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Deal with disruption in workplace of tomorrow

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Decision-makers need to carefully scrutinise their employee value positions, workflow and supporting technology systems and consider how they will meet the demands of the workplace of the future in 2016 and beyond.

Gys Kappers, CEO of Wyzetalk, believes that the biggest challenges in the coming years will need clear strategies on these three key areas: employee engagement, data and mobility.

Data driven insight

We talk a lot about big data and the opportunity to know your customer, but we’re still far off making it really work for us. Some of the challenges arise from the heavy duty software systems at play from big vendors. They have the data but not the workflow and flexibility to make the system or data easy to work with. “Many are now considering the open ecosystem and allowing third-party developers to create overlay apps and micro-systems to plug into their systems. This ‘integration’ creates systems that are easy to use, inherently mobile and focused in their user application.”

“The always-on workforce needs to be able to access and input data in these systems, and most would prefer using a mobile apps or some kind of mobile menu to do this. Mobile is ideal to optimise workflow and employee services, resulting in things like self-drive payslips, leave applications, order processing,” says Kappers, “We’re going to see a lot more happen in this space, think of mobile intranets that connect companies with employees in a dynamic way to increase productivity not to mention create an immediate channel for direct feedback, both ways.

The importance of social

Increasingly, Kappers says, there is also the need for more functional and relevant business apps that incorporate a social layer. “To enable collaboration, ideation, and knowledge sharing amongst users. More groups of people are taking to apps that provide functionality relevant to their style, content, and context of work. Company policies will need to accommodate these in their technology and security stacks.”

“Despite the potential, the biggest challenge facing any organisation is to align its technology approach and content services to meet the needs of both the company and the end user. Companies should look beyond broadcast mode when defining their comms strategies. Blending this in order for all stakeholders to enjoy a mutually respectful and engaged environment is fundamentally shifting how a business needs to plan and develop its systems,” adds Kappers.

Think different

Despite the opportunities, Kappers says many companies are approaching technology and the changing workplace dynamics with an old mindset. “More than ever the need for good change management capabilities is certain. Organisational disruption needn’t be a chaotic it should be carefully considered and implemented with expert support.”

With this, comes the rise of the individual in the workplace. Companies should ask how they get more from their employees by understanding their individual needs and engaging with them.

“Often companies will say that their employees are important to them, but they behave in a way contrary to that. One of the problems is that the role of human resources continues to be seen as transactional and not strategic. Too often, companies see people as a way to meet the bottom line. The thinking needs to change and decision-makers should view employees as assets to the business. You treat assets very differently,” says Kappers.

Stimulating education

For Henry Chandler, VP and COO of the African Society for Talent Development, this talent-driven business environment means the importance of learning and development has become greater than ever.

“South African firms have to focus on talent engagement, high performance, and efficiency, while building capacity for local, regional, and global growth. Despite the fact that South African firms are facing tough times at home, they are increasingly taking advantage of opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Success in this market requires leaders with the skills to build a high performance culture, pointing to how investing in the holistic advancement of talent should be a business imperative.

“Such a focus must aim to build a sustainable and adaptive organisation of talented, diverse, competent, and inspired people. Many executives are becoming directly involved in global leadership development programmes related to increased employee engagement and overall business performance,” says Chandler.

New environment, new approach

As a result, organisations require managers who can work in complex, multi-cultural situations. This means that leaders should be able to manage the balance between delivering for today and investing for tomorrow. Says Chandler: “High value should be placed on leadership development offering programmes aimed at developing the skills and knowledge of managers and leaders at different stages of their careers. Engaged, skilled and inspired people are at the centre of delivering on the growth aspirations of organisations.”

Sourcing talent

“The internet has revolutionised the way people learn about companies and apply for jobs. Company career sites remain the top channel for promoting the brand. But talent acquisition and recruiting are undergoing rapid changes, challenging companies to leverage social networks and other collaboration tools. Social media provides not only information about a candidate’s experience and skills, but a better glimpse into their lifestyle, values, and their cultural fit,” adds Chandler.

As the economy continues to grow, employee skills are becoming more specialised, making engagement and culture, leadership and development top priorities for talent management stakeholders. The culture of the organisation should support high performance and talent engagement.

“Employers who fail to engage with workers and provide solutions to the increasing demands being placed on workforces today will struggle to stay abreast of the competition tomorrow,” concludes Chandler.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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