Author: Mushambi Mutuma
Title: Tech Adjacent- The Exponential Guide to Leveraging Technology for Business Success
Publishers: Tracy McDonald Publishers (2019)
When we think technology, we likely to associate it with digital technology such as social media and apps typically developed in USA or Asia with Africa usually cast to the margins. Fact is Africa does have significant contribution to the evolution of technology as it has throughout history. Many businesses however are intimidated by buzzwords such as Artificial Intelligence, crypto currency, Big Data, Disruption and Fourth Industrial Revolution. Mushambi Mutuma dives deep to decipher these tech concepts in an objective and simple approach through sharing personal experiences, research and case studies of African tech businesses.
The author argues that as technological changes are inevitable African businesses should be “tech adjacent” -meaning they should be able to observe the latest trends and innovations to ensure a level of predictability. He asserts that businesses must understand the fundamentals of technology in order to leverage and ensure exponential success. Mutuma challenges businesses to move from linear thinking- which promotes complacency and incremental change, and move towards exponential thinking, where the focus is on fundamental change in order to grow ten times instead of ten per cent through use of technology
The author advocates for contextual solutions particularly in the African continent. For instance Roy Allela, a 25-year-old Kenyan man, invented a smart glove Sign-O which converts sign language into audio speech. In Nigeria, Jessica O. Matthews invented the SOCCKET ball, an energy generating soccer ball that provides off-grid power and in Cameroon, Arthur Zang designed the Cardiopad, a fully touch-screen medical tablet that diagnoses heart disease in rural households. These innovative solutions and many others are assisting in overcoming challenges in Africa such as poor electricity infrastructure; lack of access of medical services; water shortages; poor education and high data costs.
The author’s school of thought of being adjacent to technology is rather ambiguous. On one hand, he argues that businesses should strive to have holistic organizational change toward digitization, disrupt their industries and be leaders of innovation particularly in the African context. However on the other hand, he argues that businesses should be at close proximity of technological change and not get caught up in buzzwords. This could cause some level of misinterpretations; on weather African businesses should be disruptors or followers. Additionally, the book offers well documented research and predictions on how Africa in the coming decades will present the next frontier for low cost work force (cheaper than Asia) and youthful customer base, however there is less emphasis on how African businesses could be producers and owners of the value chain particularly in tech infused industries like automobile, telecommunications and retail. In essence arguing for African businesses to be “adjacent” to technology might adversely perpetuate the notion that Africa must be a spectator to the tech revolution taking place in the world
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic causing major challenges to traditional businesses, this book can offer insights on how to better implement a digital transformation strategy. This book is recommended to an African tech entrepreneur; corporate businesses; start-ups and employees uncertain about their future due to technological changes. If you enjoyed Disrupting Africa-The Rise and Rise of African innovation by Nnambi Oranya (2016) this book is for you.
Many tech business books, usually put Africa on the last chapter, however this book has celebrated Africa’s contribution to the growth of technology and painted possibilities where names like Jumia, M-Pesa, Zipline and Uncharted Power can become households names globally when we think technology