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First executive programme in Digital Business

- Wits Business School

Wits Business School (WBS) is excited to have launched its first executive education programme in Digital Business, the first of its kind in South Africa.

The programmes, which kicked off in March, will be rolled out during 2018 for digital solutions company BCX, a subsidiary of the Telkom Group.

“The programmes have been designed to equip businesses with skills, knowledge and insight into the future world of work, specifically training managers to lead on all fronts in an era of rapid and unpredictable digitalisation,” says Professor Brian Armstrong, Head of the BCX Chair in Digital Business at WBS.  “This is an exciting venture for WBS, the Chair of Digital Business and Executive Education. It is a privilege to work with BCX in creating this new programme,” he concludes.

WBS took a proactive step in 2016 when it established the first Chair in Digital Business in Africa, through funding by Telkom, with the overarching aim of helping South African businesses thrive in the digital era.

An important focus of the Chair is the generation of new research in an area which, until now, has not been a formal area of study. Research will lead to the further development of academic curricula, including a Master’s degree in Digital Business, as well as various short learning programmes and executive courses.

The successful roll out of the pilot programmes for BCX will allow other organisations to benefit from the close working relationships between the Digital Chair and BCX, as well as Executive Education, says Dr Timothy Hutton, Acting Director of Executive Education at WBS.

“We designed the programmes in close collaboration with BCX, creating content that suits the needs of the company. It has been an immensely exciting process, and also a big learning curve for all involved,” says Dr Hutton.

A total of 205 managers at BCX were selected to take part in the programmes which are aimed at junior, middle and senior managers. The programmes, Future Leaders in Digital Business, Digital Business Management and Digital Business Executive Programme are on average around 24 days in duration, completed in study blocks. Graduation is set for the end of February 2019.

“The beauty of the BCX programme is that it can be refashioned to address the needs of any organisation. Just as financial considerations cut across all business, so too does digital,” notes Hutton. “The programme can be structured to highlight specific aspects and pull out desired learnings. Within a rigorous academic framework, there is a lot of flexibility.  For example, one of the modules is currently being re-designed as a stand-alone programme to be launched in the middle of this year.”

The BCX programme will be offered in various formats in the future, including online and contact, in-house and open enrolment, for both companies and individuals wanting to enhance their understanding of digital business.

“Working in the digital world does not only mean how to develop new strategies or market digitally and understand the financials of digital; it also means how, fundamentally, we and our customers remain human, how we anticipate and mitigate social consequences of digitisation, and how we understand the environmental costs and benefits of the digital world,” says Professor Armstrong. 

“The rollout of the BCX Executive Education programmes is a very exciting step forward in preparing business leaders in South Africa, not only for the future world of work, but indeed also the rapidly changing current world of work. We are not always aware of this ‘digital presence’ in our daily lives. This programme will open eyes, ideas and innovative opportunities around this very fact.”