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How companies can get it right with young talent

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As more millennial workers assume management positions, they will shape future workspaces and they already have solid ideas of what that the workspace looks like. VIDESHA PROOTHVEERAJH, Intel Country Manager for Southern Africa, highlights three key ideas on how organisations can retain millennials.

Millennials – those born between 1980 and 2000 – will soon outnumber Generation X workers and will form 50% of the global workforce by 2020. As more than one-fourth of millennial workers assume management positions, it’s fair to say that they will shape future workspaces and, based on the findings of the recent Dell and Intel Future Workforce Study, they already have solid ideas of what that workspace looks like – and the poor office dog does not feature.

This shift is forcing companies to relook how they do business and how they integrate technology into their operations if they want to attract and retain millennials, who get bored quickly and who value work-life balance and the latest technological solutions to help them get the job done.

The Future Workforce Study highlights three key ideas on how organisations can get it right:

1.       Keep up with global technology trends

The study found that if businesses want to attract quality talent, they need to create smart workspaces that meet employees’ technological needs. Millennials and remote employees were found to be the most future ready when it came to smart technology, with 63% of those surveyed in South Africa expecting to work in a smart office in the next five years.

What is a smart office? It’s one that incorporates technologies like the Internet of Things, virtual and augmented reality to not only improve productivity and collaboration but also for smart office planning, like directing new employees to the nearest printer or maintaining office temperatures at optimum levels.

Millennials are always on the go but they identified slow and ‘glitchy’ technology as their biggest time wasters. While most respondents said technology within their companies was satisfactory, they also said it was not cutting edge and, in some cases, was not on par with the technology they use at home. Millennials expect technology to help them work smarter and faster, not slow them down.

Bottom line: If you want to attract and retain the best millennial workers, aim to replace workplace technology every three to four years. You’ll also save money as PCs older than four years have 25% higher repair costs than newer PCs.

2.       Offer flexible/remote working arrangements for work/life balance

Given the fact that we are living in an ever increasing mobile environment, working remotely will continue to become more prevalent.  Therefore, technology is a major deciding factor for many millennials when it comes to accepting job offers because it supports remote/flexible working arrangements. While two thirds of remote workers and half of office workers say their jobs are becoming part of their core identities, they still view their work and social lives as mostly separate – at 73% and 81%, respectively.

Millennials want to be able to work from anywhere, at times when they are most productive, which is not conducive to the ‘nine to five’ workday. For this to be a feasible option for employees, they require access to smart technology, as it has a big impact on their decision to either join or stay at a company. This has become apparent through the research, with 30% of workers saying that they will quit their jobs if the technology does not meet their standards and 80% saying that the technology available influences their decision on whether to take a new job.

In fact, 75% prefer high-tech perks over low-tech perks like a ping pong table, free food and an office dog, and most would choose working remotely over a promotion and a fun office culture. The biggest concerns with remote working, however, were the potential for work to encroach on their personal lives as well as not having a relationship with colleagues.

Bottom line: The future workforce will be mobile, supported by an array of digital technologies that enables employees to securely work and collaborate from any location, at any time. The ‘nine-to-five’ grind is slowly giving way to the best time for productivity, which is different for each individual and is further fuelled by a growing mobile and global workforce. Millennials are more adept at working remotely and have linked this to happiness at work, presenting an opportunity for businesses to empower and retain employees.

3.       Use smart technology smartly

Smart workspaces embrace new technologies that make it easier for people to connect, collaborate and better accomplish workplace goals. The majority of South Africans are open to the idea of virtual and augmented reality in the workplace with the biggest selling points being training on new skills in realistic virtual environments, problem solving with 3D visualisation, presentation, collaboration and communication.

While millennials are more likely to use augmented and virtual reality products – with 60% seeing a potential use for augmented reality in the workplace – they are also wary of the potential of these technologies to lead to unemployment through job automation.

Bottom line: Allay fears of job redundancy by encouraging staff to use new technologies to innovate and come up with new products and ways of working. Fifty-nine percent of South African respondents – 72% of them remote workers – already believe that augmented and virtual reality will make their jobs easier, and they are already expecting a shift – 75% believe they will be working in a smart office that uses the Internet of Things in the next five years. Businesses can address the challenges of a changing workplace with the latest tools and technologies to gain a competitive advantage. The key is to focus on experiences that are enabled by these new technologies.

Technology is driving massive change within organisations today, affecting everything from how workers attract and retain the best people, to where and how they do their jobs, to how they communicate and collaborate. Those that use the latest technology will ensure the highest levels of productivity and be better able to compete effectively.

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When will we stop calling them phones?

If you don’t remember when phones were only used to talk to people, you may wonder why we still use this term for handsets, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK, on the eve of the 10th birthday of the app.

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Do you remember when handsets were called phones because, well, we used them to phone people?

It took 120 years from the invention of the telephone to the use of phones to send text.

Between Alexander Graham Bell coining the term “telephone” in 1876 and Finland’s two main mobile operators allowing SMS messages between consumers in 1995, only science fiction writers and movie-makers imagined instant communication evolving much beyond voice. Even when BlackBerry shook the business world with email on a phone at the end of the last century, most consumers were adamant they would stick to voice.

It’s hard to imagine today that the smartphone as we know it has been with us for less than 10 years. Apple introduced the iPhone, the world’s first mass-market touchscreen phone, in June 2007, but it is arguable that it was the advent of the app store in July the following year that changed our relationship with phones forever.

That was the moment when the revolution in our hands truly began, when it became possible for a “phone” to carry any service that had previously existed on the World Wide Web.

Today, most activity carried out by most people on their mobile devices would probably follow the order of social media in first place – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn all jostling for attention – and  instant messaging in close second, thanks to WhatsApp, Messenger, SnapChat and the like. Phone calls – using voice that is – probably don’t even take third place, but play fourth or fifth fiddle to mapping and navigation, driven by Google Maps and Waze, and transport, thanks to Uber, Taxify, and other support services in South Africa like MyCiti,  Admyt and Kaching.

Despite the high cost of data, free public Wi-Fi is also seeing an explosion in use of streaming video – whether Youtube, Netflix, Showmax, or GETblack – and streaming music, particularly with the arrival of Spotify to compete with Simfy Africa.

Who has time for phone calls?

The changing of the phone guard in South Africa was officially signaled last week with the announcement of Vodacom’s annual results. Voice revenue for the 2018 financial year ending 31 March had fallen by 4.6%, to make up 40.6% of Vodacom’s revenue. Total revenue had grown by 8.1%, which meant voice seriously underperformed the group, and had fallen by 4% as a share of revenue, from 2017’s 44.6%.

The reason? Data had not only outperformed the group, increasing revenue by 12.8%, but it had also risen from 39.7% to 42.8% of group revenue,

This means that data has not only outperformed voice for the first time – as had been predicted by World Wide Worx a year ago – but it has also become Vodacom’s biggest contributor to revenue.

That scenario is being played out across all mobile network operators. In the same way, instant messaging began destroying SMS revenues as far back as five years ago – to the extent that SMS barely gets a mention in annual reports.

Data overtaking voice revenues signals the demise of voice as the main service and key selling point of mobile network operators. It also points to mobile phones – let’s call them handsets – shifting their primary focus. Voice quality will remain important, but now more a subset of audio quality rather than of connectivity. Sound quality will become a major differentiator as these devices become primary platforms for movies and music.

Contact management, privacy and security will become critical features as the handset becomes the storage device for one’s entire personal life.

Integration with accessories like smartwatches and activity monitors, earphones and earbuds, virtual home assistants and virtual car assistants, will become central to the functionality of these devices. Why? Because the handsets will control everything else? Hardly.

More likely, these gadgets will become an extension of who we are, what we do and where we are. As a result, they must be context aware, and also context compatible. This means they must hand over appropriate functions to appropriate devices at the appropriate time. 

I need to communicate only using my earpiece? The handset must make it so. I have to use gesture control, and therefore some kind of sensor placed on my glasses, collar or wrist? The handset must instantly surrender its centrality.

There are numerous other scenarios and technology examples, many out of the pages of science fiction, that point to the changing role of the “phone”. The one thing that’s obvious is that it will be silly to call it a phone for much longer.

  • Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube
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MTN 5G test gets 520Mbps

MTN and Huawei have launched Africa’s first 5G field trial with an end-to-end Huawei 5G solution.

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The field trial demonstrated a 5G Fixed-Wireless Access (FWA) use case with Huawei’s 5G 28GHz mmWave Customer Premises Equipment (CPE) in a real-world environment in Hatfield Pretoria, South Africa. Speeds of 520Mbps downlink and 77Mbps uplink were attained throughout respectively.

“These 5G trials provide us with an opportunity to future proof our network and prepare it for the evolution of these new generation networks. We have gleaned invaluable insights about the modifications that we need to do on our core, radio and transmission network from these pilots. It is important to note that the transition to 5G is not just a flick of a switch, but it’s a roadmap that requires technical modifications and network architecture changes to ensure that we meet the standards that this technology requires. We are pleased that we are laying the groundwork that will lead to the full realisation of the boundless opportunities that are inherent in the digital world.” says Babak Fouladi, Group Chief Technology & Information Systems Officer, at MTN Group.

Giovanni Chiarelli, Chief Technology and Information Officer for MTN SA said: “Next generation services such as virtual and augmented reality, ultra-high definition video streaming, and cloud gaming require massive capacity and higher user data rates. The use of millimeter-wave spectrum bands is one of the key 5G enabling technologies to deliver the required capacity and massive data rates required for 5G’s Enhanced Mobile Broadband use cases. MTN and Huawei’s joint field trial of the first 5G mmWave Fixed-Wireless Access solution in Africa will also pave the way for a fixed-wireless access solution that is capable of replacing conventional fixed access technologies, such as fibre.”

“Huawei is continuing to invest heavily in innovative 5G technologies”, said Edward Deng, President of Wireless Network Product Line of Huawei. “5G mmWave technology can achieve unprecedented fiber-like speed for mobile broadband access. This trial has shown the capabilities of 5G technology to deliver exceptional user experience for Enhanced Mobile Broadband applications. With customer-centric innovation in mind, Huawei will continue to partner with MTN to deliver best-in-class advanced wireless solutions.”

“We are excited about the potential the technology will bring as well as the potential advancements we will see in the fields of medicine, entertainment and education. MTN has been investing heavily to further improve our network, with the recent “Best in Test” and MyBroadband best network recognition affirming this. With our focus on providing the South Africans with the best customer experience, speedy allocation of spectrum can help bring more of these technologies to our customers,” says Giovanni.

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