What does it take to be a digital master in 2018 and the future?

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With so much emphasis on technology whether it be code or silicon, it’s easy to forget that humans are as important as any aspect.

Attendees at SATNAC 2018 being held in Hermanus, Western Cape this morning were reminded by chief digital officer (CDO) at BCX, Rapelang Rabana, that extraordinary humans are as vital, if not more important than any technology.

But being extraordinary in itself is not enough, in fact Rabana has mapped out a formula that she says will help digital masters improve not only their lives but the lives of others as well.

To be a master in this digital age one must combine innovation, shared value and execution.


When you say innovation one tends to think of new and exciting developments of tech but Rabana says that true innovation is not as brash and loud as a new piece of tech.

“Real innovation is far less mechanical and more subtle. It starts with things that genuinely interest you,” says Rabana.

Consider solutions such as Dropbox. The product we all know today was born when founder Drew Houston forgot a USB thumbdrive at home that contained files he needed.

This personal experience went on to become a firm with a market cap of $10 billion and this, explains Rabana, is true innovation. Houston’s personal experiences gave him deeper insight into the problem he was trying to solve than a normal person would have.

This connection to a problem and solving it is the key to innovation, “If you just have a smart sounding idea you will run out of steam,” explains Rabana.

Shared Value

The next step in becoming a digital master is to created shared value. Rabana describes this as a win-with model as seen in products such as Uber, Airbnb and even Yoco locally.

These applications and products make money yes but they also enable others to make money at the same time.

“Winning with others is the fastest way to grow your enterprise today,” says Rabana.


Perhaps the biggest hurdle when it comes to innovation is execution or the art of getting stuff done.

Rabana says that much innovation dies between instinct and the lips. Some will be able to relate to this – you have a good idea but your brain talks you down and convinces you that it’s not worth pursuing.

The CDO says that digital masters are aware of the brain’s propensity to protect itself and are able to talk their brain into submission.

“That moment when you feel wealthy enough to pursue an idea will never come,” says Rabana.

“When you feel that hesitation coming count backward from five and then move. Make that call, send that email and work your way through the hard questions,” explains Rabana. “Courage comes down to five second decisions.”

It sounds rather ethereal but the response to Rabana’s keynote gives us the idea that many folks struggle with the execution of an idea. Taking a moment to quell fears and run into an idea might be the advice some entrepreneurs need to hear.

Above all however becoming a digital master is about remembering the human element behind technology.

“A competitive advantage in business will come from people,” says Rabana.

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.