Embrace change or become irrelevant- Top speaker outlines profile of demanding millennial client

South African companies that are out of touch with the very specific needs of their millennial customers and ignore the realities of the rapidly spreading global “fourth industrial revolution” face the danger of becoming irrelevant and unsustainable in the foreseeable future.

CRESTING THE WAVE: Political analyst and television personality Justice Malala addresses the audience at the Daily Dispatch Strategic Business Summit at Hemingways yesterday Picture: SINO MAJANGAZA

The theme of the Daily Dispatch Strategic Business Summit, which was held at the Venue in Hemingways yesterday and was attended by about 200 delegates, was: “South Africa: the next five years.”

Former deputy minister of finance Mcebisi Jonas said if things continued on the current trajectory, the next five years “would not be pretty”.

“Not for the elite, not for the middle class, not for the poor and working-class. And things could get a lot worse if we make the wrong choices.”

“Not for the elite, not for the middle class, not for the poor and working-class. And things could get a lot worse if we make the wrong choices.”

He said diversifying and driving the economy around potential new sources of growth should become “an obsession”.

One by one keynote speakers made the hard-hitting point that innovations in the areas of artificial intelligence, electronic vehicles, and the 3D, environmental, energy and agricultural sectors will radically change the way companies do business.

They warned that businesses that chose not to anticipate or stay ahead of these changes would fail to thrive.

Trend and business specialist John Sanei warned: “If you don’t like change, you will like irrelevance even less” and urged business owners to become architects of the future instead of employing the cloak of victimhood.

Trend and business specialist John Sanei warned: “If you don’t like change, you will like irrelevance even less” and urged business owners to become architects of the future instead of employing the cloak of victimhood.

East London Industrial Development Zone (ELIDZ) renewable energy and information, communications and technology (ICT) sector manager Chris Ettmayr stresses that millennials – those born between 1977 and 1997 – are the future customers.

“They are extremely confident and believe in social media. If your product is not on their cellphone they won’t buy from you.”

“They also will only pay for a product when they need it and so will not pay for subscriptions. They also only have brand loyalty if they feel they are getting additional services for their buck. They are determined, entitled and empowered.”

Echoing Jonas, political analyst and author Daniel Silke said the economy in South Africa was “not pretty” with a lacklustre GDP growth and a decline in consumer spending since 2011.

Echoing Jonas, political analyst and author Daniel Silke said the economy in South Africa was “not pretty” with a lacklustre GDP growth and a decline in consumer spending since 2011.

“We saw a proliferation of malls built in a seemingly never-ending increase in per capita growth, but since 2011 there has been a decline and so we see empty shops and even good blue-chip retailers have taken a knock.

“We are in a technical recession and that is simply not good enough.”

“We are in a technical recession and that is simply not good enough.”

International speaker and business strategist Zipho Sikhakhane said that in an unpredictable climate, change was happening “faster than we are used to”.

Old models of leadership were no longer sustainable and businesspeople should harness what made them unique if they wanted to get ahead.

“The air of conformity needs to go away. People say the economy is suffering. Instead they should ask what makes them different and how that can be used to make them global players.”

By Barbara Hollands – DispatchLIVE

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