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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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Samsung clears the table with new monitor

For those who like minimalism and tidy desks, Samsung’s new Space Monitor may just do the trick, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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The latest trends of narrow-bezels and minimalist designs have transcended smartphones, spilling into other designs, like laptops and monitors. 

The new Space Monitor line by Samsung follows in this new design “tradition”. The company has moved the monitor off the desk – by clipping it onto the edge of the desk.

It can be put into three configurations: completely upright, where it sits a bit high but completely off the desk; half-way to the desk, where it is a bit lower to put some papers or files underneath the display; and flat on the desk, where it is at its lowest.

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The monitor sits on a weighted hinge at the edge of the desk, providing sturdy adjustment to its various height configurations. It also swivels on a hinge at the point where the arm connects to the display. This provides precise viewing angle adjustment, which is great for showing something on screen to someone who is standing.

Apart from form factor, there are some neat goodies packed into the box. It comes with a two-pin power adapter, with no adapter box on the midpoint between the plug and the monitor, and a single cable that carries HDMI-Y and power to prevent tangling. 

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However, it’s slightly disappointing that there isn’t a Mini Display Port and power cable “in one cable” option for Mac and newer graphics card users, who will have to run two cables down the back of the screen. Even worse, the display doesn’t have a USB Type-C display input; a missed opportunity to connect a Samsung device to the panel.

A redeeming point is the stunning, Samsung-quality panel, which features a 4K UHD resolution. The colours are sharp and the viewing angles are good. However, this display is missing something: Pantone or Adobe RGB colour certification, as well as IPS technology. 

The display’s response rate comes in at 4ms, slightly below average for displays in this price range. 

These negatives aside, this display has a very specific purpose. It’s for those who want to create desk space in a few seconds, while not having to rearrange the room. 

Final verdict: This display is not for gamers nor for graphic designers. It is for those who need big displays but frequently need to clear their desks.

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Can mobile fix education?

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By Ernst Wittmann, global account director for MEA and country manager for Southern Africa, at TCL Communications

Mobile technology has transformed the way we live and work, and it can be expected to rapidly change the ways in which children learn as smartphones and tablets become more widely accepted at primary and high schools. By putting a powerful computer in every learner’s schoolbag or pocket, smartphones could play an important role in improving educational outcomes in a country where so many schools are under-resourced.

Here are some ways that mobile technology will reshape education in the years to come:

Organisation and productivity

For many adults, the real benefit of a smartphone comes from simple applications like messaging, calendaring and email. The same goes for schoolchildren, many of whom will get the most value from basic apps like sending a WhatApp message to friends to check on the homework for the day, keeping track of their extramural calendar, or photographing the teacher’s notes from the blackboard or whiteboard. One study of young people’s mobile phone use in Ghana, Malawi and South Africa confirmed that many of them got the most value from using their phones to complete mundane tasks.

Interactivity

One of the major benefits smartphones can bring to the classroom is boosting learners’ engagement with educational materials through rich media and interactivity. For example, apps like Mathletics use gamification to get children excited about doing mathematics—they turn learning into a game, with rewards for practicing and hitting milestones. Or teachers can set up a simple poll using an app like Poll Everywhere to ask the children in a class what they think about a character’s motivation in their English set-work book.

Personalisation

Mobile technology opens the doors to more personalised and flexible ways to teach and learn, making more space for children to work in their own style and at their own pace. Not very child learns in the same way or excels at the same tasks and subjects – the benefit of mobile phones is that they can plug the gaps for children seeking extra enrichment or those that need some additional help with classroom work.

For example, teachers can provide recommended educational materials for children who are racing in ahead of their peers in some of their subjects. Or they can suggest relevant games for children who learn better through practical application of ideas than by listening to a teacher and taking notes. 

In future, we can expect to see teachers, perhaps aided by algorithms and artificial intelligence, make use of analytics to track how students engage with educational content on their mobile devices and use these insights to create more powerful learning experiences. 

Access

South Africa has a shortage of teachers in key subjects such as mathematics and science, which disproportionately affects learners in poor and rural areas. According to a statement in 2017 from the Department of Basic Education, it has more than 5,000 underqualified or unqualified teachers working around the country. Though technology cannot substitute for a qualified teacher, it can supplement human teaching in remote or poor areas where teachers are not available or not qualified to teach certain subjects. Video learning and videoconferencing sessions offer the next best thing where a math or physical science teacher is not physically present in the classroom.

Information

Knowledge is power and the Internet is the world’s biggest repository of knowledge. Schoolchildren can access information and expertise about every subject under the sun from their smartphones – whether they are reading the news on a portal, watching documentaries on YouTube, downloading electronic books, using apps to improve their language skills, or simply Googling facts and figures for a school project.

Take a mobile-first approach

Technology has a powerful role to play in the South African school of the future, but there are some key success factors schools must bear in mind as they bring mobile devices into the classroom:

  • Use appropriate technology—in South Africa, that means taking a mobile-first approach and using the smartphones many children already know and use.
  • Thinking about challenges such as security – put in place the cyber and physical security needed to keep phones and data safe and secure.
  • Ensuring teachers and children alike are trained to make the most of the tech – teachers need to take an active role in curating content and guiding schoolchildren’s use of their devices. To get that right, they will need training and access to reliable tech support.

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