It’s said over and over but it still hasn’t been said enough times that technology, and the internet particularly, has changed things. Gone is the day when business leaders delegated all thought around tech to people they believe are more techy than they are. The frank truth is that, this is not delegation but it is abdicating the ‘throne.’
Tech is not for techies, tech is for everyone. If local business leaders are not willing to be proactive as far as technology is concerned they will at best lose their jobs and in the worst find themselves presiding over obsolete businesses with irrelevant business models.
Unfortunately, for the past four years Techzim has been sort of adding to this risk. We have been holding the Broadband Forum specifically targeting techies and startups. The events have not been very relevant to the broader economy that tech actually addresses. A haitas from the event last year to take stock and redefine it has shown us what it can be.
The Broadband Forum is no more! In its place: The Broadband Economy Conference is birthed. The new event (taking place on July 20th this year) is broader in scope and targeted at senior business executives across diverse industries. One of the things the internet has forever changed is the strict categorization of businesses into distinct industries. Businesses that insist on remaining boxed under 20th century classifications might as well say their goodbyes, there is no space for boxes in the 21st century.
Change demands new thinking. The Broadband Economy Conference is all about exploring these new ways of thinking and the resulting business models. Zim’s business leaders will hear from remarkable individuals who have led innovation in other markets. Beyond this, the local captains of industry will discuss how the global technology trends can be interpreted and adapted for Zimbabwe and Africa generally.
Technology is already affecting boardroom composition and activity across the world for example Ford Motor Corporation replaced it’s CEO recently most probably because of his lack of a clear plan to ensure Ford remains relevant in this new world of ‘transportation as a service’ and self driving cars. The outgoing CEO led Ford to record profits and strengthened the company’s presence in China and Europe. In this new world this is not enough. All this is matakadya kare ( a Shona proverb that says ‘It is futile to try comforting a crying child by merely reminding them of a delicacy they ate in the past).
This is how seriously Zimbabwean boardrooms must take technology trends. The Broadband Economy Conference will take a look at how local ‘boardrooms’ view technology and propose how they should view technology. The event is designed to be more about the different leaders discussing among themselves and not about an attempt to impart knowledge. The invited speakers will only share success stories from their respective contexts to set the stage for discussion.
Collaboration will be a big issue to discuss, particularly collaboration between all other industries and telecoms companies. A lot of potential remains untapped by almost all kinds of businesses in Zimbabwe because there is not enough symbiosis with companies that provide access to the internet. For example, could it be possible for banks to pay telcos for data usage by their clients when using the banks’ apps? Not much data is consumed on banking apps but people don’t use them because they only have social bundles. If I had a bank I would consider it worthwhile to explore what’s cheaper, to pay for my customers’ data usage on my application or maintaining a network of branches and agents…
What are the net neutrality implications of having such sponsored data in terms of having internet users accessible to all businesses big and small?
Tickets to the Broadband Economy Conference are going on sale end of this week. We are excited about the new scope of the event and the quality of conversations that will be taking place. We will be telling you more about the speakers and content of the event as we get closer to the 20th of July 2017.