Futurists have long envisioned a brighter tomorrow, full of A.I. helpers and automated environments that run on the sound of our voice. Now that we stand on the edge of that reality, it’s time to realize what it requires of us to make this new world work. With immense possibilities on the horizon comes expanding responsibility. Businesses need to act now to transform their IT, workforce and security to stay ahead of the curve.
Recently, Dell Technologies teamed up with Institute for the Future to project into the next decades, and predict how emerging technologies – such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) – will reshape how we live and work by 2030. With those insights, we extended IFTF’s forecasts and surveyed 3,800 business leaders from around the world to gauge their predictions and preparedness for the future.
What companies will need
It is clear that companies need to change in order to reap the benefits of this new era. Many already are. According to the survey, more than half of the businesses interviewed will be investing in advanced AI and self-learning technologies. Converged infrastructure, which greatly reduces the burden on back-office systems, is attracting nearly as much attention, as are the emerging worlds of augmented and virtual reality.
Three other areas that attract the attention of most businesses are next-generation apps, ultra high-performance compute technologies such as all-flash, and new capabilities to accelerate applications. The business of the future is looking for increased performance, be it for insight, training or business applications. But don’t think this is a technology revolution…
What they need from people
In South Africa, there is great concern about the impact of automation on our employment situation. This is an uncomfortable reality that cannot be ignored. In such a light it may seem the above revelations are not good for people. But it’s quite the opposite: this is a people revolution and, if we address it correctly, it can help all humans.
Even our survey respondents don’t regard technology as leading the change. For example, despite all the talk of remote conferencing, 67 percent feel that face to face interaction will remain very important. Humans are overwhelmingly the secret ingredient to success: today’s businesses still value creative drive and logic as the most valued employee skills, something that remains unchanged even when looking at the future year of 2030.
But some things are changing. There will be a higher emphasis on emotional intelligence and technology literacy, finding space alongside traditional business skills such as project management and complex decision-making.
It is clear that the future depends on empowering people through technology.
Automation is a fact: a whopping 96 percent of respondents believe it will happen. Nor does it make sense to avoid. But instead of wondering about what jobs could be lost, we should explore the opportunities technologies bring to current and new roles. If done right, there will be work for everyone.
But then we must consider where the work won’t be. In business, the areas of inventory management, invoicing, troubleshooting, logistics and administration are considered prime candidates for automation. These are where jobs will disappear as new technologies take root.
The human edge will come from partnerships with machines. Humans and machines will work together as integrated teams – 26 percent already do and 30 percent expect it in two years. Take that view to five years and 82 percent of polled businesses expect to have human-machine integrated teams.
But business leaders are torn by what this means for their roles, their businesses and the world at large. 50 percent think automated systems will free up their time, while 42 percent believe they’ll have more job satisfaction in the future by offloading the tasks they don’t want to do to machines.
Supporting Your Workforce
Success will be determined by how a workforce is supported and initiated into this new world. Here there are still challenges, considering that 38 percent of companies struggle to change their workforce’s mindset and culture. More alarming is that 61 percent say their workforces are not ready yet, a number only slightly lower than businesses that lack a digital strategy. This suggests that companies are not strategically prepared for digital changes, so it’s no surprise they aren’t able to change gears on their cultures.
But there are some winning strategies. Of the companies that reported progress in their digital transformations, 53 percent have put policies and technologies in place to support a fully remote, flexible workforce, while 60 percent make customer journeys a boardroom concern. Other successful strategies include tasking senior leaders with spearheading digital change and aligning compensation, training and KPIs to a company’s digital goals and strategy.
Education and training are also major ingredients for success – and something that many employees seek to pursue on their own volition. Creating such opportunities is invaluable. Instead of forcing employees to upskill, give them the means to do so and they will. At least 54 percent of successful digital transformations involve teaching employees coding and software development. In today’s drag-and-drop/low code environments this is important, since even non-technical employees have the capacity to make meaningful changes to systems.
This is an interesting time for business: four separate generations are currently part of the employable population and they all should be brought along on the digital revolution. These employees, regardless of age, seem to thrive most when they are provided training in digital ways of working (54%) and equipped with the latest personal technology tools (54%).
A future with AI systems and automation is not a threat to workers, not if companies invest in training and facilitating them, as well as provide the right digital tools for their jobs. This can’t be divorced from a company’s need to digitally transform – and it is imperative if organisations expect to remain competitive. So as we prepare for the future of work, we must remember that the change begins not with technology or processes, but with our people.
Appdate: No wallet? No problem?
In his app roundup, SEAN BACHER highlights VodaPay Masterpass, Charge Running, South African App Integrator Directory, uKheshe Health and LocTransie.
Digital mobility is now a way of life and most are using smartphones to pay bills.
To meet this need Vodacom and Mastercard have launched VodaPay Masterpass, which enables Vodacom customers to load any bank card into a secure digital wallet, downloaded as an app on their smartphone. Once loaded, these cards and the secure credentials associated with them are safely stored, enabling customers to start transacting immediately without the hassle of entering card details each time they make a purchase.
Vodacom customers can buy prepaid data, airtime and SMS, or voice bundles, directly through the app. They can also select the Pay Bills menu option to settle their DStv accounts, pay a utility bill or take care of a traffic fine.
With the app’s Scan to Pay functionality, users can scan a QR code to pay for goods and services wherever Masterpass is accepted, including all SnapScan and Zapper merchants. Once a QR code is scanned, users select the card they wish to use, and enter their bank PIN number on their own device to complete the transaction.
Platform: Android and iOS
Expect to pay: A free download and users will not be charged for any transaction fees.
Most running apps track data like pace and distance and, in some cases play audio designed to motivate you, but don’t give you the push you get when you run with a friend. Charge Running is an app that lets you run alongside other runners, virtually, as well as giving live coaching to help you go the distance.
The app includes features such as:
· Unlimited access to live running classes and virtual races
· The ability to compete with runners anywhere in the world in real-time
· A live leaderboard that shows where you are in the pack to keep you pushing
· Live, personalised feedback from professional trainers
· Group chats with coaches and fellow runners throughout the run
· On-demand runs for times when you can’t join the live groups
· A choice of difficulty levels and race types
Platform: Android and iOS
Expect to pay: A free seven-day trial; thereafter R150 per month
Stockists: Visit the Charge Running site here for downloading instructions.
South African App Integrator Directory
The South African App Integrator Directory from Xero is designed to solve the complexity of choosing apps for small business owners.
The directory is now available in South Africa with six partners, including Realm Digital, Radical Cloud Solutions, Nimacc, Insights, Iridium Business Solutions and Creative CFO. According to Xero, these are all organisations with a proven track record of successfully integrating marketplace apps into Xero businesses. There are also currently over 700 apps in Xero’s App Marketplace worldwide, 21 of which are South African born.
As small businesses become more tech-savvy, they need to know exactly which apps to install on their devices and how the apps will help them. They also need to be able to install these apps from a trusted integrator so they know for what they are paying.
Platform: Any device with an up-to-date Internet browser.
Expect to pay: A one month trial version is offered, after which the App Integrator ranges from R125 to R245 per month, depending on the company’s needs.
Stockists: Visit Xero here for downloading instructions.
Click here to read about uKheshe Health and LocTransie.
Prize offered for drone films
DJI and SkyPixel, the world’s most popular aerial photography community, have announced the first short film contest inviting users to submit cinematic stories shot with camera and gimbal products. The 2019 SkyPixel Short Film Contest will accept entries until 14 October 2019. It welcomes submissions from all creators, ranging from hobbyists to social media users and professional videographers. around the globe.
The 2019 SkyPixel Short Film Contest consists of three storytelling categories—‘Big Moments Start Small,’ ‘Make Your Move’ and ‘Adventure Starts With You.’ There is no restriction on the type or brand of equipment participants use, and they can submit as many videos as they wish.
A total of 100 winners can win a range of prizes totaling $48,600 USD in categories including Recommended Films, Best Editing, Best Story, Nominated Entries, People’s Choice Prize as well as This Week’s Most Popular, sponsored by the partner SanDisk and WD brand from Western Digital Corp. This year’s Best Short Video winners will each receive the new Ronin-SC Pro Combo, Osmo Action as well as WD 2TB My Passport Wireless SSD.
Winning entries will also be showcased on the SkyPixel website as well as to DJI’s millions of fans and followers across its social media platforms.
“DJI has redefined how people capture stable video for all of life’s moments. The compact size, portability and powerful imaging system of our Osmo and Ronin series have also made it possible for anyone to take their creativity and inspirations to the next level,” said Basile David, Director of Brand and Content Partnerships at DJI. “With this contest, we hope to encourage more people to embrace and share their own creative way of storytelling.”
Since 2014, the SkyPixel online community has attracted 16 million professional aerial photographers and content creators from more than 140 countries, growing into the largest aerial photography community today. Over the past five years, SkyPixel has received over 150,000 submissions, becoming a go-to platform for original aerial masterpieces and extraordinary footage powered by other gimbal products focusing on various themes.
Details of the 2019 SkyPixel Short Film Contest
The short film contest consists of three categories:
Big Moments Start Small: Create a video showcasing the small, lightweight design of your camera device and your best cinematic scenes. Users are recommended to include at least 10 seconds of behind-the-scenes clips of their product such as DJI Osmo Pocket or other devices.
Make Your Move: Create a video showcasing the stabilized footage from your device. Users are recommended to include at least 10 seconds of behind-the-scenes clips of their product such as DJI Osmo Series or other devices.
Adventure Starts With You: Create a short, cinematic narrative film to showcase your creative skills and visual effects. Users are recommended to include at least 10 seconds of behind-the-scenes clips of their product such as DJI Ronin Series or other devices.
*Video submissions should not be longer than three minutes in length.
Submission Start Date: August 15, 2019, 2:00 AM (EST)
Submission End Date: October 14, 2019, 2:00 AM (EST)
Award Announcement: October 31, 2019