Fundamental shift needed by leadership

Propella SMART CITIES Event 129The SMART-city breakfast session hosted by Propella and the Regional Innovation Forum (RIF) on 27 March 2017 was highlighted by one of the attendees, Bev Hancock, in a "Teachable Moments" discussion in The Herald on 31 March.

Read the full extract of the article published below:

On invitation of the Propella Incubator, significant stakeholders are gathering in the metro to explore ways in which our city's potential can be unlocked through the development of smart city thinking.

For this to work, a fundamental shift is required at leadership level.

Leaders balance the creation of economic wealth with a better quality of life at every level of society.

What leadership conversations could we be having in the metro to unlock the potential of the city?

Leaders determine the quality and the content of the conversation. Industrial-age thinking will not solve digital-age challenges.

The same conversation will not produce a different result. The smart city will stand or fall based on the quality of leadership in politics, business and society.

It will require a collaborative approach and innovative solutions to achieve this ambitious goal with limited resources.

We must move from "What's in it for me?" to "What's in it for us?". To do this we need a clear business case for collaboration, ultimately producing a greater whole.

In my discussions with leaders, many believe they do not need to engage with technology.

This results in business models remaining focused on manual processes and communication channels.

The reality is that all businesses will inevitably become digitally driven if they wish to remain competitive.

It is a leadership imperative to prepare companies to think digitally, streamline processes and fully understand how to maximise digital communication.

To manage brands, product offerings and stakeholder relationships, the optimum blend of face-to-face and digital communication is necessary.

The leadership challenge is – are they mastering this new medium or are they allowing their own discomfort with technology to hold them back?

What is your response to this challenge?

The smart city concept is connectivity and the use of big data to enhance the lives of its citizens.

It represents the opportunity to streamline education, healthcare, energy and business to engage more efficiently and productively.

The key obstacle is proprietary systems that do not speak to each other.

Estonia's case study shows clearly how the core elements of government and society can be managed when technology is integrated at a practical level and big data is leveraged.

This saves time and money and provides access to essential services and educational opportunities.

The conundrum for many chief executives and IT executives remains the balance of protecting company intellectual property and accessing the wealth of the market intelligence available in big data sources.

It is a journey fraught with perils and unanswered questions. As new strategies are developed for the future, it is essential that the leadership mindset has clarity on the balance between technology and humanity in decision-making.

Leaders of the 21st century need to maintain both the ethical and quality of life decisions that make us intrinsically human.

Technology is always only an enabler. How we choose to construct our lives, our families and businesses should be a product of these decisions.


For general information about the Propella Business Incubator, please contact us at:
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  +27 41 502 3700
  0861 55 55 33
 Humerail Business Park, Oakworth Drive, Humewood 6001

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