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Madoda wants to help you help the robots

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Stats South Africa has released its latest Quarterly Labour Force Survey, indicating a 0.5% increase in unemployment, bringing the official unemployment rate to 27.6%, the highest figure since Q3 2017. Although this news brings concern to the state of the economy, a silver lining could be on the horizon for the 6.2-million South Africans actively looking for work.

In the ManpowerGroups 2019 research paper titled “Humans Wanted: Robots Need You,” 19,000 employers in 44 countries were surveyed on the impact of automation on job growth in their organisations. The results show that between 21% and 30% of South African employers are planning to increase their headcount as a result of automation.

“While 38% of organisations say it is difficult to train in-demand technical skills, 43% said it is even harder to teach the soft skills they need such as analytical thinking and communication,” says Lyndy van den Barselaar, managing director of ManpowerGroup SA. “Candidates who can demonstrate higher cognitive skills, creativity and the ability to process complex information, together with adaptability and likeability, can expect greater success throughout their careers.”

Serial tech entrepreneur Madoda Khuzwayo is looking to take this challenge on by reimagining the way in which employers assess & recruit talent into their organisation. Khuzwayo has developed Hiring.ly, an online job portal designed to give employers a reliable platform to source, track and manage talent recruitment fast. Job portals are not new to the South African job market ,with multiple online classifieds hosting thousands of job listings. Hiring.ly seeks to set itself a part through matching eligible candidates & employers through a range of psychometric, cognitive & aptitude filters to improve employers chances of placing the right candidate. 

Says Khuzwayo: “Employers can use Hiring.ly to source talent not only by location, education or experience, but also through assessing elements such as problem solving skills, communication skills & cultural fit. My vision is to create an intelligent hiring automation platform that helps employers hire smart.

“Our Job fit technology incorporates modern validated behavioural assessments and pre-employment tests with custom benchmarking, applicant ranking, and data mining capabilities to help match the right candidate to the right job. We have a growing list of tech start-ups and software development companies using our platform to hire for AI, data analysis and machine learning related jobs. We are confident that this will be one of our biggest verticals as we scale up.”

Khuzwayo says these will be a major differentiators as Hiringly seeks to position itself at the forefront of the 4th Industrial Revolution. As more Fortune 500 companies such as Google, EY, Netflix and many others drop university qualification as a minimum requirement for securing a job within their organisations, new ways of assessing candidates capabilities are required by HR managers, he says.

“The South African government has already committed to scrapping work-experience for entry level positions at state institutions, we can expect to see this trend continue as the skills organisations require evolve with the times.  We have placed over 200 jobs with several Small and medium enterprises since going live early 2019 and are rolling out automation-based hiring processes that eliminate the need for recruiters to perform routine tasks.

“Getting this solution right for small businesses is critical, as existing solutions are exclusive to SMEs due to high price points and outdated feature sets. Hiring.ly allows employers to focus on tasks that require human creativity and reduces the cost of talent acquisition for SMEs.”

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Millennials turning 40: NOW will you stop targeting them?

It’s one of the most overused terms in youth marketing, and probably the most inaccurate, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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One of the most irritating buzzwords embraced by marketers in recent years is the term “millennial”. Most are clueless about its true meaning, and use it as a supposedly cool synonym for “young adults”. The flaw in this targeting – and the word “flaw” here is like calling the Grand Canyon a trench – is that it utterly ignores the meaning of the term. “Millennials” are formally defined as anyone born from 1980 to 2000, meaning they have typically come of age after the dawn of the millennium, or during the 21st century.

Think about that for a moment. Next year, the millennial will be formally defined as anyone aged from 20 to 40. So here you have an entire advertising, marketing and public relations industry hanging onto a cool definition, while in effect arguing that 40-year-olds are youths who want the same thing as newly-minted university graduates or job entrants.

When the communications industry discovers just how embarrassing its glib use of the term really is, it will no doubt pivot – millennial-speak for “changing your business model when it proves to be a disaster, but you still appear to be cool” – to the next big thing in generational theory.

That next big thing is currently Generation Z, or people born after the turn of the century. It’s very convenient to lump them all together and claim they have a different set of values and expectations to those who went before. Allegedly, they are engaged in a quest for experience, compared to millennials – the 19-year-olds and 39-olds alike – supposedly all on a quest for relevance.

In reality, all are part of Generation #, latching onto the latest hashtag trend that sweeps social media, desperate to go viral if they are producers of social content, desperate to have caught onto the trend before their peers.

The irony is that marketers’ quest for cutting edge target markets is, in reality, a hangover from the days when there was no such thing as generational theory, and marketing was all about clearly defined target markets. In the era of big data and mass personalization, that idea seems rather quaint.

Indeed, according to Grant Lapping, managing director of DataCore Media, it no longer matters who brands think their target market is.

“The reason for this is simple: with the technology and data digital marketers have access to today, we no longer need to limit our potential target audience to a set of personas or segments derived through customer research. While this type of customer segmentation was – and remains – important for engagements across traditional above-the-line engagements in mass media, digital marketing gives us the tools we need to target customers on a far more granular and personalised level.

“Where customer research gives us an indication of who the audience is, data can tell us exactly what they want and how they may behave.”

Netflix, he points out, is an example of a company that is changing its industry by avoiding audience segmentation, once the holy grail of entertainment.

In other words, it understands that 20-year-olds and 40-year-olds are very different – but so is everyone in between.

* Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram on @art2gee

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Robots coming to IFA

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Robotics is no longer about mechanical humanoids, but rather becoming an interface between man and machine. That is a key message being delivered at next month’s IFA consumer electronics expo in Berlin. An entire hall will be devoted to IFA Next, which will not only offer a look into the future, but also show what form it will take.

The concepts are as varied as the exhibitors themselves. However, there are similarities in the various products, some more human than others, in the fascinating ways in which they establish a link between fun, learning and programming. In many cases, they are aimed at children and young people.

The following will be among the exhibitors making Hall 26 a must-visit:

Leju Robotics (Stand 115) from China is featuring what we all imagine a robot to be. The bipedal Aelos 1s can walk, dance and play football. And in carrying out all these actions it responds to spoken commands. But it also challenges young researchers to apply their creativity in programming it and teaching it new actions. And conversely, it also imparts scholastic knowledge.

Cubroid (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Korea starts off by promoting an independent approach to the way it deals with tasks. Multi-functional cubes, glowing as they play music, or equipped with a tiny rotating motor, join together like Lego pieces. Configuration and programming are thus combined, providing a basic idea of what constitutes artificial intelligence.

Spain is represented by Ebotics (Stand 218). This company is presenting an entire portfolio of building components, including the “Mint” educational program. The modular system explains about modern construction, programming and the entire field of robotics.

Elematec Corporation (Stand 208) from Japan is presenting the two-armed SCARA, which is not intended to deal with any tasks, but in particular to assist people with their work.

Everybot (Stand 231, KIRIA) from Japan approaches the concept of robotics by introducing an autonomous floor-cleaning machine, similar to a robot vacuum cleaner.

And Segway (Stand 222) is using a number of products to explain the modern approach to battery-powered locomotion.

IFA will take place at the Berlin Exhibition Grounds (ExpoCenter City) from 6 to 11 September 2019. For more information, visit www.ifa-berlin.com

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