Digital transformation is happening at a faster rate than the world has ever seen before. The Fourth Industrial revolution has dawned upon the world, and some countries are adapting quicker than others.
According to Tebogo Moleta, multi skilled IT-Preneur and Founder of Think Tank, South Africa’s biggest challenge in making this transition is the country’s poor electrical infrastructure and unreliable connectivity that must be overcome in order to keep up with advances.
When discussing the rate at which technology is evolving Tebogo made reference to Moore’s Law that states that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles every two years. The law claims that we can expect the speed and capability of our computers to increase every two years because of this. It also states that growth is exponential. However, that has changed, we are now seeing this happening on a yearly basis.
In order to keep up with this, Tebogo suggests that companies and individuals will have to take on life-long learning journey and that even highly qualified expert engineers in ICT will have to keep themselves up to speed with the latest trends and tech developments.
With an extensive background and knowledge in ICT and business, Tebogo recognised a need for skills development in solving one of the countries biggest problems, unemployment – and what better way to do it than to bridge the gap with ICT skills development. In a candid interview with Tebogo he shared his views on what companies need to prepare for in the rapidly evolving technological landscape to his perspective on AI and how it’s going to change the work place:
What technology skills do you find are most in demand and most needed in South Africa right now?
At the moment the ICT industry is going through rapid transformation. South African businesses are transitioning to the cloud, creating a need for individuals who are skilled to perform various tasks related to the implementation and ongoing maintenance that this adoption needs. Most in demand skills are mainly in cloud computing and cyber security that will enable companies to be able to ensure the security of data.
What is your perspective on the increasing cybersecurity concerns in South Africa and how would you say companies should best equip themselves to prevent his in future?
I would say that you can have the most experienced engineers in the industry and there will still be be a need for new skills. It is a life long learning journey and my suggestion would be for companies to adopt a skills development strategy to continually ensure that they are being equipped to handle the changes. Ensuring that you have employees with fundamental cyber security skills will also be must as cybercriminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated and are always finding new ways to penetrate systems.
What are your thoughts on increasing amount of compromised personal data, and how should companies be dealing with it?
There are two elements to this. That is people and technology. All employees, even if they are not technically qualified, should be cybersecurity aware. The other side of it is the technology. Companies should ensure that their cybersecurity provider is a certified provider and that they have the breadth of expertise to be able to secure their companies data and that the technology they are using is up to date.
I see that Thinktank is partnering with several local NGO’s to equip previously disadvantaged individuals with the skills they need to join the workforce. Can you share more about what NPO’s you’ve partnered with and what you’re doing to enrich the community?
We have developed several relationships with local NPO’s to try and extend opportunities to disadvantaged individuals. Applicants for this program must undergo a pre-qualifying assessment for us to determine whether they are a right fit.
We know what skills sectors need on a big scale and that helps us to provide skills training and course that are tailored to fit the corporate demand. We also teach tech entrepreneurial skills for those who feel that they want to start their own businesses.
One of the companies we’ve partnered with is EduNova in providing the materials and facilitating ICT courses. We also partner with between 300 – 400 public schools to ensure that the ICT skills they are facilitating to students are aligned with what companies are looking for.
What emerging technologies do you think we will see more of in the next five years and how do you think this will change the way we work?
We are definitely going to be seeing more technologies like artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality going forward. If you look at what is happening in the Metaverse, it has advanced to such an extend that a person can have an avatar of themselves doing things in the Metaverse as if it were them.
There are companies that are looking into ways of working in a virtual environment and having their avatar represent them without them actually having to be there physically. There is a wide gap in the rate at which technology is growing, and the rate at which were able to learn the skills needed to work with that technology.
AI is something that is going to take more jobs, especially tasks that are mundane and repetitive, however I also believe that it is going to create opportunities for people who were confined to doing mundane tasks, to pursue careers that are more fulfilling.
AI is also complementing certain roles, as it frees people up to do more important work. An example is of teachers with having to do the work of marking tests, this task can be automated and free them up to work on other projects.
What do you think will be South Africa’s major challenge in progressing with digital transformation in the years to come?
South Africa’s biggest challenge will be infrastructure, because if it is not developed fast enough, there is going to be a delay in progression. You need reliable connectivity and a good electrical infrastructure to be able to handle the technology. The ongoing problem of load shedding and the electrical grid must be overcome before we’re able to host the kind of technology that we need to advance.
Another challenge I believe we have in terms of technology skills development is that university curriculum’s that were developed years ago, are not being updated to meet current industry needs.
If you look at Moore’s law, technology was being upgraded every two years, now that has sped up even more and were seeing advancements happening every year. University curriculum’s are not keeping up with these changes and are misaligned with what companies are looking for.