Google To Grant SA and Nigerian Startups $2.5 Million

Google To Grant SA and Nigerian Startups $2.5 Million

Google have commited to provide Africa with $20 million in NPO funding.

Google reaffirmed its commitment to their non-profit arm, Google.org, on Thursday by announcing that the company will provide nonprofit organisations with up to $50 million in funding. Out of this $50 million, $20 million has been set aside for African nonprofits to try and better prepare people for the coming shift in the nature of work which is likely to be brought about by new technological innovations.

The company also announced that initial grants of $2.5 million will be given to the nonprofit arms of African startups Gidi Mobile and Siyavula. The two startups have been identified to provide free access to learning for 400,000 low-income students in Nigeria and South Africa.

Nigerian startup Gidimo, which was created by mobile technology enterprise Gidi Mobile Ltd, is Africa’s first mobile learning and personal advancement platform. The startup is on a mission to inspire and enable Africans to achieve their personal advancement goals.

Siyavula on the other hand is a startup that enables educators to create, share, and adapt freely accessible and openly-licensed Open Education Resources (OERs) which are aligned to the South African school Mathematics and Science curricula. What makes this startup different to others is that unlike the vast majority of material which is under a traditional, restrictive copyright license, Siyavula material can be adapted to ensure cultural relevance or refreshed without incurring costs. In addition to the online, printable resources, Siyavula publishes a range of free Mathematics and Science textbooks.

“Our charitable arm, Google.org, is committing $20 million over the next five years to nonprofits that are working to improve lives across Africa.” said Sundar Pichai, chief executive officer of Google, whilst speaking at a Google event in Lagos.

“We’re giving $2.5 million in initial grants to the nonprofit arms of African startups Gidi Mobile and Siyavula to provide free access to learning for 400,000 low-income students in South Africa and Nigeria. The grantees will also develop new digital learning materials that will be free for anyone to use.

“We also want to invite nonprofits from across the continent to share their ideas for how they could impact their community and beyond. So we’re launching a Google.org Impact Challenge in Africa in 2018 to award $5 million in grants”, he said.

Pichai concluded by emphasising that any eligible nonprofit in Africa can apply, and anyone will be able to help select the best ideas by voting online.

Staff Writer

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ezTalks Meetings: Robust Video Conferencing & Web Conferencing

ezTalks Meetings: Robust Video Conferencing & Web Conferencing

ezTalks Technology Co., Ltd launched ezTalks Meetings a video conferencing software integrated with HD video conferencing.

Popular online video conferencing providers, ezTalks Technology Co., Ltd enables users to connect with individuals anytime anywhere. The company is dedicated to providing one-stop video conferencing solutions to make businesses of any size communicate and collaborate in a more productive and effective way.

ezTalks Technology Co., Ltd launched a video conferencing software that is integrated with HD video conferencing, screen sharing, remote control along with other robust features. The platform is applied extensively by all industries for online video meetings, presentations and webinars, etc. In the following, we will have a full review of ezTalks Meetings, exploring its key features and main advantages.

There are several robust features that come with this software, making it powerful and easy to use for you.

Key Features of ezTalks Meetings

1. Quick Access to Meeting

It is really easy to join a meeting using this amazing software. In fact, whenever an invitation is sent the customers to join the conference, they simply need to enter the meeting number along with their names and within just one minute they will be able to enter ezTalks Meetings.

2. Fantastic HD Video and Audio Quality

We are all aware of the fact that audio and video quality plays an essential role for any online conference and fortunately both of these are satisfied by ezTalks Meetings. As a matter of fact, 1920 * 1080p HD resolution is offered by the application, which provides awesome audio and video transmissions. However, it also offers other resolutions for you to choose one that will satisfy your requirements depending on your bandwidth.

3. Useful Screen Sharing

This is yet another feature that makes this software really outstanding by enhancing its productivity. You might want to present PowerPoint, PDF and Word files to your colleagues after working out a proposal draft, in order to get their ideas on finalizing them. All you will need is to start the incredible ezTalks Meetings, and then present your ideas to your co-workers and discuss with them. Also, you can find more screen sharing software for easy collaboration recommended by ezTalks.

4. Record the Conferences

ezTalks Meetings is capable of recording the whole meetings for you to check the details afterwards. After the conference is completed, you just need to click the “Stop” button and the video is going to be saved to your computer automatically. Following this, you can always send the video to the other participants whenever you feel like.

Although we do not have any idea regarding the maximum recorded time permitted, in case the meeting is quite long it will be saved automatically to different files. Therefore, ezTalks Meetings eliminates any reason to worry about the recording time.

5. Schedule Meetings

This amazing software makes it possible to organize a meeting beforehand and send an invitation to the participants. This will help to make sure that everybody has some sort of idea regarding the meeting beforehand. The organizer can also confirm those who are going to be the participants in the video conference.

When you click on “Schedule”, an email with the information regarding the meeting will be sent out to the participants. They will be able to understand everything regarding the conference by going through that email. You might select the participants from your “Contact” list or just enter any new email address directly.

6. Text Live Chat

Although it might appear that a video conferencing software will only require speaking face to face, sometimes text live chat is also required. It might happen that you need to send out several URLs or even text somebody in the conference privately without causing any disturbance to others. In that case, you need to text publicly or even privately to the participants.

7. Control Meeting Settings

Being the host of the conference, you have got the right to control it, lock it, mute anybody or even kick somebody out. Moreover, you can also use another person as a presenter when you require him to share the screen or the files from his end. All these features help to make ezTalks Meetings immensely popular at present.

Why ezTalks Meetings?
As a professional video conferencing solutions provider, ezTalks has made its software outstanding, ezTalks Meetings is one of them and it has increasingly gained popularity among business of all sizes. The software offers HD video conferencing plus unlimited meetings to remote colleagues, customers and suppliers. Irrespective of your devices, it is possible to connect to a video or audio conference call from a Mac, PC, Android or iOS gadget. Apart from these, there are still some other unique advantages of using ezTalks Meetings.

First, this breathtaking web conferencing software offers a free service with up to 100 participants, which makes it the first SaaS free service with such a large number of attendees in the market.

Second, since the service is absolutely free, you do not need to shell out any cash to try it out. In case you would like to have some more participants, there is the Premium plan available for you. This plan comes with different options for you to select, which is scalable to the growth of your business.

Last but not the least, ezTalks Meetings offers so many powerful features as we analysed above, but it has a relatively lower price. Besides its free service, the Premium plan is only starting at $12.99, with more robust video conferencing features than the Free plan. In this way, ezTalks Meetings is highly cost-effective, which is beneficial to enterprises, especially for startups or small businesses.

The review can be concluded by mentioning that ezTalks Meetings is undoubtedly one of the most effective and easy-to-use video conferencing applications on the market. This particular software will allow you to start or join a conference quickly and conveniently. Businesses of any level will absolutely enjoy a smoother communication and improved collaboration and by using ezTalks Meetings. If you are looking for any web conferencing tool, don’t think twice and go for ezTalks Meetings which will surely not disappoint you.

Staff Writer

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Yoco CEO, Katlego Maphai talks about empowering SME growth

Yoco CEO, Katlego Maphai talks about empowering SME growth

Yoco, CEO, Katlego Maphai.

South African fintech startup, Yoco has, in just over two years managed to offer a large number of businesses access to card payment facilities and their trading history online.

Yoco was founded by four friends, Katlego Maphai, Carl Wazen, Bradley Wattrus and Lungisa Matshoba who share a passion for technology and helping small business owners.

The company’s aim is to expand access to card payments to all types of SMEs, regardless of size, industry and even location. They offer mobile card readers that can be used to accept payments both at the store and on the go, with an application process that takes a few minutes online.

Yoco CEO and Co-Founder, Katlego Maphai says that in order for the SME sector to grow, financial institutions need to match the needs of small businesses, and it cannot remain business as usual because the very criteria set by financial institutions to manage risk when providing these services, are sometimes hindrances to access for small businesses.

IT News Africa interviewed Maphai to find out more about the growth of small businesses and how that could impact the economy.

1. With the growth of mobile penetration in Africa, how can small business owners leverage digital payment solutions?
Small business owners can do a number of things that will help them grow through electronic or digital payments. The advantages of digital payments are many. To give an example, payments solutions for SMEs aren’t just about the money, and should no longer be seen as a standalone aspect of a business. Payment solutions can help entrepreneurs mine marketing data, enhance customer satisfaction, help with forecasting and cut down on admin and costs.

Electronic payment solutions can also help small business owners to better manage their cash flows. Being in control of your cash flow as a small business owner ultimately gives you more control over your business. Not only can you pay your staff and suppliers on time, but you can make better decisions a lot faster and with more confidence.

2. How does accepting card payments or not accepting card payments affect SMEs?
Getting a card machine can often seem like a daunting task, especially for small and new businesses. Many entrepreneurs question if it’s worth their while, but once businesses start using them the benefits become clear.

Being able to process card payments can be the difference between success and failure for a business. Today’s customers prefer to pay by card and therefore don’t always carry cash. There are a few reasons for this, 1) it’s safer, 2) they can better track their finances, 3) cards are usually linked to loyalty programs, and 4) cards are convenient because one doesn’t need to queue at ATMs.

Also, customers usually spend more at your business when they’re paying with a card, which means you sell more. A study by Dun & Bradstreet found that customers spend 12 – 18% more when paying by credit card than when paying with cash. This is because paying by card means easier access to capital on the spot, which means it’s easier to spend money.

3. With so much success in South Africa, Is Yoco looking to expand further into Africa?
We believe that enabling card payments is transformative and we want to do that for African SMEs. Yoco operates in Cape Town and Johannesburg and we are planning to expand into the rest of Africa.

4. SMEs have the potential to contribute vastly to the economy, how is not being able to accept payments affecting this?
SMEs contribute close to 50% to GDP and drive around 60% of employment. However, due to their small size, fragmented nature and general unpredictability, they remain overlooked by large financial institutions because it hasn’t been economically viable to reach them from a cost and risk standpoint. The difficulty in accessing financial services for SMEs is a real impediment of growth for the sector.

Access to financial services for these businesses usually means survival or collapse of these businesses. A healthy SME sector is considered the cornerstone for reducing unemployment, increasing productivity in the economy and catalysing innovation.

The challenging economic environment in South Africa creates an opportunity for SMEs to play a vital role in resuscitating the country’s economy. SMEs are the future of commerce in South Africa and across the continent, and if not supported, we might not realise the South Africa we want to see in the future: a South Africa free of poverty and unemployment.

5. How has being listed as one of 250 most promising fintech organisations by Insight impacted Yoco?
We are grateful, and encouraged to work even harder for being recognised as one of the top 250 most promising fintech companies in the world, by global research company CB Insights. We were one of only five African fintech companies that made it onto this prestigious list, that means we are doing something right.

Fundisiwe Maseko

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Telkom introduces Unlimited Data and Voice

Telkom introduces Unlimited Data and Voice

Telkom today announced an overhaul of its fixed line product offering with the launch of Unlimited Home Internet and voice plans. (Image source: File)

Telkom today announced an overhaul of its fixed line offering with the launch of Unlimited Home Internet and voice plans.

For the first time, fixed line consumers are now able to choose their internet speeds and get uncapped data and unlimited anytime Telkom voice calls for free. This includes calls to over 6 million Telkom fixed and mobile numbers, and discounted calls to the top 30 international destinations.

In addition, consumers will also receive at least 1GB of mobile data per month, to stay connected while on the move.

Telkom has been taking a stand against the high cost of broadband for some time now with ground-breaking packages such as FreeMe and FreeMe Family mobile offerings and now Unlimited Home for fixed-line customers.

“South Africans want more affordable data and that’s what we are giving them. We are reducing the cost to communicate and making the internet more accessible,” said Telkom Consumer CEO Attila Vitai.

“Our FreeMe and FreeMe Family products gave South Africans the freedom they needed to communicate conveniently and cost-effectively. Unlimited Home extends our commitment to affordability to our fixed line customers too. We are at the forefront of reducing communication costs and Telkom has taken another big step to making the internet more accessible,” he said.

From 31 August, existing uncapped customers will automatically be upgraded to the new Unlimited Home Plans at higher speeds. Customers will be upgraded from 2Mbps to 4Mbps and from 4Mbps to 8Mbps or 10Mbps respectively. Customers will enjoy double the broadband speed and experience much higher fair use policy values with minimal price increases compared to current packages. Significant price reductions have been applied to the 20, 40 and 100Mbps Unlimited Home Plans.

The Unlimited Home plans entry level speeds will now be 4Mbps going up to 100Mbps on fibre. The service offers uncapped data, with the industry’s most generous fair use policy yet announced. The policy will apply only after at least 360GB have been downloaded on the 4Mbps service and 6000GB on the 100Mbps service. Data downloaded between 12 midnight and 7am does not count towards the fair usage policy, which further increases the value.

The packages, which are competitively priced by global standards, will open new unlimited gaming, streaming and downloading opportunities for South Africans for a standard monthly cost.

Staff Writer

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UNICAF – Study Programmes That Work for You

UNICAF – Study Programmes That Work for You

UNICAF’s tailored study programmes.

Studying a specific subject no longer means that you just read books and learn material by heart. For today’s graduates, not comprehending the deeper meaning and the practical application of the information received, can result in entering the job arena unprepared and overwhelmed.

UNICAF focuses on working together with the student, to convey knowledge in a way that transforms it into something the student can immediately apply in real life. UNICAF tutors prepare modern, tailor-made study material, which is being made available through UNICAF’s state-of-the-art Virtual Learning Environment (VLE), using videos, podcasts, research articles, e-books, topic overviews and other interactive tools, which stimulate the interest of students and encourage them to search even deeper in their quest for knowledge.

Dr Leonidas Efthymiou, UNICAF Tutor and Instructional Designer has recently described the interactive nature of UNICAF’s VLE: “Contemporary education is about thinking, brainstorming, formulating and executing, either on your own or as part of a team. Our students are provided with the means of interacting, networking, co-producing, negotiating, managing and establishing beneficial relationships.”

UNICAF students are also being challenged with weekly formative tasks, which include quizzes, discussions, polls and team projects. This way, students apply the taught material in the practical setting of their place of work, and can experience first-hand the actual results. Tutors provide continuous and detailed feedback, which helps to further clarify questions and make the material better understood.

Unlike traditional face-to-face delivery, the interactive online platform enables every student to study at their most convenient times, without compromising on their other duties or roles they may have in their professional and family lives. All study material and all student and tutor contributions are available in the UNICAF VLE 24/7.

“The philosophy of our delivery strategy aims at simulating the work environment and at helping students improve their skills, understand complex new opportunities and challenges, and instill in them professional and personal readiness”Dr Efthymiou added.

Preparing students to apply the theory learned in a practical manner requires one step at a time. This is being achieved by UNICAF’s sequential learning modules approach, which allows students to complete a module before moving on to the next one.

If you would like more information about UNICAF and its online and practical delivery approach to learning visit:  

Staff Writer

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‘AI is not a buzzword’- GIBS

‘AI is not a buzzword’- GIBS

Businesses don’t have the luxury of time when it comes to plotting a course through this new AI-enabled business landscape.

Accenture and the Gordon Institute of Business Science (GIBS) have launched a whitepaper on how Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to impact the macro environment. Themed “Responsible AI,” the whitepaper explores associated challenges and opportunities faced by organisations.

“There’s no longer any doubt that artificial intelligence has the ability to amplify growth for companies. So from a business point of view, it makes sense,” notes Rory Moore, Innovation Lead at Accenture and one of the report’s contributors. “But then you also need to keep ethics in mind and be socially responsible. In a market like South Africa, these issues are particularly prominent and pertinent.”

Given the fact that the traditional factors of production – capital and labour – are showing declining ability to drive economic growth, Moore notes, a new a new factor of production – AI – may provide the necessary kickstart.

Intelligent automation, labour and capital augmentation and innovation diffusion are all routes through which the technology has the ability to drive growth, the report explains. AI can both automate complex physical tasks and free up people from more mundane work to imagine, create and innovate.

Dr Jeff Chen, lecturer at GIBS and co-author of the whitepaper says, “AI is not a buzzword. These hyper-intelligent algorithms, coupled with innovative business models, will ineluctably change the customer dynamics and the modus operandi of many South African organisations.”

Prior research conducted by Accenture and referenced in the report notes that AI has the potential to boost rates of profitability by an average of 38 percent by 2035, double economic growth rates and lead to an economic boost of USD14 trillion across 16 industries in 12 economies by the same date. “Leaders across all sectors must work together to ensure their organisations can fully leverage the power of AI responsibly and promote inclusive growth of our nation,” Chen adds.

Critically, however, Moore notes that organisations need to adopt a people-centric mindset when thinking about applying AI. “South Africa is at an inflection point … if we get it (AI) right, there is an opportunity to stimulate growth.” While concerns regarding AI’s effect on unemployment should not be discounted, he explains, the technology also allows for the better deployment of human resources and the redirection of human intellect to more value-adding areas of business.

Further benefits of the application of AI in a business context include the generation of real-time insights, the formulation of foresight through predictive analytics, the automation of manual processes and the move from assisted intelligence to assisted alliances. Further AI-based opportunities identified by the authors include assistance to human decision making, the enablement of better business intelligence and improved customer-centrism.

Broader philosophical questions are also tackled by the authors, with questions such as ‘How do we distribute the wealth created by machines?’ and ‘How do machines affect our behaviour and interaction?’ addressed.

The clock is ticking, however. Businesses don’t have the luxury of time when it comes to plotting a course through this new AI-enabled business landscape, Moore says. “We need to start playing in this space now,” he emphasises. “We’ll lose out, if we don’t. The question is not ‘Are we going to use artificial intelligence? Rather, it’s how do we use it … and then move forward in an ethically sustainable manner?’.”

Staff Writer

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South Africa- Beware Of Fake Government Websites

South Africa- Beware Of Fake Government Websites

Mokgabudi Lucky Masilela,  CEO at ZICR. (Image source: ZICR)

Yesterday the ZA Central Registry sent out a warning to all South Africans to be on the look out for fake versions of South African government email addresses and websites. Alleged online fraudsters have been creating these fake sites in order to trick consumers into divulging sensitive information such as usernames, passwords or financial data in order to perpetuate tender-related scams.

Lucky Masilela CEO at ZA Central Registry said that the abuse within cyberspace has historically focused on the issue of cybersquatting. The latter refers to the registration of well-known company or brand names as Internet domain names with the intent to resell them at a profit.

Masilela added that “New forms of domain name abuse unrelated to commercial rights have started to become apparent. Amongst these is what is known as phishing where a domain name resembling, for example, a government department is registered with the possibility of conducting fraudulent activities.

The ZACR is a non-profit company that administers, amongst others, the .ZA Second Level domain name space with over 1.1 million domain names currently registered. Although the ZACR does not regulate website content of .ZA-registered domain names, it believes that these domain names under its administration can be used in creating these websites. As a good corporate citizen, ZACR feels duty bound to provide advice related to the safe navigation of the worldwide web. “Domain names are essentially the route markers in cyberspace and we are concerned about the increase in abusive registrations designed to lure unsuspecting consumers down the wrong path,” says Masilela.

This new phishing tactic, where fraudsters make contact with members of the public, usually via email in an attempt to direct them to fake versions of government websites, has been extensively reported in the media of late. “Members of the public should always double check the address of the website they are navigating to ensure they are interacting with a legitimate South African government website with a valid domain name ending with GOV.ZA,” Masilela explained.

To reiterate, legitimate South African government websites will always end in GOV.ZA, and not in CO.ZA, or any other domain name extension. There are strict eligibility criteria that must be met before a moderated domain such as GOV.ZA may be registered, which is not the case with domains like CO.ZA which are largely registered on a first-come, first served basis. An example of an illegitimate site is housing-gov.co.za.

As a rule, there is no human interaction when a domain name is created in an unmoderated namespace like CO.ZA. “Names are created within milliseconds and this virtually instantaneous way of registering new CO.ZA domains has been key to the continuing success of the flourishing local web and all the benefits that it brings,” Masilela explained.

It should be noted, however, that while CO.ZA domain name registration is a relatively fast, simple and straightforward process, there are rights protection mechanisms in place to assist companies and individuals to challenge abusive domain name registrations that infringe on trademark rights and/or constitute passing off. Passing off, in the domain name sense, is where a domain will closely resemble an authentic domain name in order to pass off the former as the actual and reputable brand owners.

“ZACR believes individuals and organisations should be vigorous in protecting their intellectual property rights in cyberspace in an effort to combat this unlawful and undesirable practice and will endeavor to render every assistance within the scope of its Registry Policy Framework in this regard,” Masilela said.

The public’s attention is also drawn to Section 77 of the ECT Act No. 25 of 2002 which could prove useful in cases where a fraudulent website is being hosted with a local Internet Service Provider (ISP) that is also an ISPA (Internet Service Providers’ Association of SA) member. Essentially, section 77 entitles anyone with a basis for an unlawful activity claim to lodge a ‘Take-Down Notice’ to an industry recognized Representative Body, such as ISPA, which has the power to request its member/s to remove the alleged unlawful content. According to ISPA, the leading category of notice is copyright and trademark infringement, followed by fraud, malware and phishing.

“The key to success will always be a vigilant and alert public. The abuse of domain names can largely be prevented if the public exercises the same degree of caution in the virtual world as they do in the real world,” Masilela concluded.

Concerned members of the public may also contact ZACR using the following address: abuse@registry.net.za

Staff Writer

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Racist email was fabricated – MiWay

Racist email was fabricated – MiWay

An investigation has revealed the email as a fake.

An investigation commissioned by Miway into a racist email conversation between the insurance company’s employees has found that the email was “a fabrication”. The email, which surfaced last week, was quickly circulated on social media and drew scathing reactions from the public.

The investigation was conducted by digital forensic lab Cyanre and their MD Danny Myburgh said “We can confirm, after a detailed investigation, that an e-mail sent from a MiWay employee was manipulated by an external source. The image circulating on social media is a fabrication.”

The email was reportedly fabricated by a disgruntled customer, who used his email correspondence with the insurance company to falsify the email.

MiWay CEO Rene Otto in a tweet on Wednesday said that the company welcomed further scrutiny of its report. “We welcome other forensic experts to come and verify our report after we’ve made contact with the originator of the fake email,” Otto said.

On releasing the forensic report, the CEO said, “To be fair, we have decided not to publish the report as yet. We want to provide the client with the opportunity to respond first,” he said. “Once we have received feedback, we will be in a position to elaborate on the way forward.”

Staff Writer

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Google to the rescue with new SOS Alerts function

Google to the rescue with new SOS Alerts function

Google has released an SOS Alerts function on Maps and Search.

Google has announced the launch of a new “SOS Alerts” feature for both Search and Maps. The new feature which is aimed at giving its users up to date information when a natural disaster or other crisis hits, will now feature at the top of  search results and in Maps when a user looks for information about an incident or an affected area.

This new feature is coming to Search on the desktop, mobile web and the Google apps for Android and iOS, as well as Google Maps for mobile. It will also only be created and curated by Google staff, and will not use automation.

Within Search, Google will show an overview of the situation, which will include maps, relevant news stories, emergency phone numbers (if available), websites and other relevant information. Google will also help those near a disaster by sending them notifications that direct them to all of this information.

In Maps section, Google will also pop up this information when relevant. Like in search results, Maps will show information about the event as well as relevant phone numbers and sites. In addition, users will also have access to real-time updates about road closures and transit changes.

The release of SOS Alerts sees the feature join Google’s existing suite of services for responding to crises, these include Google Person Finder, Google Crisis Map and Google Public Alerts.

Staff Writer

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The Future of Work

The Future of Work

Valter Adão – Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Deloitte Africa

The future of work holds myriad possibilities for change that business needs to adapt to. In order to do so, we have to understand the interconnections between evolving technology, the demographics at play and what power dynamics are emerging as a result. The future of work is being shaped by two powerful forces, the first being the growing adoption of artificial intelligence in the workplace and the second, expansion of the workforce to include both on- and off-balance-sheet talent.

Creating an effective digital culture is an intentional effort

Many companies are responding to an increasingly digital market environment by adding roles with a digital focus or changing traditional roles to have a digital orientation. There are now digital strategists, chief digital officers, digital engagement managers, digital finance managers, digital marketing managers, and digital supply chain managers, among other positions.

Despite the proliferation of digital roles and responsibilities, most executives recognise that their companies are not adequately preparing for the industry disruptions expected to emerge from digital trends. Nearly 90% of respondents to a 2015 global survey of managers and executives conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte anticipated that their industries will be disrupted by digital trends to a great or moderate extent, but only 44% said their organisations are adequately preparing for the disruptions to come.

Senior-level talent appears more committed to digitally maturing enterprises

Preparing for a digital future is no easy task. It means developing digital capabilities in which a company’s activities, people, culture, and structure are in sync and aligned toward a set of organisational goals. Most companies, however, are constrained by a lack of resources, a lack of talent, and the pull of other priorities, leaving executives to manage digital initiatives that either take the form of projects or are limited to activities within a given division, function, or channel.

Despite this, some companies are transcending these constraints, achieving digital capabilities that cut across the enterprise. Our research found that nearly 90% of digitally maturing businesses – those in which digital technology has transformed processes, talent engagement, and business models – are integrating their digital strategy with the company’s overall strategy. Managers in these digitally maturing companies are much more likely to believe that they are adequately preparing for the industry disruptions they anticipate arising from digital trends.

Companies that give their senior executives, senior management and managers the resources and opportunities to develop themselves in a digital environment are more likely to retain their talent.

In navigating the complexity of digital business, companies should consider embracing what we call digital congruence — culture, people, structure, and tasks aligned with each other, company strategy, and the challenges of a constantly changing digital landscape. For example, a conservative and hierarchical organisation pop­ulated with energetic entrepreneurs may not be able to harness their drive and energy. Similarly, an organisation with a flat and nimble structure may still struggle if its culture fears risk. When cul­ture, people, structure, and tasks are firing in sync, however, businesses can move forward successfully and confidently.

Disruption lies ahead

Imagine the future of work and what do you see? If intelligent machines can do many tasks now performed by people, what uniquely human skills will be valued? Evolving technology, demographics and power dynamics are all connected and those connections make all the difference in the future of work.

Driven by accelerating connectivity, new talent models, and cognitive tools, work is changing. As robotics, artificial intelligence (AI), the gig economy and jobs are being reinvented, creating the “augmented workforce” becomes the focus. We must reconsider how jobs are currently designed and work to adapt and learn for future growth.

Digital technology is having a profound effect on the 21st century organisation. It is fundamentally changing the way we work, the way we manage, where we work, how we organise, the products we use, and how we communicate.

Even though there are many changes, there are some aspects that remain constant. Organisations, filled with people, still exist to unite around a common purpose, common values, strategic objectives, and to get things done. People remain the most critical asset of most organisations—but are increasingly in the shadow of machines and in a maze of technologies. Individuals are still bound by hours in the day and their mental ability to process information. Work (done by computers and people) must be coordinated to create maximum value.

Organisations still need great leaders, managers, and employees at all levels to get things done in an efficient and effective way. We believe there is tremendous unrealised value from this new era yet to be claimed in how we communicate and collaborate in the future work environment.

New digital tools are dramatically changing how we use our screen time

The future working environment will require a shift in how we communicate and collaborate. Digital tools will be critical enablers for increased cross-cultural teaming. Virtual teaming capabilities across cultures for instance are becoming significant and normative. Collaboration strengthens relationships, so the choice of technologies should ideally allow for relationship-building activities as well as efficient communications. As companies move from email to other tools for communicating, collaborating, and connecting, they will need to develop the right cultural context and adapt workplace policies and processes to help ensure the environment and expectations are set up to enable successful adoption of whatever digital capabilities are implemented.

By Valter Adão – Chief Digital and Innovation Officer, Deloitte Africa

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