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Tech future demands ‘leadering’

One of the world’s leading futurists argues for a new kind of leadership, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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It is somewhat reassuring to learn that Nancy Giordano has 43,000 unopened emails on her computer. As a global “brand futurist”, she is in demand to lead transformation strategies at major corporations, and present her framework for visionary leadership at conferences and events. She is also a mother of three and a part-time lecturer at Singularity University in Silicon Valley.

If someone operating at the cutting edge of technology has such a cluttered inbox, the rest of us can be forgiven for not keeping up. However, she reassures us, she is on top of the important correspondence. Speaking at VeeamOn, a conference hosted by data backup and management company Veeam in Miami, Florida, she makes the case for “audacious leadering” as the key to being on top of the rapid technological change that the coming years will bring.

Nancy Giordano

The main challenge, she says, is that we have three lenses into the future: through our work lives, our personal lives and as members of society. In each of these, the questions arise: What problem are we trying to solve; what is our role; how can we compete?

“This leads us to a permanent state of ambiguity,” she says. “So many things are happening at once in the world of business and technology, we’re not sure if we’re making the right decisions  anymore. How do we now when is the right time to act? How do we operate in a time of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity?”

The reality for business, she says, is that we live in an F-I-O world”. That stands for “Figure-It-Out”.

“Nobody knows how to do it: you’ve got to figure it out. Part of it is an agile mindset. It’s not about spending a ton of money on research and development and hope to get it right, but starting with the most basic components and make sure you get them right.

“The iPhone didn’t start the way it is now; they caught up. So in human resources, for instance, it can be getting the hiring or onboarding process right, and build from there. On an individual level, it is teaching people that they have agency, that they are able to create something and it can start small.”

Giordano appears, at first, to be a strange fit for a Veeam event focused on cloud storage. But her message resonates powerfully.

Anthony Spiteri, a global technologist working in the product strategy group at Veeam, tells us in an interview that the trend in information technology (IT) is to make it more efficient and have tools to make the jobs of IT practitioners easier but functional, and to do more with less.

“Have a look at how software has evolved in the  last five to ten years: it’s, all about simplifying systems,” he says. “Ten years ago you had a lot more bells and whistles, and a lot more people needed to know how to make it work. Today it is all in a black box, and people expect to plug it in and work. Younger people want more of that black box plug-and-play experience.”

How does one combine the black box idea with an F-I-O world? Giordano says that one way large businesses are addressing the challenge is with “the idea of uncommon partnerships”.

“You have disparate companies coming together, like Pizza Hut and Toyota co-developing the e-Palette self-driving delivery vans,” she says. “Competitors on the retail stage become collaborators on the high tech stage. Executives are asking, with whom can we collaborate?”

The answer can appear unthinkable at first. In Houston 11 years ago, for example, petroleum engineers and cardiologists got together on the basis that they were both looking for better ways to pump fluid. The fact that one as dealing with oil and the other with blood did not prevent them from seeing the massive potential of cross-disciplinary collaboration.

The result was Pumps & Pipes, an association of medical, energy, aerospace, academic and community professionals and leaders. It has moved far beyond oil and blood, and now emphasises inclusivity across nations and disciplines, with the guiding principle to problem-solving being “exploring your neighbour’s toolkit”.

Says Giordano: “This is where value of diverse thinking comes into the picture. California was the first state to require women on corporate boards, not because it is politically correct, but because corporations with women on the board are on average 15% more profitable. It’s about having different backgrounds, different thinking, different education.

“This will be most crucial in artificial intelligence. Right now it is dominated by a homogenous group of people. The biggest thing to watch out for in AI is bias, how it was trained and what we ask it to do. Not because they are bad, but because they have a different perspective.

“It’s part of the development of our AQ, our adaptability quotient. The great news is you can continuously develop it. Curiosity, agile thinking, diverse teams, collaboration, are all part of it. You have to ask, What does the future need and expect of you? What are you in a unique position to contribute to the future?”

For executives, says Giordano, the answer lies in what she calls “leadering”. The difference between this and leadership is that the new concept is about being passionate.

“If we focus less on how to make humans more effective than how to make machines more effective it will be to our detriment. But this isn’t really about machines at all – it is about community. The single most important social technology is the importance of being human.”

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Projection tech transforms retail

By TIMOTHY WILSON, visual imaging business account manager at Epson South Africa

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Display designs, such as those found in retail stores, are no longer confined to static visuals on pull-up banners, 2D print and posters. The increasingly popular use of projection technology has ushered in new and exciting ways to create immersive displays using rich media and high-quality visual content to go beyond the four walls of traditional marketing.

In the past, projectors were lamp-based and prone to failure when used in a harsh environment, such as a retail store. Today, newly introduced laser projection technology has unlocked a range of capabilities.

Transforming the way brands engage with audiences

Creative techniques such as projection mapping, which can be described as the projection of video, animation and other colourful displays onto 3D surfaces, have completely transformed the way brands engage with audiences and can live in retail spaces, concert halls and even sports stadiums.

Projection mapping offers venues wide-spread creativity in using lighting in small or large environments, as was the case with Epson’s showstopping kinetic portal, which implemented projection mapping on a 360 degree vortex at the largest AV and systems integration show in the world – Integrated Systems Europe 2019. Driven by a new, affordable generation of projectors, mapping not only covers flat walls and traditional projections screens but also irregular shapes, objects, and even entire building façades.

When projecting on a larger scale, such as at events and music concerts, the process of visually combining several projectors to display one single seamless image might sound simple enough in principle but can prove to be a challenging task in reality. To overcome this challenge, experiential marketers are adopting the use of image edge blending, which refers to the process of stacking multiple projectors to create a single overlapped projection that appears continuous and clear.

It’s due to these advancements that displays in retail and events no longer pivot just on aesthetic appeal but can now deliver immersive consumer experiences that drive engagement and increase foot traffic. This is starting to drastically change the way that retailers, events and even restaurants host, engage, entertain and communicate with their audiences.

Projection is driving growth in experiential marketing

Consumer interest in the transition towards projection has seen this technology take centre stage at leading retailers such as Mall of Africa, events by brands such as ABSA and restaurants like Saint, transforming their environments into immersive spaces through projection that displays captivating imagery and video.

Saint restaurant in Sandton has pushed the boundaries of branding and displays, transforming all surfaces into a visual delight. Patrons entering the restaurant are greeted by a visual experience within a dome, featuring a series of moving, constantly changing artworks – such as a starry night sky or a replica of the Sistine Chapel – projected onto walls and the ceiling.

In fact, EventTrack research, which showcases the current state of marketing around the globe, highlights the continuous growth of event and experiential marketing. It notes that high-quality projection technology, more specifically its ability to emit stunning visual experiences, has grown in popularity to become the go-to tool for event organisers and retailers looking to captivate and engage with consumers.

The future of projection technology

Projection technology has proven to be an outstanding, much more cost-effective and reliable form of marketing collateral – setting an entirely new standard for high-resolution projection.

Sandton City recently embraced this market-leading technology with the installation of a virtual aquarium in its Centre Court. This installation centred on creating a 3D mapping concept that enabled shoppers to select an undersea creature from a touchpad to swim across digitised hoarding.

With capabilities to meet the demands of large-scale projection and the ability to effectively transform the way brands remain visible at shopping malls, restaurants and retail spaces – the unprecedented imaging power of projection technology has set a considerably high bar when it comes to retail and event displays. 

Epson, which is not only pioneering imaging technology and innovative projection solutions, is also the market leader when it comes to high lumen laser projection, having recently announced its 30,000 lumens laser projector (EB-L30000U) which will officially launch in 2020. This high-end installation laser projector, complete with 4K enhancement, is aimed at rental and staging companies, hospitality markets and visitor attractions, which is yet another progressive step towards transforming the way marketers engage with their consumers in the 21st century. 

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GoFundMe hits R9bn in donations for people and causes

The world’s largest social fundraising platform has announced that Its community has made more than 120-million donations

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GoFundMe this week released its annual Year in Giving report, revealing that its community has donated more than 120-million times, raising over $9-billion for people, causes, and organisations since the company’s founding in 2010.

In a letter to the GoFundMe community, CEO Rob Solomon emphasised how GoFundMe witnesses not only the good in people worldwide, but their generosity and their action every day.

“As we enter a new decade, GoFundMe is committed to spreading compassion and empathy through our platform,” said Solomon in the letter. “Together, we can bring more good into the world and unlock the power of global giving.”

The GoFundMe giving community continues to grow with both repeat donors and new donors. In fact, nearly 60% of donors were new this year. After someone makes a donation, they continue to engage with the community and give to multiple causes. In fact, one passionate individual donated 293 times to 234 different fundraisers in this past year alone. Donations are made every second, ranging from $5 to $50,000. This year, more than 40% of donations were under $50.

GoFundMe continues to be a mirror of current events across the globe. This year, young changemakers started the Fridays for Futuremovement to fight climate change, which led to a 60% increase in fundraiser descriptions mentioning ‘climate change’. Additionally, the community rallied together to support one another during natural disasters like Hurricane Dorian and the California wildfires, where thousands of fundraisers were started to help those in need.

The report includes a snapshot of giving trends from the year based on global GoFundMe data. It also includes company milestones from 2019, such as launching the company’s non-profit and advocacy arm, GoFundMe.org, and introducing GoFundMe Charity, which provides enterprise software with no subscription fees or contracts to charities of every size.

Highlights from GoFundMe’s 2019 Year in Giving report include:

  • Global giving trends and data
  • Top 10 most generous countries
  • Top 10 most generous U.S. states and cities
  • Biggest moments in 2019

To view the entire report, visit: www.gofundme.com/2019

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