BCX Chair in Digital Business

Introduction from Head of Chair


There has been much hype around ‘digitalisation’ in the media and elsewhere, but while it is a very real part of our world, and applies to every aspect of business, there is no substantial body of knowledge available that is based on solid academic research.  In other words, digital business is not a formal area of study.

But that has now changed, however!  Thanks to Wits Business School and Telkom, who have taken the lead, the first ever Chair in Digital Business in Africa was established in 2016. It is now my pleasure, as the Head of the Chair, to introduce you to what the Chair will offer.

The overarching vision of the Chair is to help South African business thrive in the digital era. 

There will be a number of academic, online and executive education programmes on offer. All these programmes will be based on new research in the field of digital business.

The WBS/BCX Chair in Digital Business is a first on the continent and one of the first in the world, and is poised to produce the first formal body of research in this field and graduate the first cohort of students in digital business, who will emerge better equipped to rise to, and manage, the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution.

We look forward to welcoming you onto our programmes in the future!

Prof Brian Armstrong
Professor: Chair in Digital Business

Prof. Brian Armstrong is one of the foremost ICT industry leaders in South Africa, with over 30 years of top level management experience in Telecommunications, IT, technology R&D and systems engineering, both in South Africa and abroad. He is widely regarded as a thought leader in digitalisation, convergence and business strategy.

In July 2017 Brian joined the Wits Business School in the role of Professor in the Chair of Digital Business. His focus here is on building a comprehensive knowledge base on the diverse dimensions of Digital Business, and developing more scientifically rigorous models for and an academically sound underpinning of core concepts in digitalisation.

Previously was a key part of the leadership team which has been credited with turning Telkom around, in the capacity of Group Chief Operating Officer and Group Chief Commercial Officer. In his time with Telkom he also revived the ailing Telkom Business unit, and conceived and led the acquisition of BCX and its integration into the group. He was also responsible for the group’s Retail unit, as well as leading group strategy and transformation activities.

Before joining Telkom in 2010 Brian was BT’s Vice President for Middle East and Africa with overall responsibility to oversee and grow BT’s activities across the region. Before that his work experience includes South Africa’s CSIR, ultimately as the Director of the Division for Information and Communications Technology; and South African listed ICT services group AST (now Gijima), as Managing Director of AST Networks.

Brian completed his BSc (Eng) and MSc (Eng) at the University of the Witwatersrand in 1982 and 1984 respectively, and obtained his PhD from University College London in 1992.

His professional interests include business leadership, digitalisation, strategic change leadership and management, corporate entrepreneurship, organisational design, multinational and multicultural business optimisation, and venture creation.

The WBS/BCX Chair in Digital Business came about in May 2016 when Telkom signed a five-year funding agreement with Wits Business School.  BCX is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Telkom Group.

The WBS/BCX Chair aims to be a centre of excellence in digital business in South Africa and Africa by producing a range of teaching programmes and conducting structured research, working with industry to ensure relevance and applicability.

In delivering this mission our objectives are:

  • To establish a sufficiently broad, coherent, credible and contextualised knowledge base for managing businesses in the emergent digital world;
  • To provide a range of learning programmes (qualifications and certifications) to share this knowledge base in practical and actionable ways, and
  • To conduct a structured research programme into Digital Business to advance the state of business science in a contextualised way, working with industry to ensure relevance and application.

The Chair in Digital Business will offer both academic and executive education programmes/short courses. The academic offerings are as follows. 

Master of Business Science in Digital Business (NQF 9)

Core courses:

  • Business Strategy for a Digital World
  • Digital Technology Fundamentals
  • Marketing for Digital Business
  • Digitalising Operations Management
  • Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Venturing
  • Digital Readiness, Transformation & Change Management
  • Research Methodology

The MBSc in Digital Business will also comprise 3 electives + Research Report:

Elective courses:

  • Applied Big Data & Analytics
  • Cybersecurity & Risk Management
  • Fintech
  • Frontiers in e-Government
  • E-commerce
  • Digital Education
  • Digital Healthcare
  • Digital Mining


Postgraduate Diploma in Digital Business (NQF 8)

Core Courses:

  • Business Strategy for a Digital World
  • Digital Technology Fundamentals
  • Marketing for Digital Business
  • Digitilising Operations Management
  • Innovation, Entrepreneurship and Venturing
  • Digital Readiness, Transformation & Change Management

PG Dip Specific Courses:

  • Talent Management for Digital Leadership
  • Ethics, Governance & Policy for Digital Business
  • Customer Experience Management
  • Systems Thinking in the Digital Economy
  • New Methods in IT Management
  • Digital Business in Africa


The Research Programme will feed into the Postdoctoral, Doctoral and Master’s portfolios and will focus on the following areas of study:

  • Business
    • Business models and practices
    • Service adoption, capital efficiency and allocation
    • Business outcomes of digital transformation
    • Customer decision journeys in South Africa
    • Impact on the South African tech sector
    • Economics of new IT
  •  Economic & Social Impact
    • Extent, causes and impact of concentration
    • The impact of AI and robotics on jobs in South Africa
    • The Digital Divide: its economic impact and how digitilisation will exacerbate or ameliorate the situation
  • Applications
    • Digital mining
    • Digital healthcare
    • Digital education
    • E-commerce
    • Fintech
  • Policy, Law, Ethics & Governance
    • The governance of AI
    • Competition law for a digital world
    • Policy directions for states, provinces and cities

The chair in digital business has launched its first in-company digital leadership development programme.  Our customised digital business development programmes are designed in close consultation with our clients to meet their organisational strategy and talent management needs.

Open enrolment courses/short programmes:  

Future leaders in digital business - NQF6 aligned: 20 days*

  • technology fundamentals
  • introduction to business finance
  • principles of business leadership
  • project leadership
  • customer experience management
  • introduction to digital marketing

 Digital business management programme - NQF7 aligned: 24 days*                     

  • technology fundamentals
  • introduction to digital business strategy
  • business leadership in the 21st century
  • digital marketing management
  • customer experience management
  • digital transformation & change management
  • management finance & accounting 

 Digital business executive programme - NQF8 aligned 28 days*

  • technology fundamentals
  • business strategy for a digital world
  • innovation & venturing
  • issues in business leadership
  • customer experience management
  • policy, governance & ethics in a digital world
  • business economics
  • key sectors on the digital threshold

Note: these modules can be articulated into a MM DB and MBA DB as exemptions.

* these courses are delivered in ‘block-release’ format, typically with 6 to 8 blocks of 3 to 4 days each, spread over a period of 6 – 10 months depending on client needs. in addition to these days delegates are expected to do substantial independent reading, individual and team assignments, and written examinations.