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Half SA execs expect to be in self-driving cars by 2030

New research by Dell shows South African organisations are in step with global trends, but haven’t lost touch with their local base.

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Dell Technologies released the Future of Connected Living – new research exploring how emerging technologies will transform how we live by the year 2030. The research, conducted in partnership with Institute for the Future (IFTF) and Vanson Bourne, surveyed 4600 business leaders across 40+ countries.

This includes South African organisations, which are eager to adopt the benefits of the connected world. Though 77% of local business leaders admit that digital transformation should be more widespread throughout their companies, only 13% worry that they’ll struggle to meet customer demands in 5 years’ time.

Emerging technology driving major shifts

IFTF and forum of global experts forecast that technologies such as edge computing, 5G, AI, Extended Reality (XR) and IoT will combine to create five major “shifts” in the coming decade. These shifts will have the power to change lives across the globe.

IFTF forecasts the following shifts between now and 2030:

  1. Networked Reality: Over the next decade cyberspace will become an overlay on top of our existing reality as our digital environment extends beyond televisions, smartphones and other displays.
  2. Connected Mobility and Networked Matter: The vehicles of tomorrow will essentially be mobile computers. We will trust them to take us where we need to go in the physical world as we interact in the virtual spaces available to us wherever we are.
  3. From Digital Cities to Sentient Cities: Cities will quite literally come to life through their own networked infrastructure of smart objects, self-reporting systems and AI-powered analytics.
  4. Agents and Algorithms: We will each be supported by a highly personalized “operating system for living” that is able to anticipate our needs and proactively support our day-to-day activities to free up time.
  5. Robot with Social Lives: Robots will become our partners in life – enhancing our skills and extending our abilities. Robots will share newfound knowledge to their social robot network to crowdsource innovations and accelerate progress, in real time.

Anticipating Change

Many businesses are already preparing for these shifts. For example, the survey of 4600 businesses found that:

  • 76% expect they will restructure the way they spend their time by automating more tasks. South African respondents ranked this even higher, at 84%.
  • More than half of businesses surveyed indicated that they anticipate Networked Reality to becoming commonplace.
  • Local organisations are a bit more conservative, with 36% welcoming mind-computer control. But 59% are open to day-to-day immersion in virtual and augmented realities.

Navigating Challenges

These major technology-led shifts may challenge people and organizations that are grappling with change, according to the research. Organizations that wish to harness the power of the new emerging technologies will need to take steps to effectively collect, process and deploy data to keep pace with rate of rapid innovation.

Additionally, concerns around the fairness of algorithms that do everything from decide how companies hire to who is eligible for loans must be addressed, as will growing concerns from the public about data privacy. Governments will need to learn how to work together to share and deploy their data if cities are to go from digital to sentient.

Business leaders are already anticipating some of these challenges:

  • 74% of surveyed businesses leaders say they consider data privacy to be a top societal-scale challenge that must be solved. South African leaders ranked even higher at 78%.
  • South African business leaders are less concerned about AI regulation and clarity on how it’s use: only 30% called for this, in contrast to the global average of 44%.

A snapshot of South African views

Local business leaders are not out of touch with global views, but they also don’t just blindly follow the trends:

  • 51% of local business leaders believe they will travel in a self-driving car by 2030 (global: 50%).
  • 19% of local business leaders fear they will be left behind (global: 30%).
  • 59% of local business leaders would welcome people partnering with machines/robots to surpass human limitations (global: 70%).
  • 85% of local business leaders expect that in 2030 they will be more concerned about their privacy than they are today (global: 68%).

“I think the Future of Connected Living research shows South Africa is a maturing digital economy that marches to its own beat,” said Doug Woolley, MD of Dell Technologies South Africa. “We can see this among our customers and partners: there is a serious appetite for digital improvements, but they still keep their feet on the ground and look for solutions that change lives and experiences. They are not scared of technology, but they don’t just believe the hype. They want solutions that matter and last.”

To execute the research, IFTF relied on its decades-long study on the future of work and technology, the latest Dell Technologies research, and experts from across the globe. The Future of Connected Living is the third and final part in a three-part research series that includes The Future of the Economy and The Future of Work, both of which were released earlier in 2019.

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3D printing set for $20bn boom

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3D printing is starting to be realized in a wide variety of industries, but its potential in the aerospace and defense industry is significant. The 3D printing industry was worth $3bn in 2013 and grew to $7bn in 2017. By 2025, the market is forecast to account for more than $20bn in spend, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

The company’s report, ‘3D Printing in Aerospace & Defence – Thematic Research’, reveals that most major militaries and companies are exploring options with the technology. Some are still in the testing phase, while others are deploying the technology in final production. This is particularly true in the aerospace industry, where engines, aircraft and satellites are currently using 3D-printed components.

Listed below are the militaries that have taken an early lead in implementing 3D printing technology, as identified by GlobalData.

US Marine Corps

The US Marine Corps currently has the highest uptake of 3D printing of any military service worldwide. In particular, the additive manufacturing team at Marine Corps Systems Command has created the world’s largest 3D concrete printer with the ability to print a 500-square-foot barracks hut in 40 hours.

US Air Force

The US Air Force is integrating 3D printing into its supply chain. Overseen by ‘America Makes’, the US national additive manufacturing/3D printing innovation institute, it is investigating how current systems can be used to reproduce aircraft components for decades-old planes that may no longer have reliable sources of replacement parts, without minimum order quantities.

US Navy

The Navy has created new logistical units such as Navy frontline attachments, which can rapidly create spare parts for incredibly complex military equipment such as the F-35B – and are currently operational for this purpose. The navy has also worked with Oak Ridge National laboratory to produce the first 3D-printed submarine hull.

US Army

The US Army is working on 3D-printed, modular drone systems. The army wants 3D printers that can be deployed to a forward base camp and used to produce aviation backup when necessary for troops on the ground. This plan aims to create bespoke unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) systems and is said to be at an advanced stage of development.

Chinese Air Force

A 3D Systems ProJet 4500 printer has been acquired by the Chinese army and has been working on replacement military truck parts for the army’s fuel tanker fleet. A number of Chinese fighter jets are believed to be carrying 3D-printed parts and are currently in operation.

Russian Army

Russia has been testing multiple applications for 3D-printed parts in its newest main battle tank, the T-14 Armata. During the development process, 3D printing was used for prototyping, but it is expected that parts will be used in the final product, of which 2,300 have been ordered.

South Korean Air Force

Collaboration between South Korea’s InssTEK and France’s Z3DLAB is producing parts for South Korean warplanes that see heavy use along the border with North Korea. The aim is to upgrade existing components, rather than replace worn parts, with a new titanium composite material.

Information based on GlobalData’s report: ‘3D Printing in Aerospace & Defence – Thematic Research’.

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SA productivity could nosedive on Black Friday

Employee productivity on Black Friday could nose dive, says local online retailer, OneDayOnly.co.za

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Finance Minister Tito Mboweni hasn’t had it easy lately. Amidst a more-than-tricky economy and having to walk the tight rope in his recent mid-term budget speech, Tito is squeezed between a rock and a very hard place that’s about to get tighter with Black Friday inspired employee procrastination.

“While the minister probably has bigger fish to fry than South Africans avoiding spreadsheets in favour of scooping a deal on Samsung’s latest flat screen – Black Friday undoubtedly affects employees’ focus at work,” says Matthew Leighton, spokesperson at leading South African e-tailer OneDayOnly.co.za .

While it started as a post-Thanksgiving blowout sale by US retailers, Black Friday has become one of the most significant calendar days for consumers and the retail industry globally. “The proof is in the OneDayOnly.co.za stats. Last year, we recorded over 150 000 website users on Black Friday alone – the average on a regular day is around 60 000 and on a high traffic day such as pay day its approximately 80 000,” says Leighton.

So the demand is clearly there but are people actually doing the bulk of their Black Friday buying while they should be working? Leighton says they are. “Although the sale starts at midnight people are online throughout the day and data from last year shows traffic on OneDayOnly.co.za spiking primarily during core working hours – 06:00, 8:00, 11:00 and 15:00.

He adds that the average user session – or time people spend on the site at any one point – is three times longer on Black Friday than any other day. “In addition to spending longer on the site on Black Friday, customers also return many times during the day so these longer sessions happen numerous times during the work day.”

To add to Tito’s woes, Leighton explains that people are also multi-screening their buying efforts by watching social platforms for tips and prompts. “Most online retailers worth their salt share prompts on social feeds to drive traffic to their websites. Last year, each time we announced via social that a 100% off deal was available shoppers flocked to OneDayOnly.co.za. Almost instantly, the web traffic would spike. The pattern shows how closely people keep an eye on the 100% off deal drops via social media, as well as how effectively the platforms cater to a very wide audience in real time.”

But while Black Friday may result in the odd deadline being missed, Leighton believes the overall impact on the economy is an extremely positive one. “Last year we saw people spending in the region of R1300 on Black Friday, compared to an average of R970 on other days. According to BankServ, South Africans’ card transactions came up to R3bn on the day last year, up 16% from 2017. That’s a nice injection into an otherwise depressed retail sector.”

Leighton says people love Black Friday because there is something in it for everyone, but there’s also nothing to lose – except for maybe a bit of work time. “With so many more products available at low prices, it makes sense to peruse. If you find nothing you like, you are no worse off. And your boss doesn’t have to be either if you’re proactive and shop before work when our doors open at midnight.”

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