Going wireless with Bang & Olufsen’s new Beoplay earphones

BY Farah Khalfe 1 MINUTE READ

Danish electronics company Bang & Olufsen have released their new Beoplay E8.20 wireless earphones, merging cutting-edge design with exceptional sound quality.  

Now available for purchase in South Africa, the earphones have been specially upgraded with features specifically requested by the Bang and Olufsen community.

These include a wireless charging case that holds up to three full charges and provides 16 hours of playing time, and the option of purchasing separate left and right earphones. When it comes to sound, the external Bang and Olufsen app for iOS and Android allows users to tune the sound themselves – ensuring a complete hands-free experience.

The premium leather charging case is equipped with an LED light on the front to indicate the state of the charge, while three lights on the back of the case shows the number of full charges left in the case.

Beoplay E8 2.0 comes complete with the case, five ear tips and UBS-C charging cable. The earphones are launching in the colours black, indigo blue, natural and pink, with a recommended retail price of R5 799. Products are now available at the four Bang & Olufsen stores (Mall of Africa, Melrose Arch, Sandton City, Silo Cape Town) and will soon be available online at takealot.com and makro.co.za.

The Bang & Olufsen Wireless Charging Pad (sold separately) will be available in black. Separate Beoplay E8 2.0 left and right earphones retail for R2 099 each and the wireless charging pad will retail for R2099.


For Putting Security First

BY Farah Khalfe 2 MINUTE READ

Warren Myers, Founder and innovator of safety technology app AURA, believes there’s a critical need for better access to security in South Africa. Upon this principle, Warren founded the AURA app in 2017 after him and his partner, at the time, seized an opportunity to improve CCTV monitoring at their company.

“Crimes happen extremely fast,” Warren says. “If you can’t get someone out there immediately, time and resources are wasted, and justice is not served. This is what ignited AURA as a panic button solution.”

Today, AURA functions as an innovative digital response network comprised of more than a hundred independent armed response providers. Responders in the past have showed a lack of cohesion, often compromising their ability to provide customers with instantaneous and consolidated national response coverage. AURA solves this through creating one powerful national security response “organism” to which customers have immediate access. All they have to do is push the alarm button which then activates a distress signal that is sent out to over 1 500 armed responders. The closest response vehicle is immediately dispatched to the scene, without an alert room controller disrupting the process. 

On the backend, AURA constantly absorbs data to continuously improve its service. “The magic of AURA is really going to shine once we have a large base of users providing Big Data, which we can use to drastically improve our service,” explains Warren. “We want to achieve this ‘snowball’ effect whereby more users result in better services, resulting in more customers. We believe with the right amount of data and artificial intelligence (AI), we can begin the exciting journey of predicting incidents of crime.” AURA aims to sell its services to corporates with large databases and vast distribution. Uber is already on board.

AURA’s overarching vision is to reduce violent crime in South Africa by 50% by 2025 using Big Data and AI.

Read more in the March/April issue of Fast Company South Africa.


For Leading the Pack When it Comes to Tackling World Issues

BY Farah Khalfe 2 MINUTE READ

It’s in their DNA

International software specialists SAP have dominated the digital enterprise space for decades. Founded in Germany, the company boasts a strong foothold in over 180 countries and serves 365 000 customers worldwide. Recently, SAP’s South African branch ranked eighth on the Global Top Employers rankings for 2019 for having exceptional working conditions for employees. SAP prides itself on assisting organisations in the public and private sector to manage risk, utilise resources more effectively and develop detailed business strategies in the digital sphere. “SAP is an innovative company because of the resources invested in research and development, with 28% of our global headcount in research and development as of December 2018,” says Sunil Geness, SAP Africa’s Director of Government Relations and CSR. “The culture of innovation is given true expression worldwide through more than 100 development locations, 20 development centres (SAP Labs), 17 co-innovation labs, seven SAP innovation centre network locations and a partner network of more than 18 800 companies globally.”

Wild solution

Big problems often need a macro-level approach to solving them. Africa’s wildlife poaching problem is one such issue that is in dire need of a creative solution. SAP has paired up with ERP-USE to systematically minimise human-to-wildlife contact in light of the severity of rhino and elephant poaching on the continent. Piloted through a project called ERP Airforce, endangered animals are fitted with GPS collars and their movements are monitored by conservationists. When an animal is in danger or has reached a boundary, reserves are notified and are able to respond more quickly to the animal in distress. 

Every life counts

Given the high rate of violence against women in Nigeria, Women At Risk International Foundation (WARIF) has integrated SAP’s People Connect 365 mobile service into their gatekeeping initiative. To date, the project – sponsored by the ACT Foundation – has equipped over 500 mid-wives with the skills to use the software to spread awareness about trafficking, rape and abuse against women. This is done through the sharing of numerous text messages and weekly reports detailing ongoing instances of crime in Nigeria. With statistics like one in four girls falling victim to a sexual crime before reaching 18 years old, this method of communication has aided in providing timeous treatment and support to those in need. 

Read more in the March/April issue of Fast Company South Africa.


For ironing out the logistics behind local courier services

BY Farah Khalfe 2 MINUTE READ

In the context of supply chain management, “last mile distribution” is the efficient movement of goods from one place to another. While ideally a seamless process, a lack of physical and digital infrastructure in Africa has left many industry players faced with logistical challenges. 

“The service at the national post office has deteriorated and couriers need an average of 2.5 attempts for every successful delivery, while 75% of the sub-Saharan population has limited access to goods and services because of the areas in which they live,” say Lars Veul and Derk Hoekert, Dutch Co-founders of logistics and delivery company, Pargo. “These areas include informal settlements and rural areas, which often lack proper addresses and couriers find challenging to service. High security housing estates, large office buildings and universities are other examples of areas where courier delivery is tricky.”

Most of us aren’t at home all day waiting for the delivery man. Neither do we have someone to receive parcels on our behalf. This is not only painful for business, but even more so for customers. On a global scale, the cost of logistics is estimated to be around 8% of the shipment value of e-commerce products, while in Africa this figure is a hefty 15%. 

After experiencing such issues first hand, Lars and Derk gave some thought into developing an alternative courier solution that prides itself on speed, convenience and reliability. In 2015, after much deliberation over countless coffee meet-ups, Pargo was born. The company acts as a multichannel platform specialising in smart logistics, giving customers the option of having their parcels delivered to dedicated outlets and collecting them at their convenience. 

Pargo currently has a network of over 2 000 pick-up points and will be expanding into Botswana, Namibia, Lesotho and Swaziland. Big names on board as partners with Pargo include FNB, The Foschini Group and Cape Union Mart. 

Pargo’s multichannel delivery frame-work mitigates the effects of South Africa’s stark digital disparity between socio-economic sects. With a flat-rate for returns and deliveries anywhere in the country, their mission is to make delivery more accessible, affordable and convenient for anyone in Africa. 

Essentially, Pargo puts autonomy back into the hands of consumers and shakes up traditional shortfalls of linear delivery we’ve all grown accustomed to. 

Read more in the March/April 2019 issue of Fast Company South Africa.


For Driving Societal Transformation Through Visionary Startups

BY Farah Khalfe 1 MINUTE READ

Cape Town-based, Knife Capital was born from an innovative spark generated by Co-founders Keet van Zyl and Eben van Heerden while working at Mark Shuttleworth’s Here Be Dragons Venture Capital fund. 

Founded in 2010, the growth equity-investment firm hones in on innovation-driven businesses, using their networks, funding and industry expertise to help each enterprise achieve international growth. 

In doing so, they help to optimise a company’s business model and streamline their customer-acquisition process. “The technology space
is broad and our portfolio includes radar technologies, process analytics, mobile financial services, restaurant technology, ticketing, Internet of Things (IoT), AI and Machine Learning (ML), Software-as-a-Service and e-learning,” says Van Zyl. 

Knife Capital uses a three-tiered approach in order to cultivate a venture that will not only be profitable but seeks to solve a real problem. Firstly, they select knowledgeable entrepreneurs with an intricate understanding of the subject matter. This is blended with the firm’s expert business acumen and thirdly, combined with a credible investor-base. 

“A good idea does not always transform a good business, and a good business is not necessarily a good investment. It is challenging to strike the right balance between finding a great company, and then ensuring it becomes a good investment,” says Van Heerden. 

Read more in the Fast Company March/April 2019 MIC edition.


The Workplace of the Future

BY Farah Khalfe 3 MINUTE READ

The workplace as we know it — rigid, divided and formal — is in the midst of a major overhaul. The concept of co-working spaces has taken a stronghold with Millennials and Generation Z in particular, emphasising the importance of collaboration, comfort and a supportive professional community spirit.

While employees were once forced to fit into uniform corporate environments, shared working spaces are an early showcase of a newfound working culture which marries corporate life with the creature comforts of home and leisure.

A report commissioned by leading workplace designers MoreySmith has predicted what the workplace of the future is set to look like — and lively, adaptable and AI-ridden sums up the forecast.

According to the report, there are three main trends that will merge to characterise the standard place of employment in the not-too-distant future. From a vast range of older and younger generations clustered together (more than ever before), to a sensory workplace that adapts itself to the needs of employees and hospitable amenities such as restaurants and art galleries within the workplace community, here’s how the modern workplace will evolve to transform the way we live and work.

The Sentient Workplace

Imagine a workplace that monitors the daily routine of its employees, using that information to make office hours more convenient and comfortable for each individual. Would you believe that this concept isn’t as far-fetched as it sounds? The sentient workplace is one which incorporates thousands of sensors and apps that interact with the smartphones and wearable devices of employees, replacing entrance cards and controlling potentially stress-inducing factors such as parking, desk allocation, food ordering and locker access. This is already occurring at Delloite’s Edge building in Amsterdam and has resulted in a 60% decrease in absentees, along with a fourfold increase in job applications. As a playground for personalisation and strategy for greater talent retention, the sentient workplace is set to revolutionise corporate norms – making the workplace work for you in order to better your performance at the company.

The Hospitality Workplace

The hospitality workplace is one in which a shared economy will exist, with public and private spaces combined in a happy, relaxed blend. Workplaces will boast public cafes, restaurants, shopping complexes, art galleries, barbers and even hotels. This new workspace reflects the changing nature of the work-life balance, where the lines between personal leisure time and business hours are blurred. As our lives become ever more fast-paced and business is increasingly conducted online, from any location, the hospitality workplace will allow us to fulfil both professional and personal obligations, as well as maintain much-needed down time is one diverse realm.

The Flat-Age workplace

As the average life expectancy increases, the working environment of the future will be populated with several generations. The last of the Baby Boomers will be dominated by a Millennials and an influx of the digitally-savvy, youthful Generation Z in the workplace. This will give rise to the concept of ‘diversity incubators’ – spaces in which people can receive help with unfamiliar or challenging work, and ‘mentor pods’ – enclosed areas where information can be passed from one generation to another. In addition, the needs of women and their roles of primary caregivers will be particularly prevalent and catered for in the workplace. Amenities such as baby-feeding schemes, scooter and buggy parking as well as sound-proofed crèches will become a norm.

According to MoreySmith, these workplace trends are reflective of the tribal and community centric nature of humans. “Community is key in the office,” says Joanne Bushell, Managing Director of workspace environment Spaces. Spaces is a creative work environment with a dynamic entrepreneurial spirit. With a focus on innovative design, Spaces aims to cultivate a culture of growth, idea-generation and a sharing economy, full of forward-thinkers and game changers.

Visit spaces.com for more information.


Driving Employment For South African Youth Through Digital Solutions

BY Farah Khalfe 3 MINUTE READ

The job application process for South African youth is set to become a whole lot simpler and effective thanks to a new partnership forged by online identity verification portal MyImprint and youth employment engine, Lulaway.

MyImprint simplifies the process of verifying fingerprints, criminal records, location and other data points involved in the job placement process through an innovative digital consent verification system – the first of its kind in South Africa.

After registering on MyImprint.co.za, fingerprints are cross referenced with the Department of Home Affairs and the South African Police Service, making the secure and completely paperless system ideal for young entrants into the job market.

With over 240 job centres situated across South Africa, Lulaway functions as an employment hub, allowing candidates in various communities to access job opportunities close to where they live.

With this new partnership, Lulaway will become one of MyImprint’s National Capture Locations, with the ultimate goal of complete integration between MyImprint and Lulaway databases, allowing for an all-round synchronised service that accelerates young talent being infiltrated into the work force.

“Job seekers can have their fingerprints captured at a Lulaway job centre while they create detailed profiles, complete basic assessments and receive a full colour professional looking CV. This end-to-end solution will speed up the process and be attractive to employers needing immediate sourcing solutions,” says Lulaway CEO, Jake Willis.

“Making fingerprint capturing and criminal record verifications easily accessible to the youth through Lulaway job centres, close to their community, means employers will have a larger, verified talent pool and can place more qualified members of our youth in the right roles for them. We are excited about this partnership as we believe in the power of technology for positive socioeconomic change,” he adds.

By streamlining the process of companies and employers performing mandatory criminal and background checks on potential employees, it not only speeds up the job placement process but helps foster positive change to reduce barriers to employment for South African youth.

In recent research conducted by Lulaway, it was reported that approximately 3.3 million youth are currently unemployed or not partaking in education or training (NEET). Additionally, there are approximately 9 million people overall who are unemployed. It was found that the barriers to employment are comprised of four core factors, including geographic locations, lack of support, insufficient experience and/or skills and, in the case where candidates do have the skills, an ability to match the labour with adequate jobs.

Geographic constrains are predominantly made up of transport costs, whereby youth are limited to the areas in which they can apply for jobs as transportation to areas with higher employment rates is becoming increasingly costly and unaffordable. Youth also experience a lack of support when attempting to enter the job market as many are unaware of help services that are available to them, or how they can access it.

Another source of difficulty lies with employer expectations. Employers will sometimes compare the skills and experience of young candidates to that of the older workforce and in doing so, regard them as costlier to the company due to the investment and training they require over the long term.

MyImprint services began to integrate with Lulaway job centres from November 2018 and have planned to add at least 10 locations by the end of the year, with an aggressive roll-out strategy on the horizon for 2019. As a value-added feature, candidates will receive a ‘verified by MyImprint’ flag on their CV, eliminating the need for prospective employers to do the background checks and reducing the time-to-hire.

Connect with MyImprint and Lulaway online at myimprint.co.za and lulaway.co.za