Automation to drive creativity and collaboration in the office of the future

Automation to drive creativity and collaboration in the office of the future

Fundisiwe Maseko
June 05, 2018

Over the past decade, the office environment has evolved with rapid advancements in automation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and voice activation which are all set to play a bigger role in future ways of working.  “How we interface with devices in the office has evolved dramatically. With voice-activated technology rapidly making strides, we will likely evolve from manual to voice interaction with office devices in the near future. We are already seeing evidence of this with the likes of Amazon launching Alexa for Business. Connected devices are also becoming more ubiquitous in office processes such as monitoring office supplies and self-reporting technical errors,” says Lee-Anne Letcher, product manager at Canon SA.

As IoT devices become more commonplace, they may begin to be used more widely for staff wellbeing. For instance, in forward-thinking organizations, connected workplace solutions are being adopted to optimise the environment for employees, with connected heating systems responding to changing weather conditions and smart desks which warn users if they have been sitting too long.  Citing from research by the World Economic Forum, Letcher says creativity will be one of the most in-demand workplace skills by 2020 and many roles that were formerly purely technical, are expected to begin demanding it.

“Automation is one of the major drivers behind this change. In the next few years we can expect to see automation and augmented robotics being used more consistently in the workplace, largely to remove the mundane, repetitive jobs that sap time and inspiration. This will leave the workforce free to focus on uniquely ‘human’ tasks such as creativity and logical reasoning, rapidly creating a demand for these skills.”  For the last decade businesses have been focusing on supporting mobile and remote working, aiming to free employees from their desks and enable them to work however and wherever they want. However, as the debate continues over the productivity of remote workers, this vision for the future of work is undergoing rapid changes and creativity is becoming the new priority.

Remote working means employees are working independently and missing out on the collaborative work environment thought to encourage creativity. InfoTrends’ 2018 report notes that some businesses, like IBM, have actually begun to scale back their remote working programmes, in order to focus on creativity and drive workers towards an environment that supports this.  The ways in which people communicate within the workplace are also changing dramatically. With Cisco Systems Spark, Facebook’s Workplace, Flock, Slack, and Microsoft Teams all rising in popularity over the last couple of years, communication and collaboration at work is becoming more real-time.

Communication is entering a new stage, referred to as ‘conversational interface’ where employees will do most of their work from inside a chat app, rather than switching between different apps for different functions. This better supports an increasingly real-time ‘always on’ culture, where email is no longer suitable; collaboration is far more effective when response time is more immediate.

“With plenty of buzz about connectivity, creativity and collaboration, it’s easy for business leaders to get caught up with intangible concepts. There’s a perception that challenges around these factors are unresolvable issues. But that’s not true. Businesses should start by quantifying their goals, and by seeking expert advice on what processes will create value. Only by doing this can they build a smart office for the future, which delivers a robust return on investment and improves the working lives of employees and decision-makers alike,” concludes Letcher.

IT News Africa

Freelance Sports (Rugby) Writer/Journalist Needed To Cover The 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup

Freelance Sports (Rugby) Writer/Journalist Needed To Cover The 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup

Freelance Sports (Rugby) Writer/Journalist Needed in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Kenya, Tunisia and Uganda to cover the 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup
Application deadline is Friday, May 25th at 9:00 GMT
LAUSANNE, Switzerland
May 22, 2018 — APO Group

APO-OPA is hiring freelance sports (Rugby) writer/journalist in Namibia, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Kenya, Tunisia and Uganda to cover the 2018 Rugby Africa Gold Cup, create press releases and take photos.  Must have a journalistic background or experience in writing sports articles, such as news articles for publication. An interest in Rugby would be an advantage. The selected journalists will also have to take High Quality pictures to enclose with the press releases, as well as quotes from a few stakeholders after the games.  The press releases must be submitted 2 hours after each game to complete the assignment.

Each assignment will be paid by press release delivered.  Being bilingual (French and English) is a plus.  This can be an opportunity for future collaborations.  Please apply online and upload your resume with two clippings:

Application deadline is Friday, May 25th at 9:00 GMT.

Distributed by APO Group
African Businesses Increase Cloud Budgets To Scale Operations

African Businesses Increase Cloud Budgets To Scale Operations

Distributed by Muslim Community Report on behalf of Sub-Saharan Africa at F5 Networks.

By Matthew Barker, Divisional Sales Manager,  Sub-Saharan Africa at F5 Networks
May 05/03/2018

Cloud computing is reaching ubiquitous adoption among enterprises in Africa. Shrinking IT budgets and increasing pressure to ‘do more with less’ is making cloud computing an attractive option for businesses that want to scale their operations and digitally transform their infrastructure. As the cloud is more affordable and accessible than ever before, a bigger portion of African IT budgets is being allocated to cloud computing spend.

This was one of the key findings of Cloud Africa 2018, a research project conducted by World Wide Worx and F5 Networks, across Kenya, Nigeria and South Africa earlier this year, where we asked decision-makers at 300 medium and large organisations about their cloud computing usage, benefits, and intentions.

Budgets Aim For The Sky

  • These were the biggest take-outs from the research when it came to cloud budgets:
  • Nine out of ten (90%) companies in South Africa increased spending on cloud computing last year, and 83% will increase these budgets in 2018.
  • In Nigeria, 78% increased budgets last year, and 94% will increase their spending this year.
  • In Kenya, 74% of companies increased cloud budgets in 2017, rising to a massive 98% in 2018.
  • Not more than 2% of organisations in any of the countries surveyed decreased cloud spending last year.
  • Only 5% of South African respondents said they would decrease cloud spending this year, the majority of which were in the engineering sector. No companies in Kenya or Nigeria will decrease spending this year.

These spending trends are in line with global forecasts from the IDC, which expects spending on public cloud to increase from $67 billion in 2015 to $162 billion in 2020. Worldwide, cloud computing spending has grown at 4.5 times the rate of IT spending since 2009 and is expected to grow at more than six times the rate of IT spending from 2015 through 2020.

Hard-To-Ignore Benefits

The Cloud Africa 2018 research found that one of the biggest reasons for the increased spend on cloud computing is that African organisations are starting to realise the benefits and impact of cloud computing on everything from business innovation and market share, to customer experiences and brand perception.

Organisations are also starting to understand the value of cloud computing in enabling more complex business models and orchestrating better integration and collaboration across their infrastructure deployments. Higher levels of trust in cloud computing means organisations are more comfortable virtualising mission-critical business processes and applications.

This has seen many businesses in Africa – which are not as hampered by legacy infrastructure investments as their counterparts in developed markets – pursue a cloud-first strategy as they prioritise increased automation and management of cloud services without vendor lock-in.

Apps Become Cloud-Native

Another trend fuelling growth in cloud computing is the migration of applications and workloads from on-premises data centres to the cloud, as well as the development of cloud-ready and cloud-native applications. This leaves African organisations with little choice but to invest in cloud computing if they want to remain relevant and make use of new digital technologies.

Our research found that organisations in South Africa and Kenya expect 26% to 50% of applications to be cloud-native by 2021, from around 1% to 25% today. In Nigeria, half of the respondents estimate that over three-quarters of applications will be cloud-native by 2021.

Along with the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, virtual reality and 3D printing, cloud computing is still making the biggest and most measurable impact on businesses all over the world. With the continued roll-out and investment in supporting infrastructure – like fibre connectivity – organisations in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria are not only unlocking access to global markets and innovation through the cloud but are also well-positioned to tap into the growing demand for outsourced cloud services from businesses that want the advantages of scalability and flexibility without the massive upfront investment.

In May, a month dedicated to women’s rugby in Africa

In May, a month dedicated to women’s rugby in Africa

CAPE TOWN, South Africa, April 10, 2018/ — At its last General Assembly in London in November 2017, World Rugby launched a new global strategy to promote women’s rugby for the period 2017 to 2025. Now it’s up to Rugby Africa to follow this example and formulate its own strategic plan adapted to take account of the geographical, economic and cultural needs and realities of the African continent to promote the practice of rugby among young girls and women.

With this in mind, the association for the continent has made May Women’s Rugby Month in Africa. A two-day forum on women’s leadership in rugby will be held in Gaborone, Botswana, on May 22-23 just before the opening of the Women’s Rugby Sevens African tournament organised for May 26-27, 2018. The choice of dates and venues was not accidental as Rugby Africa seeks to capitalize on the forum, the International Working Group on Women and Sport, taking place from 17 to 20 May in Gaborone.

At the centre of the debate is the growth of women’s rugby and the increase of the number of African female players but in addition, it will explore the role of women in our sport more generally, from their work in the technical support of the teams to their involvement in the management structures of rugby in Africa. It has to be acknowledged that Africa is lagging behind the rest of the world in women’s rugby since, for the time being, it has no team representing the continent at the Women’s Rugby World Cup and only South Africa is sending a team to participate in the Rugby Sevens World Cup in San Francisco in July. Fair enough, but at the urging of Katie Sadleir, director for women’s rugby at World Rugby, the management team of Rugby Africa intends to change this situation and plans to work with the most motivated federations to create centres of growth for women’s rugby in Africa and to establish as quickly as possible role models to be emulated. The president of the rugby federation of Burkina Faso, Mrs. Rolande Boro, and the general director of the Tunisian rugby federation, Mrs. Maha Zaoui, will carry the torch for this African initiative and their efforts have already resulted in the establishment of a progress scholarship by World Rugby. It should also be noted that the all-inclusive Get Into Rugby program is very popular with young African girls with a participation rate of 46% and 412,841 girls registered in 2017, a good portent for the future.

For Katie Sadleir this exceptional week for women’s rugby in Africa is an opportunity not to be missed: “The increasing involvement of women in rugby presents the single greatest opportunity for our sport in the next decade. It is critical to World Rugby’s vision of a ‘sport for all, true to its values’ and its mission to grow the global family … Women’s rugby is experiencing unprecedented growth and participation levels are at an all-time high. Women’s rugby in Africa is leading the way in terms of numbers of female players registered globally. This important conference hosted by the Botswana Rugby Union will enable the leaders of the region to take the next step in accelerating the development of women in rugby in Africa.”

As for the competition, the competing teams will approach this tournament with a view to preparing for the qualifications for the Olympic Games to be held next year. Teams from South Africa, Kenya, Mauritius, Madagascar, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, Zimbabwe, Uganda and the host, Botswana, are expected in Gaborone. Mr Dave Gilbert, President of the Botswana Rugby Federation, is delighted to host the event: “It is wonderful for Botswana Rugby to showcase Women’s Rugby and be part of the future pathway for these female athletes. The Botswana Rugby Union and the Botswana National Sports Commission are very excited to be organizing and hosting this event which is the first of its kind in Rugby in Africa “.

These events are an opportunity to develop women’s rugby in Africa, an issue close to the heart of the president of Rugby Africa, Abdelaziz Bougja, who sees this as a strategic priority for the continent and the sport: “Women’s rugby is a real challenge in terms of development and competitions. We look forward to discussing this with the most active federations on the continent and to bringing women’s rugby up to the next level. Women’s rugby is without doubt top of Rugby Africa’s priorities for the years to come, since without women we will not be able to develop rugby, attract new fans and new players.”

In May, a month dedicated to women’s rugby in Africa

In May, a month dedicated to women’s rugby in Africa. (Source: Aop Group on behalf of Rugby Africa

APO Group on behalf of Rugby Africa

In May, a month dedicated to women’s rugby in Africa. (Source: APO Group on behalf of Rugby Africa

Ugandan Scientist Scoops Award at Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Global Gathering in Kigali, Rwanda

Ugandan Scientist Scoops Award at Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Global Gathering in Kigali, Rwanda

KIGALI, Rwanda, March 30, 2018/ — Dr. Justus Masa, a Ugandan Lecturer at Kyambogo University and Senior Group Leader of Electrocatalysis and Energy at Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany is among the 17 NEF Fellow award winners at this year’s Next Einstein Forum (NEF) Global Gathering in Kigali, Rwanda. The event currently taking place at Kigali Convention Centre is running from 26 th to 28 th March, 2018.

The NEF fellows programme is a two year programme which recognizes and awards Africa’s young scientists, innovators and technologists. The 2017/2019 winners emerged from Uganda, Rwanda, South Africa, Niger, Somalia, Zimbabwe, Guinea, DRC, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Ghana, Senegal, Egypt, Nigeria, and Mali. The strategic objective of NEF Community of Scientists includes, harnessing the benefits of science and innovation to influence policy, education, training, leadership, research excellence, funding, and collaboration. Of these scientists, innovators and emerging leaders, 40% are women. NEF fellows or Ambassadors participate in campaigns and events to encourage young people to pursue scientific careers and drive research-based incubators and start-ups.

The High profile function was graced by H.E. Paul Kagame, President of the Republic of Rwanda and H.E Macky Sall, President of the Republic of Senegal who were panelists noting that prioritizing science and innovation can lead to economic development. In his remarks, President Kagame used the history of Rwanda and how the government zeroed on the ecosystem of investing in ICT in the early 2000s when every sector was in shambles but the country has seen the dividends from that investment especially with regards to the people-centered approach they undertook (human capacity development).

He informed that many of the young scientists, almost 80% they sent abroad in the 2000s have returned home and are currently the driving force of innovation, research and development in both government and the private sector. The approach to empower women and girls has helped to bridge the education imbalance gap. He further informed that between 15% to 17% of their GDP is geared towards education and health.

President Macky Sall noted that they envisage NEF becoming a yearly event bringing together African Heads of State to support science and innovation to enhance development in Africa like the recently concluded Continental Free Trade Agreement.

Among the Next Einstein Initiatives is the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences(AIMS) which is Africa’s first and biggest pan African network of centres for postgraduate training, research and public engagement in mathematical sciences. It operates centres in South Africa, Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, Tanzania and Rwanda.