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Tech is key to HR future

In a world where technology is more pervasive and the millennial generation is entering the workforce, business will rely more heavily on the human resource department to ensure that key talent is found, and retained, writes SANDRA SWANEPOEL, MD, Sage HR & Payroll.

Here are key themes to look out for in the ever evolving HR space:

1.     Cloud is revolutionising HR

Today’s corporate reality is the digitisation of business models and industries. Technology is transforming the HR and payroll environment. The modernised HR and payroll environments are aggregating employee data into a single location and it allows for platform integration to save time and money as well as improving employee engagement.

Cloud-based applications continue to transform the HR and payroll environment. Access to cloud also facilitates quicker decision making with workforce planning and predictive analytics to make critical decisions in the future by providing access to rich data.

2.     Systems integration

HR, payroll and business management solutions are moving closer together as organisations adopt integrated solutions. From recruitment to performance management, integrated HR systems are breaking down the silos within an organisation and they provide a complete view of the business’s relationship with its employees.

With integrated solutions, businesses can achieve higher levels of automation across their businesses, become more productive and efficient, and gain better visibility into their performance.

3.     HR’s change to data driven decision-making

A recent report by Deloitte on Human Capital Trends revealed that 77% of executives now rate people analytics as a key priority, as technology makes data-driven HR decision making a possibility.

HR departments should refocus on strategic talent management, skills development, building the employer brand, and performance management. When they automate routine processes, they can free up hours for the more strategic aspects of their job.

Automated systems also capture rich data HR managers can use for talent analytics that give insight into trends such as staff churn, the costs of training and development, employee and organisational performance, and the skills they may need to attract and develop to support the business’s future growth.

4.     Embracing Mobility

A 2015-2016 HR Systems Survey conducted by Sierra-Cedar also revealed that in the last three years there has been a 70% increase in company’s investing in mobile-enabled HR technology, 20% of these are planning a major initiative in the next 12 months. This just shows how mobility is becoming more integral to business and how we as HR practitioners will need it to be able to facilitate this organisational change.

5.     Compliance

We will continue to see more demand for software that helps companies to improve record-keeping and decision making thus helping them to become more efficient and productive. Businesses also require solutions that will ensure compliance with stricter tax and labour laws that are always changing.

6.     Online recruitment will come to the fore

There are many tools that can streamline the recruitment process, from managing job applicants and filtering CVs, to interviewing and screening candidates, right up to the on-boarding process. Though the human element will always be important in HR, companies will continue to extend their tools such as online applicant tracking systems, talent communities, social media and internal career portals.

Online platforms such as Sage SkillsMap, give organisations direct access to people in Africa and abroad who are looking for jobs, as well as the tools they need to publish their jobs to the Web and track the applications they receive. These tools help automate a lot of the manual processes for them, so they can make better informed decisions and spend time growing their businesses.

Conclusion

The gist of it all is the increasing role that technology is going to play in the HR function. The future is mobile and we at Sage are giving our customers the power to control their businesses from the palm of their hand. For HR practitioners this is an exciting time, where we will be able to broaden our skills base and become trusted advisors within organisations and play a larger part in its success.

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Cisco gives pre-owned tech a Refresh

In a market of constant upgrades, Cisco Refresh aims to keep quality product away from landfills, writes BRYAN TURNER.

When one gets a new smartphone upgrade, the old device may be used as a backup or can be used by someone else. In business environments, equipment upgrades may not be conducive to keeping old equipment around, which may send older, working equipment to landfills.

This is where Cisco’s Refresh initiative comes in. At Cisco Connect in Sun City this week, Ehrika Gladden, VP and general manager of Cisco Refresh, lifted the lid on a little-known aspect of the company’s strategy. 

“Refresh is Cisco’s global pre-owned equipment business unit,” said Gladden. “It is certified to meet the quality and engineering standards of Cisco. It is licensed for software and it’s also inclusive of a services warranty.

“Our responsibility in 80 countries around the world is tied to both the recovery of assets and the ability to leverage those assets at a lower price point. This ensures our sustainability and proper usage of the Earth’s resources while providing access to small and medium businesses. The products are typically in the range of 20-40% cheaper. The products represent the entire portfolio for Cisco in some part, the majority of that product set is 2+ years in terms of generation.”

Cisco’s Circular Economy initiative ensures a sustainable loop through businesses willing to pay a premium for the latest, cutting-edge solutions, while Cisco markets older, working equipment for resale to those who don’t require the latest solutions. This ensures far less new components need to be used in a product range.

“We are leveraging the model of remanufacturing, refurbishing, recycling, and reusing,” said Gladden. “Depending on the product set, there is a certain set of product yield that we expect. They vary from product to product, but we do have a percentage that doesn’t make it through.

“Those are always reused, meaning we will look at those products and decide to use them completely differently, leveraging the components, remanufacturing back into the overall build process. If that can’t be done, we will go into a recycle process where we melt those products down to reuse them.”

Repairing and refurbishing older products isn’t just that. Cisco is creating repair centres that are owned by third-parties to uplift local ownership.

“The repair centres, as a global manufacturer, is Cisco’s entree into local ownership,” said Gladden. “I want to be precise about what I mean by local ownership. It’s critical for us to have a localised presence, but doing that through ownership. When you look at inclusive economies, those that are participative, to be sustainable – not in the product set, but generationally.

“The ability as a global manufacturer through a local ownership model  isto create a repair centre where a product can be returned, screened, tested, and repaired, leveraging the talent that the Networking Academy is creating.”

Cisco is working closely with local governments to understand where it operates and how to leverage the skills in the market.

Gladden said: “We are also super excited about the National Development Plan and African Union statements which with we align: eradication of poverty, job creation, ownership, healthcare, education, it all fits in the model. So we were very excited to have the opportunity to come to Africa first to announce this. Over the next twelve months, we want to establish our first repair centres, and in the next 3 to 5 years, build that vision into a reality.”

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Why Data Privacy has become a Pipe Dream

If you’re active on WhatsApp, Facebook or any other social platform, you’re not as safe as you thought, writes
AARON THORNTON, MD of Dial a Nerd

As you begin to read this, let’s perform a quick experiment! How many active conversations are you engaged in – right now – on WhatsApp? When was the last time you shared a picture or video on Instagram? Is Facebook currently open and active on one of your devices? And how many internet- connected devices are you using at this moment? Chances are, you have multiple devices running multiple applications most of the time. So what’s the problem, you ask? Since when did checking in with a high school buddy in Australia via Facebook become a dangerous act?  

In reply, we say, read on if you can stomach it!  

Nation-State Hacking & You  

It might seem like a laughably long shot to say that you are a key player in the increasingly sinister and sophisticated world of nation-state hacking. Well, you are. Given that individuals, businesses and governments are now constantly connected, round the clock, consumers and businesses have become fair game in cyber espionage. And as we create and share more and more data, both the value and accessibility of that data increases. According to a report by McAfee, IP theft now accounts for more than 25% of the estimated $600 billion cost of cybercrime to the world economy.    

With data having become the ‘new gold’, nation states are naturally pouring investment and key resources into building advanced cyber warfare tools. Indeed, entire divisions of armed forces as well as the upper echelons of corporate leadership are devising ways to harness data to gain economic, political and social power. At the highest level, tools and platforms are being developed with the specific aim of perpetrating cyber espionage and data theft. No surprise then, that the consumer and business environments are rife with increasingly advanced malware, ransomware and many other malicious hacking tools and methods.  

Still not convinced? Yes, we can smell the scepticism from here! So let’s take a moment to see how this has already played out, beneath our noses.  

Remember the Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal of early 2018? For many, this was a watershed moment in the emerging war for consumer data – and the ensuing tensions between privacy, power and profit. Need a refresh? Well, in 2018, Facebook exposed data on up to 87 million Facebook users to a researcher who worked at Cambridge Analytica, which worked for the Trump campaign. In essence, the data was harvested without user consent and used for political purposes.  

Another chilling but less direct example can be found in Russia’s meddling in the 2016 U.S. elections. According to Politico, Russia launched a massive social media campaign to ‘sow discord’ leading up to the elections. The website reported that as early as 2014, an infamous Russian “troll farm” known as the Internet Research Agency – a company linked to Russian president Putin – developed a strategy using fraudulent bank accounts and other fake identity documents to “spread distrust towards the candidates and the political system in general.” 

When referring to the Russian hacks and their impact on election results, one U.S. Representative sagely noted: “They didn’t just steal data; they weaponized it.” 

Ignorance is not bliss 

Okay, so data is being ‘weaponized’, and ordinary people and businesses are being caught in the crosshairs of cyber warfare. A little bit frightening, but the good news is that savvy individuals like you can take steps to protect personal data and actively combat the creeping influence of juggernauts such as Facebook and Google.  

To begin with, awareness is key. As you engage with various platforms and applications at work and at home, take time to understand how your data is being used and what the terms of use are. Is your data being accessed and sold to advertisers? Have you consented to this? In addition to scrutinizing your consent, also pay close attention to how much data you share online – and the nature of the details you are divulging. Always keep in mind that hackers are employing smart social engineering tactics and using the details of your private life (birthdays, holidays, pet’s names, etc) to trick you into opening infected emails and clicking on malware. Whenever you are online, you are a target – and vigilance at all times is critical. Beyond that, it goes without saying that you must commit to following basic security protocols with your devices. So always keep software up to date and keep your data backed up so that you can reboot or wipe a device if needed.   

Now that we’ve left you sufficiently spooked, you can get back to those demanding WhatsApp/Facebook/Instagram notifications (same company, by the way)…albeit, we hope, with a slightly altered [cyber] worldview!  

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