enough to run an internship programme that would provide a constant annual stream of fresh insights and market pulse, if selection is done right.
The pace at which markets evolve now, means that true future-proofing for any business will be on the back of engaging a much wider set of publics. We have often stopped at the millennials, also known as Generation Y but must now tap into Generation Z. Since they cannot be officially engaged in corporate internship programmes, executives must be innovative on how best to get market intelligence that can be applied toward the creation of future products and services with high chances of becoming runaway successes.
Njihia is the Head of Business and Partnerships at Sure Corporation | www.mbuguanjihia.com | @mbuguanjihia