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Now prepare for the 5th Industrial Revolution

With technology advancing at an exponential rate, we stand on the brink of the Fifth Industrial Revolution and if business leaders aren’t adapting how they work, they risk getting left behind, writes STUART SCANLON, Managing Director at epic ERP.

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Karl Benz changed the world when he invented the first practical automobile that was powered by an internal combustion engine. Fast forward 130 years and self-driving cars are now a reality. With technology advancing at an exponential rate, we stand on the brink of the Fifth Industrial Revolution and if business leaders aren’t adapting how they work, they risk getting left behind. 

To put it into perspective, the First Industrial Revolution occurred roughly between 1760 and 1850 – lasting 90 years, while the second took place between 1870 and 1914 – lasting 44 years. The third is somewhere between 1969 and 2000 – covering approximately 31 years, and the fourth is currently underway. What’s consistent in all of these is the impact on people’s way of life and that the evolution of technology is speeding up. 

When it comes to Industry 5.0, there’s uncertainty about what it will bring and how it will disrupt business. What we do know is that it’s going to break down barriers between the real world and the virtual one. New technologies are going to be more sophisticated than anything we have experienced before, and they are going to be faster, more scalable and adopted globally. 

Augmented and virtual reality, big data, artificial intelligence and the most revolutionary of Industry 5.0 technologies – cryptocurrency. In the not-so-distant future we can expect cashless economies where cryptocurrencies are accepted around the world, and where everything is sold through e-commerce transactions. The Internet of Things is on the rise, as is blockchain technology, and while artificial intelligence will cause job losses, more efficient processes will drastically increase productivity.

The changes that are coming with the Fifth Industrial Revolution will affect how organisations operate, which is why business leaders need to prepare for tomorrow. To remain competitive, they will have to move away from how they have traditionally operated and they must embrace fresh ideas, new thinking and, of course, unfamiliar technology.

“When new technology from the next revolution becomes entrenched, we’re going to be conducting business in different ways,” says Stuart Scanlon, managing director for epic ERP, the official Southern African distribution partner for Epicor Software Corporation, a global provider of industry-specific enterprise software to promote business growth. “Current systems won’t be able to handle the expected increase in productivity, which is why business leaders need to become early adopters of technology, to stay ahead of the changes.”

For an organisation to future-proof its business, it needs software that can support the unknown, together with agile infrastructure, so it’s better set up to adjust its services, products and procedures. To manage productivity and achieve success, the business will need to be flexible and run lean. 

“People have different opinions when it comes to predicting the start of Industry 5.0 but, if you consider the speed of transformation in technology, I believe it’s going to be here far sooner than most people think. The future is happening now and we need to rise to the challenges if we are to thrive in the next revolution,” says Scanlon.

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CES: Most useless gadgets of all

Choosing the best of show is a popular pastime, but the worst gadgets of CES also deserve their moment of infamy, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s fairly easy to choose the best new gadgets launched at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas last week. Most lists – and there are many – highlight the LG roll-up TV, the Samsung modular TV, the Royole foldable phone, the impossible burger, and the walking car.

But what about the voice assisted bed, the smart baby dining table, the self-driving suitcase and the robot that does nothing? In their current renditions, they sum up what is not only bad about technology, but how technology for its own sake quickly leads us down the rabbit hole of waste and futility.

The following pick of the worst of CES may well be a thinly veneered attempt at mockery, but it is also intended as a caution against getting caught up in hype and justification of pointless technology.

1. DUX voice-assisted bed

The single most useless product launched at CES this year must surely be a bed with Alexa voice control built in. No, not to control the bed itself, but to manage the smart home features with which Alexa and other smart speakers are associated. Or that any smartphone with Siri or Google Assistant could handle. Swedish luxury bedmaker DUX thinks it’s a good idea to manage smart lights, TV, security and air conditioning through the bed itself. Just don’t say Alexa’s “wake word” in your sleep.

2. Smart Baby Dining Table 

Ironically, the runner-up comes from a brand that also makes smart beds: China’s 37 Degree Smart Home. Self-described as “the world’s first smart furniture brand that is transforming technology into furniture”, it outdid itself with a Smart Baby Dining Table. This isa baby feeding table with a removable dining chair that contains a weight detector and adjustable camera, to make children’s weight and temperature visible to parents via the brand’s app. Score one for hands-off parenting.

Click here to read about smart diapers, self-driving suitcases, laundry folders, and bad robot companions.

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CES: Tech means no more “lost in translation”

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Talking to strangers in foreign countries just got a lot easier with recent advancements in translation technology. Last week, major companies and small startups alike showed the CES technology expo in Las Vegas how well their translation worked at live translation.

Most existing translation apps, like Bixby and Siri Translate, are still in their infancy with live speech translation, which brings about the need for dedicated solutions like these technologies:

Babel’s AIcorrect pocket translator

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The AIcorrect Translator, developed by Beijing-based Babel Technology, attracted attention as the linguistic king of the show. As an advanced application of AI technology in consumer technology, the pocket translator deals with problems in cross-linguistic communication. 

It supports real-time mutual translation in multiple situations between Chinese/English and 30 other languages, including Japanese, Korean, Thai, French, Russian and Spanish. A significant differentiator is that major languages like English being further divided into accents. The translation quality reaches as high as 96%.

It has a touch screen, where transcription and audio translation are shown at the same time. Lei Guan, CEO of Babel Technology, said: “As a Chinese pathfinder in the field of AI, we designed the device in hoping that hundreds of millions of people can have access to it and carry out cross-linguistic communication all barrier-free.” 

Click here to read about the Pilot, Travis, Pocketalk, Google and Zoi translators.

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