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What machine learning means for your business

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Many fear that machines will replace human jobs. But, KEITH FENNER, Vice-President Sage Enterprise Africa & Middle East, says that it can offer enormous benefits to businesses, and that now is the time to invest in it.

Machine learning, which used to be something only computer scientists in server rooms discussed, has become a hot topic, along with big data and artificial intelligence (AI).

Machines develop algorithms that allow them to make predictions, such as the shows you might want to watch on Showmax or Netflix, to use a simple example. Machines will also update their models as new data is received, without human intervention.

Advances in machine learning have caused many to fear that machines will replace human jobs. However, I’d like to argue that it can offer enormous benefits to business, and that now is the time to invest in it.

Machine learning is all around us

Retailers can already successfully predict the performance of retail promotions using advanced machine learning. This not only maximises ROI, but also streamlines the inventory ordering process. Machine learning algorithms also enable effortless personalised marketing.

The financial services sector uses machine learning to detect fraud and provide pre-approved loan offers, while Google uses it to run its driverless cars. Brands use it to get a sense of what’s being said about them on social media.

The age of machine learning is here. In fact, 40% of businesses surveyed by the Accenture Institute for High Performance in a 2016 study are already using it to improve sales and marketing performance.

What machine learning offers to Enterprise

Machine learning is proficient at handling analytical tasks within defined parameters. For example, companies use machine learning to track new leads, upsells, and sales cycle times.

Elliot Yama points out that there is huge opportunity in what he terms “Quote-to-Cash” solutions:

·         These encompass all the business processes involved in selling: from compiling initial offers right through to collecting payments.

·         Quote-to-Cash solutions connect many previously manual tasks and disjointed processes, automating and optimising them seamlessly.

·         They are now also helping to drive business outcomes across all sales channels and to optimise sales reps’ performance. For example, by improving quoting speed or the time it takes to generate a contract, machine learning can substantially improve salespeople’s chances of closing a deal.

But machine learning offers advantages beyond sales and marketing. It can be used to predict customer credit risk, to recognise text or speech (goodbye, painful data-capturing processes) and even to approve insurance claims quickly, without human intervention.

AI helps make work more meaningful

People will now have time to focus on other aspects of the business like driving innovation and exploring meaning. The beauty of machine learning is that it is able to do the work where humans can’t compete. A great example of machine learning at work is in the accounting industry.

AI can streamline accounting and compliance. It’s why we recently released Pegg, the world’s first accounting chatbot. Accounting is a perfect use case for automation, because it centres on repetitive, manual tasks. By using AI to automate it, businesses are able to focus more on core business activities and on the human elements of their business.

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Smash hits the Nintendo Switch

Super Smash Bros. delivers what the fans wanted in the latest “Ultimate” instalment, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Super Smash Bros. Ultimate, the latest addition to the popular Nintendo Smash series, has landed on the Nintendo Switch with a bang, selling 5-million copies in the first week of its release. The game has been long-anticipated since the console’s release, as many fans consider iy to be a Nintendo staple. And the wait was well worth it.

It features 74 playable fighters, 108 stages, almost 1300 Spirit characters to collect while playing, and a single-player Adventure mode that took about three days (or 28 hours) of gameplay to complete. The game offers far more gameplay than its predecessors, making it the Smash game that gives its players the best bang for their buck.

For those new to the game, the goal is to fight opponents and build up their damage score (draining their health) to knock them off the stage eventually. This makes the game seem chaotic, as many players jump around the platforms as if they were on quicksand, in order to avoid being hit by the other players.

It also services two kinds of players: the competitive and the casual.

Competitive players can be matched on the online service by skill ranking to enjoy playing with similarly high-skilled opponents. This is especially important in e-sports training for the game, and for players wanting to master combos against other human players. The casual gamer is also catered for, with eight-player chaos and button-mashing to see who comes out luckiest. This segment is also important for those wanting to learn how to play.

Training mode is also a place to go for those learning to play. It offers “CPU” players that are graded by intensity to train as a single player to learn a character’s moves, combos and general fighting style. More challenging CPU players can also be used by competitive players to train when there isn’t a Wi-Fi connection available.

Direct Play features in this game, allowing two players with two Switch consoles to play against each other over a direct connection – no Wi-Fi needed. This is especially useful to those who want to have a social gaming element on the go, similar to that of the cable connector of the Gameboy.

Click here to read Bryan Turner review of Super Smash Bros. Ultimate.

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Win Funko Fortnite in Vinyl

Gadget and Gammatek have nine Funko Fortnite figurines to give away.

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A Funko Pop figurine based on a character set is indicative of reaching the heights of pop culture. It is no surprise, then, that the world’s biggest online game, Fortnite, has its own line of Funko Pop figurines. The Funkos are modeled on the characters in game, including Drift, Ragnarok, Dark Vanguard, Volar, Tracera Ops, and Sparkle Specialist.

Now, local Funko distributor Gammatek has released the Fortnite figurines in South Africa. To celebrate, Gadget and Gammatek are giving away a set of three Funko Fortnite figurines to each of three readers (9 figurines in total). To enter, first click on your favourite Funko Pop on the next page and post the Tweet that appears. Then, follow Gadget on Twitter.

You can put the tweet in your own words, but entries must have the competition’s hashtag (#FunkoFortnite) and mention @GadgetZA to be considered valid.

Click here to select the Funko Fortnite character you want to tweet.

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