Text regular text here

Are you a new IMM student? Register now for 1st Year Daytime Student Annual Tutorial Package and save up to R5000 p.a. (Ts & Cs apply). Tutorials start 27 January in 7 centres accross SA.
Sandton phone line is down. Kindly note that the Sandton phone line is down. The office can be contacted on 087 805 2608.

Business trends for 2020

The top trends predicted for 2020 that will propel business into the future

2019 has been a tough year for businesses in general with a sluggish 3.9 % global GDP growth (IMF Data mapper) and a meagre 3.1% growth in South Africa (StatsSA).

In these tough times having a competitive edge is more important than ever. Looking into the future and seeing what opportunities and threats are on the horizon does not call for a visit to your local fortune teller however, but rather business strategists use an analytical process called ‘trend watching’.

Trend watching involves analysing the current trends and, using statistical formulas, projecting them forward to provide an indication of which trends will continue to gain momentum and which ones will fade. When done right, business trend awareness is a valuable skill that helps management to pinpoint the changes that need to be made to keep strategies and business practices up to date.

What changes can we expect in 2020?

Here are 7 trends businesses can expect to see in 2020.

  1. Businesses will pay more attention to their employee’s wellbeing and job satisfaction

The success of any business rests on the shoulders of its employees. Productivity levels are almost guaranteed to drop if employees are unhappy.  Companies will be looking for innovative ways to keep a high morale internally. A recent example of this was when Microsoft Japan tried a 4-day work week in August and experienced a 40% increase in productivity (CNN Business). Whether that means more spacious workplaces, relaxed dress codes, foosball tables or 4-day work weeks we can expect to see an increase in similar changes in 2020.

  1. AI will become the norm.

While AI has been an ongoing trend it is worth mentioning. With AI assistants quickly becoming a standard feature on digital devices, it is on an upwards trajectory and will inevitably be used more frequently in 2020. It will increase efficiency, improve productivity, and generally improve business performance. However, this does not mean replacing human roles and expertise completely as some would believe:

2020 will be the year where the industry realises that while AI can be a fantastic extension to enhancing human capabilities, it cannot work independently or replace human roles within facility management. Instead, skilled engineers will be more in demand to ensure AI can effectively be incorporated into any data centre facilities to drive higher value for end customers.”Intelligent CIO

Read more: AI: Should we be worried? 

  1. 24-hour customer service using AI chatbots

With the internet at their fingertips, consumers want their queries and requests answered at lightning speed. Another consideration is that with global markets becoming the standard, your customer could easily be in a different time zone and have different business hours to you. Previously, this meant that call centre agents either had to be available at all times, or the customer needed to call during business hours. Now, with AI and Chatbots becoming more advanced, 2020 might just see customer queries answered at any time of the day. Don’t think that human interaction will be a thing of the past, though.

Not everyone likes speaking to a robot and the technology is currently not sufficiently developed to handle all queries, so for now customer service agents are safe. If you would like to learn more about customer service, IMM can help. Register for our online short course and learn how to successfully connect with your customers. 

  1. Home offices will become more prevalent

If you hate your commute to and from work, join the club. But we can expect to see a reduction in people commuting for hours every day in 2020. Many businesses believe that employees are more productive in a work environment, but a Stanford study suggests otherwise. They found that employees who work from home produce more work, are not restricted by being on the clock and as a result produce higher amounts of work that are higher quality.  It has the added advantage for the employer of reduced overheads for office space etc, and staff take less time off if they can work around their personal schedules. With the advance of online technologies and high-speed internet connections, working from home is increasingly becoming an option for many employees

  1. No more meeting rooms.

Its been estimated that in 2020 just less than 60% of the workforce will comprise of Millennials and Gen Z workers.

Business trends for 2020 b

These generations have grown up with technology and consider conversing electronically as natural and possibly even preferable to face-to-face conversations. This combined with the increase in employees working from home means that more meetings (even in house) will be held in virtual meeting rooms using conferencing software and apps like Skype, Hangouts and Facetime

  1. Personalised products and services.

Consumers have become so used to generic ads, that they don’t even notice them anymore. This makes traditional advertising less effective than before. To fix this problem, businesses will need to customise each customer’s shopping experience according to their explicit specifications. Pulling this off will mean that customer satisfaction and loyalty will skyrocket.

  1. 5G will finally become a reality.

We’ve all heard about the wonders of 5G but we’re still waiting for evidence that this network even exists. Don’t worry, we don’t have to wait much longer. The world can expect download speeds of around 1 Gbps once 5G networks go public, so get ready for a next-level web experience!

  1. You need to continuously upskill and changing careers becomes a norm

Whichever trends take off one thing is certain, business as we know it will change and at an ever-increasing rate. You can no longer rely on your experience or outdated education. To remain relevant, you will need to continuously upskill and bring your knowledge in line with the latest industry practices. You may even need to change career when yours becomes obsolete.

Whether it’s the latest in Digital Marketing, the most recent approaches to Supply Chain Management or the cutting edge of Business Management the IMM graduate School has a host of programmes and online short courses to keep you up to date and in demand. Start your career, or if you’re already working, boost your career with an internationally recognised qualification from the IMM Graduate School. If you already have a qualification, top up with skills from our ever growing online short course offering. Applications for 2020 are now open! Visit https://www.imm.ac.za to find out about our many programmes and https://imm.ac.za/apply-online/ to apply online.

AI: Should we be worried?

AI-Should we be worried

Technology has become an integral part of our lives and continues to develop still. Advancements in almost every field (more notably the medical and engineering industries) are largely affected and improved by ongoing technological developments. We are constantly confronted by artificial intelligence these days, whether you know it or not.

For context, Techopedia defines Artificial Intelligence as “an area of computer science that emphasizes the creation of intelligent machines that work and react like humans”.

A little history

Although AI only emerged in our personal lives a few year ago but the concept has been around for decades. The term “Artificial intelligence” was first used by John McCarthy in 1956 during a conference at Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire. MIT cognitive scientist Marvin Minsky, who attended the conference, became interested in AI’s future. Minsky was later quoted in the book “AI: The Tumultuous Search for Artificial Intelligence” by Daniel Crevier as saying, “Within a generation […] the problem of creating ‘artificial intelligence’ will substantially be solved,”

During the period of 1974–80, after several reports criticised developments in AI, government funding and interest in the field seized and the “AI winter” began. Research was revived again and funded by the British Government in the 1980’s but the industry suffered another setback from 1987 to 1993. Ultimately, research started again in 1997, when International Business Machines Corporation (IBM) created “Deep Blue” – the first computer to beat a chess champion when it defeated Russian grandmaster Garry Kasparov.

Examples of AI in our lives

You may or may not be familiar with Sophia, the social humanoid robot created by Hanson Robotics. Sophia was activated on the 14th of February 2016 but was only introduced to the public in March of that year in Texas, United States. Sophia has received extensive media coverage all over the world and became the first robot to receive citizenship to a country (Saudi Arabia) in 2017.

Sophia was modelled after actress Audrey Hepburn and can display more than 50 facial expressions. It uses voice recognition (speech-to-text) technology and is designed to get smarter over time by analysing conversations and extracting data which allows it to improve responses in the future. Sophia also has cameras in its eyes which, combined with computer algorithms, allows her to see, follow faces, maintain eye contact, and recognize individuals.

You can watch Sophia’s activation and interviews here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HSj4SFBqtJ4

Why Sophia doesn’t yet exist in consumer households, global virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa are prime examples of AI that are available to consumers. Additionally, the upcoming trend of self-driving or driverless vehicles showcases the endless possibilities of artificial intelligence.

Of course, not everyone has access to this high-end technology, but AI is more subtle than you think. Common examples of AI in our everyday lives include:

  • Chatbots
  • Google’s predictive searches
  • Product recommendations
  • Mobile banking, and
  • Online maps and directions

Should we be worried?

In 2016 in an interview with CNBC, Sophia was asked if she would like to destroy all humans to which it answered “Okay, I will destroy all humans.” This question was of course anticipated by Sophia’s creators who programmed it to say that as a joke; but it’s scary, nonetheless.

When taken down a notch, loss of employment is another major concern. In an article by  Calum McClelland (https://www.iotforall.com/author/calummcclelland/), A two-year study from McKinsey Global Institute suggests that by the year 2030, intelligent agents and robots could eliminate as much as 30 percent of the world’s human labour. McKinsey also adds that automation will displace between 400 and 800 million jobs by 2030, requiring as many as 375 million people to switch job categories entirely.

Read: How Frightened Should We Be of A.I.? here: https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2018/05/14/how-frightened-should-we-be-of-ai

Films like Terminator and iRobot tell us that we should be afraid but in actual fact, it’s still too early to tell. Ultimately, the question isn’t whether A.I. and machine automation will change the world, but rather when and how it will happen.