By Martin Pienaar, CEO at Mindworx Consulting.

Exponential is one of those words we bandy about with ease, particularly when talking about how technology will grow in the future. We understand what it means… or do we?

This visualisation will blow your mind: “If I were to take 10 linear steps, it would be one, two, three, four, five. After 10 linear steps, I’d end up 10 paces away and all of us could pretty much point to where 10 paces away would be. But if I said to you take 10 exponential steps, one, two, four, eight, sixteen, thirty-two and said where would you end up? Instead of 10m you will now be over 1km away. If we keep going very quickly you are a billion meters away.”

Welcome to the future of technology which is, effectively, going to take us a billion meters away from where we’re standing right now. When? The journey has already begun.

Technology is believed to touch at least 60% of the things we do today – think about how you work, play, shop, bank, cook, learn, etc. As more industries adapt to exponential technology, so more of us will experience the resulting disruption. The number of jobs that will be replaced by machines is estimated at 45%. Before we all get into a panic it’s worth looking at how this disruption takes place. At a task level only about 5% of roles will be completely obliterated in the next five years. At the level of chief executive about 30% of tasks can be automated, freeing up more time for complex tasks that are harder for a machine to perform. Some roles are very difficult to automate, only a small percentage of a psychologist’s role can be replaced by machines. At Mindworx we are already assisting our clients to grow their digital skills, like providing robotics resources to a large consulting firm that is automating some of their clients’ operations through the use of robots.

Replacing linear with exponential thinking

We need to train our brains to take an exponential approach as linear thinking becomes increasingly irrelevant. Most importantly, we need to educate our children in a very different way. Our youth need to know that we are training them for jobs that may not exist yet. So they must to be able to deal with ambiguity, solve new problems, be creative, show initiative and be resilient.

As things stand and according to research by McKinsey, our education system is failing at preparing students for the rapidly evolving workplace. Realistically we know that even if the understanding and will were there, few education systems are capable of changing fast enough to equip today’s young unemployed for their reality. This is a worldwide problem. Corporates will need to be more involved in nurturing relevant skills, employing for attitude, enthusiasm and high high energy, and training the balance of what is required to perform on the job.

Enter Mindworx Academy and our partner client, FIS™. It’s important to know that FIS, a global company headquartered in the USA, is the world’s largest global provider of financial technology solutions, but our real interest lies in the company’s commitment to leading the way in an exponentially dynamic and challenging world.

Mindworx/FIS Software Development Programme

We’ve chosen to work together because we agree that in the future success will belong to those who can transform disruption into opportunity. It is now our exciting task to pilot the Mindworx/FIS Software Development Programme that will see us work closely with graduate candidates to prepare them for a very brave new world.

Developing an exponential mentality

Addressing the graduates at the start of the programme, I told them that while the work we will do on their technical abilities and skills is essential, success will depend equally on quickly developing these 21st Century attributes:

• An attitude of lifelong learning – without ongoing learning, adaptation, and especially rapid adaption, is simply impossible.
• Foundational literacy – essential for quickly applying skills to everyday tasks; the failure of the education system means that this may need to be retro-fitted, certainly in South Africa.
• Forward-thinking competencies – this is about the very high value that will be placed on critical thinking, creativity, communication and collaboration as we are faced with new and complex challenges and we have to solve problems in different ways.
• Character and the way we approach change – standing still is, effectively, going backwards, so the place of curiosity, initiative, persistence and adaptation become ever more essential. And as the world shrinks and we collaborate across borders, we need to ensure that we are always culturally sensitive.

Working with FIS on this programme confirms our commitment as partners to skills development initiatives and the creation of job opportunities and leadership roles for South Africa’s young people. The role of Mindworx Academy is, above all, to implement transformation and break the cycle of poverty and unemployment.

86% success rate

We do everything in our power to accelerate our young graduates – and we know our approach works because 86% of our graduates are not only successfully placed, but remain in the workplace. And even as we prepare them for a corporate world, possibly the most important thing we do is instil entrepreneurial qualities in our candidates.

To really succeed, think of yourself as a business

I would go so far as to say that the best way for anyone to equip themselves for the workplace is to adopt the mindset of an entrepreneur, literally thinking of themselves as a business. This includes honing those technology skills; getting ahead and making sure you stay there by always keeping your skills updated. The more tasks that you can assign to all that fantastic technology just waiting in the wings to help you, the more you yourself can keep developing and growing.

I leave you with my favourite piece of advice: if you want to truly live and, indeed, grow, get to the edge of your comfort zone!

ABOUT MINDWORX ACADEMY

The migration of business processes to mobile and digital systems is creating an unprecedented demand for analytical skills; skills that are scarce in South Africa despite the number of university graduates with basic analytical education.

At Mindworx Academy we turn inexperienced graduates into confident and appropriately skilled professionals capable of fulfilling entry level roles, through intensive training and work experience that sets them on a path to long-term employment. Our solutions, which include learnerships and internships, are customised to meet client needs.

A non-traditional pool of graduates, comprehensive assessments and innovative training and development techniques results in unrecognised ability being channelled into meaningful employment while addressing skills gaps in high potential graduates.

ABOUT FIS

FIS™ is the world’s largest global provider dedicated to financial technology solutions. FIS empowers the financial world with software, services, consulting and outsourcing solutions focused on retail and institutional banking, payments, asset and wealth management, risk and compliance, trade enablement, transaction processing and record-keeping. FIS’ more than 55,000 worldwide employees are passionate about moving our clients’ business forward.

Headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, FIS serves more than 20,000 clients in over 130 countries, and our technology powers billions of transactions annually that move over $9 trillion around the globe. FIS is a Fortune 500 company and is a member of Standard & Poor’s 500®Index.

We never lose sight that FIS succeeds only when our clients succeed. This drives our commitment to thought leadership, operational excellence and innovation that champions our clients’ business and keeps them competitive in today’s dynamic and challenging industry environment. We help our clients transform disruption into opportunity, giving them the tools needed to thrive not just today, but in tomorrow’s financial world.