Digital platform skills requirements for SMMEs and start-ups: a South African perspective

Noqayi, Aluzuko
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
The Fourth Industrial Revolution has enabled new business models, automated processes, and streamlined operations. Digital platforms form part of the technological solutions that disrupt existing business models; they have made alternative streams for companies that exist online. However, with these disruptions of business models, there is a need for new skills too. This study investigated the skills needed by digital entrepreneurs to effectively lead, operate, and manage digital platform SMMEs in the South African context. A qualitative research study using semi-structured interviews was conducted with a sample group of 12 participants. The group was made up of CEOs, CIOs, Solution Managers and Business Managers of digital platform SMMEs in South Africa. A thematic analysis technique was used to identify themes in the data analysis. The study's findings were that the digital platforms are complex and lack consistent definition and conceptualisation between their IT and commercial functionality. This affects the skills identified as essential in literature as it forms a bias based on whether the focus is IT or commerce. Secondly, the study found that a mix of lower-order and higher-order skills were essential for digital entrepreneurs. These ranged from technical, human, and conceptual skills to leadership and business skills. Lastly, the study found that digital entrepreneurs have several roles in their ecosystem and are multi-skilled. They are faced with challenges that stretch their capacity and adaptability, and they use their skill to control and influence the future. This study provided an adapted skills model framework for digital platform skills. This model can be used to informing resourcing, upskilling, bridging managerial gaps, business development decisions that enable SMMEs to participate competitively in the emerging digital economy
A research report submitted to the Faculty of Commerce, Law and Management, University of the Witwatersrand, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Management in the field of Digital Business, 2021
4IR, Skills, Digital Platforms, Digital Entrepreneurs