Technological Disruption AND

MBA Elective

Dr Angus Hervey

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Course Outline

We live in extraordinary times.

And while perhaps every generation says that, this time it really is true. Humanity’s shift into cities, begun 10,000 years ago by our ancestors, has crossed the halfway mark. Carbon pollution has pushed atmospheric greenhouse gases to the highest concentrations in recorded history. China has erupted from autarky to become the world’s second largest economy, the biggest exporter, and the biggest e-commerce market. India is close behind, while Africa is charting its own development course, with the creation of the largest free trade agreement of the 21st century.

Most importantly, we’re connecting everyone. The internet, non-existent 25 years ago, linked one billion people by 2005, two billion by 2010, and today, more than three quarters of adults on earth are online, most of them via smartphones. This is the biggest and quickest technology uptake in human history. Economic value is shifting to digital assets, with soaring flows of data now driving more global GDP growth than the world’s entire physical goods trade. Seven of the world’s ten most valuable firms are now technology companies.

The power of data is that it creates a common language: it means that information, ideas, behaviour and models of the physical world can be stored, analysed and shared on a mass scale. It’s ushered in a new form of digital globalisation that’s opened the door to hundreds of countries, millions of small businesses, and billions of our fellow human beings who’ve never had access to the global economy before.

That’s why technology, which used to be thought of as a sector on its own, or a business function to be outsourced, is now a strategic layer across all aspects of the modern global economy. Disruption is happening in every sector, from finance, FMCG and manufacturing, to energy, agriculture and healthcare. The pace of change is accelerating. What we’re feeling is a convergence of incredibly powerful technological trends, connectivity, digital disruption, machine learning, intuitive computing, automation, additive manufacturing, decarbonisation, gene-editing, synthetic biology. Each of these is transformative in their own right. Together, they’re a roaring tornado creating once in a hundred year revolutions in every industry at the same time.

The aim of this elective is to equip MBA candidates with a broad understanding of how technological disruption works, allowing them to develop a set of skills to start thinking about disruption, from positions within and outside of the traditional firm. The content of the elective is also devoted to introducing 21st century style management concepts such as design thinking, agile development, lean management and the modular organisation. The elective will include focused, real world case studies on the effects of disruptive technologies. The case studies are cross-disciplinary. The role of technology, institutions, economics and social and cultural factors are all examined and discussed in detail, with perspectives and solutions offered and exchanged among the group.

Students will come away with the ability to think clearly and critically about technological disruption, a skill that is particularly relevant for business leaders who wish to turn technologies to their strategic advantage — and to protect their organisations against competitors trying to do the same.

By the end of the elective students will:

  • Have a sound understanding of concepts central to the process of technological innovation.

  • Understand, assimilate and apply key concepts, theories and best case practices around the influence of digital technologies.

  • Receive the most up to date information on the current state of technological change in multiple industries.

  • Discover techniques of gathering high quality market intelligence on the emergence of the latest technological trends.

Find out more about this course

Name *


I am still gobsmacked by the four days of this class and cannot wait to dive into the resources Gus shared with us. His approach was quite phenomenal I can’t imagine what it will be like as he improves to even higher levels in the future. I trust he will keep the relationship with GIBS as long as possible so that more people like me can be exposed to his teachings.

Mfundo A Dzanibe


This was definitely the highlight of my 2018 MBA coursework. Great insights into the world of technology. Thank you Gus.

Unathi Mkiva


We spent four incredible days with Angus where he took us on a journey to explore the new economy. We learned about the evolution of technology and hope, how everything is connected, that data is the new oil and AI is the new electricity. We explored exponential technology growth within the context of emerging market economies, diversity and through insightful conversations linking it back to how we can use this learning in our organisations and our country. I thoroughly enjoyed this course and would recommend it to anyone who is interested to learn more about this new economy and the relationship between technology and humans.

Heinrich Kieser


I found the course to be very eye-opening and moreover, thought-provoking. I think there are a few reasons for this, including the multidimensional perspective offered by showing us many lenses through which to look at technology. The persistent focus on humanity was interesting, given it was a tech course, but it made the course refreshing and relevant in a whole new way. Certainly the immediate positive pay-off is that this helped manage the fear for many of us. Angus’s generosity in sharing his insights, going so far as sharing his resources, meant that he actually set us off on a journey that will continue beyond the initial four days of learning. I have also found myself indulging in more self-reflection, questioning what role I would like to play in this exciting new world. I want to thank him for inspiring a desire for a new kind of knowledge and discovery. And also for being willing to listen and learn from us - his open-mindedness also had its own lessons for us. 

Melissa Stevens


Exceptionally presented and thought provoking tech disruption module. One of the best...

Sarfaraaz Ahmed Khan


I truly feel privileged to had had the experience to attend not only my best elective but what I believe to have been the most imperative course of my MBA journey! In giving some though to how to structure the feedback, it's difficult to express what has felt like an absolute shift in who I am and my perspective on the boundless opportunities which I need to seize. It's incredible that a four day journey has had such a positive impact and all of sudden, offered clarity to what I want to pursue next - thank you for providing this! 

Feedback on the course.....where to begin: 

  • A breath of fresh air.

  • Incredibly facilitated.

  • Storytelling/presenting, a true gift!

  • Excellent at gauging the pace of the audience.

  • Agile in delivery and managing energy.

  • Continuously closing the loop on learning.

  • Effective in bringing everyone back to the key takeaway/s per section.

  • Instant feedback = rock star. Something which as a group of students we've all requested during this MBA and he is the first lecturer to actually offer it.

  • Awe-inspiring content - I truly appreciated the fresh approach to the slides and time taken to compile the content. It was evident that a tremendous amount of thought and precision went into each session. 

  • Healthy mix of learning methods i.e.: the storytelling exercise, to the one on one shares, to the circle, to the broader group share, the drone interaction etc.

  • Finally, Angus has an incredible talent at taking what is assumed a technical topic and making it totally approachable and simplified. 

If there is one area of alternative feedback - fight to make this a core module! Students in South Africa and Africa and not only at business schools but even our primary/ secondary institutions need to be exposed to tech futurologists such as Angus.

Cameron Hogg


I was fortunate enough to attend the Tech Disruption elective at GIBS, conducted by Dr. Angus Hervey, as part of fulfilling my requirements for the completion of my MBA qualification. I was blown away by the content that was discussed and, for this, I must commend Angus on the way the course was presented and conducted as well as the never-ending insights that were shared. I entered the course with a passion for all things disruptive and I left the course with a heightened need to make a difference. The course wasn't just about technology, it was presented as a story that linked bleeding edge technology to humans and what makes us unique. This is definitely a course I would recommend to anyone, irrespective of ones' background, profession or academic qualification. It has a little bit of everything for everyone.

Avesh Inderjeet


Awesome! I am so glad I was a part of this. Changed my perspective towards technology and the next economy. Very well presented.

Thato Marumo


There are not many lecturers who can take two seemingly opposite topics, such as humanity and technology, and serve them up in an interesting, engaging and thought-provoking manner. I found the content extremely relevant and interesting. I had an idea of a lot of the tech stuff that was being done, but not only did my knowledge on those topics increase exponentially (see what I did there), but I also learned so many new things I had no clue about.

Furthermore, the way it was taught was smart and useful, for me at least. As MBA students finishing off our final year, we are unconsciously thinking about what the future holds and what role we play in it. We were asked to think of our stories from the start of the elective, then guided on the progress and capabilities of future technology, and finally the two were brought together. Asking individuals to tell their stories throughout the course whilst learning about technology is ninja teaching. Because technology is about people. 


The days were quite draining, although I appreciated the “AGILE lectures". Angus was quite aware of where everyone’s energy levels were at and adjusted when necessary. The frequent recaps helped with absorbing the content. Don’t think for a second that a slide that quotes a metric from 3 days earlier goes unappreciated. Lastly, giving syndicates candid feedback on the presentations was excellent. For some reason, telling someone to up their slide game is really difficult and I’ve never seen a lecturer do it. Yet Angus did it, and did it effectively. A masterclass in showing what preparation and storytelling can achieve. Angus is not only a teacher of The Next Economy, he seems to be a citizen of it already as well.

Frank Mourinho


Thank you Gus for the inspirational four days and the way in which you brought it altogether. It was a pleasure and a privilege to have been a part of it.

Simphiwe Mazibuko


The volume of information on this subject is vast, thank you for keeping everything so modern and relevant. It was refreshing having a course that was so up to date and on the cutting edge of where technology is. Angus gave us the elephant, and fed it to us in bite-sized pieces! The flow that he adopted is great, however I think he should show the high-level talking points right from the start to give the class perspective of the journey to be followed. As unexpected as it was, the sharing exercises were fruitful for me to enable a satisfactory level of reflection, and also encouraging me to leave me comfort zone. A refreshing take on an extensive topic. Through facilitation the themes and technologies were well described and discussed to bring along everyone from a variety of backgrounds and knowledge levels. I couldn't have asked for a more impressive way to conclude my MBA journey... I've been left with a lot of food for thought which has escalated my energy levels!

Craig Carlson


I thoroughly enjoyed the elective on the Next Economy. The topics presented were very thought-provoking. One of the things that I found particularly refreshing that was very different to all the other subjects and electives that I have done was that it was forward-looking. Everything thing he presented on was current, cutting edge and happening now, many of the other courses look at what has been written in the past and discuss how it could be relevant today. From a leadership perspective I found the metaphor of the gardener particularly helpful and it is something that I will use in terms of leadership coaching and mentoring among my team and subordinates.

Ronald Huggins



Technology Trends

This course covers nine disruptive technology trends, combining theoretical insights and high quality thought leadership with real world examples and business case studies. In isolation, each of these trends create new ways of doing business in the 21st century. Together, they suggest we are in the midst of a new industrial revolution.

1. Connection

Key Topics: digital globalization, mobile, connectivity

More than half of the world’s population is now online, most of them via the mobile phone. This is the biggest and quickest technology uptake in human history, and has ushered in a new, digital form of globalisation that’s opened the door to developing countries, to small companies and startups, and to billions of individuals. Value is shifting from physical and social assets to digital assets, with soaring flows of data now driving more global GPD growth than the physical goods trade. “Data is the new oil” isn’t just some Silicon Valley soundbyte. It’s an economic reality. In the next decade, not only will the number of connected people rise to five billion, but we’re going to experience unimaginably faster speeds, via new technologies like 5G and satellite internet. We’re moving to a world in which every device, building and phone, is hyper-connected to us, to other devices and to the internet, leaving us all in a sea of enmeshed consequences.

2. Digitisation

 Key Topics: technological disruption, fintech, blockchain

The power of code is that it creates a common language: it means that data on information, ideas, behaviour and even the physical world can be stored, analysed and shared on a mass scale. This is why technology, which used to be a sector on its own, is now a layer over everything. We’ve already seen how powerful the digitisation of images, text, media, voice and physical location can be - disrupting media, transport and retail industries. In the next decade, we will see similar disruptions in the banking, property, legal and insurance industries. Key to this is the development of new forms of transferring value via decentralised, cryptographically secure technologies, including blockchain. Not only do these allow for new forms of money (such as cryptocurrencies), but they pave the way for a new digital substrate for the global economy, the so-called “internet of agreements.”

3. Simulation

 Key Topics: virtual reality, augmented reality, mixed reality, virtual assistants

 We are in the midst of the next big evolution in computing, as devices become exponentially more powerful, and increasingly intuitive. New ways of interacting with machines, inside, outside and between ourselves, are becoming available. These include virtual reality, which enables users to immerse themselves in a digital environment; augmented reality which overlays the real world with digital information and images; and mixed reality, which is a seamless blend between the real and digital worlds. The next generation of computing will allow us to interact through glasses or a screen overlay, and speak to virtual assistants. These are not just new platforms that enable new types of capabilities, but new mechanisms for people to connect with one another. Just when you’ve got your UX practices sorted, along comes a whole new challenge...

4. Cognition

Key topics: artificial intelligence, machine learning

Artificial intelligence is the single most revolutionary technology trend of the next decade. This is the combination of self learning algorithms and computer systems able to perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence, like visual perception, speech recognition, decision making and language translation. In no case is human intelligence mimicked; in each case, it is augmented. Far from Terminator style scenarios, AI on the horizon looks more like cloud computing: cheap, reliable, industrial-grade digital smartness running behind everything. In the same way that physical world was once electrified, soon it will be cognified. AI will become a normal part of our environment and its very ubiquity will hide it. We will be able to reach this distributed intelligence in a million ways, through any digital screen anywhere on earth. Right now, that seems like magic. Soon it will be normal. This movement from magic to banality is a feature of all technology.

5. Automation

 Key Topics: robotics, autonomous vehicles, drones, employment, future of work

 Improved power systems, new materials, advances in computing, manufacturing and new, better algorithms are accelerating robotics. This is making robots faster, stronger, cheaper, and more perceptive, allowing them to engage with their surrounding environments, and carry out new and increasingly complex tasks. In the same way that smartphones became widely available everyone in the world in the last decade, robotics and AI will become cheap, easily accessible and deployable for everyone in the next. We will be living in a highly automated and advanced computerised world, sharing it with smart machines that have a form of limited or governed artificial intelligence. These technologies are revolutionary because they minimise human intervention in areas we previously thought could never be automated - for example, driving a car, investing money, or teaching in classrooms. Automation minimises dangerous or boring tasks. It allows for new insights and greater capacity. It will create new jobs and give birth to entirely new fields of human endeavour. But in the process, it will disrupt old industries and create structural changes to the economy, with major implications for employment.

6. Manipulation

 Key Topics: additive manufacturing, material sciences, nanotechnology

 The digital revolution is changing the way we make things. Recent advances are starting to make additive manufacturing, of which 3D printing is just one component, a powerful competitor to conventional mass production. Easy-to-change software means advanced manufacturers can turn out one-off items with the same equipment and materials needed to make thousands. Economies of scale no longer apply, and the nature of supply chain management is fundamentally changed. This means higher productivity, lower lead times, less supply chain risk and less environmental and financial costs. Nor is the technology restricted to making things out of metal and plastic. It is also capable of extending manufacturing’s reach into matters biological, and all the way down to the microscopic and nano scales.

7. Regeneration

 Key Topics: renewable energy, storage, electric vehicles, smart grids, decarbonisation, green buildings, sustainable agriculture, vertical farming

 We are in the middle of the greatest energy transition of all time. The realities of climate change, political evolution and technological acceleration mean that a new kind of economy is coming into being way faster than anyone thought. Within a few decades, by necessity, we’ll be living in a post-carbon future. The high carbon economy of coal, oil, cars, cows and logging will stagger on a little longer, but its day are numbered. Arriving in its place, the zero carbon economy of solar and wind energy; dense green building in low-car cities; sustainable infrastructure; electric autonomous vehicles; clean technologies and digital efficiency breakthroughs; on-demand shared goods and low-carbon lifestyles; sustainable farming and forestry. This transformation has major implications not only for the future of business, but for humanity as a whole.

8. Evolution

Key Topics: biotechnology, genetics, CRISPR, personalised medicine, brain machine interfacing, life extension

A transformation of healthcare is underway. We are moving from a science of treating disease to one of promoting health. The age of personalised medicine is arriving, thanks to incredible technological advances that have allowed us to decode the human genome, cut and paste our own DNA, and start reverse engineering the human brain. Our ability to manipulate the code of life is upending previously age old ideas around what it means to be human, and a new range of external and implantable brain machine interfacing devices are giving rise to new forms of biological and chemical enhancement that will greatly enhance people’s intellectual and physical capabilities. As the brain and body will become increasingly blended with digital and physical technology, they will create an augmented human society.

9. Reorganisation

Key Topics: future of work, gig economy, technological unemployment, innovation, collaboration

In a world where all work is becoming digital, where automation is chipping away at routine tasks, and where technological innovation is disrupting business models, a new kind of organisational model is experiencing success. Smaller, more mobile, modular teams prioritise adaptation over efficiency, and diversity over groupthink. Skills such as communication, collaboration and creativity provide more effective pathways to success. Effective 21st century organisations have more highly developed research and development arms, are obsessed with user experience and customer satisfaction, and and focus on fostering productive internal cultures. They create iteratively better projects, using agile and lean methodologies. They have incentive systems for employees to create the best products. Perhaps most importantly, today’s most successful firms understand that counter-intuitively, in a world where technology is a layer over everything, the most important skills are the human ones, allowing their people to work together. And in the next economy, collaboration trumps genius every time.