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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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Earth 2050: memory chips for kids, telepathy for adults

An astonishing set of predictions for the next 30 years includes a major challenge to the privacy of our thoughts.

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Buy 2050, most kids may be fitted with the latest memory boosting implants, and adults will have replaced mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought.

These are some of the more dramatic forecasts in Earth 2050, an award-winning, interactive multimedia project that accumulates predictions about social and technological developments for the upcoming 30 years. The aim is to identify global challenges for humanity and possible ways of solving these challenges. The website was launched in 2017 to mark Kaspersky Lab’s 20th birthday. It comprises a rich variety of predictions and future scenarios, covering a wide range of topics.

Recently a number of new contributions have been added to the site. Among them Lord Martin Rees, the UK’s Astronomer Royal, Professor at Cambridge University and former President of the Royal Society; investor and entrepreneur Steven Hoffman, Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner, along withDmitry Galov, security researcher and Alexey Malanov, malware analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

The new visions for 2050 consider, among other things:

  • The replacement of mobile devices with direct connectivity through brain implants, powered by thought – able to upload skills and knowledge in return – and the impact of this on individual consciousness and privacy of thought.
  • The ability to transform all life at the genetic level through gene editing.
  • The potential impact of mistakes made by advanced machine-learning systems/AI.
  • The demise of current political systems and the rise of ‘citizen governments’, where ordinary people are co-opted to approve legislation.
  • The end of the techno-industrial age as the world runs out of fossil fuels, leading to economic and environmental devastation.
  • The end of industrial-scale meat production, as most people become vegan and meat is cultured from biopsies taken from living, outdoor reared livestock.

The hypothetical prediction for 2050 from Dmitry Galov, security researcher at Kaspersky Lab is as follows: “By 2050, our knowledge of how the brain works, and our ability to enhance or repair it is so advanced that being able to remember everything and learn new things at an outrageous speed has become commonplace. Most kids are fitted with the latest memory boosting implants to support their learning and this makes education easier than it has ever been. 

“Brain damage as a result of head injury is easily repaired; memory loss is no longer a medical condition, and people suffering from mental illnesses, such as depression, are quickly cured.  The technologies that underpin this have existed in some form since the late 2010s. Memory implants are in fact a natural progression from the connected deep brain stimulation implants of 2018.

“But every technology has another side – a dark side. In 2050, the medical, social and economic impact of memory boosting implants are significant, but they are also vulnerable to exploitation and cyber-abuse. New threats that have appeared in the last decade include the mass manipulation of groups through implanted or erased memories of political events or conflicts, and even the creation of ‘human botnets’. 

“These botnets connect people’s brains into a network of agents controlled and operated by cybercriminals, without the knowledge of the victims themselves.  Repurposed cyberthreats from previous decades are targeting the memories of world leaders for cyber-espionage, as well as those of celebrities, ordinary people and businesses with the aim of memory theft, deletion of or ‘locking’ of memories (for example, in return for a ransom).  

“This landscape is only possible because, in the late 2010s when the technologies began to evolve, the potential future security vulnerabilities were not considered a priority, and the various players: healthcare, security, policy makers and more, didn’t come together to understand and address future risks.”

For more information and the full suite of inspirational and thought-provoking predictions, visit Earth 2050.

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SAFTA awards get first streaming video nominees

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The 2019 nominations for The South African Film and Television Awards (SAFTAs) were announced late last week, and for the first time in the 13-year history of the awards, a TV series produced for a video-on-demand service was in contention. The result was a surprise boost to streaming service Showmax.

The comedy series Tali’s Wedding Diary, which premiered in December 2017, represented a major step for the then two-year old streaming service. It was the debut Showmax Original, the first time Showmax ventured into producing its own content. The gamble paid off, with the show becoming the most watched of any series on its first day on Showmax, and now Tali’s Wedding Diary has been further recognised with seven SAFTA nominations, making it this year’s most nominated comedy.

“When we first floated the idea of Tali’s Wedding Diary, we joked about winning awards,” says Candice Fangueiro, Showmax’s head of content. “At that point, just getting our first Showmax Original off the ground was already a major challenge and it was more than we could hope for to actually hit it out of the park. I was stunned when I heard the news about the nominations – it’s amazing to be considered in the same company as these other shows and thanks to this we’re already seeing a fresh spike in Tali views.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary was also a first for co-creator and star Julia Anastasopoulos, who until then was best known as YouTube star SuzelleDIY. “I am so thrilled about the SAFTA nominations for Tali’s Wedding Diary,” says Julia, who is up for Best Actress – TV Comedy and Best Achievement in Scriptwriting – TV Comedy, along with her husband Ari Kruger and Daniel Zimbler. 

“It was such a big and daunting step to create a full TV comedy series and intro a brand-new character. I really didn’t know how it would be received and am so happy to have received such positive feedback for the show and the Tali Babes character, along with the nominations. It feels so good to be recognised for something we poured our hearts into. None of it would have been possible, of course, without the incredible hard work and vision of my husband Ari and the incredible team, cast and crew that were part of the show. And a huge thank you to Showmax of course for making it all possible. Congratulations and best of luck to the entire team and to all the other nominees.”

Tali’s Wedding Diary is a mockumentary that follows Tali, a self-obsessed Joburg princess who’s moved to Cape Town and is planning her wedding to property-agent fiancé Darren (Anton Taylor). The series was inspired by Julia’s own wedding to Ari, her SuzelleDIY and Tali’s Wedding Diary co-creator, who is also up for Best Achievement In Directing – TV Comedy.  

In addition to Julia and Ari’s nominations, Tali’s Wedding Diary is up for Best TV Comedy, Art Direction (Keren Setton),  Cinematography (James Adey), and Editing (Richard Starkey). Winners will be announced on 2 March 2019 at Sun City Superbowl.

Following the success of Tali’s Wedding Diary, the second Showmax Original, The Girl From St Agnes, was released earlier this month. A third Showmax Original, Trippin With Skhumba, is slated for release at the end of February.

“With three Showmax Originals now under our belt and more on the way, we’d like to think this is the start of many more SAFTA nominations for shows from a streaming service,” concludes Candice.

South African content currently on Showmax has 110 nominations and includes the most nominated movie (Five Fingers With Marseilles), telenovela (The River), drama (Lockdown) and soap (Isibaya), with more SAFTA nominees scheduled for the coming months.

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