Tag: trends

Big e-commerce trends to look out for in 2022

Given the dynamic nature of technology, it follows that new trends are forever emerging in the e-commerce space.

Today, people seek out platforms that not only offer ease-of-use and convenient payment options, but those that embrace the latest technologies to make the overall shopping experience more exciting.

In South Africa, there have been high levels of innovation and change in e-commerce in recent years, according to The Online Retail Industry in South Africa 2021 report.

Bigger companies are investing heavily in tech or acquiring startup online retailers as sales soar.

More than R30-billion in online sales was recorded in 2020, a study by World Wide Worx found last year. This was driven in the main by Covid-19 lockdowns that moved people away from traditional in-store purchasing.

However even with an easing of restrictions online buying remains high, and will continue to do so. Data by Statista market and consumer data projects 31.6-million South Africans could be converted to online shopping by 2024, according to Business Report.

This means the onus is now on e-tailers and online marketplaces to ensure their platforms are front and centre when it comes to meeting consumer demand in the digital space, as competition is intensifying at a rate of knots.

Anne-Marie Green, marketing manager of South African internet auction and online marketplace bidorbuy, has paid close attention to emerging trends abroad, as these will invariably reach South Africa in 2022.

“The scale of some more mature e-commerce markets means they are open to experimentation by integrating other tools like social selling and chatbots to further enhance the online shopping experience,” Green says.

“Despite recent growth, South Africa remains a relatively underdeveloped e-commerce market, but studying developments overseas can help us predict and shape the future here.”

One of the bigger developments is the emergence of more payment options.

This stems from the fact that consumers like to be presented with a choice.

“This extends beyond the products on sale to shipping and payment options that customers can select during checkout,” Green says.

“Payment options such as instalments; buy now, pay later; and interest-free credit make e-commerce more accessible, and remove barriers to purchasing bigger-ticket items. Diversified payment options also mean that the e-commerce experience is better aligned to the diverse budgets and spending habits of consumers, and help to create trust in the positioning of ecommerce brands as being there for buyers.”

Something else that is taking the sector by storm is augmented reality (AR).

It builds on the traditional retail idea of customers being able to examine, touch or try on an item before making a purchase.

“Technological innovations such as AR will help customers to visualise how a product will look on them or in their home, and be an important differentiator for the e-commerce companies that bring this technology to market first.

Green has also noted that environmental concerns are starting to play an increasing role in shopping habits, as consumers “dig deeper into companies’ green credentials”. That means that e-commerce platforms have to ensure every aspect of their value chain is authentically sustainable, especially when it comes to delivery and packaging.

Another change to look out for in 2022 is the introduction of voice search to e-commerce platforms.

“Consumers are increasingly comfortable with asking their devices for information, advice and recommendations, and this is likely to influence the products they see and buy online in 2022,” Green says.

Lastly, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) will play an even greater role than they have already.

“If you’ve noticed that the best e-commerce sites seem to know what you want to buy almost before you do, then you’ve already experienced an important trend,” Green says.

“The integration of AI and ML is allowing sites to predict the products that are most likely to appeal to a particular consumer. AI can assess datasets and is adept at detecting and mapping out patterns, trends and anomalies. Of course, AI is only as good as the data available to it, but the increasing volumes of online transactions mean that datasets are expanding all the time.”

In March, it will be exactly two years since South Africa recorded its first Covid-19 case, and with new variants predicted for some time to come, it goes without saying that e-commerce will be affected.

It is something Green has come to accept.

“The pandemic has already transformed the shopping habits of South Africans, and its future trajectory will directly impact on e-commerce sale volumes and values. Spikes and troughs in infection rates will likely be mirrored in real time or at a slight lag by similar patterns in e-commerce activity,” she says.

“But the move towards online shopping is likely to be a lasting trend, with reluctance to visit public places and mingle with crowds an ongoing factor in many people’s decision-making.”

By Amanda Schiavo for Benefit News

The workplace has dramatically evolved over the course of the last two years, and as employers prepare for the new year, they’ll need to take into account how employees’ priorities have shifted if they want to attract and retain top talent.

Issues like greater flexibility, permanent remote work, greater investments into mental health support and more focus on diversity and equality are top priorities for employees in 2022, according to Anu Karwa, vice president of people operations at video content creation platform, Socialive. In order to combat the great resignation, employers will need to lead, not follow, in these areas.

“To create an environment that lets people shine and be their authentic selves, practice inclusive leadership and respect everyone’s perspectives, opinions and diverse voices,” she says. “We will begin to see concrete changes being implemented to make a difference with deeper and more thoughtful approaches.”

Karwa shared six predictions regarding some workplace trends she expects employers will see in 2022.

Hybrid work is sticking around
Karwa anticipates that remote work is here to stay, and flexibility will be key. Employees will set their own work hours and employers will need to adjust their hybrid work policies to encourage collaboration from everywhere.

“In 2022, to accommodate more employees starting and ending the work day at different times, organizations will need to optimize hybrid work processes to ensure consistent employee engagement and enhance productivity,” she says.

Meetings will be revamped
Instead of ineffective video calls, employers can experiment with recording short, informative videos with detailed explanations of what is expected, cutting down on the need to coordinate schedules, Karwa says.

Employees will be able to go back and review these videos when they have questions, eliminating “inefficient follow-up meetings that interrupt schedules and allowing for more heads-down work time and increased productivity,” she says.

Diversity and inclusion will take centre stage
Going into 2022, employers will need to realise that employees don’t want lip service when it comes to their diversity and inclusion efforts — they want real actionable changes.

“Employees will expect ongoing initiatives that are visible throughout every part of their company, making DEI practices normal, not outliers,” Karwa says.

The focus will be on keeping women at work
As women make their way back into the workforce, employers will need to put policies in place that will have a significant positive impact, like flexibility and even part-time work, Karwa says. This will allow them to manage their jobs and home responsibilities.

“We’ll see employers provide more scheduling flexibility for working mothers and create more part-time roles than they ever have before,” she says. “More hybrid organisations, in particular, will convert unused space into childcare centres, which will enable more women to participate in the workforce.”

Digital tools will combat the great resignation
While it may be tough to conduct in-person interviews right now, that doesn’t mean prospective employees don’t need to get a feel for the company’s atmosphere. Potential hires want to connect with their future colleagues, and employers will be turning to more engaging video and audio content in 2022, Karwa says.

“Employers will need to find ways to display their culture in a way that is both virtual and real,” she says.

Leaders must recognise and address employee burnout
Employees expect their organisations to take a holistic approach to their overall well-being, and addressing mental health concerns is a big part of that. Employees want to know their workplace leaders understand they are struggling and provide them with benefits and solutions that can help them tackle their emotional stress.

“Companies will no longer be able to implement quick-fix, band-aid-style approaches to resolve deeper issues that result in burnout,” Karwa says. “The entire leadership team at forward-thinking companies will address the root causes that are leading to poor employee engagement and turnover.”

 

Post-pandemic, most office workers are looking forward to returning and increasingly say they prefer to spend the majority of their workweek there too to meet face-to-face, socialise, brainstorm, and connect with each other again.

Linda Trim, director at Giant Leap, says that while workers have some new needs and expectations driven by COVID-19, most of the issues and trends raised were already here pre-COVID — and were just exacerbated by the pandemic.

Here are five workplace trends that have been accelerated and now are driving priorities for the new post-pandemic office:

1. Mobile

“Workers will now expect the ability to work remotely and the autonomy to match work to the right setting far beyond the pandemic”, said Trim. “Our pre-COVID research has consistently shown that people who spend at least a portion of their typical workweek outside the office have higher workplace satisfaction and score higher on indicators of innovation. She added that people working in a “hybrid model” – balancing days at the office with working from home – appear more deliberate with how they use their time and have higher job satisfaction overall.

2. Choice

Employees’ variety of work settings must now include the home. Said Trim: “Workers’ desire for choice in the workplace is not new. We find that employers who provide a spectrum of choices for when and where to work were seen as more innovative and higher-performing.” Our previous research found that innovative companies spend more time collaborating away from their desk and spend only about 3.5 days (74%) of their workweek in the office. Many workers depend on specific resources at their office. But the nature of work is changing — we’re becoming more versatile, agile, and collaborative. We need a wider array of solutions — both inside and outside the office.

3. Privacy

Many workers already struggled to find privacy in the workplace — now they expect to maintain the privacy they have become accustomed to at home.

“The trend toward more open environments has led to the rise of shared or unassigned seating to provide more space for collaborative areas for group work, but to the detriment of space for focusing or personal use,” says Trim.

Employees don’t want a complete reversal of these trends, but better space allocation. In our consulting, we find that “mostly open” workplaces were associated with higher performance and greater experience, but noise, privacy, and the ability to focus remain key determinants of workplace effectiveness. Striking the right balance will be key in the future.

4. Unassigned seating

Just months before the pandemic sent office workers home, global design and architecture firm Gensler reported in a 2020 Workplace Survey that workplace effectiveness was in decline. And those in unassigned seating were struggling the most. Says Trim: “In South Africa we’ve noticed workers overwhelmingly favour a desk assigned only to them and are typically not willing to trade an assigned desk for increased flexibility to work remotely. Organisations will need to develop clever space reservation programs to balance space utilisation, employee and team schedules, and safety.”

5. Health & well-being

“People expect health and wellness to be built into everything. As workers reprioritise the importance of health and well-being, employers now face mounting pressure to combine indoor and outdoor spaces, nudge healthy behaviours, and support a sense of psychological well-being.”

Across the globe, workers have experienced working from home, and many find their home environments provide greater comfort. Employers must now work harder to establish how their offices and workplace policies can support health and well-being.

“Now is an opportunity to create spaces where employees not only want to be, but to do their individual and collective best work,” Trim concludes.

Google reveals trending searches of 2020

By Yasmine Jacobs for IOL

It goes without saying that 2020 has been pretty eventful – and that is putting it mildly. The world has shifted to a digital space as work and studies all went online.

The internet has become almost like a lifeline as we use it to keep in touch with loved ones and to answer questions such as ’how to make hand sanitiser’ or ’where to buy beer during lockdown?’

Google on Wednesday announced the results of its 2020 Year in Search, sharing what the world and South Africans, searched for, asked about, looked for, ate and dreamt of exploring in 2020.

“Just as Search helps people to explore and discover a world of information, there are many ways to explore the year through the lens of Google Search. From overall global stories to hundreds of top 10 lists of trending topics across pop culture and lifestyle, sports, music, news, and more from across almost 70 countries,” said Google in a statement.

In South Africa, Coronavirus was top of everyone’s minds this year and the pandemic’s impact is reflected in the Year in Search lists. There were also a few searches that were lockdown related as many tried to adapt to the new normal. South Africans’ love for sport, celebrity culture and politics was unwavering.

These are the top 10 trending searches:

  1. Coronavirus
  2. US elections update
  3. Sasol share price
  4. Level 3 lockdown South Africa
  5. Children’s Day
  6. Hantavirus
  7. Load shedding
  8. Cigarettes ban South Africa
  9. Teacher’s Day
  10. Leap Day

The top trending questions were:

  1. How to apply for an unemployment grant?
  2. Who won the election?
  3. What time is the President on tonight?
  4. What is coronavirus?
  5. What is 5G?
  6. Where does vanilla flavouring come from?
  7. Why were cornflakes invented?
  8. Where to buy beer during lockdown?
  9. Why were chainsaws invented?
  10. How to make hand sanitiser?

Tthe op trending “near me” searches were:

  1. Restaurant near me
  2. Grocery stores near me
  3. Builders near me
  4. Midas near me
  5. Virgin Active near me
  6. Hardware near me
  7. Mexican food delivery near me
  8. Massage spa near me
  9. Game stores near me
  10. Hiking near me

The top trending personalities were:

  1. Kobe Bryant
  2. Mshoza
  3. Genius ‘Ginimbi’ Kadungure
  4. Bob Mabena
  5. Naya Rivera
  6. George Floyd
  7. Chadwick Boseman
  8. Zinzi Mandela
  9. Thandeka Mdeliswa
  10. Mary Twala

Top trending South African personalities included:

  1. Katlego Maboe
  2. Nikita Murray
  3. Edwin Sodi
  4. Lerato Kganyago
  5. Menzi Ngubane
  6. Jackie Phamotse
  7. Tino Chinyani
  8. Sophie Ndaba
  9. Nomcebo Zikode
  10. Monique Muller

Top trending political figures

  1. Joe Biden
  2. Kim Jong Un
  3. Kamala Harris
  4. Boris Johnson
  5. Angie Motshekga
  6. Ace Magashule
  7. Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams
  8. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma
  9. Andile Lungisa
  10. Bheki Cele

Top trending sports searches were:

  1. Premier League
  2. England vs South Africa
  3. PSL standings
  4. IPL
  5. Champions League
  6. South Africa vs Australia
  7. La Liga
  8. Serie A
  9. Europa League
  10. Kaizer Chiefs vs Mamelodi Sundowns

Top trending recipes included:

  1. Pizza dough recipe
  2. Doughnut recipe
  3. Pineapple beer recipe
  4. Banana loaf recipe
  5. Pancakes recipe
  6. Magwinya recipe
  7. Lemon meringue recipe
  8. Cinnabon recipe
  9. Naan bread recipe
  10. Pornstar martini recipe

Top trending travel searches were:

  1. Trip to Mauritius
  2. Trip to Durban
  3. Trip to Thailand
  4. Trip to Mozambique
  5. Trip to Hawaii
  6. Trip to Mars
  7. Trip to Singapore
  8. Trip to Bali
  9. Trip to Jamaica
  10. Trip to Zanzibar

During the last decade, the workplace has undergone dramatic change: but it pales in comparison to how new organisational structures will impact the work environment as we move towards 2020.

Isla Galloway-Gaul, MD of Inspiration Office, says: “Our ways of working have changed as many societies become wealthier, as consumers demand new types of products and services and as we constantly seek to increase productivity.”

She notes that there are four megatrends, which will have a profound impact on how we work:

The rise of mobile knowledge workers

A knowledge worker uses research skills to define a problem, identify possible solutions, communicate this information and then works on one or several of these possible solutions. “The rise of knowledge workers sets new requirements for office design. Knowledge work is flexible, and knowledge workers are far more likely than other types of workers to work from home and be more mobile.

“The design of the work environment must be adapted to specific work needs as well as suit personal preferences, “ Galloway-Gaul notes.

Burst of new technology

For more than 30 years, IT and mobile advancements have had a profound influence on how we work and it’s likely this exponential advance will continue.
A few emerging technologies are already so advanced that it is possible to gauge their future influence. For example the Internet of Things, a connected network of physical devices, can connect and exchange data, resulting in efficiency improvements, economic benefits, and reduced human efforts. Real time speech recognition and translation will support easier communications between different language speakers and big data will allow companies to recognise patterns and make better decisions.

From Generation X to Generation Y

Generation X describes people born from the early 60s to the early 80s, many of whom hold now senior and work-influential positions in society today. Generation Y, often referred to as millennials, represent the generation that followed Generation X.

Says Galloway-Gaul: “Looking ahead to understand how our ways of working will change, it is necessary to understand what Generation Y need from their workplace, what their characteristics are like and how differently they see the world.” For example millennials tend to be more family-centric which means they are willing to trade higher pay for a better work-life balance. They are also the most tech-savvy generation which makes remote work possible, even desirable. They are achievement orientated and seek frequent new challenges.

Globalisation and the pressure to perform

Globalisation affects how we work in at least two ways. “Firstly, there is a now a larger, global talent pool available which means talent is more geographically dispersed and culturally diverse.

“As we head towards 2020, people will increasingly work with co-workers they have never met before,” Galloway-Gaul says.

Secondly, globalisation increases the pressure to perform. Previously companies could produce goods and have a secure home market with limited competition. “Now many products are sold at similar or more cost effective prices with the same or better service, and innovation is copied by competitors within weeks. This puts the question of whether work or services should be outsourced to other countries on the strategic agenda of any corporation,” Galloway-Gaul concludes.

By Nicole Norfleet for Seattle Times

To appeal to more workers, many companies and building owners are re­designing and renovating their offices. Modern kitchens with high-top seating, collaboration areas made for informal meetings and adaptable office furniture with standing desks have all become the new standard for office renovations.

While many of those features are predicted to still be prevalent in 2019, architects and designers say new design trends have emerged, with some clients investing in more privacy for their open offices, heavily branded design that reflects their company ethos, and more adaptable layouts.

Branded environments. Many clients want their workspace to reflect their company, a marketing tool that helps organizations stand out to prospective clients as well as a way to reinforce company culture among employees.

“They are really coming up with unique ways to define themselves,” said Natasha Fonville, brand manager of Minneapolis-based Atmosphere Commercial Interiors. “That beautifully branded experience is really going to keep trending and keep elevating the spaces around us.”

At the new downtown offices of Sleep Number, the company’s emblem is throughout the space on the wall and ceiling with Sleep Number settings on some of the tables.

At Field Nation’s new Minneapolis offices, a network of orange piping that runs electricity to light fixtures was designed as a representation of a technological network.

No receptionists
Some companies have decided to do away with front-desk receptionists, sometimes using technology to direct guests to where they need to go or having a more informal entry area.

Betsy Vohs, founder and chief executive of design firm Studio BV in Minneapolis, said 75 percent of her clients don’t really need a receptionist to answer calls or greet guests. “Having them at the front desk isn’t the best use of their time and energy,” Vohs said.

At the new Hopkins offices her firm has helped to design for Digi International, the company opted to skip the front-desk receptionist and use the space for an entry lounge with a coffee bar and a digital kiosk.

This past summer, Studio BV designed the offices of Field Nation, which also doesn’t use receptionists.

More agile space
Adaptable space has also become more of a priority as many companies have reduced the square footage dedicated to individual employees. With workers more nomadic, many new offices are currently designed to allow for rearrangement of the furniture layout and changes to walls and partitions.

“I think it’s just a sign of our times that workplaces are being so agile and really adapting to how people work best … and that’s always evolving,” Fonville said.

At Atmosphere’s downtown office, the walls are moved about once a year. For example, the company recently noticed that employees weren’t using some of the office enclaves, so leaders decided to take out a few walls to allow for more breathing room and larger meeting areas.

Audio privacy
As offices have become more open, one side effect has been that sound can carry throughout the space, making audio privacy a concern. Many new offices have private call rooms. Companies also have requested other sound-dampening materials such as acoustic foam, felt, drapery and carpet, Vohs said.

The renovated offices of Gardner Builders in Minneapolis, which Studio BV helped design, feature cubbies wrapped in acoustic foam.

The recently renovated RSM Plaza downtown has similar cutouts in its lobby. Some companies go as far as installing white-noise machines throughout their offices.

Move over, millennials
Much has been said about how current offices have been designed with millennial employees in mind, but designers have already begun to shift gears to interpret how the younger Gen Z might use their spaces. After millennials, defined as being born between 1981 and 1996, Gen Z is the newest defined generation. Gen Z is believed to be more realistic, social change-oriented, tech-integrated and interested in on-demand learning, said Rich Bonnin, a design principal at HGA in Minneapolis.

“These aren’t the decision-makers now, but they will be,” he said, at a recent broker event at the St. Paul Curling Club organized by real estate company Newmark Knight Frank.

Gen Z workers are more likely to value face-to-face interactions, shared space, choice-rich environments, security and the natural as well as the digital experience, he said.

Wellness
More architects have begun to incorporate design standards to advance workers’ health and well-being. WELL certification is still a relatively new concept that explores how design can help workers live better through improvements in air, water, light, fitness and other areas.

“It has kind of become the new LEED,” said Derek McCallum, a principal at RSP Architects in Minneapolis, which now has WELL-certified staff.

The 428 office building in St. Paul was WELL gold-certified and has high-level air filtration close to hospital grade, added water filtration, and a prominent and open staircase to promote physical activity.

Engaging employees
Companies are studying and surveying their employees more to make informed design decisions.

For the new headquarters for Prime Therapeutics in Eagan, external consultants studied the company’s previous offices to determine how much square footage per person was being used and the operational costs of the space.

They interviewed employees and observed to how they worked. Data showed that desks were sitting empty about 60 percent of the week, with people opting for shared spaces, said Kim Gibson, the company’s senior director for real estate workplace.

“We really wanted to understand how people were working and the things that they desired to help make them more productive,” Gibson said. The data helped Prime Therapeutics and architecture firm HGA create different spaces to accommodate workers, such as one-on-one spaces and private “oasis rooms.”

Amenities, amenities, amenities
The amenities race continues for many multi-tenant offices, with landlords investing heavily in community space and building perks such as modern gyms and lounges with high-end furniture. Many downtown Minneapolis office buildings have undergone recent rehabs of their amenity spaces, including RSM Plaza and the AT&T Tower.

Piedmont Office Realty Trust, the owner of U.S. Bancorp Center, plans to spend about $7.5 million to create a tenant-amenity space on the top floor of the tower. The building is more than 98 percent leased, but the company wanted to continue to improve the building, said Thomas Prescott, executive vice president of the Midwest region of Piedmont.

“It’s the right thing to do, enhancing our asset,” he said. “We’re excited. We’re making a significant investment in a building that’s mostly leased.”

A large stairway will lead up to the space that will feature a full fitness facility, tenant lounge, conference area and a game room with a golf simulator.

Tech trends for 2019

By Bernard Marr for Forbes

Every year, many of my clients ask me about the key technology trends that I believe will define the coming year. Here are my predictions of the tech trends that have the potential to make or break careers and businesses in 2019.

While some of these may seem obvious – no one will be surprised to hear that artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning are likely to remain hot topics – the disruptive nature of tech means it’s likely we will get a few surprises.

Artificial intelligence everywhere

The year 2018 will be remembered as the year that artificial intelligence (AI) hit the mainstream, but in 2019 and beyond it’s going to be absolutely everywhere.

This is because hardware and software developers have passed the trial period – experimenting to see where AI fits, and where it can deliver the biggest improvements in customer experience and productivity improvements.

In many cases we won’t even know it’s there – as machine learning services work quietly in their clouds, managing everything from power networks to distribution logistics and financial transactions.

In other cases, it will be highly visible – as our smartphones, home assistants, kitchen gadgets and cars put increasingly sophisticated tools at our fingertips.

The AI we interact with day-to-day – whether it is Google search engines, Netflix recommendation engines or assistants like Alexa or Siri – will become increasingly ubiquitous as well as useful, as breakthroughs in deep learning and reinforcement learning lead to more capable and reliable services.

Rapid changes in healthcare delivery

Undoubtedly one of the most crucial and worthy applications of technology – expect machines to be credited with saving more lives in 2019.

With much of the world facing a shortage of trained medical professionals, and even rich nations feeling the bite due to economic pressures, technology is often hailed as a potential savior.

From AI systems capable of detecting cancer or heart attacks to the rollout of telemedicine allowing patients to be treated in their homes, perhaps no industry is pinning its hopes for the future so firmly on tech as healthcare is.

This year could be the year that their impact on patient outcomes and quality-of-life comes to the attention of the mainstream. With projects moving out of pilot phases and beginning to go into operational deployment, we will see technology costs coming down and more providers such as hospitals and clinics being able to cover the up-front cost.

At the same time, a growing awareness of personal data issues – particularly in developing countries where they have so far not been given much thought at all – will lead to growing concern over what is happening with all of the data that is being generated by these 21st-century solutions.

There will also be voices cautioning that when ill people are being examined remotely and diagnosed by machines, the “personal touch” which has long been an essential skill for doctors and nurses will be lost, and the long-term implications of this are far from certain.

You won’t hear as much about blockchain – but it’s far from dead

One “hot topic” on a lot of last years’ lists (including mine) was blockchain. This year, it is somewhat conspicuous by its absence.

A lot of this may be down to the slump in the price of cryptocurrency Bitcoin – still blockchain’s most public-facing application. However, reports that many private commercial or industrial blockchain initiatives are still failing to demonstrate much real-world value are also a factor.

Does this mean that blockchain is dead? I think it’s far too early to make that call. The fundamental principle of a distributed ledger, secured by encryption, providing an immutable record of transactional activity, still holds a tremendous amount of potential value.

Organizations may be struggling to see their way to building the most successful implementations, and in 2019 we may well see the folding of any number of previously highly-publicized attempts.

But innovation is still going on behind the scenes, and it is probable that less publicized but well thought-out initiatives may start to generate value. A rise in the value of Bitcoin (which has crashed just as spectacularly as it did this year in the past, before rising to ever-greater heights) would reinvigorate interest in the underlying tech, too -for better or worse.

Smart cities will become smarter

Residents of cities where investment has been made in environmental, utility management and transport infrastructure tech will start to see real benefits in their daily lives during 2019.

All of these infrastructure initiatives require one thing – beyond even money or innovation – to deliver real results, and that’s real data, gathered from real-world applications.

With many of these projects around the world beginning to mature, the volume of data will reach a critical mass meaning the impact on our lives – from cleaner air to cheaper energy and more efficient public services, can start to take effect.

Those that aren’t generating value by this point will be abandoned – in line with the “fail fast” ethos that drives tech development today. On the other hand, where pilots and trials in global showcase smart cities have been demonstrated beyond doubt, we can expect those initiatives to be adopted elsewhere quickly.

Global eSports revenues hit $1 billion

According to research from Deloitte, the market for eSports – video games played as a spectator sport – will expand by 35% in the next year.

The growth in the number of people wanting to watch professional video game players, particularly although not exclusively among the younger demographic, has already swept through Asian countries. Experts predict 2019 could be the year it hits the big time in the US, too.

Franchise rights, advertising, and broadcast agreements will drive spending as audiences get hooked on newly formed leagues, tapping into the fanbase for successful video game series such as Fifa, NBA, Fortnite, and Overwatch.

eSports have grown in popularity due to their existence at the convergence of several trends -notably changes in our leisure habits, with younger people watching less television and playing more games. And a move towards building online, social communities where fans interact and converse.

The elevation of professional game players to the level of professional athletes and sportspeople is a developing trend which is also likely to continue, with big money on offer for those who prove they can attract audiences to this entertainment.

The latest online shopping trends in SA

Price comparison platform Price Check has carried out research on some of the trends in online shopping and found very interesting results.

CEO of Price Check, Kevin Tucker, has highlighted the major trends which emerged in their research.

Consumer demographics
Approximately 2.5-million people a month use Price Check. South Africans love shopping according to the notable shopping seasons, and patterns differ vastly at peak times like Black Friday and Christmas.

The 25-34 age group is the dominant online shopper in South Africa. However, across the board people are moving online – it is changing the way we as consumers shop. People of all ages are looking for groceries and home deliveries.

Tucker says the searches between male and female are somewhat similar. In general females search for pharmaceuticals and health and beauty products. They also enjoy cellphones and gadgets.

Replacement parts, such as phone covers and battery chargers, are also very popular.

Noticeable trends
“We found that cellphones dominated the searches. South Africans seems to be passionate about finding deals for cellphones,” says Tucker.
South Africa has a larger number of prepaid cell phone users than contract users, and thus consumers are funding their own phones.
“The value-leader is Huawei, across all their different models.”

Interestingly, what tops the list is also a search for DSTV decoders. People are trying to save a couple of rands on DSTV decoders, which doesn’t really vary much.

Source: Cape Talk

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

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 

  • 1
  • 2

Follow us on social media: 

               

View our magazine archives: 

                       


My Office News Ⓒ 2017 - Designed by A Collective


SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER
Top