Disruption is impacting every aspect of our lives and how companies decide to either embrace or reject these radical and often technological changes will determine their future sustainability.

In a special issue of Observe, Odgers Berndtson provide our own take on what disruption means in the world of human capital. We have also curated a number of examples from leading experts showing how disruption is impacting talent selection, life science, technology, crowdfunding, streaming, marketing, economics and education.

Regarding higher education specifically in South Africa, digital disruption is steadily impacting on ‘business as usual’, forcing many companies to pay attention to the ever-increasing changes brought about by a new ‘digitally advanced’ consumer.

Access to higher education comes at a high price and is often only available to a limited number of applicants. There’s also the need to produce graduates who can work in a global marketplace, almost forcing a global higher education landscape. This places tremendous pressure on these institutions to remain competitive and not lose students to the rapidly growing movement of massive open online courses (MOOCs).

While face-to-face lecturing will always have a place, today’s students can access diplomas online from a globally recognised provider in Johannesburg without leaving their homes. Executives can also consistently up-skill themselves by using platforms such as Skillshare, which are growing in popularity.

For higher education institutions to keep up, I recommend a strategy that includes ‘internationalisation’ and partnering with other institutions to share learning experiences. Exchange programmes for learners and lecturers, as well as collaborative projects, could prove appealing to potential students. Technological advancements certainly allow for online learning and sharing which no higher education institution should ignore.

It will be interesting to monitor the uptake from skilled executives especially. While we’re nowhere near to offering a comprehensive MBA course online, I believe more executives will start looking for a more convenient way to stay skilled within an ever-changing business landscape.

Leon Ayo

Leon Ayo is the Chief Executive Officer of Odgers Berndtson, Sub-Saharan Africa. He has consulted and led teams across four continents. He lectures & advises on Leadership, High-Performance Culture...

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