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Tech is key to HR future

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In a world where technology is more pervasive and the millennial generation is entering the workforce, business will rely more heavily on the human resource department to ensure that key talent is found, and retained, writes SANDRA SWANEPOEL, MD, Sage HR & Payroll.

Here are key themes to look out for in the ever evolving HR space:

1.     Cloud is revolutionising HR

Today’s corporate reality is the digitisation of business models and industries. Technology is transforming the HR and payroll environment. The modernised HR and payroll environments are aggregating employee data into a single location and it allows for platform integration to save time and money as well as improving employee engagement.

Cloud-based applications continue to transform the HR and payroll environment. Access to cloud also facilitates quicker decision making with workforce planning and predictive analytics to make critical decisions in the future by providing access to rich data.

2.     Systems integration

HR, payroll and business management solutions are moving closer together as organisations adopt integrated solutions. From recruitment to performance management, integrated HR systems are breaking down the silos within an organisation and they provide a complete view of the business’s relationship with its employees.

With integrated solutions, businesses can achieve higher levels of automation across their businesses, become more productive and efficient, and gain better visibility into their performance.

3.     HR’s change to data driven decision-making

A recent report by Deloitte on Human Capital Trends revealed that 77% of executives now rate people analytics as a key priority, as technology makes data-driven HR decision making a possibility.

HR departments should refocus on strategic talent management, skills development, building the employer brand, and performance management. When they automate routine processes, they can free up hours for the more strategic aspects of their job.

Automated systems also capture rich data HR managers can use for talent analytics that give insight into trends such as staff churn, the costs of training and development, employee and organisational performance, and the skills they may need to attract and develop to support the business’s future growth.

4.     Embracing Mobility

A 2015-2016 HR Systems Survey conducted by Sierra-Cedar also revealed that in the last three years there has been a 70% increase in company’s investing in mobile-enabled HR technology, 20% of these are planning a major initiative in the next 12 months. This just shows how mobility is becoming more integral to business and how we as HR practitioners will need it to be able to facilitate this organisational change.

5.     Compliance

We will continue to see more demand for software that helps companies to improve record-keeping and decision making thus helping them to become more efficient and productive. Businesses also require solutions that will ensure compliance with stricter tax and labour laws that are always changing.

6.     Online recruitment will come to the fore

There are many tools that can streamline the recruitment process, from managing job applicants and filtering CVs, to interviewing and screening candidates, right up to the on-boarding process. Though the human element will always be important in HR, companies will continue to extend their tools such as online applicant tracking systems, talent communities, social media and internal career portals.

Online platforms such as Sage SkillsMap, give organisations direct access to people in Africa and abroad who are looking for jobs, as well as the tools they need to publish their jobs to the Web and track the applications they receive. These tools help automate a lot of the manual processes for them, so they can make better informed decisions and spend time growing their businesses.

Conclusion

The gist of it all is the increasing role that technology is going to play in the HR function. The future is mobile and we at Sage are giving our customers the power to control their businesses from the palm of their hand. For HR practitioners this is an exciting time, where we will be able to broaden our skills base and become trusted advisors within organisations and play a larger part in its success.

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Money talks and electronic gaming evolves

Computer gaming has evolved dramatically in the last two years, as it follows the money, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK in the second of a two-part series.

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The clue that gaming has become big business in South Africa was delivered by a non-gaming brand. When Comic Con, an American popular culture convention that has become a mecca for comics enthusiasts, was hosted in South Arica for the first time last month, it used gaming as the major drawcard. More than 45 000 people attended.

The event and its attendance was expected to be a major dampener for the annual rAge gaming expo, which took place just weeks later. Instead, rAge saw only a marginal fall in visitor numbers. No less than 34 000 people descended on the Ticketpro Dome for the chaos of cosplay, LAN gaming, virtual reality, board gaming and new video games. 

It proved not only that there was room for more than one major gaming event, but also that a massive market exists for the sector in South Africa. And with a large market, one also found numerous gaming niches that either emerged afresh or will keep going over the years. One of these, LAN (for Local Area Network) gaming, which sees hordes of players camping out at the venue for three days to play each other on elaborate computer rigs, was back as strong as ever at rAge.

MWeb provided an 8Gbps line to the expo, to connect all these gamers, and recorded 120TB in downloads and 15Tb in uploads – a total that would have used up the entire country’s bandwidth a few years ago.

“LANs are supposed to be a thing of the past, yet we buck the trend each year,” says Michael James, senior project manager and owner of rAge. “It is more of a spectacle than a simple LAN, so I can understand.”

New phenomena, often associated with the flavour of the moment, also emerge every year.

“Fortnite is a good example this year of how we evolve,” says James. “It’s a crazy huge phenomenon and nobody was servicing the demand from a tournament point of view. So rAge and Xbox created a casual LAN tournament that anyone could enter and win a prize. I think the top 10 people got something each round.”

Read on to see how esports is starting to make an impact in gaming.

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Blockchain unpacked

Blockchain is generally associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, but these are just the tip of the iceberg, says ESET Southern Africa.

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This technology was originally conceived in 1991, when Stuart Haber and W. Scott Stornetta described their first work on a chain of cryptographically secured blocks, but only gained notoriety in 2008, when it became popular with the arrival of Bitcoin. It is currently gaining demand in other commercial applications and its annual growth is expected to reach 51% by 2022 in numerous markets, such as those of financial institutions and the Internet of Things (IoT), according to MarketWatch.

What is blockchain?

A blockchain is a unique, consensual record that is distributed over multiple network nodes. In the case of cryptocurrencies, think of it as the accounting ledger where each transaction is recorded.

A blockchain transaction is complex and can be difficult to understand if you delve into the inner details of how it works, but the basic idea is simple to follow.

Each block stores:

–           A number of valid records or transactions.
–           Information referring to that block.
–           A link to the previous block and next block through the hash of each block—a unique code that can be thought of as the block’s fingerprint.

Accordingly, each block has a specific and immovable place within the chain, since each block contains information from the hash of the previous block. The entire chain is stored in each network node that makes up the blockchain, so an exact copy of the chain is stored in all network participants.

As new records are created, they are first verified and validated by the network nodes and then added to a new block that is linked to the chain.

How is blockchain so secure?

Being a distributed technology in which each network node stores an exact copy of the chain, the availability of the information is guaranteed at all times. So if an attacker wanted to cause a denial-of-service attack, they would have to annul all network nodes since it only takes one node to be operative for the information to be available.

Besides that, since each record is consensual, and all nodes contain the same information, it is almost impossible to alter it, ensuring its integrity. If an attacker wanted to modify the information in a blockchain, they would have to modify the entire chain in at least 51% of the nodes.

In blockchain, data is distributed across all network nodes. With no central node, all participate equally, storing, and validating all information. It is a very powerful tool for transmitting and storing information in a reliable way; a decentralised model in which the information belongs to us, since we do not need a company to provide the service.

What else can blockchain be used for?

Essentially, blockchain can be used to store any type of information that must be kept intact and remain available in a secure, decentralised and cheaper way than through intermediaries. Moreover, since the information stored is encrypted, its confidentiality can be guaranteed, as only those who have the encryption key can access it.

Use of blockchain in healthcare

Health records could be consolidated and stored in blockchain, for instance. This would mean that the medical history of each patient would be safe and, at the same time, available to each doctor authorised, regardless of the health centre where the patient was treated. Even the pharmaceutical industry could use this technology to verify medicines and prevent counterfeiting.

Use of blockchain for documents

Blockchain would also be very useful for managing digital assets and documentation. Up to now, the problem with digital is that everything is easy to copy, but Blockchain allows you to record purchases, deeds, documents, or any other type of online asset without them being falsified.

Other blockchain uses

This technology could also revolutionise the Internet of Things  (IoT) market where the challenge lies in the millions of devices connected to the internet that must be managed by the supplier companies. In a few years’ time, the centralised model won’t be able to support so many devices, not to mention the fact that many of these are not secure enough. With blockchain, devices can communicate through the network directly, safely, and reliably with no need for intermediaries.

Blockchain allows you to verify, validate, track, and store all types of information, from digital certificates, democratic voting systems, logistics and messaging services, to intelligent contracts and, of course, money and financial transactions.

Without doubt, blockchain has turned the immutable and decentralized layer the internet has always dreamed about into a reality. This technology takes reliance out of the equation and replaces it with mathematical fact.

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