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Machine Learning coming at you

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Deloitte Global forecasts major strides in machine learning for the enterprise, a worldwide appetite for digital subscriptions among consumers, and ongoing smartphone dominance.

Among the findings pertaining to the enterprise, this year’s report indicates that business organisations will likely double their use of machine learning technology by the end of 2018. TMT Predictions highlights five key areas that Deloitte Global believes will unlock more intensive use of machine learning in the enterprise by making it easier, cheaper and faster.

The most important key area is the growth in new semiconductor chips that will increase the use of machine learning, enabling applications to use less power, and at the same time become more responsive, flexible and capable.

“We have reached the tipping point where adoption of machine learning in the enterprise is poised to accelerate,” said Mark Casey, Deloitte Global Media & Entertainment & TMT Africa Leader.

Live content in an online world and digital media worth paying for

TMT Predictions includes a number of consumer forecasts as well. Deloitte Global predicts that live broadcast and events will generate over $545 billion in direct revenues in 2018. Despite consumers’ capability to consume content on demand or attend events remotely, live consumption is thriving. And in many cases, live content’s performance has been made more productive and profitable by digital.

Indicating an increasing willingness from consumers to pay for digital content, Deloitte Global also predicts that by the end of 2018, 50 percent of adults in developed countries will have at least two online-only media subscriptions, and by the end of 2020, the average will have doubled to four.

“Digital’s rise has augmented not dented the public’s appetite for media, which in 2018 will likely include over half a trillion dollars’ worth of all forms of live content,” said Casey.

The future of the smartphone

Smartphone adoption continues to grow. By the end of 2023, more than 90 percent of adults in developed countries are expected to have a smartphone, with ownership among 55-75 year-olds reaching 85 percent. And Deloitte Global predicts that owners will interact with their phones on average 65 times per day in 2023, a 20 percent increase on 2018.

At the same time, Deloitte Global predicts 45 percent of global adult smartphone users and 65 percent of 18-24 year olds will worry that they are using their phones too much for certain activities and may try to limit their usage in 2018.

“As smartphones continue to be a big part of our professional and personal lives, we are finding more of a balance and etiquette, especially in our personal lives, even as we continue to experience more opportunities in this exciting mobile ecosystem,” said Arun Babu, Deloitte Africa Telecommunications Leader.

Additional topics from Deloitte Global’s 2018 TMT Predictions include:

  • Augmented reality on the cusp of reality Over a billion smartphone users will likely create augmented reality (AR) content at least once in 2018, with at least 300 million doing so monthly, and tens of millions weekly, according to Deloitte Global.
  • Mobile only wireless home internet – For 2018, Deloitte Global forecasts that one fifth of North American homes will get all of their internet data access via cellular mobile networks. There will be significant variations by country, however. In Brazil, for example, nearly a third of all homes will be mobile only, but only 10 percent in some European countries. The differences between geographies are due to a range of technological, economic and demographic factors.
  • An increase in #adlergic – While three quarters of North Americans engage in at least one form of regular adblocking, only about 10 percent of this population engages in blocking ads in four or more ways – the “adlergic” population. Consumers who are young, highly educated, employed, and have higher incomes are more likely to be heavy adblockers.
  • TV viewing by 18-24 year olds: stable declines, but no tipping point – Deloitte Global predicts that traditional TV viewing by 18-24 year-olds will decline by 5-15 percent per year in the US, Canada, and the UK in 2018 and 2019. This rate of decline is a similar rate to the prior seven years and is not getting worse. Many forces that distracted young people away from traditional TV, such as smartphones, social media, and video piracy, are reaching saturation.
  • In flight connectivity takes off – One billion passenger journeys, or one quarter of all passengers, are expected to be on planes fitted with in-flight connectivity (IFC) in 2018, according to Deloitte Global. This is an estimated 20 percent increase from projected 2017 totals, generating IFC revenue close to $1 billion for 2018.

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IoT at starting gate

South Africa is already past the Internet of Things (IoT) hype cycle and well into the mainstream, writes MARK WALKER, associate vice president of Sub-Saharan Africa at International Data Corporation (IDC).

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Projects and pilots are already becoming a commercial reality, tying neatly into the 2017 IDC prediction that 2018 would be the year when the local market took IoT mainstream. Over the next 12-18 months, it is anticipated that IoT implementations will continue to rise in both scope and popularity. Already 23% are in full deployment with 39% in the pilot phase. The value of IoT has been systematically proven and yet its reputation remains tenuous – more than 5% of companies are reluctant to put their money where the trend is – thanks to the shifting sands of IoT perception and success rate.

There are several reasons behind why IoT implementations are failing. The biggest is that organisations don’t know where to start. They know that IoT is something they can harness today and that it can be used to shift outdated modalities and operations. They are aware of the benefits and the case studies. What they don’t know is how to apply this knowledge to their own journey so their IoT story isn’t one of overbearing complexity and rising costs.

Another stumbling block is perception. Yes, there is the futuristic potential with the talking fridge and intelligent desk, but this is not where the real value lies. Organisations are overlooking the challenges that can be solved by realistic IoT, the banal and the boring solutions that leverage systems to deliver on business priorities. IoT’s potential sits within its ability to get the best out of assets and production efficiencies, solving problems in automation, security, and environment.

In addition to this, there is a lack of clarity around return on investment, uncertainty around the benefits, a lack of executive leadership, and concerns around security and the complexities of regulation.  Because IoT is an emerging technology there remains a limited awareness of the true extent of its value proposition and yet 66% of organisations are confident that this value exists.

This percentage poses both a problem and opportunity. On one hand, it showcases the local shift in thinking towards IoT as a technology worth investing into. On the other hand, many companies are seeing the competition invest and leaping blindly in the wrong direction. Stop. IoT is not the same for every business.

It is essential that every company makes its own case for IoT based on its needs and outcomes. Does agriculture have the same challenges as mining? Does one mining company have the same challenges as another? The answer is no. Organisations that want their IoT investment to succeed must reject the idea that they can pick up where another has left off. IoT must be relevant to the business outcome that it needs to achieve. While some use cases may apply to most industries based on specific circumstances, there are different realities and priorities that will demand a different approach and starting point.

Ask – what is the business problem right now and how can technology be leveraged to resolve it?

In the agriculture space, there is a need to improve crop yields and livestock management, improve farm productivity and implement environmental monitoring. In the construction and mining industry, safety and emergency response are a priority alongside workforce and production management. Education shifts the lens towards improving delivery and quality of education, access to advanced learning methods and reducing the costs of learning.  Smart cities want to improve traffic and efficiently deliver public services and healthcare is focusing on wellness, reducing hospital admissions and the security of assets and inventory management.

The technology and solutions selected must speak to these specific challenges.

If there are no insights used to create an IoT solution, it’s the equivalent of having the fastest Ferrari on Rivonia Road in peak traffic. It makes a fantastic noise, but it isn’t going to move any faster than the broken-down sedan in the next lane. Everyone will be impressed with the Ferrari, but the amount of power and the size of the investment mean nothing. It’s in the wrong place.

What differentiates the IoT successes is how a company leverages data to deliver meaningful value-added predictions and actions for personalised efficiencies, convenience, and improved industry processes. To move forward the organisation needs to focus on the business outcomes and not just the technology. They need to localise and adapt by applying context to the problem that’s being solved and explore innovation through partnerships and experimentation.

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ERP underpins food tracking

The food traceability market is expected to reach almost $20 billion by 2022 as increased consumer awareness, strict governance requirements, and advances in technology are resulting in growing standardisation of the segment, says STUART SCANLON, managing director of epic ERP

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Just like any data-driven environment, one of the biggest enablers of this is integrated enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions.

As the name suggests, traceability is the ability to track something through all stages of production, processing, and distribution. When it comes to the food industry, traceability must also enable stakeholders to identify the source of all food inputs that can include anything from raw materials, additives, ingredients, and packaging.

Considering the wealth of data that all these facets generate, it is hardly surprising that systems and processes need to be put in place to manage, analyse, and provide actionable insights. With traceability enabling corrective measures to be taken (think product recalls), having an efficient system is often the difference between life or death when it comes to public health risks.

Expansive solutions

Sceptics argue that traceability simply requires an extensive data warehouse to be done correctly, the reality is quite different. Yes, there are standard data records to be managed, but the real value lies in how all these components are tied together.

ERP provides the digital glue to enable this. With each stakeholder audience requiring different aspects of traceability (and compliance), it is essential for the producer, distributor, and every other organisation in the supply chain, to manage this effectively in a standardised manner.

With so many different companies involved in the food cycle, many using their own, proprietary systems, just consider the complexity of trying to manage traceability. Organisations must not only contend with local challenges, but global ones as well as the import and export of food are big business drivers.

So, even though traceability is vital to keep track of everything in this complex cycle, it is also imperative to monitor the ingredients and factories where items are produced. Having expansive solutions that must track the entire process from ‘cradle to grave’ is an imperative. Not only is this vital from a safety perspective, but from cost and reputational management aspects as well. Just think of the recent listeriosis issue in South Africa and the impact it has had on all parties in that supply chain.

Efficiency improvements

Thanks to the increasing digital transformation efforts by companies in the food industry, traceability becomes a more effective process. It is no longer a case of using on-premise solutions that can be compromised but having hosted ones that provide more effective fail-safes.

In a market segment that requires strict compliance and regulatory requirements to be met, cloud-based solutions can provide everyone in the supply chain with a more secure (and tamper-resistant) solution than many of the legacy approaches of old.

This is not to say ERP requires the one or the other. Instead, there needs to be a transition provided between the two scenarios that empowers those in the food supply chain to maximise the insights (and benefits) derived from traceability.

Now, more than ever, traceability is a business priority. Having the correct foundation through effective ERP is essential if a business can manage its growth and meet legislative requirements into the future.

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