Tag: 2018

How tech will shape the world in 2018

A lot can happen in a year. And when that year is 2018, a year in which we stand on the threshold of an exponential future driven by technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, IoT and blockchain, the world may look very different by the end of it than it does now.

It is often productive to take some time in the early part of a year to consider (and imagine) what the next 10-12 months will hold. At the very least it affords us an opportunity to dream big and consider the implications of new trends, products, and services, as well as their underlying technologies.

At best, we gain invaluable insight into how these technology trends will affect, improve or disrupt our businesses, our work and our personal lives, and help us reach previously unattainable goals, progress, (and even distant planets!)

Here are my (and my colleagues’) top technology predictions for 2018:

1. In aerospace, the commercial airplane industry will see cool, new products and innovations. We’ll see the first legitimate applications of large-scale autonomous air taxis and hypersonic aircraft. In space, the journey to Mars is closer than we think. Our own Head of Innovation, Adriana Marais, is even shortlisted to be one of the first humans to undertake a manned mission to the Red Planet. 2018 is set to re-ignite our imaginations around space travel.

2. In the manufacturing arena we will see the use of 3D Printing (or additive manufacturing) and robotics accelerating as companies position themselves to be more responsive, less wasteful and more competitive in a global context.

3. Across Africa we will see agricultural value chains embracing technology as both government and private sector organisations work towards food security for Africa’s exploding population in the face of climate change, water shortages and land degradation. Technologies will be used to help both small and large-scale farmers achieve better outcomes with less impact on the environment and less wastage in the supply chain

4. Artificial intelligence and machine learning will become mainstream in business in 2018. You can break it down into three categories:
a) Advanced analytics and big data plays, where the aggregation of data will enable fresh and deep insights and allow the creation of new business models,
b) Business process automation, where we’ll see a high degree of back-end business processing being done by algorithms, freeing up human resources to be more productive and creative, and
c) Customer experience, where we’ll see more intelligent and personalised layers between humans and systems, like voice navigation and human-like virtual assistants.

5. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things, and blockchain will also enable new business models and create new markets driven by start-ups and agile corporates that can embrace these trends and understand the potential value propositions that can come out of it.

6. On the workplace culture side, we’re going to see a significant refocus on cultural aspects of organisations, specifically how company culture and its practices support the needs and well-being of the organisation. Companies are realising that if they don’t have the culture and the practices to support a healthy, productive environment for their workers, they’re not going reach their goals.

7. Design will assume a heightened eminence as companies, with equal and easy access to the latest technology platforms seek ways to establish a competitive edge in the way they apply technology to unforeseen problems and opportunities.

8. One of the biggest stories in 2018 will be cybersecurity. The explosion in software, technology, and connected devices open many new threat vectors, at the same time that the regulatory environment is becoming significantly tougher. Security systems must keep pace in the same fashion. We desperately need to get those protocols and security measures in place.

9. Today there is a “land grab” happening in the IoT space as vendors, large and small, jostle for leadership. SAP’s global IoT evangelist Tom Raftery predicts that the IoT cloud platform market is going to consolidate quickly. “The IoT hype is going to finish and we’re going to move into possibly a ‘trough of disillusionment’ – as Gartner calls it – that precedes mainstream adoption. IoT architecture will evolve from data ingestion and analytics (the “thing to dashboard” paradigm) to an intelligent event-driven solution for end users. Digital twins will evolve from concepts to implementation providing new simulation and decision-making capabilities within and across companies.”

10. We’re going to see companies reassess their strategic technical plan – possibly even stopping some of the roadmaps and re-evaluating options for the cloud, as well as moving forward with ERP transformations and improving total cost of operations by streamlining business processes and technical architecture. “There will be quite a bit around end-to-end transformation and being more innovative and proactive in business processes.”

By Simon Carpenter, Chief Technology Advisor at SAP Africa

Ideas are the new currency of modern economies and it is no more evident than in recent billion dollar idea success stories like Airbnb and Uber which are now disrupting established industries.

Richard Andrews, MD of Inspiration Office, says: “Increasingly companies are putting emphasis on new ideas to grow their business and stand apart from the competition.

“We live in an ideas age and business are recognising that fact and today’s offices must support the ‘cult’ of new ideas. And in comfort of course.”

These are the biggest office trends expected in South Africa in 2018:

Idea-centric offices

“Because ideas are so important to the new economy in 2018 so we expect to see more idea centric offices that enable creative thinking. Many people think creativity is just for creatives but it should facilitated and encouraged in all aspects the working life because it helps all areas of business,” Andrews noted.

“There is a misconception that creativity is a ‘light bulb’ moment but it’s not. Creativity is really a haphazard, tricky problem solving process that should allow people to work in groups but also alone. Offices should therefore create spaces where people can work in a creativity supporting way.

This year Andrews expects an even greater shift away from traditional ‘battery farm’ corporate workplaces to places that are more like creative studios – that means different kinds of workplaces that offer uninterrupted individual focus, developing ideas in a pair, generating solutions as a group, converging around ideas and allowing time for diffused thinking.

“These different options allow the mind to wander.”

Unconventional work area design

An extension of idea-centric offices is the unconventional work area design.

“These are not just for hipsters working at Google anymore. Unconventional work offices now offer meditation spaces, dressed-down conference rooms complete with sofas, bean bag chairs, vibrant colours, and lots of room for fun, stress busting activities like ping pong or foosball.”

Offices all over the world are adopting these new and unorthodox working and meeting spaces to attract young talent and make working spaces more fun and collaborative.

Home-style comforts

“We are receiving a growing number of requests to make South African offices more  relaxed and people friendly so people don’t feel they are sitting in a such a severe place,” Andrews adds.

Demand for homestyle comfort design is a sign that employers are listening to the desires of their employees and figuring out new, fun ways to get them to stay at work longer. This design trend is all about making offices feel more comfortable or homelike.

Dynamic spaces

Dynamic spaces is another big trend. They are typically defined by lightweight and moveable furniture with wheels, doors to open extra space, moveable green wall dividers and wipe boards or chalk boards. They are moveable, constantly fluctuating, engaging, and can transform from a space for company parties and activities to traditional conference rooms or meeting areas.

Said Andrews: “Dynamic spaces offer the opportunity for businesses to be a lot more creative with their space. Businesses are constantly changing and becoming more flexible, allowing colleagues and staff to try new things in innovative ways.”

Greenery & nature

More a long-standing design principle than a trend, this is not just about adding a few plants here and there around the office.

“This goes much further by integrating nature through the building in the form of textures, patterns, plants and natural lighting. Being close to nature and living plants instills a greater sense of calm in offices. While not new, we are seeing a strong increase in demand for green in the workplace,” Andrews concludes.

Hobby-X 2018

Sponsored content

There’s a new energy and positive feeling to 2018! And nowhere is this more apparent than at the offices of Hobby-X, the well respected and highly anticipated expo for the hobbies and creative crafts industries, where I am chatting to Elizabeth Morley and Gloria Bastos, organisers of the show. The phones ring with enquiries from potential exhibitors and visitors. The bell rings announcing another contract has just been received. Preparations are in full swing, and the enthusiasm and energy are palpable.

The tagline of this year’s show is “because you love it”, and fittingly the exhibition encompasses a whole lot of fun activities that people pursue purely for pleasure. There is a complete car restoration and customisation area including Monster Trucks, Jet Dragsters and a unique car collection. Paintball and wall-climbing for those who never want to grow up. A food marketplace with exotic and interesting offerings will tempt the aspiring MasterChef.

A Kunsvlyt Theatre, with celebrity appearances by previous winners of the kykNET TV program of the same name, will run “best project” competitions throughout the show. At the nearby Kunsvlyt Café the less bold can try out the materials and projects – without the audience, and with a cup of coffee and a slice of cake to fortify them.

The workshops at Hobby-X have always been firm favourites both with retailers, who want to gain as much product knowledge as possible to be able to impart it to their customers, as well as the consumers who love to try out new projects and learn tips and techniques. This year there will be 10 workshop areas dotted around the show, with continuous hands-on craft workshops. Catering for smaller groups than the previous classroom style workshops, the new format will allow for much greater interaction with the teacher, and greater individual attention. And the choice of topics and projects is broad and on trend.

The core of Hobby-X has always been the materials, equipment, supplies and ideas for hobbies and crafts – and this sector is still fundamental to the exhibition. Paper products, adhesives, silicones and resins, mosaic, art supplies, craft materials, scrapbooking, pewter, power tools, paints, gadgets, gizmos and machinery are well represented. The exhibitors in these categories are all manufacturers, importers, distributors or agents, and a number of overseas principals will be at Hobby-X to support the local distributors of their products.

For Trade Buyers, the benefits of visiting an exhibition such as this are many. It’s a convenient way of staying up-to-date with your industry and current trends, finding new products to stock, building relationships with suppliers and networking with leading companies in your field. Part of the appeal of visiting trade shows is about getting fresh ideas for your own retail space, and finding innovative ways to update your store to give your customers a great shopping experience. But it’s also a unique opportunity to observe consumer behaviour and reaction, and analyse buying patterns at the show, enabling you to make informed buying decisions.
According to the Organisers, the take-up pattern by exhibitors was markedly different for the 2018 exhibition than it has been for the past many years, with a significant number of companies taking a wait-and-see approach before committing to the exhibition. This was directly attributable to the negative sentiment and lack of confidence felt by many throughout most of last year. But the sentiment this year is positively buoyant, and many companies are investing in their future with renewed vigour and optimism. This positive sentiment should also be reflected in the spending patterns of consumers, and so the time is ripe for Trade Buyers to take advantage of the platform presented by Hobby-X to re-stock their shelves.

As I am leaving, I overhear a phone call to a client. “I noticed that you haven’t yet confirmed your stand for the March show, and I wanted to let you know some of the exciting things that are lined up for this year which will make it an event not to be missed”. Whoever that potential exhibitor is, I think, I hope they sign up quickly. This could well be the best Hobby-X ever!

The road death toll during the 2017/2018 festive season has decreased to 1527, an 11% drop from the previous year.

Minister of Transport Joe Maswanganyi released statistics on Monday morning in Pretoria.

Maswanganyi also revealed stats on speeding drivers, corruption at licensing centres and the department’s plans to curb road deaths in 2018.

More registered vehicles

The department stated that SA entered the 2017/18 festive season with a higher number of registered vehicles compared to the same period in 2016. Maswanganyi said: “In December 2017 there were 11 028 193 registered vehicles in the country compared to 10 801 558 in December 2016. The number of driving licences issued had increased from 12 163 813 to 12 658 135.”

How has the department made SA’s roads safer?

Maswanganyi said: “When releasing the festive season report in 2017, we made commitments to deal decisively with fraud and corruption, engage the Department of Justice on the reclassification process of some road offences and also begin the process of the introduction of a 24/7 shift within the traffic law enforcement fraternity. The Kent Spence Wyoming law firm sees this law as an exceptionally positive step towards the safety of the citizens, as this is going to bring down the rate of accidents and theft by a significant percentage.

“As a result of these efforts and a well-executed festive season plan, we recorded noticeable declines in the number of fatalities in seven (7) provinces with the exception of the Western Cape and the North West provinces which recorded 7% and 11% increases respectively.

“Limpopo was a star performer as it managed to achieve the highest reduction in the number of fatalities followed by the Free State and KwaZulu Natal.”

Appalling road deaths among pedestrians

The highest number of fatalities was among pedestrians which increased from 34% to 37% and fatalities among drivers also increased from 23% to 27%. However, there was a decline in passenger fatalities from 41% to 35%.

While there was an increase in fatalities among drivers between the ages of 25 and 34, there was a decline in the number of fatalities among drivers between the ages of 35 and 49.

A significant decline was noted among pedestrians aged 25 to 34. There was “a disturbing increase” among those aged 35 to 44, said the Minister.

Traffic violations

The number of traffic violation notices decreased to 304 603 compared to 453 263. The department said: “There was a decline in the number of people who were fined for failing to wear safety belts and the number of discontinued vehicles.

According to Michael Phillips, “While drunken driving was a major focus area during the period under review, there was, however, a decline in the number of motorists arrested for drunken driving from 5943 in the 2016/17 period to 3301 in the 2017/18 period.”

What about speeding drivers?

Maswanganyi said: “Speed continued to be a major headache with 922 drivers arrested compared to 785 in the 2016/17 period. Five motorists were arrested in Limpopo, Gauteng, KwaZulu Natal and Western Cape for driving at speeds exceeding 220km/h in120km zones.

“An impressive 43% decline in fatalities was recorded on the Top 13 identified hazardous routes with244 deaths recorded on these routes compared to 429 in the previous period.

“However, there was a disturbing increase in the number of fatalities within the municipal boundaries of eThekwini, Johannesburg, Nkangala, Cape Town, Ekurhuleni, Ehlanzeni, Capricorn, City of Tshwane, Thabo Mofutsanyane and Bojanala.”

Fraud and corruption in SA

Maswanganyi said: “In dealing with fraud and corruption, we closed down a state-owned driving licence centre in Nkowankowa, Limpopo where learners’ and driving licences were issued without due regard to the driver fitness.

“In this regard, five examiners and three civilians who facilitated corrupt deals were arrested. Twelve traffic officers were also arrested for taking bribes from motorists.

“In Gauteng, we raided three (3) privately owned vehicles testing centres and arrested ten (10) vehicle examiners on allegations fraudulently issuing roadworthy certificates to vehicles that they never examined.

“These efforts inspired more dedicated traffic officers to also act against offers of bribes by corrupt motorists. Their inspiration resulted in the arrests of three (3) motorists who offered bribes to traffic officers. Two of these arrests took place in Limpopo and one in the Eastern Cape. The total number of people arrested in this festive season on fraud and corruption charges stands at thirty-two (32).”

Audit process of vehicle testing centres

The department says it will combat fraud at vehicle testing centres with the roll-out of an auditing process.

Maswanganyi said: “To further decisively out root fraud and corruption, we have initiated a process to audit all vehicle testing centres and driver and learner testing centres to establish adherence to regulations and standards. This process will run parallel to the investigation that is being undertaken by the Special Investigation Unit (SIU) as proclaimed by the State President in November 2017.”

“We also engaged Magistrates as part of the process to ensure that there are tough consequences for those who break the rules of the road, particularly drunk drivers, speedsters and reckless and negligent drivers. This is part of finalising the reclassification process of these offences into Schedule 5 offences, which are more severe.”

“The process of introducing the 24/7 shift has also begun in earnest. The shift is now implemented in full in the Western Cape whilst other provinces are at different stages of implementation.”

Plan to curb road deaths in 2018

Maswanganyi said: “In line with the proclamation signed by the President, the RTMC will work with the Special Investigating Unit to intensify investigations into allegations of unlawful and improper conduct relating to the registration and licencing of motor vehicles together with irregularities in the issuing of driving licences.

“We will do these things to ensure that we continue to reduce road crashes and fatalities further than what has been achieved in the recent festive season.”

Source: Wheels24

The tech reckoning – and other trends for 2018

Technology is driving exponential growth and mind-blowing innovation in all areas of life, all around the world.

The tech reckoning 

Certainly, in recent years there have been concerns about rapid changes to our culture and questions about people’s ability to keep pace with those changes. But we have now lived with this generation of consumer technology long enough to all begin seeing very real downsides.

– Facial recognition and other biometrics amp up already serious privacy concerns

– Facebook and Twitter have failed to earn public trust. They’ve failed to police their platforms, letting cyber thugs in to divide the nation and affect an election. Not to mention an avalanche of extremist and offensive postings still finding their way online, despite claims of corrective action by the tech giants.

– Tech ethicist, Tristan Harris, schooled us on the addictive properties of social media, and how we are being controlled by a steady drip of “likes” and retweets — just enough to keep us hooked.

– Some research has shown that depression in teenagers is skyrocketing due to mobile phone use and social media influence.

– Alexa and Google Home are always listening—during a party, at dinner, or even in an argument with your loved ones! The possibility that voice data can be used in court as evidence is going to be the next big hurdle for these products. Where does your privacy begin and end?

– The big five – Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google, Apple – (FAMGA) have grown beyond all expectations and are coming under increasing scrutiny for all manner of business, political, and social practices. Coming face to face with a world they didn’t intend to create, Silicon Valley has created its own retreat — disconnected from the billions of “users” they court — in order to reflect on what they wrought.

What this means for business

According to Edelman’s 2017 Trust Barometer, trust has imploded, reaching an all-time low. Their latest report shows that “85% lack full belief in the system, this belief increases vulnerability to fear and further distrust.”

This is the climate we are in now. Brands, business, boards should take note that this sort of disillusion bleeds over into multiple categories putting loyalty, revenue and brand image at risk.

Retail singularity

The gravitational pull of Amazon continues to challenge all of retail as they struggle to innovate and morph to keep their businesses and customers from being swallowed into the void.

– Just when e-commerce looks to be the only channel, “Spending growth at mom-and-pop businesses has outpaced that of the big chains in the past 2 years”

– “Companies using print catalogs, cut through email clutter social-media saturation to help differentiate brands, sustain existing customers”

– Stores are finding new life as community spaces with live events attracting “Millennials focused on connection and community”

– Bricks and mortar are re-emerging from the black hole of e-commerce. Bonobos and Warby Parker opened physical stores over the last year and now Everlane has just announced 2 new stores. CEO Michael Preysman said “Our customers tell us all the time that they want to touch a product before they buy it. We realized we need to have stores if we’re going to grow on a national and global scale.”

– Technology continues to create amazing in-store experiences for shoppers with VR and AR.

– AI is helping us find the right clothing for every size. Among the many new developments is Start Today USA with their ZOZOSUIT that captures 15,000 measurements so you can confidently order the right size and fit from ZOZO.

– Those dash buttons will probably change into auto-replenishment, subscription services will become even more valuable as they get to know each customer better, and hotels are going to be IoT showrooms answering our every need at a mere mention.

– Micro-leases are the new legal offering that will fill empty spaces with new startups, seasonal, or experiential offerings.

What this means for business

As if Amazon weren’t threat enough, the industry-blurring mega-mergers of Amazon/Whole Foods and CVS/Aetna has more than retailers paying attention. Every big brand should be thinking about how they can be the business that responds to the entire consumer journey — or risk being eaten up by a business that will.

One thing to remember about change is that even though technology is the new shiny thing, people are still your audience and their need for personal attention, products just for them, fun sensorial experiences, confidence in their purchases and authentic community will never, ever go away. Those retailers that can keep innovating around those evergreen consumer desires will eventually win out.

By Mary Meehan for Forbes 

Plan ahead or miss out on 2018’s tech trends

Technology is disrupting the world in ways we’ve never seen before, in nearly every industry – and it will irrevocably change the world of work in the future.

That was the overriding message from a recent Business Day Dialogue, held in partnership with Dimension Data and Cisco, on technology trends in 2018 and beyond.

The biggest challenge facing organisations today is the burden of old technology and capability, said Stephen Green, chief technology officer at Dimension Data Middle East and Africa. Companies that have been around for 10 years or more need to digitise their systems or risk being left behind.

Peter Prowse, vice-president of strategic partnerships at Dimension Data, said legacy infrastructure had to be prepared for the journey ahead. Established companies will shore up their technological infrastructure in the years ahead to help them adapt to an unpredictable market.

He said organisations had to plot a route beyond the digital infrastructure horizon. The first step is to implement programmable infrastructure. “More organisations will be considering networking and security requirements in the development phase and programming their applications to take advantage of software-defined infrastructure.”

The second step involves understanding the platform economy. “In the year ahead, businesses will start to recognise the true potential of the platform economy, the impact it will have on their operating models and the changes they will need to make, including digital front-ends and a higher level of risk,” said Prowse.

Third comes a shift in focus from technologies to services architecture. “Hybrid IT is now generally accepted as the model of the future. However, many organisations are far from having the technology in place, so we expect to see businesses future-proofing or upgrading their business architecture.”

In an era of digital disruption, Prowse added, speed trumps cost. Companies are aware of the risk of failing to adapt fast enough and will therefore choose the technology they can use the fastest.

Last, there will be a surge in interest in software-defined wide area networks, with wireless technologies, networks and wireless-enabled processes expected to leap ahead.

More trends to consider
Other trends in technology that will affect businesses are artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, robotics, and virtual and augmented learning, all of which will deliver compelling and complementary outcomes, said Green.

These disparate technologies will come together in the year ahead to create useful business applications. AI will drive voice-enabled virtual assistants in the workplace and everyday tasks will be automated, reducing costs and speeding up processes.

Smart buildings will evolve into smart workplaces, and increasingly employees will ask to bring their own devices and apps to work. “Businesses will have to rethink their value proposition,” said Green.

Cybersecurity will continue to be a threat. Companies will start investing in technologies aimed at gaining the upper hand against cybercriminals, including using blockchain innovatively.

During a panel discussion, moderated by Aki Anastasiou, on how technology would affect the future, Tiso Blackstar Group head of digital Lisa MacLeod explained how technology had disrupted the media industry and the steps the company was taking to transform digitally.

She spoke about the challenges posed to business as a result of a lack of digital and development skills in South Africa, as well as the country’s high data costs, which she said entrenched inequalities in our society.

“South Africa has the most expensive data costs on the African continent, which is a huge issue,” MacLeod said.

Commenting on a local shortage of IT skills, Garsen Naidu, head of channel at Cisco Sub-Saharan Africa, said there was a looming global shortage of cybersecurity specialists. He added that South African curricula had to be adapted to teach relevant skills, including teaching children to code from a young age.

Technology offers huge possibilities for the future, and it is how we use those opportunities that is critical, he said.

Giving a millennial’s perspective on technological disruption, Arye Kellman, founder of influencer marketing agency TILT, said millennials did not call it disruption or technology – to them, it was merely the way everything worked.

Source: Business Day https://www.businesslive.co.za

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