Tag: change

Google Maps turns 15

By Chaim Gartenberg for The Verge

Google Maps is turning 15 years old, and to celebrate, Google is rolling out a new icon for the service along with a slightly redesigned app and a couple of new features.

The biggest change here might be the icon itself — gone is the classic map intersection icon in favor of a new Google-hued pin on a white background, which more closely matches Google’s other application branding.

The Google Maps app itself is also getting a slight change, with two added tabs at the bottom: the update adds “contribute” and “updates” tabs, and replaces the “for you” tab with a more focused “saved” tab.

The motivation behind the redesign is rooted in the more recent functionality that Google has added to Maps, like the increased focus on user-submitted content and the ability to follow other users. With the new tabs, more of those features are put front and centre for users instead of having them buried deep in a side menu.

The five main tabs on the new Google Maps
Google is also announcing a couple new features to Maps, although they won’t arrive until sometime in March. The first is increased crowdsourced information for public transit. Before, Google Maps could only tell you whether a train or bus was expected to be crowded, but the new update allows users to submit other details like temperature, wheelchair accessibility, or whether there’s a women-only carriage or onboard security.

The other update is coming to Google’s augmented-reality Live View feature, which is getting a more lightweight mode that will simply show the location of your destination without launching into the full-fledged 3D turn-by-turn navigation mode that’s currently available.

The new icon and tab interface will roll out today on both iOS and Android devices; the new transit information and Live View mode will arrive in a future update sometime next month.

The mall in 2029: imaging the future

Speaking at the recent South African Council of Shopping Centres Research Conference, Doris Viljoen – a senior futurist at the Institute for Futures Research based at Stellenbosch University – shared an imagined future for malls based on current retail trends.

With consumers moving from experiencing products in stores to ordering them online, smartphones and wearables play a big role in providing customised assistance while physical stores are already morphing into lively, immersive environments that rely on sensors to capture and analyse data in real time.

What is the next step? Presenting four different futures for the shopping mall, Viljoen’s work as a futurist often involves interpreting the history of retail – so what has happened until now – creating deeper layers of understanding, and then building a collection of plausible futures for consideration.

“It’s important to remember that people will still have an influence on the future that eventually unfolds. We cannot predict the future. We don’t know what is going to happen, but through the imagination of the different futures that could happen we can be prepared, and being prepared is more valuable than being right. All four of these futures could be wrong – but at least we then spend time thinking about what is possible,” she says.

Imagine a mall that recognises you the moment you walk through the door. As you enter the mall, your phone buzzes with a message from the mall, greeting you by name.

In this space, you are able to do anything with the smart device in your hand. If you see something you like, you can instantly get extra info about the product, where it comes from, pricing, and if you want to buy it, you can pay and arrange delivery from the palm of your hand.

Consumers can tag items they’re interested in, with notifications alerting them to the availability of these products in the mall, even guiding shoppers to their exact location – particularly useful for those instances where people still want to touch and feel before they buy.

Imagine meeting a friend for lunch at a restaurant and getting notified when she arrives, or even better, the restaurant using data smartly to predict what you want to order before you arrive.

Trends fuelling this scenario include consumers’ growing tendency to do their chore or convenience shopping online, saving their visits to the physical store for items they want to see and feel before buying. The growing use of facial recognition technology and customisation of both products and services have also contributed to the possibility that this could be the mall of the future – where people are able to directly influence their own shopping experience, creating useable data with each visit that retailers can effectively interpret thanks to machine learning analytics.

This may look like a normal mall, but some malls may start to empty, sitting with more and more vacancies as they struggle to fill the space. There is an opportunity here for developers to recreate these spaces into a gated community – where stores are repurposed and refitted into apartments, served by suitable retailers – think convenience and a place to socialise with friends and family.

In this future, Viljoen sees the rooftop parking converted into several green endeavours, including solar farms, running tracks and community gardens – building communities that thrive off the grid.

“And while this is a living space, there are still stores that provide food and personal services – so there is a lot of retailing and transacting is still taking place,” she says.

“South Africa is ranked sixth for the most shopping centres in the world, but urbanisation here is very rapid – in 2014 we had 34.2 million people living in urban areas, and by 2050 this figure will jump to 49.1 million. We need housing, and gated communities are becoming increasingly popular from a safety perspective, as well as the perceived value of going off the grid.”

Imagine a mall with a 2,000 seat auditorium for sports, where sport related retailers and activities become what the grocery anchors are now.

This mall consists of modular units that can easily move around, allowing retailers to continuously recreate the whole centre. Visitors might not be sure if it is a gym, adventure or a sports store. Here, they can eat a very healthy meal, or have personalised sports gear made specifically to fit them thanks to scans of their proportions.

This mall is built squarely on the concept of customisation, where experts are on hand to design programmes for you, while you have a new pair of running shoes 3D printed directly on your foot.

Connectivity, a major role-player in all four of these futures, will feature heavily here, but it is the rapid growth in the health and wellness industry that will bring this mall to life.

“People are looking for experiences, not things, so that they can share and post on social media.”

Here we’ll see a space filled with apprentices and trainees, from food and hair to graphic design and drafting – customers can go here and experience or buy from trainees.

This allows trainees to engage with real customers, while customers actively contribute to their learning while also benefiting from these services or products at a slightly cheaper rate.

“The population in sub-Saharan Africa has seen huge growth. There are a lot of people who need to be skilled, and people are living longer than ever before. In South Africa, our qualification status is also worrisome – only 13% of the people in South Africa have a post-school qualification. As business and the economy changes, we are going to need more and more people with qualifications, and for that, we need more places suitable to upskill the people we need,” she says.

The death of the password

2018 will be the year where we see the death of the password. This according to the latest tech predictions from virtualisation company Citrix.

Citrix says that a wide variety of authentication methods will be introduced that will replace passwords including biometrics, behaviour analytics and the like.

“The amount of security breaches will accelerate to record heights which will force companies to abandon traditional passwords as a way to protect accounts,” says Brendan McAravey, country manager at Citrix South Africa.

He says that access to web pages and apps will become much more controlled next year to protect end users which will limit the viral nature of the web as we know it today. Dark web concepts will also be adopted by web apps to limit exposure.

Artificial intelligence & machine learning
Citrix’s second prediction for 2018 is that machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) will have a huge impact on the future of work and security. The company says that machine learning and AI tools and platforms are getting easier to use and “are thus becoming more pervasive”.

“Machines will be able to learn what’s normal and what’s not normal to predict and enable future automations or shutdown bad-actors in security use cases.”
McAravey believes AI will however not replace the need for human employees, but rather will give an opportunity to learn new skills and apply more strategic and meaningful actions to new roles.

“Nothing will ever replace the importance of human creativity, empathy and innovation,” he says.

Age of voice
“The impact of voice as the next generation human-computer interface will absolutely be a key innovation moving forward in 2018. This will be more impactful than virtual, augmented, or mixed reality,” adds McAravey.
Citrix believes that being able to use voice, combined with machine learning, to interact with complex data will be a huge benefit to everybody. It also says that analytics tools are going to allow people to work more productively in 2018.

“Imagine a scenario where AI helps contextualise what it is you do every day and from where. Meaning that people will in future spend less time looking for data and more time acting on the information.”

Internet of things
Citrix sees the rise of the Internet of things (IOT) continuing over the next two years and says there are already smart companies which are using a design thinking approach to innovate and deliver products that are making the most of the potential for IOT.

“2018 may not see these types of innovations at scale but there is a potential that we all take a customer-centric approach and think about how IOT can make us more efficient in our day. 2019 is when we will really see these innovations take off,” explains McAravey.

He says that IOT has huge potential for the workplace. In future the ability to cost effectively leverage IOT to improve the quality of the workplace will become real, thereby improving efficiency and effectiveness of employees.

“IOT will move from being seen as a security risk in the enterprise, to becoming a critical part of an enterprise’s security posture. Concepts, such as Bluetooth beacon technologies, GPS, biometrics, facial recognition and pervasive analytics on user behaviour, resulting in people getting access to the right things at the right time,” he concludes.

Source: IT Web 

Starting your own business? Here’s some advice

Here’s the irony: it’s never been easier to start a business, which is why it’s never been harder to start a business.

In the “old days”, when a big company had 5 00 staff, it had 5 000 horsepower which is why back then, big companies and governments were the only entities that could get the big jobs done and move the world forward. But thanks to digitisation, the world has changed drastically in the last decade or two. Now, a small company of 10 bright people equipped with the enabling technology become an army that has the equivalent 5 000 horsepower.

This is why starting a business has never been more alluring. Small groups of people can disrupt massive industries just like Uber and Airbnb did to their respective industries. The really big problem for most established industries is that it’s hard to see where new competition is coming from. The entire taxi industry could never have predicted that two entrepreneurs and a few software engineers could change their lives forever.

Things are heating up

For the first time in the world, you can impact the world from your bedroom while chilling in your underpants. That said, big companies aren’t standing still and they are equally using the same technology to ring out efficiencies in their businesses. I believe we are at the point where we will see technology replace people in big companies at an unprecedented rate.

A small example of this is Nu Metro and Ster-Kinekor. Just two years ago, you actually bought your movie tickets from a human being at the ticket kiosk. The other night, I went to the movies and counted a total of three staff working. All tickets and refreshments were bought using a tablet at the front desk. The only people working were the ones pouring my Slush Puppy and dishing my popcorn for me.

With this in mind, being an entrepreneur is a great idea with just one caveat: the easier it gets to become an entrepreneur, the more other people are going to do it. Competition drives innovation which means it will get harder and harder for startups to succeed unless they are absolutely excellent. With this in mind, the following advice is critical to you starting a business:

  • You have to be absolutely passionate about the business you want to start, but your business also has to also solve a big problem for society (there must be an appropriate market for what you want to do).
  • Conscious capitalism is the way forward. Doing the right thing isn’t a nice to have anymore. It’s the only way to do business.
  • You have to have the energy of a 1 000 men when you start because every little detail becomes your responsibility.
  • That said, you have to become a master of technology so that you can scale your business. Technology enables small groups of people to act like an army. The days of linear improvement won’t do.
  • You have to become forever educated because the world is changing so fast and you need to know what’s going on in order to understand how approaching trends will affect your business. YouTube, daily reading and podcasts: informal education is key.
  • Finally, play the long game. Create a 30-year plan and work backward. Chase excellence and not money. Money is the result of doing something well. When you put this all together, you have a sustainable business.

By Mark Sham, founder and CEO of Suits & Sneakers and Impello incubation hub

A new era of retail is coming

On October 25 of this year — on an otherwise quiet day in retail news — Nike chief executive Mark Parker fired a reverberating shot across the bow of the entire retail industry.

He announced that out of Nike’s global universe of more than 30,000 retail partners the brand would, going forward, focus its time, attention and capital on forty — FORTY — retailers that Nike calls “strategic wholesale partners.” Partners, he explained, which are willing and able to build out unique and dedicated Nike spaces within their store environments.

With this one brief announcement, Parker had not only given tens of thousands of merchants around the world a Tony Soprano-style kiss on the cheek, but he’d also made the same sweaty-palmed decision that thousands of other brand CEOs secretly wrestle with on a daily basis: whether to abandon the intoxicating volume of the mass market in a sober effort to save their brands from almost certain ruin.

Barely a quarter goes by that I don’t speak with at least one brand executive awakening to the reality that the reach, ubiquity and market penetration that hyper-retailers, department stores and discounters once offered is now the very thing that is siphoning equity from their precious trademarks. The power-merchants that made these brands household names were now the very things rendering them commoditised hostages in a high-speed chase to the bottom. Once the salvation of many a fledgling brand, mass merchants have increasingly become like kryptonite. In a world constantly seeking what’s next, new or special, mass retail has become toxic in its overexposure. For consumers, to whom shopping experiences matter as much, or more, than products, mass merchants are bringing nothing to the table.

Nike is merely one in a growing list of labels rethinking their distribution strategies. Earlier this year Coach announced it would leave the floors of over 250 department stores. Michael Kors also made a similar decision. And high-end outerwear brand Canada Goose, a brand that has traditionally been sold through wholesalers, now has a long-term goal of generating at least half its profits from its direct-to-consumer business. One by one, brands are fleeing the mass market and their absence will weigh heavily on all mass merchants.

However, more important in Nike’s announcement was the bold declaration that only one tenth of one percent of their retailer network — those retailers who could deliver on the brand promise and experience — were even worthy of the brand’s time and attention. The remainder of Nike’s resources, according to Parker, would be dedicated to growing the brand’s direct-to-consumer business through its owned stores and websites, which currently represent about 30 percent of Nike’s total sales.
In a world constantly seeking what’s next, new or special, mass retail has become toxic in its overexposure.

This is by no means a minor shift. In fact, what it portends is a complete reformation of the retail market and a breakdown of the wholesale-retail model for revenue.

Where today the retail market is largely divided by luxury, mid-tier, and discount, the coming decade will see the market more clearly bifurcate into two distinct retail approaches. The first will encompass an ever-swelling number of vertically-integrated brands that focus on serving individual consumers at scale and in a manner that best befits the brand. The second will be a new class of “experiential merchants” that use their physical stores and online assets to perfect the consumer experience across a category or categories of products. They will define the ideal experiential journey, employing expert “product ambassadors” and technology to deliver customer experiences that are truly unique, remarkable and memorable. So memorable that they leave a lasting, positive experiential imprint on the shopper’s psyche.

The solitary aim of these new-era retailers will be to drive significant sales for their brand partners. But unlike stores of today that are single-mindedly focused on four-wall sales, experiential stores of the future will position themselves as true any-channel hubs. They will serve customers through multiple means of fulfilment that will include their own channels as well as direct-to-consumer sales from their brand partners. Attribution for these sales will matter less than delivering the powerful shopping experience responsible for generating them. And for this, brands like Nike will reward experiential merchants handsomely — not simply with conventional product margin but also with upfront media and agency fees. These experiential merchants will, in essence, be media channels and will be earn revenue as such. Brands like Nike will not be their vendors but rather their clients.

Taken in this context, Nike’s announcement on October 25, 2017 was a profound harbinger of a tectonic shift in the industry. One of the world’s largest brands was not merely communicating a new brand strategy but more clearly than ever before, foreshadowing an entirely new and revolutionary era of retail.

Doug Stephens for Business of Fashion

Hobbies have poor shelf lives

The shelf-life of a hobby is one year and two months, according to Brits.

Researchers who polled 5 001 UK adults found almost half have taken up a hobby only to give it up.

Twenty-eight per cent level the blame at work commitments, while 27 per cent said a busy family life prevented them from carrying on.

But this hasn’t stopped them pursuing something new – eight in ten currently have a hobby and dedicate a total of nine days over the course a year to it.

Commissioned by Barclaycard, the research also found 57 per cent believe they are happier and a quarter have acquired new friends – all thanks to their hobby.

Andrew Hogan, Head of Brand Strategy at Barclaycard, said: “Our research shows that in today’s often frantic world, having a hobby can have a huge, positive impact on both our personal and professional lives, as well as our overall health and wellbeing.

“That’s why it’s so important that we overcome obstacles to getting going, whatever that may be.

“We encourage everyone to prioritise their passions and start today.”

The biggest obstacles to spending more free-time doing pursuing hobbies and interests include work commitments, family commitments and not having enough disposable cash.

Although 13 per cent admit they are too lazy to spend additional time doing their hobbies and 22 per cent revealed they tend to procrastinate in their spare time instead.

Regardless of this, 54 per cent are more relaxed thanks to their passion, around a third believe they are healthier and 23 per have seen their confidence levels increase.

And two in five believe their outside interests have given them a more positive outlook on life.

On average, those who have made new friends as a result of their hobby have made 16 new pals.

With one fifth of those who made friends have even meeting a partner.

A third have a hobby they would like to try one day, with ten per cent hoping to give it a go some point in the next 12 months.

And a quarter would like to turn their interest into a career someday.

Over half agree everyone should have a hobby or passion.

Andrew Hogan added: “It’s fascinating to see that so many people daydream of turning their passion into a career – and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t.

“Taking that first step could be as simple as signing up to ukulele lessons or buying a bike.”

https://www.thesun.co.uk By James Cox

New Year’s resolutions aren’t just about diets, marathons or finally growing that vegetable garden you promised you’d start last year – they’re pertinent for business too. In the same way New Year’s resolutions help you focus on personal goals for the coming year, so can they improve productivity in the office – no matter what your business. Here are resolutions you can make to thrive professionally in the year ahead:

Write a growth plan
The first step in ramping up your business and career goals is putting a plan in place. Research shows there’s substantial benefit in having a formal, written strategy for growth, as opposed to pie-in-the-sky hopes for development. If you have one already, now’s the time to do a quick review and consider updates where necessary.

The goals should be achievable, like improving office communication, meeting deadlines or acquiring new skills. Unrealistic ideas will only lead to frustration rather than improvement. Once you’ve formalised your plan, share it with key staff members and get their buy-in before the year kicks off.

Get organised
Success is in the small things as much as the macro goals. Tasks like organising office space, computers or the server are essential before heading into the year. De-clutter your inbox and organise files into designated folders on your computer – then encourage all office members to do the same. Remove unnecessary clutter around your desk, store what you still need and throw away what’s not being used.

Having a clean workspace – physically and electronically – will help you start the year with a clear, stress-free mind. Allocate time for an office clean-up and make de-cluttering a fun activity – with an incentive at the end, like pizza for lunch. Organise stock rooms and shuffle the floor plan if necessary.

Communicate with staff members to get their input on logistical office-related issues – then workshop some solutions. Consider automating processes, such as workflows, to make the office more organised and decrease paperwork.

Improve well-being
Employees and managers should realise looking after themselves (and their teams) is as important as the time put into work. If you’ve been struggling to establish a work-life balance culture in the office, now’s the time to reset.

Encourage employees to free up time to recharge by working smarter, not harder when in the office. Consider introducing ‘power hour’ to kick-start productivity (slots of time when employees can’t disturb one another). If personal well-being isn’t managed, it impacts on performance and effectiveness.

Schedule health checks with each staff member in the first few weeks of the New Year. It’ll give you a good idea of what needs to be adjusted going forward.

Embrace new trends
New technology emerges every year in vast quantities. Rather than trying to embrace every new trend, success can be found in honing in on one area in which you want to up-skill or improve – then seeking out tech and software to enhance it.

There’s huge benefit in embracing new and adaptive technology and leveraging it so it works for your business. You might be keen to improve communication within the team and could explore messaging software or tools to streamline project management. If your business needs it, it’s probably out there.

Introduce training and development
In the New Year, prioritise personal development. In reviewing your own goals and the goals of your team, evaluate skills and set-up training sessions within the organisation. Pair employees up with mentors to help them grow and pursue new career opportunities. Encourage team members to send out calendar invites for mentoring sessions ahead of time and, where possible, stick to them religiously.

To help keep your New Year’s resolutions, make sure you have an actionable plan with defined goals and a process for monitoring progress. Just like the vegetable garden you want to start, businesses take time, investment and nurturing to grow. So plant new seeds in the New Year – then watch business flourish in 2017.

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My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


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