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Accenture puts $200m in skills

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Supporting its vision to improve the way the world works and lives, Accenture is committing more than US$200 million over the next three years to help equip disadvantaged people with job skills for the digital age.

“As a technology leader, we have an obligation to apply new scalable technology solutions to help solve complex societal challenges,” said Pierre Nanterme, Accenture’s chairman and CEO. “Our investments will continue to empower Accenture to produce socially minded partnerships and programs that will have a profound impact on the lives of millions of people throughout the world, now and for the future.”

Accenture’s commitment will help support Skills to Succeed, Tech4Good, Accenture Development Partnerships and related Accenture initiatives.

The company’s Skills to Succeed initiative advances employment and entrepreneurship opportunities, leveraging digital innovation to help close employment gaps at scale. Together with a network of nonprofits and other ecosystem partners, Accenture has since 2010 equipped more than 2.2 million people with the skills to get a job or build a business, with a goal of equipping a total of more than 3 million people by 2020.

In South Africa, Skills to Succeed has already equipped thousands of people with job skills since 2015, with the vast majority of them gaining employment in digital, software development and business process services. One Skills to Succeed programme in the country is CE3 in rural KwaZulu-Natal, which serves as a catalyst for local economic development. The programme strengthens existing businesses, creates employment opportunities and builds new businesses through, among other things, the provision of clean, affordable electricity.

Examples of other Accenture’s Skills to Succeed partnerships include:

  • Helping Youth Business USA develop a platform that uses artificial intelligence and analytics to connect young entrepreneurs from under-represented communities with the resources, skills, training and mentoring needed to grow their business.
  • Working with Rede Cidadã and Instituto Ser Mais in Brazil to provide low-income populations with the business and technical skills they need to build meaningful, lasting careers in technology, including the opportunity to be hired by Accenture.

Accenture’s Tech4Good projects use advanced technologies to help solve critical challenges facing business and society. For instance, the company collaborated with The Grameen Foundation India, using technologies from AI to augmented reality, to help disadvantaged people improve their financial literacy to enhance their financial and social well-being. In collaboration with Club Egalité, Accenture Labs in Sophia Antipolis, France, is developing a virtual-reality game that helps primary and middle school students explore future-proof jobs and develop critical skills for the digital economy, with the goal of encouraging an interest in STEM careers.

Accenture Development Partnerships works across government, business and civil society, applying business and technology solutions to build capacity and strengthen programs for development organizations around the globe. For example, Accenture collaborated with the Spanish Ministry of Employment and a consortium of nonprofit partners and corporations in 2013 to create Emplea+, an online program that helps marginalized individuals develop technical, digital and soft skills needed for employment.

“The opportunity to improve lives requires collaboration across business, government and non-governmental organizations,” Nanterme said. “As leaders weigh new technologies and applications, we all must ask ourselves: Does this benefit the next generation? If the answer is yes, it’s the right thing to do.”

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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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