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Are you a frictioneer?

The driver for both consumers and businesses today is the insatiable demand for frictionless experiences. Every time one client experiences a dropped call, a delay in delivery, or anything else that potentially wastes their time and energy, they experience friction. The same logic applies internally, writes SACHA MATULOVICH, Marketing Director at Connection Telecom.

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For just a moment, think back to how businesses functioned only a few short years ago. The cloud, for instance, was still in its infancy, which meant that physical hardware was very much necessary. Server rooms were a prerequisite, company networks needed complicated infrastructure setup, and other bits and bobs of technology were required for an organisation to merely operate and remain competitive. 

Today, however, we are lucky enough to operate in a more seamless environment; one that comes with far less complications, fewer hassles, and, ultimately, minimal friction. In fact, what drives both consumers and businesses today is just that – the insatiable demand for frictionless experiences. 

Think about it in the context of your own business. Every time one of your clients experiences a dropped call, a delay in delivery, or anything else that potentially wastes their time and energy, they experience friction. The same logic applies internally. If an employee has tech issues to the point where their productivity is hindered, even if only slightly, they too are facing a form of friction. 

To remedy these, and countless other instances of resistance, business leaders need to view their organisation through a new lens. They should take a closer look at their customer experience, for example, and ask themselves, “How can I minimise existing friction?” and “How can I create more frictionless experiences?” To answer both questions effectively, the following three laws of frictioneering should be considered.

1. The law of the lazy mind

Thinking requires lots of energy. When faced with a challenge, the mind has evolved to automatically seek the lowest-friction solution.

In his bestselling book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, the author, Daniel Kahneman, notes, “…one of [the mind’s] main characteristics is laziness, a reluctance to invest more effort than is strictly necessary.” This represents human nature in general and is absolutely true with regards to customers and who they choose to do business with. 

Think about it. The moment you present your clients with a bulky contract they need to read, or forms they need to fill out, sign, scan, email, and more, you are creating friction. As humans, we are biologically, chemically and electrically wired to find the easiest route possible. If your customer finds a competitor who seemingly offers a similar solution to the problem at hand, and can do it for them faster with less hurdles, chances are they’ll make the move without so much as a second of hesitation. Why would they choose you, and all your operational complications, when they could have access to the same product or service without having to expend more precious mental than is absolutely necessary? 

2. The law of visible and invisible friction

Friction starts out invisible and is tolerated unconsciously by the market. But once this invisible friction is discovered, it becomes real. If significant friction is removed very quickly, “disruption” can occur. 

The gist of the second law of frictioneering is this: the moment a new innovation or experience is created, it delights and wows customers. All too soon, though, this practice or service becomes the norm, and customer expectations shift once more. Technology within your own business can illustrate this perfectly. As we’ve already touched on above, consider the impact of the cloud on day-to-day operations. Before this innovation penetrated every industry, there were invisible frictions we all tolerated – slow scalability, cumbersome infrastructure setup, and more. Now, however, we take the cloud for granted, and we certainly can’t go back to working without it. 

So, what can business leaders take away from this law then? How can it be used to better their own organisation? The best place to start, is by trying to identify frictions that we are unaware of, that can potentially be reduced, or even removed. 

Uber is the perfect, well-touted example in this regard. By removing the invisible friction that surrounded the act of organising, directing and paying a taxi Uber created a relatively frictionless path for users. The differential in friction between the old and the new was significant enough that customers couldn’t resist flowing into the new-normal, and thus, this sector was disrupted. 

3. The law of utilisation over invention

There is an abundance of friction in the system. There is also an abundance of appropriate tools available. Frictioneers should utilise today’s tools to remove today’s friction and avoid the “invention trap.” 

Today, far too many people are trying to reinvent the wheel, and this can sometimes have the adverse effect of creating more friction, as opposed to eliminating it. It’s completely unnecessary, given that disruption and innovation can happen with the tools we already have at our disposal – like microservices, cloud services and digital partnerships. 

Instead of assuming the role of inventors to combat friction, we should rather focus on becoming exceptional integrators. In his address at Singularity University Johannesburg, Larry Keely explained that out of the fourteen components that make up Uber’s tech stack, not a single one is proprietary. And at Airbnb, only seven of the fifty-seven components in their tech stack are proprietary. This means that today, if one has sufficient integration, and front end development capabilities you could essentially build something that does what these two organisations do, by simply licensing and integrating tools that are already available. Now, imagine what could be built on top of your existing business. 

A world without friction

With these three laws in mind, you should now be better equipped to identify any friction your organisation may be experiencing, and generating, both internally and externally. All that’s left to do now is figure out how to tackle every instance. 

To set you on the right path, over and above the questions we posed right at the start, you should also look at answering the following: 

•Where are the obvious friction points in my customer journey?

•What fear or threat were we addressing when we created this friction?

•Does this threat still exist? 

•How probable and how material is it?

•What value could I create for my customers and for my business by removing this friction? 

•How can I use existing tools to reduce the friction?

Figure those out and you’ll be well on your way to making your business a frictionless one. 

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Here is 2019’s tech

From AI to flexible displays, this is the tech that will shape 2019, writes CY KIM, MD of LG SA

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2018 was incredibly exciting for the technology sector which has seen myriad advancements. These include the fundamentals of artificial intelligence (AI) being established, robots helping around the house and consumer electronic innovations such as TVs that are so thin, they might be mistaken for windows, or paintings.

2019 promises to be another significant year as people’s attitudes are changing and technology becomes embedded in our lives. Smart electronics manufacturers will ensure their plans for the future match evolving consumer needs with suitable technology.

We take a look at the biggest innovations for 2019 from AI to lightning-fast internet speeds and flexible viewing surfaces, and we shed some light on how these evolving technologies will impact on how we live and work.

AI will come of age

AI has experienced a marked increase in investments and according to Forbes, 80% of enterprises are investing in AI while 30% are planning to expand their AI investments in the next three years. It’s estimated that during 2017, venture, corporate and seed investors put about $3.6-billion into AI and machine learning companies.

This investment trend has given rise to innovation in deep learning products that have the potential to change the world for the better.

Yes, AI has been around since the 1950s, but its consumer benefits weren’t visible until recently and 2019 will be the year when AI starts to really take off and become a necessity, not just in the home, but in every facet of our lives.

The potential of AI is endless as this technology goes into everything from small watches to cars and even gigantic, connected smart cities. AI is also starting to find its way into TVs, washing machines, refrigerators, speakers, mobile phones and even air cons as products adapt to human behaviour.

Lightning-fast internet speeds

Faster internet speeds enable quicker response times for business tools that we all rely on to get the job done. It will increase the efficiency of workers and will provide reliable communication tools for companies that rely on remote workers.

Given that the so-called gig economy has grown exponentially in recent years, the expectation is that the evolving workforce will contain a higher percentage of employees, or contractors who do not work in a central office.

5G has the potential to change the world the way the internet did a few decades ago. The fifth generation of wireless technology will take internet connectivity to a new level as the internet of things (IoT), will bring about the potential for everything to be connected to everything.

However, 5G is not just about faster internet speeds. It will create new possibilities in numerous sectors, including medicine, transportation and manufacturing.

A smarter world through IoT and AI isn’t possible without 5G’s speed and capacity as the system is able to carry large numbers of connections simultaneously, and is therefore crucial to the development of smart cities, autonomous cars and smart homes.

Life-enriching smart technology

Much like technological innovations, consumer habits and preferences are changing drastically when it comes to home appliances and particularly, home entertainment.

Most consumers believe that advancements in home entertainment tech is life-enriching and that their life is better with the latest tech at their fingertips as it allows them to stay indoors and enjoy quality time with friends and family.

The value of home entertainment tech lies in how it allows loved ones to share experiences, thereby bringing them closer together, particularly during big events such as major sporting events and holiday celebrations.

The potential of flexible viewing surfaces will not only change home entertainment, but also marketing techniques in shopping malls, city centres and shop fronts. With the ability to curve around any environment, this technology creates the perfect platform for signage and consumer engagement that stands out from the crowd.

LG Electronics is an established market leader in innovation and has already started to incorporate these futuristic technologies into its products, which are designed to make consumers lives more convenient. We will continue to release amazing products that utilise smart tech to connect with consumers while staying ahead of the evolutionary curve.

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AI will power IoT

A simple gesture. A world built from accessible assets that drive human convenience and interaction. This is the future that’s powered by the Internet of Things (IoT) and artificial intelligence (AI), two of the planet’s hottest topic trends right now for a very good reason. They work, says PHATHIZWE MALINGA, managing director of SqwidNet.

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They are also the fuel driving digital transformation in 2019. These are the technologies revolutionising performance, process and productivity. They are also transforming industry challenges across agriculture, retail, health and the public sector and are set to continue on this path well into 2019.

IoT has become the central nervous system of technology, allowing users to make intelligent decisions without feeling overwhelmed by choice or technology. Its ability to make life easier on every level – business, consumer, public sector – is the next step of the IoT evolution as it improves quality of life using AI and machine learning to analyse past behaviour and the insights it gleans to change the future.

This is the vision of the perfect IoT and AI future. The two technologies so intertwined and connected that they are influencing one another’s growth, development and adoption. IoT provides the ability to generate data from the changing circumstances of an asset and the infrastructure required to transport that data to where it can be accessed and analysed. Considering the sheer volume of data generated, it is impossible for a human being to analyse it at the speed required for real-time decision making. And this is why AI has become so important.

Today, it is possible to write code that can read the data generated by IoT and identify meaningful patterns at the right speed. This code can also be written in such a way that it can learn from the results it found the last time it ran. It is code that can learn, an algorithm that can self-educate. In this way, AI requires the power of IoT to generate the data it needs to learn and IoT needs AI to ensure that this data can be made meaningful, in time.

Over the next six to 12 months, it is very likely that the potential of IoT will see numerous small players emerge across all industries. They will be focused on servicing those who have yet to experience the full benefits of IoT and they will use technology to deliver solutions that are just ‘good enough’. This could potentially see the more established players being disrupted but most will likely be using the same technology to innovate and to create solutions that don’t just meet customer expectations but transcend them.  Of course, there will be some companies that will remain complacent and they will be the ones battling for customer attention out on the IoT playing field with the small, fresh players.

While on the topic of the customer, the next year is likely to introduce a lot more variety and scalability. The consistent drop in the cost of technology will allow for more choice in solution and capability and this will have a knock-on effect with regards to quality of life and the choices customers make when it comes to solution and service provider.

On the business frontier, the growth of IoT and AI offer an interesting bouquet of choices and opportunities. They allow for investment into solutions that generate better insights that, in turn, generate better products and services. Organisations that ignore this potential or think they can sidle on past what IoT and AI bring to the business are likely to be the ones that are left behind. It’s a cliché for a reason. A single look back at the companies that have emerged as big players in industries previously perceived as impenetrable proves the point. Innovation isn’t optional, it’s an essential part of business DNA and both IoT and AI are critical parts of the ability to innovate at speed, with relevance, and on time.

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