Tag: growth

Caxton shows strong growth

Caxton & CTP Publishers & Printers is hardly tapping vibrant niches with its core business in printing and publishing on the one hand and packaging on the other. But these operations are profitable, churn cash flow and are lean and mean. In fact, Caxton’s share price has doubled over a year.

  • As printing and publishing opportunities crimp, Caxton will look at reinforcing and expanding its packaging niche
  • At the end of the financial year to June the printing and publishing operations generated about R2.94bn — or 66% of group revenue — while the packaging (and stationery) hub generated R2.3bn, or 44% of revenue.
  • At operating profit level (after depreciation and amortisation), printing and publishing managed R336m, the packaging segment R275m
  • These operations generated net cash flows of R568m — equivalent to more than 150c a share
  • At the end of the financial year, Caxton was sitting on nearly R2bn of free cash, equivalent to almost 540c a share
  • Nearly 70% of Caxton’s share price is cash
  • During the reporting period, Caxton made an additional R656m investment in listed packaging business Mpact, where it now has an influential 31.6% shareholding
  • Its investment in Mpact is now worth close to R1.4bn, or equivalent to 376c a share
  • Caxton’s cash pile and its investment in Mpact is alone worth over 900c a share
  • Caxton can extend its commanding position in printing and publishing as smaller operations fall by the wayside, and making decent earnings for years to come
  • The packaging niche will be reinforced, and probably supersede the printing and publishing operations as the bigger earnings contributor
  • Caxton’s smaller “sideline” investments have panned out rather well — the group banked a substantial profit on selling its stakes in Octotel and RSAWeb
  • Officially, Caxton sets its NAV at R17 a share, which means the share price now offers a discount of about 53%. That’s a hard NAV number, with only R85m accounted for as a goodwill

South Africa’s economic growth at 1.2%

By Prinesha Naidoo for Bloomberg

South Africa’s recovery from a coronavirus-induced contraction quickened in the second quarter as restrictions to contain the pandemic were eased.

Gross domestic product expanded 1.2% in the three months through June from a revised 1% in the previous quarter, Statistics South Africa said Tuesday in the capital, Pretoria. The median estimate of four economists in a Bloomberg survey was for growth of 0.9%. The agency no longer reports an annualised growth rate and now uses 2015 as the base year for the data.

South Africa’s economy is slowing recovering from Covid-19 damage

The economy grew 19.3% from a year earlier — the first year-on-year increase in five quarters. That’s up from a low base in the second quarter of 2020, when a strict Covid-19 lockdown shuttered most activity, and compares with the 17.8% median estimate of 14 economists in a separate Bloomberg survey. Output remains below pre-pandemic levels.

While the quarterly outcome supports forecasts that predict Africa’s most industrialised economy will recover from its biggest contraction in at least 27 years, it’s likely to be revised after the statistics agency was forced to use an estimated value for missing mining data. That’s because the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy failed to provide it with timely information needed to calculate mining production and sales figures for June.

The economy is likely to contract in the third quarter after deadly riots, looting and arson erupted in July and weighed on activity in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province and the commercial hub of Gauteng — the two biggest provinces by contribution to GDP. A cyber attack at the state-owned ports and rail operator also hobbled trade at key container terminals and led the company to declare its second force majeure in a month.

“The economy has overall shown itself better at recovering in the past year than initially expected — either at the start of Covid-19 or into this data — but there is still significant uncertainty over the impact the unrest will have in the short term and longer term into lower investments,” said Peter Attard Montalto, head of capital markets research at Intellidex.

Risks to outlook
A fourth wave of Covid-19 infections that’s due in early December and could prompt stricter lockdown measures amid vaccine hesitancy, electricity-supply constraints and the slow pace of structural reforms could further weigh on output for the second half of the year. It could also hinder job creation in a nation where more than a third of the workforce is unemployed.

The second quarter outcome translates to annualised growth of nearly 5%, said Joe de Beer, deputy director-general of economic data at Statistics South Africa. The National Development Plan, the government’s 2012 economic blueprint co-authored by President Cyril Ramaphosa, targeted an annual growth rate of more than 5% for sustainable job creation.

South Africa’s economy is stuck in its longest downward cycle since World War II and hasn’t grown by more than 3% annually since 2012. That’s as a policy paralysis and weak business sentiment weigh on fixed investment spending, with private-sector companies wary to commit large sums of money to domestic projects. Gross fixed capital formation rose 0.9% from the first quarter.

Growth in household spending, which now accounts for about 63% of GDP, increased 0.5% in the second quarter. Data released Monday showed consumer confidence remains depressed and that temporary welfare measures, retrenchment and life insurance payouts are among the factors propping up household finances.

Poor sentiment among consumers and data that shows the economy is not yet “firing more consistently across all sectors” means the central bank is unlikely to raise borrowings this year, Montalto said. The bank’s monetary policy committee is due to announce its next interest-rate decision Sept. 23.

 

Game is Massmart’s biggest problem

Source: Knowledia

A trading update for the first half of the year from Massmart on Friday spooked investors who had been banking on a stronger recovery. The share closed over 9% lower at R54.95, having traded as much as down 11% on the day.

While the headline number seems “satisfactory” – sales are up 4.4% ­– it must be remembered that the group is comparing sales this year to a period last year during which the country was practically shut down for a month, with the level-5 hard lockdown from 27 March through the rest of April. In May, some restrictions were eased, and in June the economy was opened further. Compare the first half of this year to 2019 and sales have dropped 5.7% across the group.

Makro’s R13.7-billion in sales for the 26 weeks are 2.2% higher than the comparable period in 2019. At Builders, sales of R7.2-billion are 7.5% better. The real horror show is in the group’s cash and carry and Cambridge food businesses as well as Game.

Sales at Game were 7.6% lower than the same period last year, with comparable stores sales being 6.9% lower

Total sales in the cash and carry and Cambridge units is down by 9.8%, or R1.4-billion, when compared to the first half of 2019. This decline was led by Cambridge, which the group has been trying to sell for the last six months. Sales in this business, ranked eighth in food retail in the country, are 9.4% lower than last year.

A far bigger problem, however, looms at Game.

Massmart says sales at Game were “7.6% lower than the same period last year, with comparable stores sales being 6.9% lower” — this despite half the period being impacted by lockdown last year. (In South Africa, the decline was 4.6%.)

Compare sales at Game to the first half of 2019 (excluding the impact of lockdown), and although there is some impact of “lost” sales due to the closure of DionWired, these are down 19.1%! Game and Dion Wired were part of Massmart’s former Massdiscounters division.

The R6-billion question (the current value of its 51% stake) is how long Walmart will continue to waste management time – and money – trying to fix Massmart.

Massmart CEO Mitchell Slape has already done the easy work: shutting and selling underperforming stores, fixing retail basics in Game, stripping out large chunks of head office costs (by outsourcing central functions to Walmart suppliers) and securing a R4-billion (soft) loan from Walmart to bolster its balance sheet during a Covid-19 impacted year last year.

The rampant looting and destruction in July may have been the final straw.

Capitec to add 300 jobs

By Londiwe Buthelezi for News24

As many people and some businesses are likely questioning the wisdom of ploughing more money into South Africa after the recent unrest, Capitec CEO Gerrie Fourie says he sees ample opportunities.

A perfectly running economy like Switzerland might sound like a dream, but Fourie says it doesn’t have the magnitude of opportunities that challenges-ridden SA presents.

“I am a strong believer that if you are positive, you’ll look for opportunities, you’ll find opportunities. If you are negative, you just see problems,” said the Capitec CEO during the PSG Think Big Series discussion on Tuesday.

Capitec launched a big recruitment drive on Tuesday, which will see it fill around 300 positions of mainly “fourth industrial revolution” skills over the next few months. These will include disciplines in business science, artificial intelligence, data engineers and computer analysts.

Fourie said he understood that it could be “quite scary” to be recruiting hundreds of people in the current environment as economies battered by Covid-19 are still trying to recover. But Capitec is “looking to grow and go further”, he said.

Fourie said he does not want to underplay SA’s challenges, especially the education system that needs an overhaul. But to get around this, Capitec is doing its own training.

“There are big challenges there. But when I look at where we are, we believe there are massive opportunities in South Africa,” he said.

Room to disrupt the market

Capitec has around 16.3 million clients, which Fourie says is a 10% market share of SA’s retail banking. The banks wants to grow that to around 20% to 25%. In the retail deposit space and insurance, Capitec respectively commands 8% for now and about 6% in credit.

So, Fourie sees “plenty of opportunities” to grow in these areas.

The bank also has big ambitions for its business banking proposition, following its acquisition of Mercantile Bank in 2019.

READ | Snail-paced rollout of business banking – Capitec has a few tricks up its sleeve
“We’re very excited about Mercantile because, in business banking, there’s a big opportunity in the SME market. If you want to unlock the opportunity in Africa, that’s the market you focus on,” he said.

Mercantile Bank will be transformed into a completely digital Capitec Business Bank. With a bank that’s not dependent on its brick-and-mortar infrastructure to grow, it might offer Capitec the opportunity to take its offering internationally, said Fourie.

However, the bank’s immediate focus is growing its market share in SA, and any international expansion would be small and measured.

Building an army of innovators

As a young bank, Fourie said Capitec’s roadmap looked at where it wants to be in three years during the first two decades of its existence. Now, it’s looking at where the bank must be in 2030.

With this long-term focus, it’s looking past short-term noises.

The bank has an “innovation team” that scouts the world, looking at how banking and financial services are changing in other markets.

Fourie said the team travelled a lot before Covid-19, doing over 1 000 international trips a year. It not only confined its learnings to financial services but spent time with retail and internet giants like Alibaba and Tencent to understand where opportunities lie in the blurring lines between banks, mobile operators and retailers.

But Capitec also learns a lot from the annual hackathon competitions that it runs with universities to get new innovative digital solutions for real-world problems.

Fourie said there are three to four solutions currently in production that came from this initiative that the bank will probably use.

 

Emerging successfully from an economic downturn and global pandemic is no easy feat, especially if you are an SME business without large cash reserves to see you through. How do entrepreneurs combat these difficult times and come out the other side relatively unscathed?

Warren Bonheim, MD of Zinia, a leading ICT and telecoms provider, shares his strategies for success that have seen Zinia thrive through tough times.

Embrace customer reviews

Word of mouth has to a certain extent been digitised with many customers often deciding who to contact off of google and social media reviews. This strategy embraces transparency by asking customers to go public with their experience across digital platforms.

Bonheim says feedback directly from the mouths of the customer has a unique way of driving a culture of continuous improvement and dedication to customer excellence.

By focusing on customer experience as a priority in your business, you can determine if you are delivering on your service promise or not. Simply asking what your customers are saying about your business also allows you to benchmark your service and find a starting point to improve. However, exposing your business by actively seeking out customer reviews is not without risk.

“Opening your business up to customer feedback is daunting because there is absolutely no control over what people will say,” says Bonheim. “In addition, it is human nature to criticize and not take the time to give positive feedback.”

Whilst this approach may open a business up to negative reviews, these reviews allow business decision-makers to create targeted intervention programmes to improve their services that are far more resource-efficient in the long run.

Invest in people and service

During tough times leaders may seek to cut costs through their wage bill. However, making a strategic decision to not carry out retrenchments may be better as it allows you to protect the livelihood of employees who make a high level of customer service possible.

This also proves that you are loyal to your employees, preserving employee satisfaction and motivation which leads to a productive and positive company culture.

Zinia made the decision to stand by their employees and demonstrate their commitment to personalized service by limiting retrenchment during the Lockdown. They also improved the customer experience by incorporating easy to understand tools, sales documents, processes, checks, SLAs, and customer satisfaction surveys to make dealing with the company effortless. In the same way, links to provide customer feedback are readily available at a variety of touchpoints, making it easy for customers to share their thoughts.

Give recognition

Getting buy-in from executive-level members is also imperative to implementing these strategies. Reviews both positive and negative should be monitored regularly by executive level company members. This allows positive reviews and the employees responsible for them to be given validation and recognition. Negative reviews can be investigated and the challenge properly identified – be it in processes, people, or systems – to inform future strategies on how to improve the business.

Bonheim says, “When we get a positive review everyone at Zinia celebrates, and when we get a negative one, we see it as an opportunity to learn. It is difficult not to take a negative review personally at Zinia because every staff member is so passionate about customer service. However, we know we are doing something right when 97% of our customers rate us a 4 out of 5 and above for service excellence.”

Creating a positive service culture internally through internal communication initiatives and leading by example is essential. After all, if your company members don’t believe in what you are doing you will struggle to implement any strategy within the company.

Digitise appropriately

Another strategic decision that paid off for Zinia was investing in a digitization strategy in 2018 that carefully considered which key business processes could be automated to support, manage, and sustain the businesses growth.

Automation has an incredible capacity to drive efficiencies and ensure that customer service is not compromised by lightening some of the manual administrative load. Investments in IT systems, customer engagement and ticketing, productivity monitoring and more, allowed Zinia to remain strong during 2020 when other businesses struggled.

The leader’s investment in an IT managed services platform known as ZMS allowed them to virtually manage their customer’s IT and network environments; improve efficiency and productivity of their own internal resources; proactively service their customers and minimise their downtime.

Effective digitisation has the benefit of allowing a company to be flexible and pivot according to challenges, big or small, that they may face. During a crisis situation like the pandemic, a solid digital infrastructure allows for remote working when needed, providing everything that the employee needs – internet, access to business systems, telephony and so on – so they can work productively.

Any good business strategy should focus on implementing the systems and controls necessary for the company to scale and provide the flexibility to react quickly. In Zinia’s case, their combination of systems and entrepreneurial flair allowed their team to quickly investigate the implications and opportunities within the crises when international rumours of a lockdown first began.

This resulted in the company being ready for lockdown with remote working solutions that included hosted VoIP (Voice over IP) PBX and custom productivity tools that could be delivered virtually. These solutions answered a very real business need in the market: How to manage employee’s remote activities and identify operational inefficiencies, productivity trends and prevent any IT security risks of remote working.

Embracing a digital way of interacting includes benefits such as increased sales activity and output of work, reduced travelling costs, reduced time spent travelling, reduced printing costs and so on.

Using these business strategies above can combat downturns in the economy, provide consistent feedback on business health and help clients trust organisations that deliver value in today’s world. Creativity and innovation are key to running any business, but especially in rapidly changing climates, they can make or break your success.

Businesses with strong growth strategies, forward-thinking decision-makers and positive workplace culture are emerging from the pandemic stronger than ever. Whilst many will agree that a fully work from home approach is not sustainable, with the correct strategy and investment in infrastructure we can effectively marry in office and work from home scenarios and create more resilient companies, with leaner operating models and more positive culture that recognise and support the human element of successful businesses.

SA economy grows by 1.1% in Q1

By Siphelele Dludla for IOL

The South African economy grew by 1.1% in the first quarter of 2021, translating into an annualised growth rate of 4.6 percent, Statistics South Africa (Stats SA) reported on Tuesday.

However, the first quarter growth was lower than the revised 1.4 percent, or an annualised 5.8 percent, rise in real gross domestic product recorded in the fourth quarter of 2020.

Stats SA said economic activity has increased in line with easing lockdown restrictions in the period, with real GDP rising to R761 billion in the first quarter of 2021.

Despite this being the third-consecutive quarter of positive growth, Stats SA said the economy was 2.7 percent smaller than it was in the first quarter of 2020.

“This level is roughly comparable to what the economy was producing in the first quarter of 2016, and is 2.7 percent down from the R782 billion recorded in the first quarter of 2020.”

StatsSA said eight of the 10 industries recorded positive gains in the first quarter of 2021, with finance, mining and trade making the most significant contributions.

The finance, mining and trade industries were the main drivers of output on the production side of the economy, while household spending and changes in inventories helped spur growth on the expenditure side.

The mining industry had a positive quarter too with annualised growth of 18.1 percent, boosted by the production of platinum group metals, iron ore, gold and chromium.

Manufacturing output increased at an annualised rate of 1.6 percent, mostly driven by strong growth in the production of motor vehicles, parts and accessories and other transport equipment.

Stats SA said load shedding and a decline in the supply of water contributed to the contraction in the electricity, gas and water supply industry.

The agriculture, forestry and fishing industry also performed poorly in the first quarter in comparison with the previous quarter, dragged lower by weaker production figures for field crops and animal products.

 

By Edward West for IOL

Attacq, the real estate investment trust (Reit) that holds Mall of Africa and Waterfall City among its assets, said the easing of lockdown restrictions from March 1, 2021 had resulted in a marked improvement in trading density growth at its retail centres.

All its tenants were able to trade with minimal restrictions, the group said yesterday in an update of its retail portfolio’s trading performance, and progress made to improve its capital structure.

At Mall of Africa, trading density improved 33 percent versus March 2020, compared with a 0.8 percent decline recorded in February over the same month a year before, and a 14.1 percent decline in January on the same basis.

Brooklyn Mall saw trading density up 7 percent on the same basis, compared with a 17 percent decline in February and a 14.1 percent decline in January.

Eikestad Mall saw trading density up 12.7 percent in March, versus a 24.5 percent decline in February and a 30.6 percent decline in January.

Attacq’s operations for the first six months of the 2021 financial year had been significantly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic’s second wave of infections and further national lockdown restrictions.

Post-December 31, Attacq settled 35.8 million euro of euro debt from proceeds of the disposal of MAS Real Estate shares, significantly de-risking foreign exchange risk.

Assuming the debt repayment took place on July 1, 2020, Attacq’s gearing ratio at December 31, 2020 would have improved to 44.1 percent from 46.3 percent.

Attacq had also started refinancing its R3.3 billion syndicated loan secured by the portfolios of its subsidiaries, Attacq Retail Fund Proprietary and Lynnwood Bridge Office Park, R2.9bn of which matures during the 2022 calendar year.

The refinance was expected to be implemented by June 30, 2021, while the balance of the loan of R300m was expected to be repaid with proceeds from the sale of assets.

Attacq’s share price increased 1.1 percent to R7.38 on the JSE yesterday afternoon. It was trading at R5.12 at the same day last year.

The share closed 1.37 percent higher at R7.40 on the JSE yesterday.

FNB Connect is rapidly gaining customers

By Hanno Labuschagne for MyBroadband

South Africa’s largest mobile virtual network operator, FNB Connect, has seen a big increase in customers over the past year.

FNB Connect CEO Bradwin Roper recently spoke to MyBroadband regarding the performance of the operator during 2020, and what its plans were for the year ahead.

According to Roper, FNB Connect had grown its true active subscribers by 22% year-on-year to 815,124 as of the end of December 2020. These customers had recorded financial or network activity in the last three months.

“Our Easy and our Gold account base – that’s our entry and our middle market customers – account for two-thirds of that base,” Roper stated.

The operator has further noted massive adoption and advocacy from higher-income customers – with a 37% increase in premium and 45% growth in its private customer base.

Roper said this was notable, as it indicated that even the most finicky, fussy, and particular customers were choosing FNB Connect as their telecoms providers.

He added that this had happened without the operator having to heavily market its benefits over other operators.

“These customers have organically found us and are using us,” Roper said.

Cheaper prices
Roper claimed that part of the MVNO’s growth could be attributed to its affordable pricing.

“We really have rung true to this concept of money management and how important telco spend is in households,” Roper said.

Products Roper cited as a testament to this the adoption of FNB Connect’s TalkMax and TalkMax Pro plans.

These let customers make unlimited calls to up to 120 or 200 unique phone numbers, for either R299 or R399 per month. They also include set allocations of data and SMSs.

“If you think about the incumbents and their relevant competing products, you are talking about thousands of rand for the same product offering,” Roper stated.

In addition, FNB Connect’s data prices performed well when compared with its rivals.

“Whatever benefits we’ve received, we’ve passed those benefits onto customers,” Roper said.

“We repriced our 1GB data package to R59 per month which arguably is about 40% cheaper than the rest of the market,” Roper stated.

“Our market leading once-off data prices are available to all Connect customers and not as promotional offers to certain customers like the MNOs do,” Roper added.

FNB Connect has also seen increasing usage of its value-added Free Connect benefit for FNB account holders, with a total of 715 million MB of data and 134 million voice minutes used to date.

Month-to-month flexibility
Roper said that one area in which people underestimated FNB Connect was its capability to offer greater customer choice and flexibility, something which he wanted to continue driving.

“One month you need a gig of data, the other month you need five. It’s really impossible, and I think it’s very unfair, to get stuck into a 24-month contract,” Roper said.

“In order to get onto a top-up plan with a big incumbent, you have to be credit-scored, with ours you have the ability to change your allocations on a month-on-month basis,” he stated.

“We want to give you the full benefit of everything that a postpaid service gives you but on a month-to-month basis,” Roper said.

Roper said that this flexibility was one of the reasons why FNB Connect had also seen a surge in Top Up customers.

“Our Top Up base growth has been 57% year-on-year,” Roper said.

“Customers are really loving the fact that they can – on a month-to-month basis – figure out exactly how much data, voice, and SMSs they need and be able to top that up without the cumbersome going into a telco store and getting scored.”

“With us, you can do it on the app and have that SIM delivered to your home or your office or wherever you find yourself,” Roper stated.

Order FNB Connect devices from the app
FNB app users will soon be able to order FNB Connect devices straight from the app in a similar way that they can currently purchase other products.

At the moment, the app allows users to buy Prepaid, Talk Max Top Up, Top Up Data, and Top Up Lifestyle bundles under the Connect pillar of the “Apply now” section.

According to Roper, starting from June or July 2021 this will be expanded to allow for ordering a wide array of devices on FNB Connect postpaid and credit-scored products as well.

“That is going to be a massive disruption to the market,” Roper claimed.

 

By Siphelele Dludla for IOL

South Africa’s economy shrank by 7% last year compared to 0.2 percent growth in 2019 amid the devastating impact of Covid-19 and lockdown restrictions, Statistics SA said.

This is the most significant economic downturn in 75 years, but was not unexpected following months of economic slowdown due to lockdown restrictions.

’’If we explore the historical data, this is the biggest annual fall in economic activity the country has seen since at least 1946,” Stats SA said.

“The second biggest fall was recorded in 1992 when the economy contracted by 2.1 percent.

“At that time, the country was struggling through a two-year-long recession, mainly the result of a global economic downturn.”

Stats SA said the annual real gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate of -7 percent last year was primarily led by decreases in manufacturing, trade, catering and accommodation; and transport, storage and communication.

The agriculture, forestry and fishing industry, however, escaped the effects of the pandemic relatively unscathed, expanding production by 13.1 percent last year.

The government also grew marginally in the year, up by 0.7 percent.

Stats SA said expenditure on GDP also decreased by 7.1 percent last year as household final consumption expenditure decreased by 5.4 percent.

Meanwhile, the fourth quarter GDP recorded positive growth as economic activity resumed after lockdown restrictions were lifted.

Stats SA said GDP lifted by 1.5 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, giving an annualised growth rate of 6.3 percent, and easily beating market expectations of a 5 percent rise.

The largest positive contributors to growth were the manufacturing, trade and transport sectors.

The manufacturing industry increased at a rate of 21.1 percent in the fourth quarter, as nine of the 10 manufacturing divisions reported positive growth rates in the period.

Stats SA said expenditure on real GDP increased at an annualised rate of 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter of last year as household final consumption expenditure increased at a rate of 7.5 percent.

 

The eLearning Indaba, an annual conference that attracts speakers and attendees from around the world to venues across South Africa, held the first of its new-format hour-and-a-half long Zoom sessions last Friday, with over 500 HR, and learning and development (L&D) professionals having registered.

Hosted by the end-to-end e-learning solutions provider, New Leaf Technologies, the webinar revealed some critical insights around accelerated digital transformation, and the frameworks needed to optimise the e-learning experience. Major trends shaping a global e-learning market said to reach R5,4 trillion by 2026 according to market research organisation, Facts & Factors, were also presented.

Guest speakers included Michael Strawbridge, Global Head of Content, Networks and Members Services for The Learning and Performance Institute (UK), and Thijs Van Zundert, partner-manager for aNewSpring, a cloud-based Learner Management System (LMS) platform developed in Holland.

New Leaf Technologies Managing Director, Michael Hanly introduced his company’s approach to digital transformation which includes a wide range of over 20 000 ready-made courses available online to engage and empower modern learners with training interventions, delivered on any device, using an appropriate and didactical approach. Hanly said that by creating content and providing state-of-the-art learning technology, the company aims to grow people and their business.

According to Strawbridge, effective e-learning can lead to closing skills gaps in a business environment. The solution to this challenge lies in creating social learning opportunities, supporting business through change, upskilling in data and data analytics, and building a learning culture, with digital transformation at the heart of it all.

For effective e-learning to take place, Strawbridge presented six equally important, key priorities to consider: It is essential to have the right and relevant technology to support the latest learning methods; that a wider skill set is needed, encompassing technology, organisational and soft skills, as well as identifying proper work models to meet these skills requirements; that leadership must be adept at motivating and galvanising team members, communicating the potential of people and technology to respond to challenges and opportunities; to have a focused capture and use of data for valuable insight, linking learner performance with company goals, and garnering foresight that predicts learner behaviour which optimises outcomes; that there has to be a collaboration/shared cultural element, where people’s learning needs are understood and they feel empowered via this learning environment. And lastly, that there must be a strong foundation of infrastructure to keep learning in step with digital transformation.

In his discussion on how to help students/co-workers prepare for e-learning and training, Thijs Van Zundert pointed out the similarities between training for work and a marathon; that there is very little difference between them! He reiterated the need for determining and setting clear goals, creating a proper game plan, keeping loved ones informed and involved (as their support is tantamount to success), and ensuring one has the right program, equipment and materials to successfully complete learning goals.

According to Van Zundert, there is massive benefit in getting advice from people who have done it before you, to be realistic about the amount of training and work you will be able to get through and to keep pushing yourself to succeed. By learning to enjoy the e-learning process, the task will become fun, informative and will inevitably be a truly rewarding experience.

Given the rapid rate at which digital learning systems are currently evolving, Hanly forecast ten trends to follow in order to align your L&D strategy with your business. These include:

1. LaaS (Learning as a Service), is provided as an end-to-end solution that encompasses managed L&D services for a set monthly fee.

2. LXP (Learning experience platforms), a learner-centric, socially enabled environment that provides a personalised gateway to an organisation’s learning content through a familiar and searchable interface

3. Mobile learning, where using mobile devices allows learners quick and easy access on the go

4. Employee engagement, which strives to keep content relevant and interesting

5. Content curation, which continually updates relevant, carefully curated and well-organised content

6. Personalization and adaptive learning; targeting and addressing individual needs, providing the right training materials, and introducing training interventions at the right time

7. Immersive technology, like augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) help enhance learning mediums and provide an immersive e-learning experience

8. Video-based learning – the use of video for online lectures, virtual classrooms and web conferencing heads up the digital transformation trends for 2021

9. Artificial intelligence facilitates highly personalised learning pathways by analysing the data it collects, which can then be used to understand the learner’s interests, proficiency and competencies

10. Proctoring; AI-enabled, remote invigilation, that allows students to write a test online in any location, at any time, while maintaining the integrity of the assessments taken.

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