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Over Two-Thirds of Employees embrace the Growth of AI in the Workplace

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Coca-Cola Bottlers' Sales & Services Company Leverages Liaison Technologies' "Embrace & Replace" Program to Accelerate Digital Transformation

The modern workplace has already embraced advanced technology with smart devices, paperless workplaces, cloud services and wearable tech that tracks employee productivity – in fact, much of this tech is already old news when it comes to the average workday. Research collected by flexible workspace specialist Instant Offices shows office workers believe tech integration improves working conditions, efficiency and communication with co-workers.

A recent survey conducted by Adobe of full and part-time professionals from the US, UK and India found 68% aren’t worried about the growth of AI in the workplace as they feel their roles will still need human abilities that technology can’t replicate.

In fact, most employees are actually looking forward to AI assisting them more around the office.

Industries Embracing AI

According to the TCS Global trend study, by 2020, almost a third of companies believe AI’s greatest impact will be in sales, marketing or customer service. Furthermore, 20% of companies surveyed felt it would be in non-customer facing functions including finance, strategic planning, HR and corporate development.

According to a report by Indeed, these are the top five tasks people are most comfortable with being automated:

  1. Job search assistance, 35%
  2. News reporting, 33%
  3. Healthcare support, 25%
  4. Finance management, 24%
  5. Driving vehicles, 23%

Investment in AI tech across all sectors has grown significantly in the past few years, up from $282 million in 2011 to $2.4 billion in 2015. As of 2016, this amount rose by another $1.5 billion invested in more than 200 AI-focussed companies.

The Global Trend Survey of Artificial Intelligence surveyed the use of AI in 13 industries and found insurance, consumer packaged goods, and high tech outspent others.

  • Automotive– 90% of automotive participants say they use AI today, with an additional 10% saying they plan to incorporate AI by 2020.
  • Banking and Finances– According to the survey, most businesses in this sector made use of AI to deter security breaches.
  • Consumer Packaged Goods– According to the survey, consumer packaged goods companies spent the most on AI in 2015, gaining 12% in revenue and 12% cost savings.
  • Energy– In the energy sector, employee training is key to AI project success. Energy companies are using AI to improve current business processes.
  • Healthcare and Life Sciences– About 86% of participants in this sector make use of cognitive technologies, with two companies spending more than $100 million on AI in a year.

Future of AI in the Workplace

According to Gartner, while AI might destroy 1.8 million jobs, it is expected to create a total of 2.3 million jobs, and in the long term, even more jobs will be created and enhanced by technology.

John Williams, Head of Marketing at Instant Offices gives his thoughts on what the future of AI in the workplace beholds, 

“Following our research, we can see the benefits of AI for business-owners include improved recruitment processes, increased productivity, lowered costs and better monitoring of workflow, as well as a better understanding of employees and how they engage with office space, teamwork, tasks, meetings and more.

“Not only that, it is equally beneficial for employees, as  it is clear to see that tech can improve safety at work, increase their happiness and wellbeing, provide impartial and valuable feedback on performance and provide learning opportunities, among other things.”

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An unprecedented Black Friday: How can retailers prepare?

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An unprecedented Black Friday: How can retailers prepare? 1

Retailers must invest heavily in their online presence and fight hard to remain competitive as a second lockdown stirs greater uncertainty

With an unprecedented Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend on the horizon (27th – 30th November), eCommerce hosting and consultancy expert, Sonassi, advises retailers to strengthen their online presence and make the necessary preparations for a fatigue in consumer spending.

James Allen-Lewis, Development Director at Sonassi, explains: “This year’s golden quarter has squeezed together three of the biggest sales periods like never before, meaning retailers will have to fight harder than usual to remain competitive this Black Friday. With greater discounts over a longer period of time, alongside the fact that a second lockdown has moved everyone and everything online, retailers will be battling it out for a share of decreasing consumer spending.

“However, this sense of uncertainty should not deter merchants from implementing their sales strategies this Black Friday and Cyber Monday weekend. Instead, they must go further than simply providing online discounts and tackle challenges head on by re-focusing their efforts on creating a highly competitive user experience. Successful merchants will make the necessary preparations for a change in consumer demand and invest more heavily in their eCommerce infrastructure.

“One way in which retailers can do this is by using last year’s Black Friday as a case study to inspire their future response. For example, retailers should take note of the key consumer behaviours that transpired throughout last year’s mega peak in discounting and plan accordingly for the upcoming Black Friday and Cyber-Monday weekend.

“Tactics such as providing the ultimate online delivery service and secure payment methods will also be pivotal for retailers looking to survive a fatigue in online spending. Consumers will look to retailers who do not overpromise on items like next-day delivery and ensure their checkout process is safe and frictionless for all. It is the retailers who embrace this fact and meet the needs of the conscious consumer that will win their share of consumers wallets.

Allen-Lewis concludes: “With Black Friday and the build-up to Christmas just around the corner, retailers must adapt to changing consumer demand, invest more heavily in their eCommerce infrastructure and focus their efforts on creating the ultimate online experience. The only way to plan ahead amid challenging times is to listen to the needs of the customer.”

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Optimistic outlook for 2021 public M&A

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Optimistic outlook for 2021 public M&A 2

Optimism is returning and the outlook is positive for the Australian M&A market in 2021 after a COVID-induced crash in deal activity in 2020, according to Corrs Chambers Westgarth’s tenth M&A 2021 Outlook report.

The special report reveals that an environment of historically low interest rates positions M&A as a significant means of achieving growth and generating returns, including for private equity firms looking to deploy capital and strategic buyers focused on complementary acquisitions.

With the unprecedented challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, global political instability and arguably the greatest economic challenge since the Great Depression, M&A 2021 Outlook details somewhat surprising trends emerging for the next 12 months and analyses a number of common COVID-19 myths and their influence on future M&A deal making.

Corrs’ detailed examination of the Australian M&A market draws on data taken from the firm’s proprietary database of transactions combined with in-depth research for the 12-month period ending 30 September 2020.

Key trends identified in the report include a rapid escalation in M&A levels and an increase in creativity in pricing and speed in closing deals, while also highlighting the critical need for support from target shareholders. Conditions also appear to be set for a continued rise in equity prices as a result of the ongoing influx of capital into Australian equity markets, making it imperative that bidders employ strategies to move quickly on M&A transactions.

Discussing the M&A 2021 Outlook, Corrs Head of Corporate, Sandy Mak, said “Despite a challenging year, our research indicates that 2021 could well see the volume and value of deals continue to grow. We are already witnessing this uptick in activity and while some industries and sectors are seeing a faster rebound than others, early indications are that the wider public M&A market will continue to strengthen over the coming months.”

Based on its detailed research, the M&A 2021 Outlook report discusses further key findings including:

  • Deal volume and value is the lowest since 2016, however volumes have shown significant recovery since June 2020.
  • More than 50% of deals in 2020 were ‘hostile’ and not recommended at the outset.
  • 71% of deals over A$500 million were structured by way of a takeover – a significant increase from prior years – largely as a result of increased competition for assets through rival bids.
  • Despite border closures and the tightening of foreign investment regimes, the percentage of deals with foreign bidders has increased materially since April 2020.
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5 steps for SMEs to budget properly for the coming year

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5 steps for SMEs to budget properly for the coming year 3

By Fabio Comminot, Head of Dealing, Switzerland at Ebury, one of Europe’s largest Fintechs, has provided a five-step guide to make sure budgeting is done on time.

During the challenging times of COVID-19, it is difficult to forecast orders and costs. This is especially true for SMEs that operate internationally and therefore are exposed to currency fluctuations and market movements. So budgeting is immensely important.

Autumn is budget season for most companies. Upcoming project costs, sales and fixed costs must be defined or forecasted. Budget planning should be as accurate as possible right from the start of the process to avoid unexpected consequences at the end of the year..

With the effects of the COVID pandemic it has become difficult for all companies, no matter their size or history, to plan and make sales forecasts. Early planning and hedging are especially important for companies that work internationally and are therefore particularly exposed to currency risk.

These five steps will help SMEs take the right measures for the coming financial year, in time for budget season:

Step 1: Estimate your costs or sales in foreign currencies 

As difficult as it may seem, every company must estimate its expected fixed and variable costs for the coming year. Most companies can forecast their revenues based on experience or existing orders.

However, start-ups or young companies should also be able to at least estimate their costs including rents, insurance, wages and production costs. Special attention should be paid to costs or revenues that are spent or received in a foreign currency.

Step 2: Profit or cost assurance – define the strategy

As soon as an approximate plan for the coming year is in place, the company should consider the importance of currency management. Regular earnings or expenditures in foreign currencies are exposed to movements in exchange rates. If costs in a foreign currency are to be forecasted until the end of the year, the company needs to minimise volatility. This means that the exchange rate should be fixed so that there are no unexpected negative consequences at the end of the year.

Another option would be to protect the operating profit. Fluctuating exchange rates can rapidly ruin intended profit margins. In this case the company could aim to define the forecasted sales in the foreign currency and fix the margin based on this.

Step 3: Fix your budget rates 

The budget is set, the currency management goals are defined, the major part is done. Now it is a matter of defining the budgeted rates for the various currencies based on the current exchange rate. A buffer of about 5% can be useful when doing this – for example. instead of fixing the exchange rate from US dollar to Swiss franc at the current 91 cent, a rate of 95 cent could be budgeted. In this way, the minimum budget rate is defined and any negative exchange rate movement can be at least partially compensated for.

Step 4: Define the hedging strategy

With the targets and the budget course set, the next questions are: What currency developments can be expected? What is the industry outlook? Is the order situation relatively secure? Or is there practically no empirical data?

This step is where Ebury can support the company. Our experts in FX markets help answer these questions and begin to define the individual hedging strategy.

Step 5: Ensure a flexible fit

It’s done: the measures have been defined, now it’s time for implementation.

Ebury will implement the previous steps and , so that the company focuses on its core business. In contrast to traditional financial services providers such as banks, Ebury constantly monitors international trade and political events in order to assist clients with strategy adjustments. The Ebury team is supported by state-of-the-art technology and international currency analysts. It makes no difference whether the changes are driven by the currency market or whether the company’s order situation itself is changing. This allows the SME to focus on its operational business, which is worth a lot in uncertain times like these.

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