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How social business reawakens innovation

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Companies today face constant change, but prevailing organisational structures and attitudes do not favour adaptation or innovation says GYS KAPPERS, CEO of WyseTalk. Social Business Software (SBS) on the other hand allows enterprises to respond swiftly to changes without drastic internal change.

Unstoppable change marks the trading environment of most companies in today’s globalised, recession-plagued economy. Endless regulations, shifting market fortunes and competition all require a constant stream of new strategies, positions and innovations. Executives under siege are often moved to authorise reorganisation: in fact, some seem to be reorganising constantly. But no matter how much we embrace the adapt-or-die gospel, reorganisation remains resource-heavy and morale-sapping, and businesses are structurally unsuited and resistant to it.

Structural rigidity

Most organisations are divisionalised by function (such as finance or HR), product (such as mobile or outsourcing), or market (B2C or B2B). The intuitive response to change is to commit additional, different or even fewer resources to any one or more of these divisions, which can be hugely disruptive. But in such conditions, employees rightly fear layoffs or uprooting (re-deployment or re-training), leading to a drop in productivity and quality of output. Ham-strung by lower morale, risk-averse attitudes and systemic obstacles, the company reacts like a deer in the headlights. Paralysed by having to change to survive change itself, it stalls.

Change without changing

But what if the company didn’t have to change structurally to change position? What if it was able to rally all its functional, market and technical expertise, divisional barriers notwithstanding and the collective wisdom of its partners and customers at speed and with minimal cost?

An organisation like that is optimised for change. Emboldened by its readiness for anything, it flows around obstacles. It is borne by the fearless contribution of employees who co-create solutions rather than merely implement or suffer them, and guided by the vision and sponsorship of executives not distracted by cost or risk.

The dynamic organisation

Endowed with an SBS platform, any organisation can attain this state of dynamism. Using the best of social and collaborative principles and Web technology, SBS breaks down the silos prevailing in many organisations today, and lets them harness the full diverse spectrum of organisational functions and abilities in the service of problem solving. Organisations using it can mount a slick, holistic response to each new crisis, in defiance of divisional shackles and without the need for project-based or more permanent organisational change.

SBS gives weight to collaboration

The powers of SBS are evident when judging its collaborative powers.

¬∑ Everyone participates – In a socially collaborative community, each participant’s contribution is valued equally. This gives even the lowliest participant the confidence to ‚”swarm‚” voluntarily around a unifying purpose. CEOs know the satisfaction of solutions that harness the collective wisdom and support of all stakeholders. You can’t get this with email.

· It is totally open РSBS allows all users to see the contributions of others, and use, reuse, augment, validate, critique and rate them. Without transparency, there can be no participation, trust, shared knowledge, self-governance, self-correction or evolution.

· It is autonomous РSBS delivers collaboration without the need of lists, workflow and document management structures that email and collaboration tools require. Any member of a community can contribute to a topic, independently of pre-existing relationships with any other, or coordination, place or time.

¬∑ It persists – SBS allows your community’s contributions to be captured and kept (you can set policies to determine which information should be kept and for how long). This is a departure from synchronous conversations where much of the information exchanged is either lost or only partially preserved.

Innovation

Companies’ response when using SBS can be termed ‚’emergent’. It is free-form and dynamic, in recognition of the fact that human behaviour and problems cannot be modelled, designed, optimised or controlled. This opens the enterprise up to new solutions to the most intractable problems even future ones. SBS, ultimately, is your best source of innovation.

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A career in data science – or your money back

The Explore Data Science Academy is offering high demand skills courses – and guarantees employment for trainees

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The Explore Data Science Academy (EDSA) has announced several new courses in 2020 that it says will radically change the shape of data science education in South Africa. 

Comprising Data Science, Data Engineering, Data Analytics and Machine Learning, each six-month course provides vital digital skills that are in high demand in the market place.  The full time, fully immersive courses each cost R60 000 including VAT. 

The courses are differentiated from any other available by the fact that EDSA has introduced a money back promise if it cannot place the candidate in a job within six months of graduation and at a minimum annual starting salary of R240 000.

“For South Africans with drive and aptitude, this is the perfect opportunity to launch a career in what has been called the sexiest career of the 21stcentury,” says Explore founder Shaun Dippnall.

Dippnall and his team are betting on the explosive demand for data science skills locally and globally.

 “There is a massive supply-demand gap in the area of data science and our universities and colleges are struggling to keep up with the rapid growth and changing nature of specific digital skills being demanded by companies.  

“We are offering specifically a work ready opportunity in a highly skills deficient sector, and one which guarantees employment thereafter.”

The latter is particularly pertinent to young South Africans – a segment which currently faces a 30 percent unemployment rate. 

“If you have skills in either Data Science, Data Engineering, Data Analytics or Machine Learning, you will find work locally, even globally. We’re confident of that,” says Dippnall.

EDSA is part of the larger Explore organisation and has for the past two years offered young people an opportunity to be trained as data scientists and embark on careers in a fast-growing sector of the economy.  

In its first year of operation, EDSA trained 100 learners as data scientists in a fully sponsored, full-time 12-month course.  In year two, this number increased to 400.  

“Because we are connected with hundreds of employers and have an excellent understanding of the skills they need, our current placement rate is over 90 percent of the students we’ve taught,” Dippnall says. “These learners can earn an average of R360 000 annually, hence our offer of your money back if there is no employment at a minimum annual salary of R240k within six months.

“With one of the highest youth unemployment rates in the world – recently announced as a national emergency by the President – it is important that institutions teach skills that are in demand and where learners can earn a healthy living afterwards.”

There are qualifying criteria, however. Candidates need to live in close proximity (within one hour commuting distance), or be prepared to live, in either Johannesburg or Cape Town, and need to be between the ages of 18 and 55. 

“Our application process is very tough. We’ll test for aptitude and attitude using the qualifying framework we’ve built over the years. If you’re smart enough, you’ll be accepted,” says Dippnall.

To find out more, visit  http://www.explore-datascience.net.

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Triggerfish launches free digital learning Academy online

Platform designed for anyone wanting to understand more about career opportunities in animation.

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Triggerfish, in partnership with Goethe-Institut and the German Federal Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development, has launched Triggerfish Academy, a free digital learning platform for anyone wanting to understand more about the career opportunities and how to get started in the field of animation. 

The website features 25 free video tutorials, quizzes and animation exercises introducing animation as a career and the principles of storytelling, storyboarding and animation, as well as several additional resources to help guide aspiring animators into a career in animation. 

“The South African animation industry is growing – and so is the demand for skilled animators globally,” said Noemie Njangiru, head of Culture and Development at Goethe-Institut Johannesburg, pointing to  the success of recent Triggerfish projects like the Oscar-nominated Revolting Rhymes; Mama K’s Team 4, recently announced by Netflix as their first original animated series from Africa; and this year’s New York Children’s Festival and Shanghai International Film and TV Festival winner Zog.  

Njangiru also highlighted the opportunities for animation outside the traditional film industry, within fields like advertising, app and web design, architecture, engineering, gaming, industrial design, medicine, and the motor industry, not to mention growth sectors like augmented reality and virtual reality

The course was created by Tim Argall, currently the animation director on Triggerfish’s third feature film, Seal Team. He’s roped in many of the South African animation industry’s brightest stars, from Malcolm Wope, character designer on Mama K’s Team 4, and Annike Pienaar, now working at Illumination in Paris on Sing 2, to Daniel Snaddon, co-director of the multi-award-winning BBC adaptations Stick Man and Zog, and Faghrie Coenraad, lead dressing and finaling artist on the Oscar-nominated Revolting Rhymes, as well as Triggerfish head of production Mike Buckland. The featured talent share not just their skills but also their stories, from how they broke the news they wanted to be animators to their parents, to common myths about the animation industry. 

“As kids, animation is part of our lives, so we don’t really think about the idea that animation is actually somebody’s job,” said Argall. “When I was a kid, I loved animation and I loved to draw. I remember when I was about 12, I thought: ‘I really want to see my drawings come to life. I want to be an animator.’ But I had no idea where to even begin.” 

Triggerfish Academy is his attempt to make it easier for the next generation of African animators: an accessible starter kit for anyone considering a career in animation. 

“By the end of working through this course, you’ll have all the background you need to know whether animation is a good choice for your career,” said Njangiru.  

Aspiring animators can also use Triggerfish Academyto learn how to write and animate their own short story, then post their animation on the Academy’s Facebook group for feedback and advice from professional animators. 

Triggerfish Academy is set up so that youth can play with it directly, but it’s also been designed to double as an activity plan for teachers, NGOs and after school programmes to use. Schools, organisations and other animation studios who are interested in using it can contact Triggerfish for additional free classroom resources.

Triggerfish Academy is just one of a number of Triggerfish initiatives to train and diversify the next generation of African animators, like sponsoring bursaries to The Animation School; the Mama K’s Team 4 Writers Lab with Netflix; the pan-African Triggerfish Story Lab, supported by The Walt Disney Company and the Department of Trade and Industry; Animate Africa webinars; Draw For Life; and the Triggerfish Foundation schools outreach programme. For more information, visit www.triggerfish.com/academy.  

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