New skills needed to keep up with change

Ro­bots and ma­chines al­ready tak­ing over jobs per­formed by hu­mans

Cape Argus - - Business - Joseph Booy­sen

WITH the ad­vent of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and the Fourth In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion, com­pa­nies need to im­prove the skills of their staff in or­der to re­main rel­e­vant, says South African trend an­a­lyst Dion Chang.

He heads trends anal­y­sis com­pany Flux Trends, which spe­cialises in un­der­stand­ing the mind­set of con­sumers and iden­ti­fy­ing un­ex­pected busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties within shift­ing trends, so that global trends are rel­e­vant when they are adapted for South African busi­nesses.

Chang, with film-maker Anant Singh and rugby per­son­al­ity Nick Mal­let, was a key­note speaker at the busi­ness break­fast hosted by Stan­dard Bank in as­so­ci­a­tion with Smile 90.4FM at the Cape Town In­ter­na­tional Con­ven­tion Cen­tre yes­ter­day.

Chang said jobs were be­ing ab­sorbed by ro­bots and ma­chines.

In his pre­sen­ta­tion, he demon­strated some of the so-called co-bots al­ready in use around the world, for in­stance, in the re­tail sec­tor to help staff with du­ties such as stock­tak­ing and help­ing cus­tomers to find prod­ucts in shops.

He said that, in light of the Fourth In­dus­trial Rev­o­lu­tion, the tech­nol­ogy space and with his com­pany spe­cial­is­ing in dis­rup­tion, there was much fear about what would hap­pen to peo­ple’s jobs.

Chang said tech­ni­cal skills needed to be ad­vanced and com­pa­nies needed to in­vest in up­skilling and train­ing their staff to stay ahead.

He cited an ex­am­ple of bike shar­ing in China, which was dis­rupt­ing the bi­cy­cle in­dus­try.

Peo­ple no longer need to own a bi­cy­cle to get around, but can share one by get­ting it from any lo­ca­tion by click­ing on an app.

He said an­other wave of dis­rup­tion was how peo­ple were cop­ing with digi­ti­sa­tion, so­cial me­dia and other forms of com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

Singh, the South African film pro­ducer of more than 80 movies since 1984 and pro­ducer of re­lated his chal­lenges dur­ing the apartheid years when he first started in the in­dus­try.

re­ceived South Africa’s first Academy Award nom­i­na­tion in the Best For­eign Lan­guage Pic­ture cat­e­gory in 2005, the Pe­abody Award and an Emmy nom­i­na­tion in 2006 in the

cat­e­gory.

Singh re­lated how he did this by com­mu­ni­cat­ing through writ­ing letters to Man­dela while he was in prison.

PIC­TURE: AP

NO GO: South Korean pro­fes­sional Go player Lee Sedol is seen on TV screens in the first of a five-game match against Google’s ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence pro­gram, Al­phaGo, last year. Al­phaGo de­feated Lee in the first game.

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