In 2019, we saw again how Technology continues to alter our ways of life and businesses. Now, we interact with devices much more than, humans and organisations also need more technology than they need people.
It is becoming clearer that the skills of ‘yesterdays’ are no more relevant in the workplaces, thanks to automation and autonomous systems, people are getting to realise the need to reskill and retool to fit in the digital age.
Our top technology trends for 2019 were: Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Quantum Computing and 5G Cellular Networks. Looking back, we could say we were more than 80% right on this. A lot more organisations are now moving higher on the AI adoption curve, although large organisations have seen more than ten times adoption rate compared with smaller businesses. Funding in AI startups reached record level of $7.4bl in Q2 2019.
Remember Facebook Libra? That was huge and was going to upturn the financial word. Even though the Libra project has been slowed down significantly by governments and regulators and this has led to some of the key members (Mastercard, Visa, Paypal, etc) pulling out of the consortium, the project is still on and would have had a massive impact on the adoption of Blockchain at an unprecedented scale.
Yet, there is a lot more awareness and adoption of Blockchain technology amongst big enterprises. China is now seeking to lead the adoption of Blockchain technology with over 500 projects already registered with the government; we will see major impacts in 2020.
Quantum computing remains at the research level, although there are good strides made in 2019, like the Google’s 53-qubit Sycamore chip and IBM’s opening of first IBM Quantum Computation Center in Poughkeepsie, NY, the impacts are still far from being felt as a major trend. 5G networks also moved from trials to commercial launch in key markets during the year. We have now seen higher adoption of this technology in China, the US, South Korea, the UK, Switzerland and Spain.
What’s up for 2020? Anything New? Based on feedback from technology futurist and researchers, we are not likely going to see any completely new technology trend in 2020. But we will see massive adoption of some of the technology innovations of the past years. Let’s take a look.
2020 Technology Trend Predictions
Trend No 1: Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Robotic Automation
These three technologies which are closely intertwined are going to have the biggest impact on businesses and lives in 2020. From smartphone assistants to personal home assistant, to autonomous vehicles, to complete automation of over 70% of back office operations, these technologies are a must for serious organisations to consider in 2020.
From career point of view, skills in these areas will also be strategic career development move. Forrester Research estimates Robotic Process Automation (RPA) will threaten the livelihood of 230 million or more knowledge workers, or approximately 9 percent of the global workforce. Though RPA is also creating new jobs while altering existing jobs.
Trend No 2: Blockchain
Blockchain, not crypto-currency, remains one of the greatest innovations of our time. Technologists have argued that blockchain has the capacity to have the ‘internet kind’ of impact on businesses. But many organisations and regulators still confuse blockchain application to just crypto currencies and thus lagging behind in adoption But 2020 will likely see a major turn as we see key industries and governments push ahead on this technology. Chinese leader Xi Jinping declared blockchain “an important breakthrough,” and promised that China would “seize the opportunity.”
The stage is set for the world powers to compete on who controls this technology and the application will be massive especially in the financial industry. Again, for those looking to upskill or considering a career change, blockchain skill demand are now in the top 3 in the developed economies.
Trend No 3: The Internet of Things (IoT) and 5G Networks
There are about 20 billion devices connected to the internet today and it is estimated that we could hit 50 billion in 2020. That will be a massive push of activities and data generation across networks; the impact will be great for businesses that are able to exploit the power of big data, machine learning and deep leaning. But all these will be made possible through the escalated deployments of 5G networks.
5G will deliver to us a 10x type of internet speed over our current speed, unparalleled in the history of technology. The exchange of data and the speed of downloads will be a different experience. Enterprises have to prepare on how they will exploit this to deliver a new customer experience. This will have major impacts on the financial industry and how we deliver digital banking today.
The higher speeds will have the potential to improve both the customer experience and bank infrastructure. For example, virtual assistants, enabled by increased data processing speeds, will be able to provide more contextual recommendations in real time. It will also be possible to increase the security of communications with improved biometrics.
Mobility will be a new game, but there are still huddles to be crossed. It is not likely that we will see the full gains of 5G in 2020 and the cost may even be prohibitive for consumers since their 4G devices will still work on 5G networks but enterprises will take advantage of this.
Trend No 4: Distributed Clouds
Over the past 10 years cloud computing has remained one of the top ten technology trends in the world. The impact of cloud in enabling small businesses has been underestimated. Many things are taken for granted today, but just imagine some two decades ago, you want to setup a business and you have to buy every software license, procure servers and have a mini server room/data center. The time and resources required, cloud computing has taken all that away. Things are done a highly reduced cost and unprecedented speed.
Enterprises are implementing different models of cloud computing. From public to provide cloud, a lot more are moving to the cloud in 2020. A recent research by 451 Research demonstrated that 60 percent of financial services companies surveyed reported that implementing cloud technology will be a business priority this year. But the evolution from centralized public cloud to distributed public cloud ushers in a new era of cloud computing. Distributed cloud allows data centers to be located anywhere. This solves both technical issues like latency and also regulatory challenges like data sovereignty.
The Decades in View
The last decade has seen unmatched technology innovation while the tech companies have also seen exponential growth. It was in that decade that we recorded the first trillion dollar companies all from tech money in exception of Saudi Aramco: Apple, Amazon and Microsoft. It was also in that decade that Social Media took over our ways of lives and interactions.
The trio of Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp remains the most impactful having one third of the world all interacting. We cannot forget the intrusion of Alexa into our homes and offices, as well as wearables: Apple Watch, Fitbit, etc and with Elon Musk’s Tesla, we saw a new experience in automobile.
All these are still going to make much more impact in this new decade but are we likely to see any new company with the Facebook-like impact? Are we going to have another Amazon or will Amazon and Facebook continue to get bigger even as US regulators are raising concerns about the size of these companies and their ability to muzzle competition? Will there still be Banks or Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple will be the new generation Banks? Will we have the opportunity to time travel? Are we going to have full autonomous vehicles on roads across major cities of the world? Is SpaceX going to succeed in moving us to Mars? Will there still be a need to see a human doctor by the end of this decade? With the explosion in Internet of Things (IoT), is every human going to effectively become an IP node?
While the above is not exhaustive, I do believe they will rank top amongst other trends in 2020 and beyond. I look forward to contributions on other technologies that are not covered in this article and how they will trend in 2020.
https://www.simplilearn.com/top-technology-trends-and-jobsarticle https://www.spiceworks.com/marketing/state-of-it-2019/futuretech/ https://www.wired.com/story/opinion-china-is-pushing-towardglobal-blockchain-dominance/ https://thefinancialbrand.com/90968/banking-technology-5g-aiblockchain-cloud-voice-cx-cybersecurit-trends-2020/ https://www.gartner.com/en/doc/432920-top-10-strategic-technologytrends-for-2020 https://www.comparethecloud.net/articles/2020-the-year-of-cloud/ https://www.cbinsights.com/research/report/ai-in-numbers-q2-2019/
By Austine Abolusoro (Group Head, Online Banking, United Bank for Africa)
Thabo Mashegoane Appointed As Chairman of the Africa ICT Alliance (AfICTA)
The President and Board Chairperson of the Institute of Information Technology Professionals South Africa (IITPSA), Thabo Mashegoane, has been elected as Chairman of the Africa ICT Alliance (AfICTA).
Formerly the Vice-Chairman of AfICTA, he succeeds Engr. Hossam Elgamal from Egypt to become the third Chairman. AfICTA, a private sector-led alliance of ICT Associations, multinational corporations, companies, organisations and individuals in the ICT sector in Africa, aims to fulfil the promise of the digital age for everyone in Africa by encouraging dialogue and fostering ICT enabled development.
During an electronic election at the AfICTA Annual General Meeting on 25 November, Mashegoane was elected chair, while IITPSA Past President and Non-Executive Director Ulandi Exner was also elected AfICTA Vice-Chair for Southern Africa.
The election named the following board members and officers: Paul Rowney, Deputy Chair; Opeyemi Onifade, Treasurer; Dr. Waudo Siganga, Vice-Chair for East Africa; Engr. Assem Wahby, Vice-Chair, North Africa; Adetola Sogbesan, Vice-Chair, West Africa; and Eric Sindeu, Vice-Chair, Central Africa.
Thanking his predecessors for their service and leadership in the Alliance to date, Mashegoane noted that AfICTA was an organisation with a vast network, impact on critical policies, and reputation that took years and hard work to build. “Mine is to take the baton and continue where the honourable Engr. Hossam Elgamal has taken this organisation to. Of importance is the platform to enable African countries to collaborate and share best practices and lessons learnt with an objective of not leaving anyone behind in development. This is a vision we will continue to uphold. We stand in a critical position to influence attainment of Sustainable Development Goals 2030 through ICT.”
Speaking after the election, Mashegoane said digital inclusion and ICT-enabled development was also a key mission for the IITPSA in South Africa. “The IITPSA shares the vision and ethos of AfICTA. IITPSA has also stated that we need to step up efforts to achieve the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which, among other things, seeks to bridge the digital divide and harness technology to address major global challenges such as poverty, climate change and conflict, we need to work harder. At IITPSA, we believe this means we have to collaborate across industries, across countries, to deploy the benefits of ICTs for the good of all,” he said.
AI Media Group launches The Deal Room – Africa’s first AI-focused, free investment matchmaking service
The AI Media Group has launched The Deal Room, Africa’s first artificial intelligence (AI) focused, free investment matchmaking service which aims to connect African AI focused startups to interested investors and venture capitalists (VCs).
AI Media Group is the publisher of AI and Data Science quarterly magazine Synapse, the AI TV YouTube channel, as well as the curator and organiser of AI Expo Africa — Africa’s largest B2B / B2G trade-focused AI, Robotic Process Automation and Data Science conference — which has been a great success over the last three years.
The annual expo has seen AI Media Group amass a database of over 1000 companies, most of which are Africa-based tech startups, scale-ups or small and medium sized businesses. The company has regularly been asked by some of these firms to make introductions to investors and also observed the challenges faced by startups, such as access, transparency, intermediaries and fees.
Although AI Media Group has been able to connect some of these companies with investors in the past, the number of requests have been on the rise and the firm now wants to improve on this service in terms of scale, process formalisation and automation through the launch of The Deal Room.
The Deal Room will be hosted on the AI Expo Africa domain — www.aiexpoafrica.com — which is a popular platform for Africa’s Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) community with over 3 million hits a year allied to a vibrant LinkedIn Group with more than 4 000 members. The Deal Room’s primary aim will be to direct 4IR, AI and smart tech companies seeking funding to investors, VCs and organisations who are interested in backing firms in this rapidly growing sector.
The Deal Room has attracted six launch investment partners, namely; Cirrus AI, Cape AI Ventures, Knife Capital, E4E Africa, Britegaze & Intelligent Impact, with more set to join in the coming months.
Nick Bradshaw, CEO AI Media Group and co-founder of AI Expo Africa explained, “The main idea behind The Deal Room platform is to facilitate rapid matchmaking between an investor and 4IR / AI focused startups and scale-ups that align with the firm’s stage of growth. It’s often a minefield to find the right investor so we curated a group of like minded investors that are interested in this space or who have a track record of similar investments to date. This is a long awaited value add service for our community with no strings attached, no “middleman” and total transparency.”
The Deal Room’s launch investors cover a broad spectrum of the investment lifecycle and include; Cirrus AI CEO Gregg Barrett; Cape AI Ventures co-founder Pieter Boon; Knife Capital co-managing partner Andrea Bohmert; E4E Africa Ventures principal Bakang Komanyane; Britegaze CEO Reshaad Sha, and Intelligent Impact founder Aunnie Patton Power.
Sha stated, “BriteGaze Fund One’s primary purpose is to assist AI businesses to accelerate their growth in South Africa and across the African continent through the provision of growth funding and advisory services to expand into new verticals as well as new geographies.”
Boon stated, “We expect that the Deal Room could be a catalyst for startups in Africa!”
Power stated, “There is such a need for greater transparency for startups that are raising capital. We are excited to have this tool available to the market!”
Bohmert stated, “Investing in companies who solve real world problems applying deep AI capabilities is what we are looking for. We are very excited about The Deal Room and its ability to match startups with investors, embracing a partnership journey that is equally more about substance and less about the hype”.
Komanyane stated, “The Deal Room will help us identify new 4IR-focused companies that align with our investment goals in this sector, its a great innovation for the Africa tech scene and one we are proud to be associated with”
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Barrett stated, “The Deal Room by AI Media Group will assist in the development of Africa’s AI ecosystem and is therefore an initiative that we are enthused to support and participate in.”
Bradshaw concluded, “The Deal Room’s biggest selling point is there is no complicated paperwork, costs or loss of equity for companies looking to use the platform. They simply answer a set of confidential questions on the nature of their investment needs, details about their company, products or services and the AI Media Group then passes them on to the most appropriate investor(s). Just like internet dating, our goal is to make a perfect match and speed up the process of investment capital flowing into the African 4IR tech sector. We can’t wait to see the results!”
Startups and scale-ups looking to submit their requests for funding can do so via The Deal Room online submission process HERE
How Non-Techies Are Breaking Into Tech Jobs
Image credit: Tasnim Shamma/WABE
Technology startups are at the forefront of innovation. However, while there are plenty of opportunities to influence technological growth, many people lack the necessary training to succeed. This means people need to attend training programs designed to help acquire the skills needed to break into careers in tech. Many college graduates were prepared for jobs that no longer exist or will soon become antiquated.
A 2017 report by McKinsey found that around 50% of current work activities are “technically automatable”. With this in mind, the reason is clear why so many regular people are starting to consider jobs in technology.
Whatever statistic you want to use, one thing is for certain: millions of workers are vulnerable to automation, and many future jobs are in the technology industry.
As automation continues to take hold and disrupt new markets, there are a number of available programs to support people who want to transition into the tech industry. This article will discuss the three main paths being used to support workers in their transition: coding bootcamps, upskilling, and reskilling.
Coding Bootcamps as a Training Method
Coding bootcamps are short-term, intense training programs focusing on employment. Whereas college is focused on teaching a wide range of theoretical knowledge which builds the foundation for a career in Computer Science, coding bootcamps have one specific focus: to help people find jobs in tech.
A recent report on the bootcamp market found that 33,959 people graduated from coding bootcamp in 2019 alone, a 4.38% increase from the previous year.
Coding bootcamps, which have been around for about a decade, have grown in popularity because they promise to help people pursue specific careers in technology.
Bootcamps often position their courses in fields such as Data Sciencea and Web Development, both of which are expected to realize strong growth in the coming decades. Also, bootcamps bundle services such as career support and hiring partnerships together with offerings. These services assist people in their transition from a training program to a job.
Learning New Skills Through Upskilling
Often, a worker will be in a stable field but needs additional training to keep up with technological changes. For instance, a retailer may need to be trained in a few Sales tracking tools, or an Engineer may need to learn a new programming language. This type of training, called upskilling, is an important part of workforce training.
Upskilling refers to when people learn about new technologies to help them stay viable. While a particular job may not be directly affected by automation, new technologies have emerged, allowing employees to be more productive and efficient.
Many companies looking to largely incorporate technology in their business have in-house upskilling initiatives. The Guardian Life Insurance Company, for instance, is training its workforce in new technology like sensors used to improve underwriting and risk management procedures.
Upskilling allows people who work in more traditional roles – like Marketing, Business Development, Sales, and Payroll – gain exposure to new tech ideas, and may act as a springboard to further training opportunities. For instance, a marketer may be trained in how to use SQL to analyze campaign data. Also, after finishing an upskilling program, an employee may decide to commit to pursuing a career in tech, capitalizing on the skills acquired during training.
Reskilling Existing Workers
There is another training option in addition to coding bootcamps and upskilling which has become popular among technical training programs in recent years: reskilling programs. Reskilling programs are initiatives where a business invests in its workers and help build the skills employees need to remain viable.
In contrast to bootcamps, reskilling programs are designed for workers whose job is at risk of automation. An employer will create a training program in a field of growth within their business–the Cloud, for example–and offer some workers the opportunity to retrain in a new field. AT&T, for example, is investing $1 billion in workforce retraining. The telecom giant did so after learning only half of their employees had the skills needed to be protected from automation.
Reskilling programs have grown in popularity because they allow businesses to simply retrain existing employees instead of hiring a new workforce. Often, companies will work with external training providers such as Udacity to design a reskilling program and offer to retrain any employee whose job is likely to soon become obsolete.
Reskilling programs offer dedicated workers an opportunity to stay with a company while being trained for a job in tech. This is an especially worthy proposition for workers who do not want to invest months training beyond work hours. With a reskilling program, a worker can stay with an employer – and earn a paycheck – while being trained in the new skills they need.
Each training method mentioned above has the potential to support people who are breaking into tech from non-technical backgrounds. Upskilling, coding bootcamps, and reskilling options are only three of the many workforce training options being explored. Apprenticeships and education-as-a-benefit, among other programs, are being seen as additional ways for workers to gain new technical skills.
Automation presents a threat to millions of workers, but jobs in techare likely to keep growing and provide job security. But before workers can get a job in tech, they need to find the training, and that’s where coding bootcamps, upskilling, and reskilling have become crucial in the workforce development puzzle.