Fast-paced change in a hi-tech world

Catching up at Present at the BCX Eastern Cape’s annual manufacturing event are, a Bay manufacturing event were from left, Patrick Monks, Andrew Kohler, Tom Cawood and Ian Russell
Picture: Fredlin Adriaan

Importance of staying relevant stressed at futuristic event

The challenge is how to remain relevant.

This is the short, sharp and most critical question technology companies need to ask if they wish to remain sustainable and in business in the long term, according to BCX chief executive Ian Russell.

Russell was speaking against the futuristic, hi-tech backdrop of BCX Eastern Cape’s annual manufacturing event held at the Running Waters Conference Centre in Port Elizabeth yesterday.

He was recently appointed to head what is widely considered as one of Africa’s most advanced digital solutions companies.

BCX, a R21-billion company that employs 8000 people, hosted the event for the third consecutive year.

Yesterday’s eye-opening edition focused on digitisation and automation of factories, while exposing the packed venue to the new frontiers of technology.

“Relevance is critical. Changes are taking place at a rapid rate,” Russell said. “Messaging has now overtaken social media and what we offer today may not be relevant in the near future.

“What do we look like [as a company] in 2025?” he asked.

The dynamic business leader cited a list of recent, surprising business developments, such as Amazon’s acquisition of Whole Foods, as examples of enterprises changing their relevance.

Backing up his outlook, Russell said BCX would, in the next five to six months, begin discussions around where the company was going.

He named data and cyber security as two areas he anticipated would see big investments by BCX going forward.

Operational technology, and particularly industrial operational technology, along with the cloud were included among the areas of interest for the company.

The event, which hosted a number of stalls manned by technology and communication products and services companies, also saw industry-related addresses by both local and international business leaders.

Mercedes-Benz South Africa’s chief information officer, Tom Cawood, showed participants how the East London carmaker had transformed its production environment into a paperless, digitally administered operation through the development of tablets and e-tags.

Amir Saleh Zadeh, a PhD candidate at NMMU, took the audience through the ground-breaking technologies which are arising out of the development of artificial intelligence.

Using a headband-type apparatus, he demonstrated how waves emitted by the brain can be tracked and measured.

The development of such technologies was paving the way for a world in which one would soon be able to operate technologies without having to physically touch them, he said.

Leave a Reply