The IMM Graduate School is adding two new SCM qualifications to its arsenal: A Higher Certificate in Supply Chain Management and BCom Honours in Supply Chain Management. They will be accredited by the internationally recognised Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport, a first for any SCM tertiary qualification in South Africa.
Although supply chain management (SCM) and the pivotal role that it plays in business hasn’t always been widely recognised in the past, an unprecedented 2020, with its Covid-19 pandemic, has made it abundantly clear that competent and proficient SCM is a significant catalyst when it comes to economic growth, both locally and internationally.
So, what is SCM and how are businesses able to embrace the ongoing learnings from last and this year and leverage their SCM to make their bottom line swell?
SCM practices are essentially the management of upstream and downstream activities with maximum efficiency, with a view to amplifying the customer experience and enhancing customer value. The aim is to achieve not only a sustainable competitive edge but also one that is superior to competitors within the same class of business.
Upstream activities relate to the source of the business’ inputs – such as raw materials, suppliers and the processes for managing important supply chain partner relationships effectively and cost effectively. In contrast, downstream activities consist of the business’ processes associated with the distribution and delivery of final products to the final consumer via the organisation’s distribution channel. Competent SCM also includes the management of procurement (inputs), operations, warehousing and transportation logistics.
Traditionally, organisations could rely on the loyalty of their customers, but increasingly, a shift towards service delivery instead of brand loyalty has become the first and foremost differentiator in customer expectations – and buying patterns. It’s worth remembering B2B customers are not as brand loyal as consumers.
So, back to the original question – how can businesses leverage their SCM to reduce costs, grow their bottom line and retain customers?
New thinking needed
For a start, new thinking is needed with a definite shift in the application of old methodologies. With elongated supply pipelines, increased supply and supplier risk and extreme fluctuations in currencies, the only true way to maximise the benefits of SCM strategies are to ensure superior customer value, service delivery and the management of the integral logistical functions within the SCM cycle.
The adage of the customer is king has never rung so true, and the fusing of high-quality operations and superior customer service will be the clincher when it comes to distinguishing features what features in the eye of your consumer.
Service SCM is one of the highest growth areas worldwide, so it is evident that although there are still substantial skills shortages within the field globally, businesses – nationally and internationally – are realising that services SCM is most definitely the key to improving overall company performance.
“It doesn’t matter if you’re a small or large organisation, proficient SCM provides an open-ended opportunity to enhance the customer experience,” says Marzia Storpioli, lecturer at the IMM Graduate School and leading subject matter expert. “The value added by excellent service, delivered by an agile and responsive supply chain, will most certainly result in far greater customer retention – something each organisation is desperately seeking.”
Mitigating risk and introducing further success into an organisation’s SCM strategy means taking a hard look at management practices. Technology plays a massive role in today’s markets and for any business to have a hope of remaining competitive, the appropriate technology processes and systems must be put in place.
The technological advancements associated with the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) – which include artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), automation, blockchain and cloud computing – are disrupting and transforming all end-to-end processes within the supply chain. Business leaders can no longer focus on developments and trends in their sectors alone but need to understand potential transformations and disruptions in the entire world of suppliers, customers and markets.
Education and training a vital component
Education and training are vital components in the understanding of the complexity of SCM, especially as company leads start to realise that process and system changes – which will impact their suppliers, markets, capabilities and daily operational readiness – must be implemented if they want to stay ahead of the curve.
The IMM Graduate School, one of Africa’s foremost online education providers specialising in marketing, supply chain and business disciplines, is adding two new SCM qualifications to its arsenal: A Higher Certificate in Supply Chain Management and BCom Honours in Supply Chain Management.
“The key differentiator to the standard SCM modules and the postgrad offering will be the accreditation by the internationally recognised Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), a first for any SCM qualification in South Africa,” explained IMM senior lecturer and researcher and SCM subject matter expert, Dr Myles Wakeham.
“Along with a full spectrum of groundbreaking educational modules, offering a new perspective on SCM in light of global changes, a module solely dedicated to AI, digitalisation and blockchain technology will be introduced for the first time in any SCM course. Another progressively innovative module will address ethics and risk management in the supply chain, which has to date, seldom been included in any learning material within any SCM course.”
As the world settles into its ‘new normal’, companies will fall into two very divided categories. Those that don’t learn dig their heels in and hope that there will be no further disruptions. Then there are those that have learned from this economic crisis and invested in their future by interrogating their systems, supply networks and customer service standards to redefine the road map, so that afore-planned objectives may be reached with solid solutions if and when new disruptions occur.
It really is clear to see which out of the two strategies will emerge as the winner.
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It is May 2020. Students of the IMM Graduate School are busy writing their Final Assessments, not in a traditional examination venue, but rather on a computer, possibly at home. Now, in the midst of the coronavirus lockdown, the world has no idea how long the coronavirus will directly and indirectly affect us. What we do however know is that every individual, every company and every institution, has indeed been affected by the coronavirus in some way or another.
In this regard, Euromonitor International, a London based independent provider of strategic marketing research, did a comprehensive study to forecast how Covid-19 will possibly affect consumer trends over the medium to long term. To accomplish this, Euromonitor International re-analysed the 10 global consumer behaviour trends it identified for 2020, prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. The objective was to potentially predict consumer behaviour once life return to (the new) normal. Below is a summary of the findings:
Trend 1: Beyond Human
According to Euromonitor (2020), prior to the outbreak of the coronavirus consumers looked at technology, including Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robots to take over certain human functions. Using a robot will certainly be welcomed by many families in completing mundane tasks such as washing dishes, ironing and even making a good cup of coffee. Companies were investigating how AI can be used in their long term strategies to improve efficiencies.
But now, during the pandemic, people are either in quarantine or lockdown, some choosing self-isolation. This has led to a need for contactless services and technology. There has been a rise in the selling of voice controlled technology, the use of chatbots (to obtain information) and the demand in smart speakers and – household devices.
Companies are now investing in robotic automation for example in some medical sectors. Walmart, is using robots to clean its floors. As people are increasingly becoming comfortable to use robots, robots are going to move from a novelty item to an essential item.
Example: Meituan Diaping (China)
Meituan Diaping, in Beijing, China, is a leading food delivery company. Since February 2020, it has been using autonomous vehicles to deliver its foods. Even though this was technology that the company was developing pre coronavirus, the pandemic forced Meituan Diaping to implement the technology sooner than originally anticipated. Their no-contact delivery has allowed it to respond to consumer demands firstly, but it also addresses environmental issues, as the vehicles ease traffic congestion and the electric cars are more environmentally friendly than normal fuel-operated cars.
Trend 2: Catch me in seconds
Through the internet and digital technology, consumers were used to receiving more content in less time. People were not interested in reading long-winded advertising messages. They were seeking personalised, authentic and appealing messages and communication channels. The consumers were expecting brands to identify the most useful content for them. They needed brands to reassure, to provide engaging narratives, and consumers therefore demanded short, speedy and multisensory messages.
Now, amidst the virus pandemic, social distancing and fewer face-to-face interactions have become part of our day-to-day lives. Consumers are worried by the virus and its implications. They are distracted by the merging of work-, home – and play life, all in the same physical space. When reaching out to consumers now, brands must rather be reassuring and supportive, as opposed to selling a product. Brands must show what they are doing to fight the virus and improve public health. Consumers want to be engaged and have fun with brands in these difficult times.
Companies would need to be agile and relevant to engage with people who are preoccupied and scared. This will place them in a good position post lockdown. The world is possibly going to face the worst recession ever, consumers are going to be extra careful on where they spend their money. Brands that were proactive during the lockdown will possibly stand out and be favoured above those that that did not engage in positive ways with their audiences.
Example: Giffgaff (UK)
Giffgaff is a mobile telephone network. The company launched an advertising campaign called ‘putting community first’ with the objective of providing people with the means to be there for each other and be able to share, through a mobile virtual network. Giffgaff went further to provide consumers with information and tips on how to deal with isolation and mental health concerns. Its focus on people rather than product or services allowed the company to build positive brand associations.
Trend 3: Frictionless mobility
People had the freedom to move around in congested cities. This has, in developed economies at least, shifted the consumer’s mind-set from ownership of some form of transport to access of transport. People had the freedom to move around and used apps and technology to access transport and pay for transport tickets.
The coronavirus has stalled this mind-set – people movement is limited and people are vigilant and cautious when it comes to mobility. People have moved away from sharing transport due to the inherent health risks, and in some cases are starting to use their owned transport again. There has been an uptake in cycling again – in Germany pop-up cycle lanes have been created, specifically designed to have enough space to allow for social distancing amongst cyclists.
Whilst consumers will slowly start resurfacing once the worst of the epidemic is over, flexible working hours will be more of the norm. Over the longer term, frictionless mobility will still be important, but maybe not to the extent as pre covid, i.e. rush hour traffic may be something of the past or at least the intensity of rush hour will be substantially reduced. Companies should be looking at investing into alternative sustainable solution, which include the removing or limitations of health threats that transport sharing brings about.
Example: Wheels (US)
Wheels, an electric bike start-up company, suffered huge losses due to the contamination scare. Wheels partnered with Nanoceptic, a company manufacturing self-cleaning service products. Nanoceptic develop a skin on scooters’ bike handles which continuously self-cleans. This allows Wheels to safely redeploy their fleet of scooters, and to adjust rental pricing plans for better deals with regular users.
The bottom line is that companies need to actively limit any health threats to their consumers.
Trend 4: Inclusive for all
Consumers were demanding that companies develop products and services that are accessible to all people, including those with physical or mental disabilities. Consumers wanted brands, products or marketing initiative which make inclusivity the foundation of their business – companies had to embrace people with disabilities, and actively try to understand the needs of such consumers. Business had to enable fully immersive opportunities for everyone.
Now, with the Covid 19 virus in full swing, this trend has become even stronger. Anxiety levels are high, especially for disabled people as they tend to have lower immune systems which makes their risk of catching the virus even more pronounced. Disabled people also requires carers, which makes social distancing impossible in some cases. It has become even more important for disabled people to have access to information. As the general public has a better understanding of the disabled’s world due to themselves being in isolation or lockdown, there has been an increase in community spirit. People are investing their own time in helping such people and putting pressure on companies to do more.
Disabled people, on the other hand, benefit from technology, for example, a greater ability to access virtual reality. Online communications enable more people to interact virtually and participate in a variety of activities. This certainly helps people with mental health problems as well as physical disabilities.
Example:UNESO World Heritage (Machu Piccu)
UNESCO, with their immersive virtual tours, allows all people, including those with physical disabilities, to access Machu Piccu in Peru. It allows viewers to really get a feel for the greatness of the site. Uvisit, the platform that UNESCO uses, enables any business to set up a virtual tour or event, allowing it to reach new audiences.
Trend 5: Minding myself
People were focused on mental wellbeing, including preventing the physiological effects of stress, worry and sleeplessness. Traditional stimulants such as alcohol and tobacco was used by practicing so-called ‘responsible stimulation’. Companies provided products and services enhancing mental wellbeing.
It has now become a matter of rebalancing, of creating a new normal. People need to manage their anxieties, therefore consumer behaviour will focus on self-care. Now, during Covid 19, people are secluded, and many are living in fear of the unknown and even claustrophobia due to living with family with no outlet for physical and/or mental space. People need to learn to live in the new state of unprecedented normality. As there are higher levels of anxiety levels due to the lockdown, people are using products and services that helped them manage their feelings and handle the severe emotional and physical situations. Herbal products and legal cannabis products are in higher demand. Social networks are used to fill the gap left by lockdown and social distancing. The uptake on relaxation and medication apps have increased.
Even after the dust of the coronavirus has settled, mental health will remain a focus. Consumption patterns will focus on the ‘self’ and good mental and physical health products will be in demand.
Example: Mindhope (Spain)
Mindhope provides mental health services. The company started a new therapy platform which connects consumers with psychologist. The platform also facilitates online appointment bookings, and is very easy to use. People who are already struggling can therefore easily cope with the use of the technology.
In general, mental wellness orientated solutions will become increasingly important as Covid-19 has already demonstrated its huge impact on physical and mental health – the ease of use and accessibility for all are key success ingredient.
Trend 6: Multifunctional homes
With the advent and growth of the coronavirus spread, people started cocooning themselves – home became a shelter from uncertainty. Businesses are actively exploring and implementing remote working and the world has seen a rise in the use of technology to make it easier to work, shop and play from home.
Now home equals the office. People are socialising in virtual space. Social media has replaced people’s previous social gatherings. Every day has become casual Friday as people are working in casual clothes from home.
School going children of all ages have moved online and people attend gym -, cooking -, and other classes online. People are now celebrating birthdays both alone and online. Consumers are using online platforms less to promote themselves, as in the past, but rather to stay connected with others. Livestream and video chats are increasingly being used by all.
Euromonitor (2020) predicts that the transition from home as the hub is here to stay. It may not be to the extreme that it is during the lockdown, but working from home will certainly become a greater reality. Consumers will furthermore change their at-home-habits – more working from home and more casual dressing will become the norm. Virtual lifestyles will run parallel with physical activities and – lifestyles when the world ‘comes out’ again.
Example: Zoom (US)
Zoom is a communications technology company. It provides functionality for companies, groups and individuals to create and attend virtual meetings. These services are offered free of charge to schools in some countries. It has become a social platform where people do remote video chatting, share drinks, do quizzes and party.
Companies need to invest in technology and other equipment to facilitate employees to effectively work from home.
Trend 7: Private personalisation
Early in 2020 consumers wanted to received tailored products and services. But there was a general hesitancy in providing personal information due to fears of who has access to data and how will such personal data be used. Business was forced to heavily invest in secure data collection methods in order to ensure privacy.
Now, people are more worried about the virus and more prepared to share data in the name of public health. Privacy concerns are put on hold in the short term. There will be a widespread increase in online ordering and payments, also amongst older people who tended to shy away from this previously, not trusting online shopping. Online shopping has become a necessity and is not a choice anymore. Companies would need to make privacy messages clear, especially for new audiences. Companies would furthermore need to review how they communicate to customers on the benefits of sharing personal data.
Example: Sentinel Health Care (US)
Sentinel is a health tech start-up that monitors consumers’ health remotely. It has launched a fever tracker application, enabled from a wireless thermometer, that sends real-time updates about an individuals’ health to healthcare systems, healthcare providers and so on. Sentinel identified a gap in the market which they were able to leverage by engaging with healthcare professionals to provide a personal solution that appeals to consumers’ desires to have a health monitor join the crisis. But consumers realised that they need to share personal data in order to be able to use Sentinel’s application. The benefits of sharing personal data, in this instance, far outweighed general fears of the potential mismanagement of data.
Trend 8: Proudly local going global
Consumers want products that both have both a local and national flavour. Covid-19 has catapulted this localisation. Consumers are searching for both national and local products and brands that highlights their local cultures, social norms, and traditional habits. Niche brands rode this wave by accentuating the localness of brands as part of their global marketing strategies. Businesses started increasingly to focus on local suppliers as borders were closed, whilst multinationals increasingly localised their overall operations. The virus has created a sense of ‘getting through this together’ through local business and communities support.
Post coronavirus consumers’ fear of contagion will still be strong enough to drive demand for local products. Local producers would need to provide stock and make the products that consumers want. Supply chains will become more transparent as consumers will want to know where their products are sourced. There will be a continued support of local business. The expected recessions after Covid- 19 will force multinational companies to invest even further in local manufacturing and supply chain services to provide more local products.
Example: Withies Delicatessen (UK)
Withies is a delicatessen in Somerset, United Kingdom, that offers local produce. With the outbreak of Covid, Withies started offering a new delivery service of freshly baked products to anxious or self-isolated consumers. Companies that adapt and introduce new services or products secure future trust and loyalty from consumers. In addition, they are expanding their reach to new consumers.
Trend 9: Reuse revolutionaries
Ethical consumers wanted a waste free future where products lasted longer and less waste was produced. Previously legislation surrounding the use of plastic shopping bags have changed in many countries, ranging from the banning of plastic bags under certain circumstances, to the consumer having to pay for plastic shopping backs in other. Such changes had led to the sharing and reuse of plastic in general. This trend lessened through Covid as people were afraid to touch products previously used, even if cleaned. There was a temporary move back to single use – and disposable products and staying healthy and safety.
Now, brands need to rethink – it is more about being clean than being green, as anxiety has moved consumer’s focus to health and safety. Over the medium term consumers will be worrying more about reinfection than green products.
But over the long term sustainability will still remain high on consumer’s agenda. Consumers will slowly return to sharing, reusing, renting and refilling. Companies will still need to embrace the reuse trend and educate consumers about the safety of reusable options. This will include clear instructions on how to reuse and recycle to avoid the spread of the virus.
Example: Refill APP (UK)
Refill APP allows consumers to refill their water bottles from a tap at specific points in the United Kingdom, free of charge. Water is generally found from either fountains or businesses which provide clean drinking water to the public. But now, with the close of many companies, Refill App’s listing has changed. For those companies, however, that can continue to safely provide drinking water, Refill still provides their locations on the app, but with an included message on health and hygiene.
Trend 10: We want clean air everywhere
Younger generations have increasingly raised concerns on air quality and demanded companies reduce emissions to provide these generations with a sustainable future. Awareness of air pollution impacted where consumers travelled and ate. Consumers favoured brands that were doing something about air quality. Companies globally continued to look towards technology to fight pollution.
Limited travel due to the coronavirus had a reversing effect on climate change. Furthermore, there is less room for eco-anxiety. Rather, the focus will shift to indoor pollution, where people will be anxious about their own health, and cleaning, washing hands, disinfecting things and so on will continue. As the lockdown loosens, consumers will refocus on sustainable living to the advantage of both people and the planet. There will be a combined focus on both the prevention of air pollution as well as being clean as the impact of pollution on people with respiratory problems will increase respiratory viral infection.
Consumers will seek solutions against pollution and require companies to actively innovate in their drive to prevent pollution.
Example: BYD (China)
BYD is the biggest electric vehicle manufacturer in China. With the coronavirus epidemic, BYD adjusted its production lines to supply face marks and hand sanitisers, to the volumes of five million face marks and 300 00 bottles of hand sanitisers produced per day. The switching of BYD’s production to manufacture protective equipment captured consumers’ hearts. Companies such as BYD may, post lockdown, be ahead in terms of consumer goodwill relative to companies who did not similar things during the virus spread.
As per Euromonitor International (2020), the coronavirus has to a greater or lesser degree, impacted all the pre-identified consumer trends for 2020:
The trends ‘multifunctional homes’, ‘beyond human’, ‘minding myself’, ‘proudly local’, ‘going global’ and ‘inclusive for all’ experienced an immediate spike as a result of the virus. This was followed by a long term shift in consumer behaviour relating to these trends.
‘Catch me in seconds’ experienced an immediate spike but is expected to follow its pre-covid patterns.
‘We want clean air everywhere’ has not changed, but may be even more pronounced due to the correlation between poor air quality, the coronavirus and respiratory problems.
‘Frictionless mobility’, ‘reuse revolutionaries’ and ‘private personalisation’ were trends that saw an immediate drop but which will expectedly recover after normalisation.
The key take-aways from this research conducted by Euromonitor (2020) are:
Currently, both consumers and business are dealing with extreme disruption, necessitating the need for rapid adaption. Brands need to be repurposed as being useful, helpful and supportive.
In the near term people and companies should use this time effectively to do tasks that they have not had time to do before. Planning should focus on returning to a new normal.
In the long term companies will be forced to reshape their future strategy planning, build in flexibility, prepare for multiple scenarios and possibilities and overall embrace technology.
Angus, A (2020). How is COVID-19 affecting the top 10 global consumer trends 2020?, webinar file in How is COVID-19 affecting the top 10 global consumer trends 2020?, Euromonitor International. Available here. [Accessed on 15 May 2020]
Robots vs Humans: A compelling story of a powerful and impactful experience
Ads24 won a bronze in the 2019 Assegai Integrated Marketing Awards for its Food for Thought experiential media campaign. In its third year, the 2019 event was themed Robots vs Humans. This is the case study on how the award-winning activation was conceptualised and rolled out.
To cut through the plethora of activations and events aimed at media agencies and advertisers, Ads24 required a single-minded reason for its existence. It was out of this that Food for Thought was conceptualised, packaged and promoted to inspire and inform targeted individuals about cutting edge developments impacting on their careers and their lives.
In Food for Thought, Ads24 created a brand and a vehicle for giving back in an impactful and memorable way, with a healthy return on effort and investment.
In an industry consistently exposed to trends, strategies and knowledge about its field of expertise i.e. media and advertising, Ads24 wanted to create a campaign in which it could influence business and leadership thinking as well as refocus attention to the critical role media owners, brand owners and advertisers play in bridging the gap in the minds of consumers between the now and the future.
The objective of the campaign was to position Ads24 as tribe leaders and critical business influencers within the communication space. It should strengthen business relationships and encourage collaboration through a powerful and impactful experience while reminding key industry advertising leaders about the influential nature of media. Ultimately, the company wanted to grow high-level involvement with top decision makers at media agencies and direct advertiser clients.
The strategy was to ensure Food for Thought stood out from industry clutter via a media industry event that encouraged progressive learning as well as debate around the economic, political, environmental and technological forces shaping the future of business in South Africa. Ads24 had to ensure that the event challenged everyone’s thinking and drove curiosity in an impactful way.
Enormous attention was paid to creating details that provided a full sensory experience. Tactics used to achieve this was through a hyper-personalised and carefully planned invitation process; creating a thought-provoking experience and journey on the day for all attendees; developing an integrated PR plan during and post-event, and maximising social media during and post-event
The big idea and its implementation
The world and its economies are experiencing unprecedented times. In every aspect of life, humans face a complex array of sensitive challenges that call for extraordinary responses and creative leadership. There is a massive shift in consumer mentality and media organisations need to proactively adapt to lead this dynamic environment.
Ads24 created an event positioned between a world dominated by artificial intelligence and technology, and one desperate for human connection.
The invitation was issued in the form of a book written by one of the speakers called We Are Still Human, by Brad Shorkend and Andy Golding. The book led to a hidden message in one of its pages, creating engagement and appealing to the natural human inquisitiveness. It also led to another very important feature: the RSVP
For this, Ads24 used hyper-personalisation by using real time data and leveraging of artificial intelligence to deliver a more relevant and surprising experience for the audience. This was done through creating an algorithm as part of the RSVP which predicted a personal surprise for guests to take home, further illustrating the impact of personal consumer centered communication.
This event was designed from start to finish to engage every sense and challenge thinking. Every aspect was created to juxtapose the human touch with robotic interpretations. The starting point was a taste bud hack. Each person was invited to take a pill made from the ‘miracle berry’, synsepalum dulcificum. A glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice was then offered. The pill had the ability to mask taste and instead of eye-watering, tart lemon, each person experienced a sweet orange juice flavour.
This served as a metaphor on how we consume news and how easily we are fooled to digest fake news – the very opposite of what we pride ourselves in – the facts, the news and the search for truth.
Each food experience contrasted artisanal, handmade delights with a robotic version of the same. Fresh flapjacks topped with creamy mascarpone cheese and rich berry jam was paired with 3D-printed mascarpone cheese on spirulina-infused flapjacks with pipettes of berry compote. The delicious aroma of fresh-pressed coffee was served side-by-side with coffee cubes.
Each table setting was also designed to represent robots or humans and each attendee was assigned one or the other version of the main meal. Although the outcome of the meal was the same, each component was created by hand or by machine. This created an exciting atmosphere of curiousity and experimentation, culminating in desserts delivered by drones.
Content and speakers
Ads24 focused on different aspects of the future by looking at the incredible pace of AI and technology and how it’s reshaping our existence in an increasingly automated economy. With so many areas in which the media and communication is changing, from how we consume news to social media, fake news, hyper-personalisation and programmatic buying, if we don’t keep pace and remain agile to these changes, we face professional extinction.
The line-up included public speaker, entrepreneur and author of the best-selling business book, Legacide, Richard Mulholland, Brad Shorkend, one of the authors of We Are Still Human, and computer scientist, Rapelang Rabana.
Each shared their views on how to stay ahead of the game in a world where the word, ‘phigital’ (physical and digital), is the new normal. Comedian, author and speaker, Don Packett, refereed the debate by posing the questions: Where are we today in the fight between humans and robots? Where will our businesses be by 2030? And, how do we prepare for the journey? We explored the dangers of legacy thinking, how AI can be a tool to advance civilisation and how to be a good human in a technologically shifting world. They raised a few eyebrows, challenged the way we see our industry and our world, and opened the door to a spirited conversation around the future of media in 2030.
PR and social media
A series of thought leadership pieces were created based on each of the topics discussed at the event. Every week, for four weeks, a piece was circulated to media. Included in the pieces was a short 30-second video taken at the event relating back to the specific speaker/topic. This insured that when the article was published, readers would have full context to what was discussed/debated at the event.
Key messages were taken and posted on social media with either images or short 30-second videos from the event.
Return on investment
Ads24 Food for Thought 2019 provided insight into a world where human connection and artificial intelligence create new opportunities and challenges for the media industry and our world. The event solidified Ads24 as a thought leader among influential media partners and as a competitive media owner in a dynamic and constantly evolving industry.
73 % of those invited attended the event
80% gave us a perfect score for relevant content
Organic Social media engagement on the day of the event increased to 6.2% compared to the average rate for May of 1.8%.
Content series allowed for further organic reach:
Post reach increased by 107%
Post engagement increased by 300%
Page likes increased by 23%
Page views increased by 78%
Page followers increased by 14%
Average time spent on integrated content: 3 minutes
We achieved an overall PR value average of R6.8 million
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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.
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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!
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.
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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.
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:
Google’s predictive searches
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.
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.