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Society must embrace technological change to secure its future

Nile University founding president and Graduate School of Technology Management dean Dr Tarek Khalil

Nile University founding president and Graduate School of Technology Management dean Dr Tarek Khalil

16th May 2023

By: Schalk Burger

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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The rise and prosperity of nations throughout history has been inextricably linked to technology, and this remains true today. Countries, companies and people must embrace and seize on technological benefits to ensure their resilience, sustainability and competitiveness into the future, Nile University founding president and Graduate School of Technology Management dean Dr Tarek Khalil told Engineering News.

Speaking during the reception of an honorary doctorate from Nile University's local collaborator, the University of Pretoria, he emphasised that technology was progressing at an unprecedented pace.

While this was a widely accepted and commonly held opinion, the significance of the rate and scope of change must be recognised and acted upon, he said.

“Technology has always been the primary driver of human progress and, therefore, people who embraced technology and move with changes were the ones who more readily achieved prosperity and resiliency,” Khalil said.

For example, gross domestic product per capita increased significantly, almost exponentially, during the Industrial Revolution as technical knowledge spread alongside industries and productive facilities. This continued through the subsequent technological disruptions that created the second, third and fourth industrial revolutions, and continue to define the world.

Further, technological competition between companies and countries will only become fiercer.

“Big technology companies are making huge profits and some have almost monopolised their areas of operation. However, competition remains fierce, even for these companies, and, with new developments in artificial intelligence (AI), this competition is set to become fiercer.

“The changes in technology will have an influence on every aspect of our lives, not only in industries, but also education, healthcare and the way we live and interact,” he added.

Technology will enable people to do more and to do tasks better, such as through AI-enabled information tools, virtual and augmented reality and robotic processes, among many other technologies.

These technologies will be used extensively in education, with implications for how education is provided, and in workplace environments, implying a shift in the labour force.

“Employees will need to adapt because what will be needed is how they can use new technologies to support the competitiveness of their organisations,” he explained.

In addition to competitiveness, the concept of resiliency is also growing in the discourse of technology management. Resiliency considerations hold true for countries and companies, as evidenced by the disruption in supply chains caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the subsequent invasion of Ukraine by Russia and continuing global trade and technological competition, Khalil said.

Resiliency is a fundamental component of competitiveness and relates to being self-sufficient and sustainable.

For example, companies and countries can expect further supply chain disruptions as competition and technology use increase. However, various technologies can help to mitigate vulnerabilities arising from changes in supply chains.

Production sustainability means reducing reliance on external suppliers, diversifying supply chain operations and relying more on local suppliers.

Companies that were reliant on trade for their earnings, such as export-oriented companies, should look at diversifying their target markets and consumers, he advised.

Meanwhile, environmental sustainability was as crucial for countries' and companies' resilience and went hand-in-hand with production resilience, Khalil added.

“Even large corporations have proven vulnerable to shifts in technology. The concept of technology management for advantage, resilience and sustainability is even more crucial for countries, as their influence is over large populations.

“The core message is that managing our technological resources is fundamental to our survival and growth. Technology is the foundation for sustainability, both economically and environmentally,” said Khalil.

Edited by Chanel de Bruyn
Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor Online

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