There was much jubilation and cheering at Wits Business School (WBS) last week when the first cohort of ‘digital business’ students graduated.
Nearly 200 employees of BCX, a digital solutions company, donned their graduation gowns last Wednesday, inspired to take up the challenge of leading their teams into a digital future.
These cutting-edge programmes in digital business kicked off in March 2018 with selected BCX managers. BCX is a wholly owned subsidiary of Telkom, funding partners of the WBS Chair in Digital Business.
WBS designed the short courses to help junior, middle and senior managers to keep up to speed with, and embrace, the new digitalised world of work. The curriculum is wide ranging and includes modules such as Digital Technology Fundamentals, Digital Marketing, Business Strategy for a Digital World, Digital Transformation and Change Management, with a focus on leadership.
“The programmes are designed specifically to train an organisation’s managers to lead on all fronts in an era of rapid and unpredictable digitalisation,” says Professor Brian Armstrong, Director of the WBS/BCX Chair in Digital Business. “This has been a ground-breaking venture for WBS Executive Education and it has been a privilege to work with BCX in creating these new programmes.”
Professor Greg Lee, Director of Executive Education Digital Programmes at WBS, says: “The programmes were co-created in close collaboration with BCX in line with the specific needs of the company. The beauty of these programmes is that they can be refashioned to address the needs of any organisation. Within a rigorous academic framework, there is a lot of flexibility.”
Julian Liebenberg, Chief Telecommunications Officer at BCX reiterated that companies require a new generation of leaders that are armed with the skills to use the Internet of Things (IOT) to the benefit of the business.
“Innovation is vital for a company’s survival, but innovation on its own has no value. It has to be agreed to and, even more importantly, executed. Without proper execution, innovation remains an idea, and nothing more. South Africa is ready to embrace digitalisation but needs a new generation of leadership that is comfortable with change and not afraid to embrace new ways of innovating.”
Professor Armstrong is confident that the digital business programmes will have opened the delegates’ eyes to the myriad opportunities in the changing world of work.
“The Fourth Industrial Revolution is rapidly rewriting the rules of the game for organisations and individuals. Digitalisation creates new business models, destroys and creates jobs, radically streamlines processes and structures, and calls for new forms of leadership. Our Executive Education programmes are a very exciting step forward in preparing business leaders in South Africa for the future world of work,” he says.
Beyond executive education short courses, the Wits Business School Chair in Digital Business launched its new Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Business and its Master of Management in Digital Business last year, and the first cohorts began classes in February 2019. These ground-breaking academic programmes (at NQF levels 8 and 9) are the first of their kind in Africa.