Noah Khan is Regional President of Digital & Innovation for Central East Europe, Middle East and Africa at TBWA and DAN (Digital Arts Network). Image: Supplied.
JOHANNESBURG -  Most organisations need a better understanding of the implications of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) for their business and exactly what it entails. 

Too many people have got caught up in the hype, veering between an overly optimistic view and doomsday predictions. 

Rather than having a pessimistic attitude to new technologies, we need to instead get a grip on understanding all the moving parts and then look for synergies and the opportunities they present. Artificial intelligence (AI) for instance, will profoundly change the way we work and require a vastly different skills set. What it won’t be doing, is making humanity obsolete.

Every business and organisation will need to plot their own path towards the future and upskill their people accordingly. Those with the ability to learn, unlearn and relearn will become valued employees. Businesses will need to ascertain where their future talent will come from and how they will be integrated into the business.

It will become more important than ever that employee bases are diverse. Young audiences, for instance, are driving conversations around platforms like the video-sharing app TikTok, which is quickly dominating when compared to both Facebook and Instagram. It’s vital therefore, that business employ people who understand these kind of platforms because it’s only when you live in that space that you are able to effectively resonate with audiences. 

Already technology is allowing us to share and contribute in a way we’ve never been able to do before. It’s making it possible for businesses to deliver work 24 hours a day and opening up supplier bases to freelancers, contractors and collaborators around the world. The imminent arrival of 5G will increase the speed of communication exponentially.

Inevitably, technology will be playing a bigger – and not a smaller – role going forward. However, despite its growing influence on the world of work, the human touch and human insight will remain crucial to effective advertising and communication.

Staying in touch with culture will become increasingly important in this new 4IR world. We’re moving to a world where consumers are choosing convenience and relevance over a brand specific space. For their part, brands need to build affinity with consumers and the only way to do that is through culture and by understanding what resonates most with them in order to engage them. 

Sustainable businesses of the future won’t try to recreate every discipline in order to own particular spaces. Instead they will collaborate with experts who compliment their offerings. They will look outside of their own spaces for expertise. Partnering and collaborating with experts outside of our own disciplines will allow the industry to provide disruptive and meaningful work. 

Companies that successfully harness the power of 4IR technologies in tandem with upskilling strategic creative thinkers, living in culture and collaborating with experts outside of their discipline will be the big winners in the future. 

Noah Khan is Regional President of Digital & Innovation for Central East Europe, Middle East and Africa at TBWA and DAN (Digital Arts Network). 

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