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Deal with disruption in workplace of tomorrow

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Decision-makers need to carefully scrutinise their employee value positions, workflow and supporting technology systems and consider how they will meet the demands of the workplace of the future in 2016 and beyond.

Gys Kappers, CEO of Wyzetalk, believes that the biggest challenges in the coming years will need clear strategies on these three key areas: employee engagement, data and mobility.

Data driven insight

We talk a lot about big data and the opportunity to know your customer, but we’re still far off making it really work for us. Some of the challenges arise from the heavy duty software systems at play from big vendors. They have the data but not the workflow and flexibility to make the system or data easy to work with. “Many are now considering the open ecosystem and allowing third-party developers to create overlay apps and micro-systems to plug into their systems. This ‘integration’ creates systems that are easy to use, inherently mobile and focused in their user application.”

“The always-on workforce needs to be able to access and input data in these systems, and most would prefer using a mobile apps or some kind of mobile menu to do this. Mobile is ideal to optimise workflow and employee services, resulting in things like self-drive payslips, leave applications, order processing,” says Kappers, “We’re going to see a lot more happen in this space, think of mobile intranets that connect companies with employees in a dynamic way to increase productivity not to mention create an immediate channel for direct feedback, both ways.

The importance of social

Increasingly, Kappers says, there is also the need for more functional and relevant business apps that incorporate a social layer. “To enable collaboration, ideation, and knowledge sharing amongst users. More groups of people are taking to apps that provide functionality relevant to their style, content, and context of work. Company policies will need to accommodate these in their technology and security stacks.”

“Despite the potential, the biggest challenge facing any organisation is to align its technology approach and content services to meet the needs of both the company and the end user. Companies should look beyond broadcast mode when defining their comms strategies. Blending this in order for all stakeholders to enjoy a mutually respectful and engaged environment is fundamentally shifting how a business needs to plan and develop its systems,” adds Kappers.

Think different

Despite the opportunities, Kappers says many companies are approaching technology and the changing workplace dynamics with an old mindset. “More than ever the need for good change management capabilities is certain. Organisational disruption needn’t be a chaotic it should be carefully considered and implemented with expert support.”

With this, comes the rise of the individual in the workplace. Companies should ask how they get more from their employees by understanding their individual needs and engaging with them.

“Often companies will say that their employees are important to them, but they behave in a way contrary to that. One of the problems is that the role of human resources continues to be seen as transactional and not strategic. Too often, companies see people as a way to meet the bottom line. The thinking needs to change and decision-makers should view employees as assets to the business. You treat assets very differently,” says Kappers.

Stimulating education

For Henry Chandler, VP and COO of the African Society for Talent Development, this talent-driven business environment means the importance of learning and development has become greater than ever.

“South African firms have to focus on talent engagement, high performance, and efficiency, while building capacity for local, regional, and global growth. Despite the fact that South African firms are facing tough times at home, they are increasingly taking advantage of opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa.”

Success in this market requires leaders with the skills to build a high performance culture, pointing to how investing in the holistic advancement of talent should be a business imperative.

“Such a focus must aim to build a sustainable and adaptive organisation of talented, diverse, competent, and inspired people. Many executives are becoming directly involved in global leadership development programmes related to increased employee engagement and overall business performance,” says Chandler.

New environment, new approach

As a result, organisations require managers who can work in complex, multi-cultural situations. This means that leaders should be able to manage the balance between delivering for today and investing for tomorrow. Says Chandler: “High value should be placed on leadership development offering programmes aimed at developing the skills and knowledge of managers and leaders at different stages of their careers. Engaged, skilled and inspired people are at the centre of delivering on the growth aspirations of organisations.”

Sourcing talent

“The internet has revolutionised the way people learn about companies and apply for jobs. Company career sites remain the top channel for promoting the brand. But talent acquisition and recruiting are undergoing rapid changes, challenging companies to leverage social networks and other collaboration tools. Social media provides not only information about a candidate’s experience and skills, but a better glimpse into their lifestyle, values, and their cultural fit,” adds Chandler.

As the economy continues to grow, employee skills are becoming more specialised, making engagement and culture, leadership and development top priorities for talent management stakeholders. The culture of the organisation should support high performance and talent engagement.

“Employers who fail to engage with workers and provide solutions to the increasing demands being placed on workforces today will struggle to stay abreast of the competition tomorrow,” concludes Chandler.

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Get your passwords in shape

New Year’s resolutions should extend to getting password protection sorted out, writes Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa.

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Many of us have entered the new year with a boat load of New Year’s resolutions.  Doing more exercise, fixing unhealthy eating habits and saving more money are all highly respectable goals, but could it be that they don’t go far enough in an era with countless apps and sites that scream for letting them help you reach your personal goals.

Now, you may want to add a few weightier and yet effortless habits on top of those well-worn choices. Here are a handful of tips for ‘exercises’ that will go good for your cyber-fitness.

I won’t pass up on stubborn passwords

Passwords have a bad rap, and deservedly so: they suffer from weaknesses, both in terms of security and convenience, that make them a less-than-ideal method of authentication.  However, much of what the internet offers is independent on your singing up for this or that online service, and the available form of authentication almost universally happens to the username/password combination.

As the keys that open online accounts (not to speak of many devices), passwords are often rightly thought of as the first – alas, often only – line of defence that protects your virtual and real assets from intruders. However, passwords don’t offer much in the way of protection unless, in the first place, they’re strong and unique to each device and account.

But what constitutes a strong password?  A passphrase! Done right, typical passphrases are generally both more secure and more user-friendly than typical passwords. The longer the passphrase and the more words it packs the better, with seven words providing for a solid start. With each extra character (not to mention words), the number of possible combinations rises exponentially, which makes simple brute-force password-cracking attacks far less likely to succeed, if not well-nigh impossible (assuming, of course, that the service in question does not impose limitations on password input length – something that is, sadly, far too common).

Click here to read about making secure passwords by not using dictionary words, using two-factor authentication, and how biometrics are coming to web browsers.

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Code Week prepares 2.3m young Africans for future

By SUNIL GENESS, Director Government Relations & CSR, Global Digital Government, at SAP Africa.

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On January 6th, 2019, news broke of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce a new approach to education in his second State of the Nation address, including:

  • A universal roll-out of tablets for all pupils in the country’s 23 700 primary and secondary schools
  • Computer coding and robotics classes for the foundation-phase pupils from grade 1-3 and the
  • Digitisation of the entire curriculum, , including textbooks, workbooks and all teacher support material.

With this, the President has shown South Africa’s response to a global challenge: equipping our youth with the skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the 21st century digital economy.

Africa’s working-age population will increase to 600 million in 2030 from a base of 370 million in 2010.

In South Africa, unemployment stands at 26.7 percent, but is much more pronounced among youths: 52.2 percent of the country’s 15-24-year-olds are looking for work.

As an organisation deeply invested in South Africa and its future, SAP has developed and implemented a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country’s youth, including:

AFRICA CODE WEEK

Since its launch in 2015, Africa Code Week has introduced more than 4 million African youth to basic coding.

In 2018, more than 2.3 million youth across 37 countries took part in Africa Code Week.

The digital skills development initiative’s focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 events.

Vital to the success of Africa Code Week is the close support it receives from a broad spectrum of public and private sector institutions, including UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.

SAP’s efforts to drive digital skills development on the African continent forms part of a broader organisational commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 (“Ensure quality and inclusive education for all”)

A core component of Africa Code Week is to encourage female participation in STEM-related skills development activities: in 2018, more than 46% of all Africa Code Week participants were female.

According to Africa Code Week Global Coordinator Sunil Geness, female representation in STEM-related fields among African businesses currently stands at 30%, “requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success”.

Click here to read more about the Skills for Africa graduate training programme, and about the LEGO League.

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