Author: My Office News

By Jordan Valinsky, CNN Business

Amazon said this year’s Prime Day was “once again the largest shopping event” in its history.The company said sales from its two-day shopping event surpassed its sales for last year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined.

Amazon didn’t reveal specific figures, like revenue. It also doesn’t typically disclose numbers for specific shopping days, with the only glimpse of sales being in its quarterly earnings.

A record number of Prime members in the United States shopped during the extravaganza, according to Amazon. In total, Prime members globally bought more than 175 million items.

Prime Day was also successful for Amazon’s line of deeply discounted gadgets. It was the “biggest event ever” for the electronics, which encompass the Fire TV Stick, Echo smart speakers and Fire tablets, among others.

“Members purchased millions of Alexa-enabled devices, received tens of millions of dollars in savings by shopping from Whole Foods Market and bought more than $2 billion of products from independent small and medium-sized businesses,” CEO Jeff Bezos said in a release. “Huge thank you to Amazonians everywhere who made this day possible for customers.”

In the United States, Instant Pots and DNA kits were the top-selling items. Prime members in the United States also bought more than 100,000 laptops, 200,000 TVs and more than 1 million toys.

Prime Day also had a halo effect on Amazon’s competitors. Large retailers, or companies that generate more than $1 billion in revenue, had sales jump 68% over the two-day period, according to Adobe Analytics. Smaller retailers’ sales also spiked 28% for the same period, a reversal compared to last year when sales declined.

“This suggests that people are comparison shopping more than ever and will open their wallets to those who offer the best deals, regardless of the size of the retailer,” said Jason Woosley, vice president of commerce product and platform at Adobe in a release.

19-station expansion planned for Gautrain

The Gautrain Management Agency has provided an an update on Gautrain 2, the next phase of the Gautrain project.

Gautrain CEO Jack van der Merwe says the planned network for Gautrain 2 is from Mamelodi in the east of Pretoria to Jabulani in the west of Soweto, from Lanseria to Little Falls and Cosmo into Randburg and Marlboro, and from OR Tambo International Airport to Boksburg.

Interesting facts about the new development include:

  • 150km of additional railway line
  • 19 new stations
  • The first phase planned will be from Lanseria to Little Falls into Randburg and Marlboro
  • The project will create 210 000 jobs
  • Private sector funding will be increased to 33%
  • The need for Gautrain 2 was prompted by the estimated growth in Gauteng’s population, which is expected to increase by 48% to 19.1 million people by 2037 (from 12.9 million in 2014)
  • In the past 10 years the use of private transport has gone up to 56%, causing congestion on highways

 

By Anneken Tappe for CNN Business

Machines are expected to displace about 20 million manufacturing jobs across the world over the next decade, according to a report released Wednesday by Oxford Economics, a global forecasting and quantitative analysis firm.
That means about 8.5% of the global manufacturing workforce could be displaced by robots.

The report also notes that the move to robots tends to generate new jobs as fast as it automates them, however it could contribute to income inequality.

The use of robots is on the rise: At this point, every new robot that is installed displaces 1.6 manufacturing workers on average, according to the Oxford Economics model.

Automation isn’t a new trend in manufacturing, of course. The automotive industry, for example, used 43% of the robots in the world in 2016.

But robots are becoming cheaper than many human workers, in part because of the falling costs of machines. The average unit price per robot has dropped 11% between 2011 and 2016, according to Oxford Economics. And they are increasingly capable of functioning in more sophisticated processes and varied contexts. On top of that, the demand for manufactured goods is rising.

China presents a big opportunity for growth in automation. That country already accounts for a fifth of the world’s industrial robots, with every third new one being installed there. Beijing “is investing in robots to position itself as the global manufacturing leader,” Oxford Economics said. By 2030, some 14 million robots could be working in China, “dwarfing” the rest of the world, according to Oxford.

The effect on economic output could be tremendous. Oxford Economics estimates that boosting robot installations to 30% above the current growth forecast by 2030 would lead that year to a 5.3% increase in global GDP, or $4.9 trillion. That’s more than the projected size of Germany’s GDP for that year.
So what’s not to love? Robots will boost productivity and economic growth, as well as spur industries that don’t even exist yet. But Oxford Economics also warns that they will be seriously disruptive.

How automation could lead to inequality
One potential downside to the robot revolution: Automation could increase income inequality.
“This great displacement will not be evenly distributed around the world, or within countries,” according to the report. “Our research shows that the negative effects of robotization are disproportionately felt in the lower-income regions compared with higher-income regions of the same country.”

The workers who drive knowledge and innovation within the manufacturing industry tend to be concentrated in larger cities, and those skills are harder to automate. That’s why urban areas will deal better with the increased automation, according to the report.

On the whole, the increased use of automation will likely create new jobs at a pace comparable to the jobs that will be lost, which nullifies fears about permanent job destruction, according to the Oxford study. That said, the poorer regions that are expected to lose the most jobs will probably not benefit equally from this new job creation due to a gap in skills. That will lead to increased income inequality between cities and rural areas, as well as between regions.
“Automation will continue to drive regional polarization in many of the world’s advanced economies, unevenly distributing the benefits and costs across the population,” the report said.

For policy makers, this means they will have to think about how the increased efficiency will hold up against the effect on income inequality. Some have already worked automation into their political platforms. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, who is running for the Democratic nomination for president, recently said he was worried about what artificial intelligence and robotics “will mean to working people in this country,” for example.

“We need to have a long discussion to make certain that millions of workers are not thrown out on the street because of robotics,” he said during a CNN town hall in February.

In the United States, Oregon, Louisiana, Texas, Indiana and North Carolina are the most vulnerable states, according to Oxford Economics. That’s because those states are reliant on manufacturing jobs that could disappear because of robots.

In Oregon, for example, “high dependence on manufacturing … and the state’s exposure to globally competitive sectors, means its workers are vulnerable to rapid technological progress”, according to the Oxford study.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Hawaii, DC, Nevada, Florida and Vermont will see the least impact from increased robotization. Manufacturing plays a smaller role in those places.

Cell C is in severe financial trouble

According to a recent MyBroadband article, Cell C is in deep financial trouble, and was “forced to delay its debt payments and hire consultants to probe its business practices”.

Cell C’s interim CEO, Douglas Craigie Stevenson, wrote an open letter detailing the challenges faced by the company. The letter included a turnaround strategy, aimed at “extracting greater value from its roaming agreement and optimising its network revenue and usage”. A recapitalisation programme is also on the cards.

Bowmans Attorneys have been hired to “investigate any parts of the business where we suspect that there may be irregular business practices”.

A sharp decline in Cell C shareholder Blue Label Telecoms’ share price followed this announcement.

According to MyBroadband, they have “received information from industry insiders saying Cell C is facing tremendous financial challenges which are big enough to bankrupt the company”, with some speculating the company may “close down and have its parts sold off”.

According to Stevenson’s open letter, the challenges faced are the following:

  • Debt – this has gone up more than anticipated since the recapitalisation of 2017
  • The cost of debt – Cell C is paying a substantial premium on the cost of its debt
  • Liquidity problems – this is due to some of the events around the payment of large tranches on coupons
  • Poor business performance – Cell C’s business performance has not been optimal

Industry insiders told MyBroadband that Cell C is in this position because of:

  • High interconnect rates – the interconnect rate went from 20c to R1.25 before Cell C’s launch, which made it nearly impossible to compete
  • Bad management and shareholders – the company was not run efficiently enough to become successful
  • Declining voice revenues – as data products become more popular, high-margin voice traffic is declining
  • High roaming charges – Cell C pays high roaming charges in areas where it does not have network coverage

Image credit: Tech Central

By Jenni Evans for News24

Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba is seeking an urgent meeting with the Eskom board over the power utility’s declaration that it will no longer do repairs in places illegally connected to the power grid.

This follows a meeting between Mashaba and Eskom officials on Monday to deal with complaints by Soweto residents about illegal electricity connections, vandalised infrastructure and extended blackouts.

“Due to the complex nature of the issues discussed between myself and the Eskom team, during a meeting at Megawatt Park, it was decided that it would be prudent to include the Eskom board in our deliberations,” said Mashaba in a statement.

“I have therefore requested an urgent meeting with the board of Eskom and its shareholder within the next 24 hours. The team at Eskom has indeed committed to ensuring this does take place.”

Mashaba felt it was important for the city and Eskom to work together to find solutions to issues faced by Sowetans and other residents affected by ongoing blackouts arising from Eksom’s credit management processes.

Last week Eskom threatened that it will not repair infrastructure in areas where there are illegal connections or the safety of staff cannot be guaranteed.

“Eskom will only restore supply to legal and paying customers in the areas, on condition that the community allows safe access to Eskom staff to conduct audits and remove illegal connections,” the statement said.

It was previously reported that Soweto has been ranked as one of the top defaulters in the country, where residents owe Eskom more than R17bn.

Mashaba said last week after Eskom’s warning that he felt compelled to intervene on behalf of residents who will be affected by the actions of a few.

South African households are under pressure

According to the latest Old Mutual Savings & Investment Monitor report, South African households remain under pressure.

The report is based on 1 000 household interviews among working South Africans living in major metropolitan areas, and shows how consumers are being forced to tighten their belts.

Findings include:

  • A need to to cut back on monthly spending just to make it to the next payday
  • An increase in households under financial stress
  • Middle- and upper-income households are showing strain
  • 42% of respondents said they struggle to make ends meet each month
  • 73% of respondents said they are constantly worried about having enough money
  • 58% of respondents said they do not feel financially secure enough to cover an unplanned emergency
  • 60% of respondents do not feel confident that government will be able to provide for them and their families if they cannot do it themselves
  • Consumers are cutting back on expensive food and clothing purchases
  • Households are cutting back on entertainment and entertaining, reducing how often they go out, or have friends and family over for a social gathering
  • 15% of people indicate they will cutting back on using domestic workers
  • 79% of households indicated they do not employ a domestic worker at all

Burnout is now officially recognised by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as a clinical syndrome, legitimising the physical and mental impact that overwork can have on employees. Nicol Myburgh, Head of the HR Business Unit at CRS Technologies, believes that companies should familiarise themselves with the symptoms of burnout to minimise the potential impact on employees and the business.

“In the fast-paced corporate environment, employees feel they must keep up or risk being overlooked for promotion or a salary increase. Even artisans are under immense pressure due to long hours, demanding customers, and the constant battle to make ends meet,” he says.

Adding further impetus to concerns around burnout is the fact that digital transformation is resulting in jobs becoming more specialised. This is putting even more pressure on people to get their work done as effectively as possible. And in South Africa, with retrenchments a constant fear in the current uncertain economic climate, employees are expected to take on more responsibilities with fewer human resources on hand.

Symptoms
According to WHO, burnout is characterised by three dimensions:
• Feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
• Increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job;
• Reduced professional efficacy.

Burnout is the result of chronic workplace stress that is not successfully managed. Despite the recent classification, it is by no means a new phenomenon and people have been struggling to deal with it for as long as they have had jobs. However, thanks to the connected generation, the issues surrounding this clinical syndrome are now out in the open and decision makers can no longer ignore it.

Education vital
“Despite this, few industries take burnout seriously,” says Myburgh. “Often, it is only if a job relates directly to a person’s safety that managers treat burnout with the respect it deserves. In the corporate environment, employees are typically squeezed until every ounce of their energy is depleted.”
Consequently, education is critical.
“This can involve researching the impact burnout has on the business, running workshops and acknowledging the fact that it is a legitimate problem. People who suffer from burnout should never be told to ‘get over it’ or ‘snap out of it’. Instead, it needs to be managed properly and with consideration for the sufferer.”
Burnout can be viewed as a precursor to depression and if not taken seriously, can lead to other mental health issues that can also negatively impact performance at work.

Minimise burnout
There are several steps employers can take to minimise the risk of their staff suffering from burnout. This includes the obvious step to stop overworking them. Additionally, identify the signs before it is too late, be observant when managers engage with people, and offer counselling if required.

Employees can also do their bit to prevent themselves from burning out.

“People must feel that they are in an environment where it is safe to talk about the feelings they are experiencing,” says Myburgh. “They must be able to have a discussion with their line managers if they are feeling overworked or unable to cope with the demands of their jobs.

“People must also learn to maintain a better work life balance. Yes, the temptation to work from anywhere is there, but this can turn a nine-to-five job into a 24×7 position, which can lead to burnout. Participating in relaxing activities away from the workplace is vital and in extreme cases, burnout sufferers should consider removing themselves from the situation causing the burnout, if this is possible.
“These are difficult times for employees and employers alike. Competitiveness is at an all-time high, resulting in an ongoing pressure to constantly perform at optimum levels. But if the signs of burnout are not heeded, burnout could become seriously detrimental to employees’ general health and wellbeing,” Myburgh concludes.

By Jewel Stolarchuk for The Independent 

18 000 jobs in Deutsche Bank are set to be cut as the German national lender embarks on mass retrenchment exercise. Whole teams at the bank’s Asia-Pacific offices have reportedly been let go, as the lender seeks to transform itself from an investment bank that used to compete with the lenders in Wall Street, after struggling in the aftermath of the financial crisis.

Deutsche Bank employs about 4,700 employees in its Asia-Pacific offices in Singapore, Sydney, Tokyo and Hong Kong. The investment banking team in the region consists about 300 staff members and it is expected that 10 to 15 per cent of these employees and almost all the employees in the equity capital markets division will be retrenched.

According to Reuters, the restructuring plan will ultimately cost 7.4 billion euros (SGD $11.31 billion) and will see the bank cut back on its fixed income operations and axe its global equities business altogether.

Most of those retrenched are working in the bank’s offices in Europe and the United States but some offices from Sydney to Hong Kong were also affected. Retrenched workers are due to sign redundancy packages.

One Deutsche bank employee, an equities trader based in the Hong Kong office who declined to be named, told Reuters that staff were called individually to meetings and that the mood was “pretty gloomy” as the job cuts began. He said: “(There are a) couple of rounds of chats with HR and then they give you this packet and you are out of the building.”

While a Deutsche Bank spokeswoman declined to comment on specific departures, an insider who is familiar with the bank’s Australian operations told Reuters that most of the mergers and acquisitions staff would not be immediately affected but the teams in the four-strong equity capital markets were being retrenched.

The Deutsche bank spokeswoman assured the press that the bank would be directly in touch with employees. She added: “We understand these changes affect people’s lives profoundly and we will do whatever we can to be as responsible and sensitive as possible implementing these changes.”

Deutsche Bank’s Chief Executive Officer Christian Sewing called the retrenchment exercise part of a “restart.” In a letter to employees, he wrote: “We are creating a bank that will be more profitable, leaner, more innovative and more resilient.”

This “restart” comes on the heels of Deutsche Bank’s failure to merge with its rival Commerzbank. In May, Mr Sewing hinted at extensive restructuring as he promised shareholders that he will implement “tough cutbacks” to the investment bank.

How it will impact South Africa

According to an article by Business Insider, the Sandton headquarters employ approximately 70 staff.

  • The equity trading desk will be closed completely, with the loss of around 12 jobs
  • The fixed income team, which trade bonds, will remain largely unchanged in South Africa

The bank suffered a pre-tax loss of €16-million (R251,5-million) on its South African activities last year, according to the Deutsche Bank annual report.

By James Pero for DailyMail.com

Malware that replaces victims’ legitimate apps with a malicious doppelgänger has infected 25-million devices across India, the UK and the US, say security researchers.

The virus, named ‘Agent Smith’ after a fictional character from the, ‘The Matrix’ who is able to make others into copies of himself, was highlighted by the security firm Check Point on Wednesday and affects users on Android devices.

Instead of stealing data, the malware covertly replaces apps inside a user’s phone with hacked versions which display ads selected by the hackers, allowing them to profit off their views.

To avoid detection, the malware — under its disguise as popular apps like WhatsApp or Flipkart — is also capable of replacing code in the original program with its own malicious version that prevents an app from being updated.

At least 15-million of the devices infected are located in India and 300,000 have been detected in the U.S. Other infections are spread across Asia as well as the U.K., and Australia.

‘The malware attacks user-installed applications silently, making it challenging for common Android users to combat such threats on their own,’ said Jonathan Shimonovich, head of Mobile Threat Detection Research at Check Point.

‘Combining advanced threat prevention and threat intelligence while adopting a ‘hygiene first’ approach to safeguard digital assets is the best protection against invasive mobile malware attacks like ‘Agent Smith”

A malware called ‘Agent Smith’ was found to have infected 25 million device mostly in India.

Malicious code was able to disguise itself as legitimate apps and take over the ads served inside those programs.

Hackers didn’t steal users data but were able to make money off serving up phoney ads.

Many users were unaware that they had been infected.

Code spread via third party app-store 9Apps and unsuccessfully tried to infect users in the Google Play store.

The malware is named after a fictional villain in the 1999 movie ‘The Matrix’ who was able to turn victims into copies of himself.

Researchers say Agent Smith was able to spread to devices through a third-party app store called 9Apps.

Malicious code was embedded into photo apps and sex-related apps which were then downloaded by users.

Once inside a victim’s device, the malware would disguise itself as a legitimate app and then begin replacing code.

As reported by The Verge, creators of the malware also attempted to infect users in the Google Play store through 11 apps containing bits of malicious code.

The foray was reportedly unsuccessful and Google has removed all the apps from its store.

A vulnerability in Android that allowed hackers to include their code was patched several years ago, but developers failed to patch their apps, leaving many open to attack.

To avoid being compromised by malware like Agent Smith, Check Point has some simple words of advice.

‘Users should only be downloading apps from trusted app stores to mitigate the risk of infection as third party app stores often lack the security measures required to block adware loaded apps,’ wrote researchers.

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