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Imitation does not replace innovation

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Today, it’s not enough to simply force digital capabilities onto an existing business model. Brands need to innovate in order to avoid competition and also need to be disruptors in their field, writes RICHARD MULLINS, director for Middle East and Africa at Acceleration. 

Brands that are starting to feel the competitive heat from multinational digital disruptors such as Uber, AirBNB, Amazon and Facebook need to embrace digital innovation as a core business capability if they are to compete effectively in the future. They must embed digital technologies and customer-centric thinking deeply into their businesses if they want to innovate to win.

Today, it’s not enough to simply force digital capabilities onto an existing business model. Organisations can no longer run a mobile app or a website as a silo, set up social media accounts without thinking about how they’ll impact the wider customer experience, or throw money at digital advertising without looking at the entire marketing strategy.

Digital disrupts everything

Instead, leading digital organisations are embracing digital technologies and the new customer experiences they enable as a wider transformation of the way they do business. For example, when it comes to social media, it’s not just a new communications and service platform. It also changes the nature of the customer experience by giving customers a louder voice and bringing more transparency to the brand-customer relationship.

Thus, companies that want to succeed with digital platforms may also need to change their customer service philosophy, relook risk and governance models, and change back-office systems and processes. Without making these fundamental changes, they risk creating digital channels that are disconnected from the business’s operational reality.

Align the business behind digital

That, in turn, is a recipe for customer frustration and business inefficiency. For example, what happens when service reps on social media don’t understand how the technical support team works or make promises on which logistics cannot deliver? Disciplines such as logistics management, pricing and even customer service must all be aligned with marketing channels if brands are to deliver on their digital promises.

Brands must, from their top levels, accept that digital technology and an empowered mobile consumer have changed the way that business works. Rather than simply reacting to this changing world – as many large consumer brands are doing – leading businesses should be transforming their businesses so that they can drive digital disruption.

CEOs must lead the charge

It’s up to CEOs to lead digital change. They need to look at their businesses and find ways that they can use digital technology to change their industries. It is CEOs who have the complete view of the business and the ability to rally all of its resources under the banner of digital transformation.

Without strong leadership, digital projects will become ineffectual silos rather than helping drive a whole new strategy and operating model for the business.

Data is the core

A preoccupation with the customer is the core of digital transformation, and it is here where data has an important role to play.  Data and the insights it yields allow companies to align the organisation to the customer experience, decision journey and brand touch points. It gives organisations a more holistic view of their customers so that they can understand their needs and respond to them in real or near-real time.

Smarter is better than bigger

Though many marketers become nervous when the term “big data” is mentioned, they should be thinking about “smart data” instead. Look at a dozen or so data points that will give you real insight into your customers and help you engage with them at a deeper level. Don’t measure Facebook ‘likes’ because everyone else is – look at the data which reveals their behaviours, needs, desires, and other insights that you can act upon.

Innovation – for the customer’s sake

Every brand can and should be using digital technologies to revitalise its business, but the aim should not be to innovate for the sake of it. Instead, it’s about using new digital channels and technologies to bring new levels of immediacy, accountability and customer-centricity to marketing. The customer experience is what matters – the digital toolset is the means rather than the end.

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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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