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Mike Saunders - Humancentricity In A Digital World

Mike Saunders, CEO of Digitlab, is often tagged as the internet boffin and the social network guru. He is also the author of three books, and in this session of 'Coffee with Grant' Mike chats about his latest book HumanCentric, which was launched in March.

HumanCentric, tell me about it. You said at one stage that you only write if there is a reason to write.
It has been an interesting journey. I felt that my clients were expecting me to write about technology. But I felt that I didn't have anything new to add. So, I wrote my first book about my entrepreneurial journey - The Five Year Mark and my second book about personal branding - Renowned.

HumanCentric was prompted by a comment by one of my staff members during a client engagement who said, "Mike we don't understand how think". Suddenly that became the project. How do I work through our consultative process in the work that I do for our clients to develop solutions? This concept of being able to build a framework around the development of products, campaigns, marketing tools and innovative solutions that mean something to people at the end of the day was the motivation.

How has HumanCentric impacted on your work at Digitlab?
Everyone one is talking about the Fourth Industrial Revolution and that whole conversation is dominated by new technologies. It doesn't matter how much technology you add to your business, if you are not building for people it will fail because people are using this technology at the end of the day.

We realised that if we wanted to continue doing work in the technology space, we had to remind ourselves why we got into this business in the first place. Digitlab as an agency has pivoted into a consultative agency in innovation, marketing technology, communication and human resources. This concept of humancentricity is pretty much what we are about, and what this book is about.

How does the framework presented in the book and Digitlab come together?
This book is a framework that will give you a handle on how to apply this thinking into your business, your marketing plans and your human resource strategy. You can apply this model to whatever you are doing, and we have tested it in many different spaces. Our business is spearheaded by a team of thinkers who we call our think tank and that think tank is driven by executing this model into our clients' businesses. This model works and everything that I do, every business that I work in, and every project that I do, follows this humancentric model. For me that is the message. We cannot build successful businesses in the future without being humancentric. You have to understand the special point in the middle where people and technology meet.

To what degree is everybody moving into the technology space?
We are definitely progressing in our conversations in business. Technology it is not our competitive advantage anymore, it is our accelerator to what it is that we are doing. You have got to find the dynamic that if technology is accelerating who you are, then who are you? Who are the people that work in your business? How are you making the most of them? There are many internal conversations to be had. Externally the world is going to find out faster if you are a terrible business or a great business.

What is exciting is that we see technology as the base from where we work from. The world is changing because people need it to change. The current way we do business was built and bred in an industrial revolution. We have to progress for the health and the lives of our people on this planet.

From a South African point of view are we lagging behind the rest of the world?
I don't agree with that. When I look at the depth of strategic thinking that comes out of my competitors in this industry that we are in and the work that we are doing for our clients, there are very few international consultancies that are doing much more. I think that the reason that we are told that we are behind is less the technological thinking but more the infrastructure we have. Not everything that happens in first world countries is relevant to our society. We are the leaders in the mobile technology space. Mobile technology innovation comes out of Africa, it comes out of third world countries. Why? Because that is where it is needed and that is where we have to solve those problems.

I do think that we are falling behind in educating people in this space. On an international level people are working their way through digital transformation so you can groom your way into a career instead of fighting your way in.

Who would be a typical person that would read the book?
The book is built and developed for people who are in positions where they find themselves using technology to meet some form of end business goal. Your chief innovation officer, your chief marketing officer, your operations team and human resource teams are in this environment. The easiest way to understand if this book is for you is to ask if there is anywhere in your work and your life where you use technology to meet people.

Where can people obtain a copy of the publication?
HumanCentric is available in 80 stores across the country including Exclusive Books, Bargain Books as well as Takealot. It is also available on Kindle.

Watch the video

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 Mike Saunders - Humancentricity In A Digital World.pdf

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