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COO of the future faces dilemma of intelligence

The rise of exponential technologies is pushing organisations into a self-running future where machine learning, AI, predictive analytics, IoT and robotic process automation increasingly substitute or augment human capabilities, creating new challenges for COOs, writes MEHMOOD KHAN, Chief Operating Officer at SAP Africa.

In the evolution from a traditional manual enterprise to a self-running enterprise, business leaders need to self-assess to first understand what phase they are in before developing digital change initiatives to bring them closer to their internal objectives.

At the lower end of the scale, the Manual Enterprise sees humans execute all tasks with no technology support. Transactional enterprises have systems that provide business information and guide processes, with humans defining what those processes should be, while a Digital Enterprise sees humans control systems that provide live data and rich analytics. All these enterprise models can be classified as non-learning enterprise systems.

Where organisations need to start moving toward is to the self-learning enterprise systems. The Intelligent Enterprise is driven by systems that assist in all core business activities, with humans directing activities and ensuring all the components of the Intelligent Enterprise are running optimally. Thanks to the immense power of modern AI and machine learning algorithms, enterprises may soon become entirely self-running, with systems that run certain functions autonomously while humans merely supervise.

The core of the Intelligent Enterprise

Sitting at the core of the Intelligent Enterprise is next-generation enterprise resource planning systems that integrate various traditional and exponential technologies into a single system built on powerful cloud platforms. SAP S/4HANA Cloud sits at the centre of a range of industry and line-of-business -specific solutions including procurement, human capital management, travel and expense management, transactional, business planning and financial reporting systems.

What makes the Intelligent ERP different is how hands-free, intuitive user experiences with digital assistance and instant insights deliver value-adding experiences to workers, while AI and predictive analytics automate for greater efficiencies in a range of tasks. These next-generation processes are also forcing a reinvention of business processes, with best practices built on the latest innovations enabling business leaders to reimagine entire business models.

This is posing distinct challenges to how people are sourced, managed, motivated and retained.

Human capital management in the Intelligent Enterprise

By 2025, millennials will comprise 75% of the global workforce. This generation of workers is markedly different than any before and will have immense influence over the way we think about work and employment. Attracting, engaging and retaining talent is already a top C-level priority, especially where scarce digital skills are involved.

Contingent workers – part of the so-called Gig Economy – are already disrupting human capital management in the digital age. At the end of 2017, nearly half of the global workforce were contingent workers. Effective management of a diverse and geographically dispersed employee base is one of the defining challenges for exponential organisations.

Enabling effective human-machine collaboration

The disruption posed by the entry of the millennial workforce pales in comparison to the seismic shift that AI and automation will bring to the world of work. Nearly every occupation in every industry will feel the effects of automation, as routine physical and cognitive tasks are automated. While this does offer workers an opportunity to elevate the work they do by freeing them up from mundane, repetitive tasks, a period of uncertainty and change is inevitable.

Workers of the near future will need to learn how to interface with technology at every step of the work day. Robots are sure to replace some jobs, but for the most part job roles will evolve to prioritise human-machine collaboration.

Here, the Intelligent Enterprise plays an anchoring role: by combining Intelligent Cloud ERP with a digital workforce, businesses enable a Digital Enterprise where human workers interface with robotic process automation, AI and machine learning, and predictive analytics to conduct higher-value tasks.

Digital change checklist for COOs

Managing the transition to a digital workforce enabled by an Intelligent Enterprise will challenge organisational leaders’ change management abilities. Successful digital change management is built on four cornerstones, namely:

  1. Ensuring digital leadership – By developing a compelling digital vision, business leaders create a sense of urgency for digitalisation and ensure top management act as role models for the rest of the organisation.
  2. Fostering a digital mindset – Business leaders need to identify digital champions internal to the organisation and empower them to promote digitalisation initiatives. However, they do also need to ensure they track and assess the impact of digitalisation.
  3. Establishing digital governance – By aligning KPIs to digital adoption and tracking progress, business leaders are better placed to adapt the formal organisation to the new digital vision.
  4. Building digital skills – The time of the learn-work-retire career model of old is over. The new approach to learning and work is one of constant upskilling and regular change. Business leaders need to provide skills development opportunities that enhance internal digital skills and competencies. Integration with AI, machine learning and robotics is critical for the future of work, which is strongly favoured toward human-machine collaboration.

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How to create an esports team

2018 was a landmark year for South African esports as one of the country’s best teams took the battle overseas and made waves in the international scene. A year ago Bravado’s top Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CS:GO) team relocated to Arizona in the U.S., a venture dubbed Project Destiny, where they used the opportunity to train as full-time professional athletes and conquer the best teams out there.

Project Destiny was a massive success. A year later and Bravado’s CS:GO team had carved a name for itself through several high-profile victories and invitations to top tier tournaments. Clearly this is not the end of the story and the team has been reflecting on the lessons and opportunities.

Team captain Dimitri “Detrony” Hadjipaschali helped lead Project Destiny and gleaned a considerable amount on what needs to go into an esports team.

Team for the right reasons

For aspirant pro players who want to up their game, pun intended, he advises starting at the basics: why do you want a team?

“In recent times, people want to create a team with no direct intention, not knowing if they want to do this casually and socially, or professionally. Doing this professionally requires risk. It depends on how much work and sacrifices are contributed to the cause of creating a team. Playing socially is fine, part-time, as many people do, but playing professionally and wanting to reach the top one day, purely depends on your dedication, motivation and intention.”

Put in the hours

Like any aspirant pro athlete, preparation requires hours of training. Bravado’s players all put in several hours of training daily, 7 days a week, and Project Destiny’s full-time pros worked multiple training sessions every day, usually in the morning and afternoon for 4 hours each, as well as competitive matches in the late evening.

But even Bravado members who are not full time still put in hours of training every day. Serious players need to find the time and build up their dedication because this level of performance is simply the bar set in esports. Said Dimitri:

“The general esports title or game a team competes in will require anything, if not more than, a traditional sport outside of esports would require to get to the top.”

Fortunately, you don’t have to go all-out from the start. Esports are tiered with the top players in the highest tiers. So there is space to cut your esporting teeth while making room for it in your life. But never forget that to be one of the best means no half-measures. In esports, you have to commit to win.

Share goals

“A good team player is an individual who views his team as a single unit and not just himself as an ‘individual player’ in the bigger picture,” said Dimitri. “They put their team first and before themselves. This is the first main fundamental of a mindset required for a team player.”

Pro teams shouldn’t be mistaken for gaming clans, which are more casual and where gaming is a hobby. Even though they can be very competitive, clans mostly play for fun and entertainment, whereas a professional team is highly competitive with goals that it sets out to accomplish.

This is important because it helps the team members agree on the importance of those goals and the focus required. If you are not willing to show up every day to play the same game, partake in training exercises and learn from feedback, a pro career won’t work for you:

“Playing professionally requires aligned individuals where they share common goals and have equal intentions to realize what they want to achieve and what it takes to compete at a high level.”

Be patient

Professional athletes aren’t created overnight. It takes many years of focus and dedication while also pursuing studies or working at a day job before someone manages to ascend into a paid career. Esports is the same and demands patience alongside dedication.

Esports teams amplify this requirement. While in Arizona, Bravado applied the maxim “Teams who work together win together.” Household chores were divided up between players, creating a sense of common responsibility. This repetitive reinforcement of team values is crucial for success, whereas impatience for a team to ‘click’ is a recipe for disaster:

“Often, teams do not achieve their desired results and achievements in the short run and immediately resort to a roster change. Or someone in the team is replaced without a completely valid reason. This underestimates the importance of sticking together to create synergy in the long run.”

He also added that using time smartly is perhaps even more important than the amount of time spent on training. The team under Project Destiny used a full-time coach who helped set routines, objectives and priorities:

“The mistake with teams struggling to improve these days is that they do not know and understand how to work with limited time, and how to do this best and constructively as possible. Often teams that aren’t at a top competitive level yet arrange bootcamps, but set the limited time they have with each other incorrectly, or rather not to the best potential.”

When Bravado embarked on Project Destiny, it aimed to put South African esports on the map and serve as role models for aspirant players in the country. By those measures, it has been a huge success and Bravado continues to grow and educate. Through the ongoing support of sponsors Alienware and Intel, Bravado continues its mission of creating esporting excellence and opportunity for South Africans.

Learn more at bravadogaming.com or contact Bravado’s players directly via their social media accounts.

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Opera reveals SA browsing habits

Opera, one of the world’s major browser developers, and leader in AI driven digital content delivery and discovery, has released its State of Mobile Web 2019 report, revealing that nine out of ten people in South Africa use their mobile browser every day.

Other Key findings from the report include:

  • Internet users in Africa use their browser to access social media domains such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Instagram, followed by entertainment and search websites
  • Opera News users in Africa spend 50% of in-app time watching videos
  • South Africans pay six times more per gigabyte of mobile data than people in India
  • Opera Mini saved users nearly 100 million USD in mobile data in 2018

The report reveals that the Opera mobile browsers and standalone news app were used by nearly 20 million internet users in Africa and by more than 350 million people globally in the first quarter of 2019. The State of Mobile Web 2019 report also shows that Opera experienced a growth of more than 26 percent of its user base year on year, compared to the first quarter of 2018 in Africa.

“We are thrilled to see that our mobile browsers and news app have grown by 25 million monthly users in the last year, ” said Jørgen Arnesen, Head of Marketing and Distribution at Opera. “The new Opera News app has led this positive growth, as well as the introduction of new features to our mobile browsers like built-in VPN and crypto wallet. The successful partnerships Opera has with major smartphone manufacturers in Africa have also contributed to this massive growth”.

The 2019 edition of the State of the Mobile Web report looked into the use of the Opera Mini browser and the Opera browser for Android, and it shows that mobile browsing is one of the most popular online activities among African internet users. For example, in South Africa, nine out of ten people use their mobile browser every day, an activity they prefer over the use of other applications like YouTube.

The report also revealed that on average, Africans using Opera spend more than 30 minutes browsing online each day. The most browsed category of websites was social media platform domains such as Facebook, YouTube and Instagram, followed by search engines like Google, and entertainment and sport websites.

100 million dollars  saved on mobile data

In the State of the Mobile Web 2019 report, Opera gives detailed insight into the use of the data savings feature in the Opera Mini browser, and compares the average price of mobile data in 20 countries in Africa. The results revealed that the data compression mode in Opera Mini saved users nearly 100 million USD of data in 2018.

In this analysis, Opera also compared the costs of data in some African countries with the cost of mobile data in India and Germany. The outcome of this analysis showed that South Africans pay six times more per gigabyte of mobile data than Indians and almost the same price as Germans for one gigabyte of mobile data.

Rapidly changing  news and video consumption landscape

The report takes a look at the trends of news and video consumption across Africa. This includes analyzing the usage of its standalone Opera News app, which grew from launch to over 20 million users in a period of one year. Categories like breaking news, local news, and entertainment were the favourites among users in the first quarter of the year.

Video content is also becoming more popular among people who use the Opera News app. The report shows that people spend 50 percent of in-app time inOpera News watching videos on Instaclips, the recently added video feature on the news app.

The usage of Instaclips keeps growing since its test launch in December 2018: in Q1-2019, Instaclips registered a total of 122,000 videos uploaded in different languages such as English, Portoguese, French, Arabic and Swahilli.

Expanding beyond browsing to fuel digital transformation

Opera’s commitment to digital transformation in Africa is ongoing. Beyond the development of its mobile browsers and standalone news app, Opera has made major investments on the African continent, expanding its services to other technology areas such as FinTech and digital advertising.

In 2018, Opera announced the launch of OKash, a fintech micro-lending solution that quickly gained traction among mobile internet users in Kenya. Today, OKash ranks among the most downloaded micro lending applications among Kenyans and its user base keeps on growing.

In May 2019,Opera announced the introduction of Opera Ads, a new advertising platform that allows media agencies and publishers to run more targeted marketing campaigns through the Opera platforms.

Available online

The full version of State of Mobile Web 2019 report is available to read online or for download by clicking here.

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