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Big businesses enter a
‘post-digital’ world

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Technology Vision 2019 identifies five emerging technology trends that companies must address if they are to succeed in today’s rapidly evolving landscape:

  • DARQ Power: Understanding the DNA of DARQ. The technologies of distributed ledgers, artificial intelligence, extended reality and quantum computing (DARQ) are catalysts for change, offering extraordinary new capabilities and enabling businesses to reimagine entire industries. When asked to rank which of these will have the greatest impact on their organisation over the next three years, 38 percent of executives ranked AI number one — nearly twice the number of any other DARQ technology.
  • Get to Know Me: Unlock unique consumers and unique opportunities. Technology-driven interactions are creating an expanding technology identity for every consumer. This living foundation of knowledge will be key to understanding the next generation of consumers and for delivering rich, individualised, experience-based relationships. More than four in five executives (81 percent) said that digital demographics give their organisations a new way to identify market opportunities for unmet customer needs.

     
  • Human+ Worker: Change your workplace or hinder your workforce. As workforces become “human+” — with each individual worker empowered by their skillsets and knowledge plus a new, growing set of capabilities made possible through technology — companies must support a new way of working in the post-digital age. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of executives believe that their employees are more digitally mature than their organisation, resulting in a workforce “waiting” for the organisation to catch up.

     
  • Secure Us to Secure Me: Enterprises are not victims, they’re vectors. While ecosystem-driven business depends on interconnectedness, those connections increase companies’ exposures to risks. Leading businesses recognise that security must play a key role in their efforts as they collaborate with entire ecosystems to deliver best-in-class products, services and experiences. Only 27 percent of executives said they know their ecosystem partners are working diligently to be compliant and resilient with regard to security.

     
  • MyMarkets: Meet consumers at the speed of now. Technology is creating a world of intensely customised and on-demand experiences, and companies must reinvent their organisations to find and capture those opportunities. That means viewing each opportunity as if it’s an individual market—a momentary market. Nearly six in seven executives (83 percent) said that the integration of customisation and real-time delivery is the next big wave of competitive advantage.

According to the report, innovation for organisations in the post-digital era involves figuring out how to shape the world around people and pick the right time to offer their products and services. They’re taking their first steps in a world that tailors itself to fit every moment — where products, services and even people’s surroundings are customised and where businesses cater to the individual in every aspect of their lives and jobs, shaping their realities.

Consider the recent launch of Nielsen’s SmartStore – Africa’s first virtual reality shopping technology. SmartStore provides retailers and manufacturers with shopper insights and behaviours, allows them to test multiple new shop and shelf layouts and designs, trial in-store locations for new products, and determine the appeal of different packaging options. It’s a live, virtual environment in which it’s possible to create multiple scenarios and collect wide-ranging analytics – including tracking customers’ movements (head, eye, feet), 3D heat maps and more.

The report notes that companies still completing their digital transformations are looking for a specific edge, whether it’s innovative service, higher efficiency or more personalisation. Yet post-digital companies may already be one step ahead – often surpassing the competition by changing the way the market itself works — on-demand and in the moment. For example, Discovery Health’s electronic health record – Health ID – provides doctors with a complete view of a patient’s health history and test results.

By incorporating HealthTap – an AI platform (Dr AI) – into the Health ID system, it’s possible to transform patient symptoms into a personalised diagnosis recommended by doctors. Discovery is also using its existing Vitality member data to predict the likelihood of patients developing new chronic conditions or worsening disease conditions, while incentivising doctors to consult for longer and improve the patient’s lifestyle. Discovery is also launching a Smart Plan – a health plan that provides patients with a network of highly rated GPs, specialists and hospitals – into its app by leveraging existing assets and tools.

For almost two decades, Accenture has taken a systematic look across the enterprise landscape to identify emerging technology trends that hold the greatest potential to disrupt businesses and industries. For more information on this year’s report, visit www.accenture.com/technologyvisionor follow the conversation on Twitter with #TechVision2019.

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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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