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Remote working can help rescue Cape Town economy

Cape Town’s SMEs should drive the shift to remote Working as COLIN THORNTON, Managing Director of Turrito Networks and Dial a Nerd, says this is a key part of the city’s efforts to save water.

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In March, rating’s agency Moody’s warned that the water crisis affecting Cape Town would cause the city’s borrowing to rise sharply – and the provincial economy to shrink – the longer the situation lasted. As it stands, Cape Town is the first major metropolitan to face the possibility of running out of water. The City’s residents are bracing themselves for “Day Zero” in late August, when Cape Town’s taps could literally run dry.

For Cape Town’s business owners and managers, it is now imperative to find ways to alleviate not only operating costs in a stressed local economy, but overall pressure on the City’s infrastructure. Arguably, enabling employees to work remotely – either from home or from a different province, is one way to ease both of these burdens. 

Although remote working has been topical for some time, it has now become critical that businesses in Cape Town start to explore feasible remote working solutions. From a technology/IT perspective, this means putting the right IT infrastructure in place to ensure that employees and managers have the right tools, platforms and support to make the strategy a success. 

To begin with, robust connectivity is key. If your company’s Internet connection is not already both fast and reliable, this must be addressed as a matter of urgency. Secondly, every business should be looking to harness Cloud based tools and platforms to bolster collaboration, productivity and overall communication as the company embraces worker mobility….

Making the Shift

By moving enterprise systems, software and processes to the Cloud – and away from locally hosted environments [on-site servers and exchanges] SMEs in particular will automatically be enabling themselves to succeed during and after the water crisis. Indeed, with Cloud based platforms in place, SMEs can achieve a new level of independence, responsiveness and agility – as employees will be able to safely access key data anytime, and from anywhere. 

Let’s take email, for example, which is the lifeblood of today’s SMEs. Without properly functioning email connectivity, any small business will be brought to a halt.  

For SMEs looking to support a host of remote working capabilities, they must immediately consider their email solution. So, do they choose a Cloud-based product, or rather to ‘insource’ email and go with an on-site mail exchange service? 

From an efficiency and remote working point of view, the Cloud-based option is a no-brainer. By adopting the Cloud, SMEs can rest assured that their email will be up and running 99% of the time, and employees will have simple, secure and easy access from anywhere – as long as they have reliable connectivity. 

Streamlined Cost Structures

Without doubt, there is also a huge cost implication for SMEs that wholeheartedly embrace Cloud computing and, simultaneously, mobility. With most of today’s Cloud computing platforms and services, there are no expensive licensing costs to deal with nor long term contracts– which allows each business to scale up or down according to their current needs. This can free up operating capital to spend more on new mobile devices and mobile connectivity that promotes and supports the shift to remote working. 

As Cape Town’s businesses explore ways to cut costs, drive efficiencies and reduce pressure on the City’s water infrastructure, embracing a more mobile and streamlined working culture can certainly make a major difference…

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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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