Societal and Economic Transformation Vital to Business Survival During Global Disruption

Business Leaders Address How Self-Disruption Brings New Life to Industries

Business leaders in South Africa and abroad engaged in a digital dialogue to examine how self-disruption is bringing new life to businesses around the world, helping them survive and grow in these uncertain times.

Marcelo Nico, Managing Director at Philip Morris South Africa, Pumela Salela, Country Head at Brand South Africa and Rob Cannavo, Business Ambassador for the SA Chamber of Commerce engaged with stakeholders and media in a virtual webinar to address how businesses are transforming at the forefront of disruption.

The dialogue included discussions around disruptions that are taking place globally, how businesses are striving through transformation, how South Africa is adapting to new trends, the need for regulatory environments to be intelligent and how companies who are bold in their engagements deserve the attention of the public and media.

David Pilling, Africa Editor at Financial Times who moderated the discussion introduced the notion that the world is in an era of global disruption, “There are two major disruptions that are taking place globally right now. One is COVID-19. The other is the fourth industrial revolution. These are combining to transform entire societies and economies.

During the discussion the panelists touched on a number of industries including; tobacco, wine, mining, energy and agriculture. “Prevalent sectors across South Africa are all striving to transform themselves through innovation and investment in new products and services and stepping into the unknown,” said Rob Cannavo, Business Ambassador for the SA Chamber of Commerce.  “The reasons are varied but big players must anticipate change and do what’s necessary to get ahead of it, if they are to avoid being on the wrong end of a Kodak moment.”

When asked about how SA is adapting to new trends; Brand South Africa country head, Pumela Salela explained that, “South Africa is often seen as a gateway to the rest of Africa, but it needs to leverage regional integration and business connectivity in a more cohesive manner.”

She added that: “Stakeholders from business, the public and government need to come together to ensure that solutions are found to mitigate the risks of self-disruption.”

“Regulatory reform is crucial in enabling new products and service to scale up and gain traction – intelligent regulation is vital,” said Marcelo Nico, Managing Director at Philip Morris South Africa. “As an example, current regulations for tobacco in South Africa could be reformed to support the commercialisation of alternatives to smoking like heated tobacco products and e-cigarettes.”

“Regulation that is working in step with innovation is important,” Nico explained. “Adult smokers who would otherwise continue smoking deserve a range of different smoke-free products and accurate and non- misleading information about them.”

“In the future, it could be beneficial to have pan-African regulations for some products and services,” said Salela.

Nico added that, “True self-disruption is not just about developing new products. It’s about changing a company’s mindset, the skills of its workforce and the brand it presents to the public.”

“PMI for example has undergone organisational restructuring and a vision that comes from the top and right through the organisation,” he said. “Cigarette sales could end within a span of 10-15 years in many nations with ‘right regulatory encouragement and support from civil society’.”

“PMI’s self-disruption is to create a smoke-free future based on scientifically substantiated products,” he added, “Since 2008, PMI has invested billions of dollars in developing, testing, and manufacturing smoke-free alternatives to cigarettes for adults who would otherwise continue to smoke. These products are the result of nearly two decades of R&D work, underpinned by a rigorous scientific assessment program and led by a team that today includes more than 430 world-class scientists and other experts.”

“The results speak for themselves: As of 30 June 2020, approximately 11.2 million adult smokers around the world have already stopped smoking and switched to PMI’s HTP, available for sale in 57 markets in key cities or nationwide under the IQOS brand,” he continued.

Pilling concluded that organisations need to be committed to change, “When companies come up with alternatives, they need to engage with the public, the media, regulators and other stakeholders in a productive way, helping them to understand what those alternatives are, and why they deserve attention.”

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