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Where we still beat machines

We’ll need humans to create bigger, better robots and to make sense of the data the machines churn out. The factory of the future can’t operate without humans, says MATTHEW KIBBY, Vice-President, Enterprise, Africa & Middle East at Sage.

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The World Economic Forum predicts that five million jobs will be lost by 2020 as the Fourth Industrial Revolution continues to transform labour markets.

Most of the casualties will be repetitive manufacturing tasks and those considered dangerous for humans to perform. Robots can do these jobs faster and with greater precision than humans could ever hope to, leading to higher productivity and lower costs – the Holy Grail of manufacturing.

However, we’ll still need humans to operate these machines, to program them and tell them what to do.

We’ll need humans to create bigger, better robots and to make sense of the data the machines churn out. The factory of the future can’t operate without humans. Rather, it will be a safer, more efficient space where machines augment the abilities and skills of humans, to increase output and reduce human error and injury.

Now what?

But where does that leave the rest of us who didn’t study robotics and don’t know how to code software?

Ironically, we’re being forced to be more human, to embrace the skills and attributes that robots can’t yet replicate or do better than us. As more robots enter the workplace, we’ll crave face-to-face interaction, authenticity and human connection more than ever.

While we leave the repetitive, time-consuming back-office tasks to the machines, we’ll be gifted with more time to focus on what’s becoming key for every industry: the customer experience and human interaction.

Managers will have more time to interact with team members. Colleagues will have more time to speak to customers and really understand their needs. HR will have more time to focus on upskilling team members rather than spending hours on on-boarding and payroll. And when we understand and can relate to each other better, we come up with new solutions, new products and better ways of doing things. We create and innovate.

This means that skills like communication, emotional intelligence, strategy, people management, stakeholder interactions, leadership, creativity, entrepreneurship, analysis and decision-making will become more in demand, across all industries.

Growth mindset

We all have a role to play in making the future of work, well, work.

Organisations will need to adopt a culture of learning and upskilling. People in low-skilled or non-customer-facing positions will need to be taught how to be creative, innovative and entrepreneurial.

The onus will be on organisations to share their knowledge. And the onus will be on us, as individuals, to grab every opportunity we can to learn and develop our skills. Freedom to choose is another trait the machines can’t take from us – and we all need to choose to be proactive, to seek out free online learning, to make ourselves indispensable.

The reality is that automation is going to impact every job in some way. Impact, not replace. That impact will be the ability to do our jobs better and faster, taking away the growing epidemic of ‘busyness’ and giving us more time to be more human. More time to grow and to find that elusive work-life balance.

And if that’s the trade-off, then I’m all for it.

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Notre Dame, Scoop Makhathini, GoT, top week in search

From fire disaster to social media disaster, the top Google searches this week covered a wide gamut of themes.

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Paris and the whole world looked on in shock as the 856-year-old medieval Catholic cathedral crumbled into ash. The tragic infernal destruction of this tourist attraction of historical and religious significance led South Africans to generate more than 200 000 search queries for “Notre Dame Cathedral” on Monday. Authorities are investigating the cause of the fire that razed the architectural icon.

In other top trending searches on Google this week, radio presenter Siyabonga Ngwekazi, AKA Scoop Makhathini, went viral when it appeared he had taken to Twitter to expose his girlfriend, Akhona Carpede, for cheating on him. Scoop has since come out to say that he was not responsible for the bitter rant and that his account was hacked. “Scoop Makhathini” generated more than 20 000 search queries on Wednesday.

Fans generated more than 20 000 search queries for “Sam Smith” on Tuesday ahead of the the British superstar’s Cape Town performance at the Grand West Casino. Smith ended up cutting his performance short that night due to vocal strain.

Local Game of Thrones superfans were beside themselves on Sunday, searching the internet high and low for the first episode of the American fantasy drama’s eighth season. “Game of Thrones, season 8, episode 1” generated more than 100 000 queries on Google Search on the weekend.

As the festivities kicked off in California with headliners such as Childish Gambino and Ariana Grande, South Africans generated more than 2 000 search queries for “Coachella” on Saturday.

South Africans generated more than 5 000 search queries for “Wendy Williams” on Friday  as it emerged that the American talk show host had filed for divorce from her husband Kevin Hunter after 21 years of marriage. Hunter has long been rumored to have been cheating on Williams, which reportedly finally led to the divorce.

Search trends information is gleaned from data collated by Google based on what South Africans have been searching for and asking Google. Google processes more than 40 000 search queries every second. This translates to more than a billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches per year worldwide. Live Google search trends data is available at https://www.google.co.za/trends/hottrends#pn=p40

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5G smartphones to hit 5M sales in 2019

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According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Early 5G smartphone models will be expensive and available in limited volumes. Samsung, LG and Huawei will be the early 5G smartphone leaders this year, followed by Apple next year.

Ken Hyers, Director at Strategy Analytics, said, “We forecast global 5G smartphone shipments will reach a modest 5 million units in 2019. Less than 1 percent of all smartphones shipped worldwide will be 5G-enabled this year. Global 5G smartphone shipments are tiny for now, due to expensive device pricing, component bottlenecks, and restricted availability of active 5G networks.”

Ville Petteri-Ukonaho, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics, added, “Samsung will be the early 5G smartphone leader in the first half of 2019, due to initial launches across South Korea and the United States. We predict LG, Huawei, Xiaomi, Motorola and others will follow later in the year, followed by Apple iPhone with its first 5G model during the second half of 2020. The iPhone looks set to be at least a year behind Samsung in the 5G smartphone race and Apple must be careful not to fall too far behind.”

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, added, “The short-term outlook for 5G smartphones is weak, but the long-term opportunity remains huge. We forecast 1 billion 5G smartphones to ship worldwide per year by 2025. The introduction of 5G networks, by carriers like Verizon or China Mobile, opens up high-speed, ultra-low-latency services such as 8K video, streaming games, and augmented reality for business. The next big question for the mobile industry is how much extra consumers are really willing to pay, if anything, for those emerging 5G smartphones and services.”

Strategy Analytics provides a snapshot analyses for the outlook for 5G smartphone market in this Insight report: 5G Smartphones : From Zero to a Billion

Strategy Analytics provides a deep-dive into the air-interface technologies that will power phones through 2024 across 88 countries here: Global Handset Sales Forecast by 88 Countries and 19 Technologies : 2003 to 2024

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