Although voice-activated assistants like SIRI and Microsoft Cortana are making life easier for consumer use, they are still limited in their business use, in particular interacting with business systems. However, IFS has designed an app that lets users control its programs via voice.
Now IFS has designed a mobile app called the Intelligent Personal Assistant (IPA), which lets the user control IFS Applications by their voice, via a smartphone or tablet.
The app is a product of IFS Labs, IFS’s in-house think tank tasked with finding new ways companies can push the boundaries of what ERP systems can and should do—often leveraging the world of consumer technology as inspiration. Having looked closely at Apple’s Siri and Microsoft’s Cortana, IFS Labs director Martin Gunnarsson led the design of the IPA for people who want to search for data and update data in IFS Applications, only using their voice.
IFS Labs has built the solution on standard technologies for voice recognition available through web services provided by Google and Microsoft.
It uses a standard device SDK for Speech to Text (STT) and Text to Speech (TTS). The infrastructure for fetching data from IFS Applications is built on IFS cloud infrastructure.
Two major benefits of this technology are that the user doesn’t need the normal logon procedure to access the ERP system, and doesn’t need to know where to find the information – one simply asks for that information.
IFS sees a range of use cases, which include:
· Field technicians or engineers can update and report jobs on the go even while their hands are busy with the job or they are wearing protective gloves. IFS has some customers with over 2000 service technicians. If they can save 15 minutes per day per technician, they can enjoy significant cost reductions.
· People are sometimes unable to use their hands, for example when stuck in traffic. It is estimated that people spend the equivalent of several days per year in traffic jams. This is time that could be put to more productive use without compromising road safety.
· Some users are simply attracted to the quick and easy way that voice control offers to search information in an ERP system (think Google Search for ERP).
· A sales person who is on their way to a customer and wants to run a quick check for any business updates can do so quickly on the move.
According to IFS, the driver for uptake of this technology will not be typical ERP users, because they are used to working with a traditional screen and keyboard.
Demand will come from the next generation of users who habitually interact with social apps through smart devices, where voice is used for navigation. IFS expects this technology to become mainstream in a few years’ time. The barrier to adoption is user behaviour rather than technology, and this is changing steadily.
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
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
Robots coming to IFA
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