Could Apple’s next big thing be a car?

Could Apple’s next big thing be a car?

Is an Apple Car about to hit the road?

The California technology colossus behind the iPhone has confirmed its interest in self-driving cars, but experts are trying to deduce the secretive company’s plans for traction in a market where others have been speeding along.

Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, who died in 2011, contemplated putting the company’s hardware and software smarts to work in a car nearly a decade ago, according to reports in trade press.

Speculation about an Apple Car became the stuff of myth, with much talk and little evidence until recently.

In mid-June, Apple chief executive Tim Cook revealed that the company is focusing on software that powers self-driving vehicles, referring to it as “by far the most important project in artificial intelligence.”

Cook depicted electric vehicles, self-driving cars, and ride-sharing as major forces shaping the future of the automobile.

Analysts said that driverless cars that can be summoned on demand to whisk people where they wish when they want represent a gigantic potential market opportunity.

Even before Cook’s public remarks on the topic, clues were coming to light. Apple recently obtained a permit from the California Department of Motor Vehicles to test self-driving cars.

Pictures of a Lexus sport utility vehicle rigged with sensors leaving the Apple campus have ricochetted about the internet, along with reports that the company has amassed a team of automotive engineers.

After a billion-dollar investment by Apple in Chinese ride-sharing colossus Didi, Cook referred to unspecified strategic moves the companies could make together over time.

Not riding alone 

If Apple is indeed intent to merge into the self-driving car market, it remains to be seen how it will navigate that course.

Morgan Stanley said in an analysts note that Apple options include partnering with ride-share firms, car rental companies, or even auto makers.

“Core self-driving software is likely the first step in its autonomous pursuits, and we believe Apple will eventually move beyond just software into designing a full car and/or launching a platform for third party services and content over time,” Morgan Stanley said in the note.

The effort would take time and money, and the competition will be fierce, Morgan Stanley reasoned.

Unconfirmed reports surfaced this week that department of motor vehicle documents show Apple is renting a small number of Lexus sport-utility vehicles from US car rental service Hertz to test self-driving software and sensors.

Despite having some $250 billion in its coffers, Apple is unlikely to buy a car maker because of concerns about finding footing on terrain so far from their area of expertise, according to Creative Strategies analyst Carolina Milanesi.

She sees Apple as more keen on mastering self-driving technology, and then learning ways it could be “transplanted to other experiences and contexts.”

For example, Apple could opt to make self-driving cars available for daily rentals or put them to use for on-demand rides.

“Do they want to really sell cars or do they want to come with a service?” Milanesi asked rhetorically.

Siri on wheels

Apple could also create a personal-assistant on wheels by beefing up its Siri artificial intelligence aide and putting it on the road.

Apple may start with a “platform play” by making a self-driving car system that partners could build into vehicles, and with the potential to synch with the company’s iPhones, iPads, HomePod and other offerings.

Analysts see collaboration with car makers as a logical route for Apple.

Electric car star Tesla, headed by billionaire Elon Musk, might make a viable mate for Apple since the company’s roots are more in Silicon Valley that Detroit.

If Apple did make its own car, it might do so as an elite fleet deployed to show off the technology.

An Apple car would need to catch up to rivals who left the starting line years ago. Waymo, a subsidiary of Google-parent Alphabet, has logged millions of self-driven miles on US roads.

Tesla models feature self-driving capabilities held in check basically by regulations that have yet to catch up to the technology.

Most major automakers are investing in self-driving cars, with California authorities alone having issued permits to 34 companies for testing.

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Instagram enlists AI to filter nasty comments

Instagram enlists AI to filter nasty comments

Instagram

Instagram on Thursday said it is using artificial intelligence to filter nasty comments and spam at the popular Facebook-owned photo-sharing service.

The move comes as Facebook and other internet companies work to curb trolls, hate speech and the spread of violent ideology on their platforms.

“Many of you have told us that toxic comments discourage you from enjoying Instagram and expressing yourself freely,” co-founder and chief executive Kevin Systrom said in a blog post.

“To help, we’ve developed a filter that will block certain offensive comments on posts and in live video.”

Written remarks will otherwise appear as usual at Instagram, and users can opt to turn off the new filters.

The offensive-comment filter will launch first in English, with other languages eventually added, according to Systrom.

Instagram said that the filter scanning for spam is designed to work in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian and Spanish.

“Our team has been training our systems for some time to recognize certain types of offensive and spammy comments so you never have to see them,” Systrom said.

“The tools will improve over time.”

Facebook, Microsoft, Twitter and YouTube this week announced the launch of an anti-terror partnership aimed at thwarting the spread of extremist content online.

The Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism intends to share engineering, research and knowledge to help “continue to make our hosted consumer services hostile to terrorists and violent extremists,” the companies said.

Each of the technology giants has been working individually to prevent its platforms or services from being used to promote or spread extremist views.

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NITDA, others raise alert as ‘GoldenEye’ paralyses businesses

NITDA, others raise alert as ‘GoldenEye’ paralyses businesses

National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and other cyber security firms have alerted Nigerian companies on the rampaging ransomware attacks called Petya or ‘GoldenEye’.

The deadly cyber-attack, similar to the recent ‘WannaCry’ attack, not only encrypts files but also encrypts hard drives, rendering entire computer system inaccessible.

Dr Isa Ali Pantami, director general/CEO of NITDA, said the attack has paralysed businesses across the world and is spreading quickly with reports indicating that countries affected so far include Ukraine, Denmark, Russia, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Poland and the USA.

The malware is spreading using a vulnerability in Microsoft Windows that was patched in March 2017 — the same bug that was exploited by the WannaCry ransomware.

“While our CERRT team are working round the clock along with other stakeholders to come up with effective defence mechanism for the Nigerian cyberspace, we are calling on Network Administrators in the public and private sectors as well as individuals to take the following measures recommended during the recent WannaCry attack: isolate the system from your network to prevent the threat from further spreading; remove the system from Network; and do not use flash/pen drive, external drives on the System to copy files to other systems”, the DG said.

As a general precautionary measure, Dr. Pantami urged organisations, especially Government Agencies to regularly update their operating systems with the latest patches; regularly update their software applications with latest patches; turnoff unnecessary/unneeded features; avoid downloading and opening unsolicited files and attachments; adjust security software to scan compressed or archived files; and avoid indiscriminate use wireless connections, such as Bluetooth or infrared ports.

Olufemi Ake, country manager, Nigeria and Ghana, ESET, told Nigeria CommunicationsWeek the ransomware appears to specifically targeted at bringing down business IT systems.

“The outage began in Ukraine as the country’s power grid, airport, national bank and communications firms were first to report problems, before it spread rapidly throughout Europe.

“If you have a default install of any modern ESET product, ESET would protect against this threat. Additionally, any ESET product with network detection would protect from the SMB spreading mechanism – EternalBlue proactively.

Jitendra Bulani, ‎PR manager, Emerging Markets at Sophos said in an email to Nigeria CommunicationsWeek that the new variant is particularly virulent because it uses multiple techniques to spread automatically within a company’s network once the first computer is infected.

“Sophos customers with Sophos Endpoint Protection products are protected against this new variant. Sophos Intercept X customers were proactively protected with no data encrypted, from the moment this new ransomware variant appeared.”

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New Customer Engagement Cloud Solutions to Advance Digital Transformation

New Customer Engagement Cloud Solutions to Advance Digital Transformation

Managing Director of Avaya South Africa.

Avaya has announced their new offering, Avaya Customer Engagement Cloud solutions, a set of advanced capabilities and services that aims to help businesses keep customers engaged, happy and coming back. Comprised of Avaya Oceana for omni-channel customer engagement and built on Avaya Breeze, Customer Engagement Cloud solutions provide the flexibility required for adopting and integrating new digital technologies through a portfolio of hybrid, public and private cloud offers and developer tools.

“Avaya contact centre customers, many who have continued to transform their contact centres using Avaya Elite for as long as 20+ years, are exceedingly loyal. With Avaya Customer Engagement Cloud, the company is working to create offers that will help customers (and partners) transition their customer experience portfolios to meet the needs of today’s digitally-savvy consumers,” said Sheila McGee-Smith, president and principal analyst, McGee-Smith Analytics, L.L.C

Businesses across all industries recognise the digital transformation imperative, with 69.7% of companies saying that customer experience is the main driver of digital strategies[i]. As evidence, Avaya Oceana is already being deployed across the globe and delivering on the promised value of digital transformation. Avaya Oceana delivers context-driven, fully integrated and customisable customer engagement that allows companies to easily bring together newly emerging and existing technologies to benefit the customer and agent experience.

The speed at which businesses need to anticipate and exceed customer expectations has driven several compelling innovations for the newest release of Avaya Oceana:

  • Equip agents with a visual, chronological map of the customer journey with a comprehensive, actionable interface that can increase opportunities for upselling and repeat business.
  • Provide a foundation for growing digital channels, with support for Bots that extend sentiment, automation and analysis to all text channels including social media.
  • Adopt exciting new technologies such as virtual reality today. Avaya partner EXP360 enables a customer to place a call straight out of virtual reality glasses. The agent can see what content the customer is viewing to direct and inform while providing a true guided tour through the virtual world.
  • Provide a seamless customer experience by providing the full context of an interaction when shifting from Artificial Intelligence to human connections.
  • Create a more accurate picture of a customer’s experience, search for patterns and trends, proactively inform campaigns and personalise interactions through Avaya Oceanalytics.
  • Customise workflow automation and proactive notifications with ease to address use cases in vertical industries, including healthcare, financial services, hospitality, etc.

Enable a more knowledgeable, efficient customer experience with tighter integration between Avaya Oceana and Salesforce Service Cloud as all channels – digital, voice, automated –are managed from a single agent interface.

Enable greater insight and quickly pinpoint coaching and eLearning needs with Workforce Optimisation capabilities integrated with Avaya Oceana Workspaces.

Evolution to Transformation

The Avaya Customer Engagement Cloud combines best-in-class solutions with extensible developer platform capabilities, access to data from across the enterprise and the industry’s best partner and Systems Integrator eco-system for unsurpassed customer engagement expertise. To help companies evolve to these best-in-class solutions, Avaya strategic professional services can guide businesses to:

  • Transform the customer experience in a way that sets them apart from the competition – mapping the customer journey at every touch point and ensuring their workforce is at the top of their game to deliver the best possible service experience;
  • Define and design the best end-to-end solution based on an acquired understanding of where the company is today and where it wants to go;
  • Develop near term and long term engagement innovation plans with the understanding that transformation is ongoing.

“There are really three things that we look at as key to transforming service interaction: connectivity to serviced things, context, and frictionless engagement. With our rollout of Avaya Oceana, we’re focused first on automation technologies to greatly enhance the customer experience and gain insight into the customer journey. Once we know the product, the conversation, and the customer journey, we use Oceana’s attribute-based matching to bring the right people and content to the engagement,” said Danny Drew, Managing Director of Avaya South Africa.

Staff Writer

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Intelligent analytics: Use your data properly

Intelligent analytics: Use your data properly

How to make best use of your data analytics.

Big data, analytics, business intelligence – these terms define a trend that has found its way into almost every business conversation. They also define the era of data and the need to harness the possibilities it presents. Everybody wants to know what the data is telling them, but few understand how to eke out any real benefits. It is time to relook how data is being managed.

“Unfortunately, many companies that have access to big data as well as deep levels of internal information are not gaining the maximum advantage,” says Teryl Schroenn, Chief Executive Officer, Accsys. “There is still a very high percentage of business that is using data reactively as opposed to proactively, and this is impacting on its effectiveness. Analytics should help your business grow by providing in-depth, actionable insights into clients, employees and business processes.”

A blend of payroll data, human resources (HR) data, and time and attendance data can create an insightful and holistic view of the organisation. The data from these three platforms can identify trends in employee behaviour, localise levels of client engagement and fine-tune business process or service.

Digging into the data
“With reactive data, you don’t get the depth you need,” says Schroenn. “A proactive, comparative analysis will pick up trends and behaviours which could be either an issue or an advantage, vastly improving the organisation’s decision-making abilities.”

Capturing the tics and shifts in data can identify if one grouping of employees happens to service one set of clients with more efficacy. It can uncover that a specific blend of individuals is far more likely to eke out value from a specific customer, and how one department always has the highest sick leave due to an issue with management. Each of these insights can have a transformative impact.

A painful process
“If you know what your pain points are, you can fix them. You can turn frustration into a money spinner and concern into a leadership opportunity, but you can’t do any of this unless you know the problems exist,” adds Schroenn. “Do you have a Monday to Friday sick leave pattern? Is it worse at one store over another? If you can compare patterns you can find problems.”

Payroll alone is not the solution. While the data is rich and the potential there, it takes a unique mix of data across payroll, HR, and time and attendance to truly get the holistic eye the business needs. Using all three options, the business can build pictures, extrapolate future risk and, of course, uncover future advantages.

“Find the stories in your organisation and you’ll find ways to drive employee engagement and make a difference to customer relationships,” concludes Schroenn.

By Teryl Schroenn, Chief Executive Officer, Accsys

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6 Unwritten Rules Of The Inernet

6 Unwritten Rules Of The Inernet

Rules you should follow when using the Internet.

In today’s world where millions are linked to the Internet allowing them to connect and interact with other from all over the world has raised the question of online etiquette. With calls from all over the world for access to the Internet to become a basic human right, the usage and responsibility of how people use the internet will fall on themselves.

This has seen people become increasingly conscious of their online conduct as they look to avoid any harmful situation. A set of unwritten rules are starting to become normal practice.

There are in fact unwritten rules guiding internet usage that you probably didn’t know about. Jumia Travel, the leading online travel agency, shares 6 unwritten internet rules to know.

Rule 1: If I’m Not In Your Picture, Don’t Tag Me
Too many internet users disregard this rule to the ire of those who have to deal with being tagged on pictures they have no idea about or are completely uninterested in. If you think about it, it’s really unfair to carelessly tag people in pictures. If you’re absolutely eager for the person to see a picture, simply mention the person in the comments. The ‘@’ feature was created to serve this very purpose.

Rule 2: Don’t Argue With Trolls
It’s a waste of time and it’s much like arguing with a brick wall – useless and frustrating. Just ignore them and move on. Let them have their 1 or 2 minutes of fame and be forgotten like the irrelevant features of the internet that they are.

Rule 3: Anything You Write Can and Will Be Used Against You or Turned Into Something Else
The second part is very likely, especially on social media. Your words are very likely going to be misunderstood by one or two people and turned around into something entirely different from what you could have even fathomed. You just have to keep that in mind and try to prepare for it when you post words on social media. In addition, avoid writing carelessly on social media about people or organizations. Write what you mean and mean what you write because the internet is a public place and anyone can call you out on your BS. Be wise.

Rule 4: No Real Limits Apply Here
On the internet, people can say anything about anyone in anyway. Some people go as far as commenting on very uncomfortable and awkward aspects of their lives and the lives of others. Just when you think you’ve seen it all, someone comes out with an ‘nkan be’ tale of their experience in this world, and then you start to hear stories of how a person was romanced by a goat into sexual intimacy. There are absolutely no limits here, so prepare yourself. Get ready to see any and everything.

Rule 5: If You Lose a Social Media Debate, Just Take the L
It’s as simple as that. Be mature about it and respectfully entertain the other person’s winning argument. Don’t get mad or feel humiliated. That’s just unnecessary. No one knows everything, so just accept it as a lesson that you can actually learn from. Cursing the person or blocking the person for winning an argument  is inappropriate and just makes you look silly.

Rule 6: If a Person Posts Something Sad About Themselves on Their Timeline, Don’t Hit Like It
Imagine posting about a losing a job, a beloved relative or a significant other, and a person hits like on the post. It seems like the person is relishing the misery of the other person. Please be wise and don’t like posts carelessly. Comment where you should and if you have nothing to say, just move on.

Staff Writer

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Digital innovation driving growth and in DRC mining sector

Digital innovation driving growth and in DRC mining sector

Satellite to play leading role in mining sector growth . (image source: Pixabay)

Digital innovation is driving transformation within the local mining sector. This shift, according to leading converged ICT solutions provider, iWayAfrica, is driving growth and becoming a key differentiator within the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). With over 25 international mining groups active in the region, the mining sector has become significant as it is also widely known for the world’s production of cobalt, copper, diamond, tantalum, tin, and gold.

Mr. Ali Bofulo, Managing Director, iWayAfrica, says that mining accounts for the DRC’s largest source of export income and is an important and growing sector: “While the region is ripe with opportunity, reliable, adaptable and ubiquitous connectivity is a critical enabler for a digital innovation roadmap. This is especially relevant to the mining sector, where connectivity requirements are more than just linking a remote site to a regional or global head office.”

If the DRC is to evolve, embrace digital innovation and increase its mining production, technology issues such as connectivity need to be addressed. This is becoming more relevant, according to Mr Bofulo, as organisations look to technology as a means to differentiate: “Internet of Things, among other digital technologies, have started driving increased automation and system reporting for performance and yield management. All of which requires real connectivity in remote areas to succeed.”

He says that this quest for improved productivity is driving the mining industry to implement more automated systems and seek greater IT integration: “Real-time monitoring, health and safety systems, security services, online customs clearance and access to ERP applications are among the key mining issues being addressed through digital innovation.”

While the market has responded to the changing landscape in a multitude of ways, Mr Bofulo says that iWayAfrica, together with parent company, Gondwana International Networks (GIN), launched a satellite communications Hub in South Africa to offer its new pan-regional Ku-band satellite service, Jola: “This service is available across Sub-Saharan Africa via authorised partners of iWayAfrica, and provides lower latency for Intra-Africa traffic. This enables and improved the use of ERP applications. It also has the potential to provide the technology boost mining requires to stay competitive and innovative.”

Leveraging Intelsat 28 Ku-Band coverage and utilising efficient and leading technology on the ground, Jola offers the widest coverage access across sub-Saharan Africa with the most flexible service offering. Mr Bofulo says that this approach enables end-users to combine optimal speed, monthly data usage and budget: “The mining sector can now deploy satellite for various cases that suits the specific requirements. This includes single or multi-site connectivity, real-time monitoring systems, occasional WiFi usage or as back-up connectivity.”

An integral and integrated part of the iWayAfrica service portfolio, satellite last mile connectivity is seamlessly incorporated into existing fibre MPLS networks to provide remote site connectivity to regional head offices for a multitude of applications. A back-up and business continuity service is also available. Called Jola SOS, this is a low-cost, always-on 10Mbps VSAT back-up link, with fixed data allowances that can be topped up as and when required. Provisioned with automated switchover to and from satellite, Jola SOS is designed to complement existing fibre or wireless networks.

“Satellite has long been used as an access technology by mining and exploration companies in establishing communications in remote sites. Now these same companies can leverage off enhancements in the satellite industry to implement their own digital innovation strategies in the same remote locations,” says Mr Bofulo.

Staff Writer

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10 reasons your business needs cyber liability insurance

10 reasons your business needs cyber liability insurance

New technology means new threats, make sure you are covered.

New technology means new risks. The internet asks a lot of questions of its users. How should the internet interact with nation states? What opportunities can it offer criminals? How should legislation and regulation apply to the seas of data that constitute the heart of the new digital economy? What are the implications of outsourcing data processing to cloud providers and the growing use of personal devices to conduct business? We are still coming to terms with many of these issues.

According to Aon Risk Solutions, mitigating the risks that come with being a custodian of data while embracing the opportunities that technology presents is key to building cyber resilient businesses. Becoming more resilient to cyber risks in an age of digital disruption increasingly means understanding the full scope of cyber governance responsibilities.

Aon provides ten compelling reasons why every business, regardless of size or ownership, that has a network, an internet connection and holds sensitive or personally identifiable data and sensitive company IP, needs cyber liability insurance:

#1 Cybercrime is growing exponentially – in fact it’s the fastest growing crime in the world. In our internet-connected society, cybercrime is a very real threat to any business or institution. A cyber-attack can also be just as physically disruptive to a business as a natural disaster or terror attack – think of critical operations in a hospital, airport or power station that are all operated via computer networks and sophisticated software in the wrong hands?

#2 All businesses that hold personally identifiable data and sensitive IP are at risk. Many small and medium businesses think that they are not likely targets for a cyber-attack, believing that only large corporates, banks and government institutions appeal to cyber criminals. The reality is that any entity that conducts any aspect of its business online and holds any sensitive data – employee or client records, banking and payment details of staff, customers or own, market strategies or financials, payroll information, medical or academic records or any other sensitive data – is a potential target.

#3 Cybercrime is now the fourth most reported economic crime in SA. Almost a third (32%) of the 232 South African organisations that took part in PwC’s 2016 Global Economic Crime Survey reported cybercrimes in the last 24 months. This puts local companies on par with their international counterparts when it comes to cybercrime. The country leads the global stats for economic crimes, with 69% of local companies having experienced economic crime during the past two years, compared with the global average of 36%.

#4 The Human Factor in Cyber Risk is the biggest cyber threat that businesses face today. A PWC report released in 2016 found that current employees were the top insider cyber risk to businesses.

#5 Standard insurance policies do not cover you for the risks and liabilities emanating from cyber risk. Cyber insurance is specifically designed to cover the unique exposure of data privacy and security and can act as a backstop to protect a business from the financial and reputational harm resulting from a breach. While some categories of losses might be covered under standard policies, many significant gaps often exist and cyber events can impact numerous lines of insurance coverage. Standard policies are often inadequate to cover the likely cost of even a more “standard” security breach, let alone cyber-attack or ‘hacktivism’. Only specialist cyber insurance policies provide extensive cover.

#6 You can be held legally and financially liable if third party data is compromised in a breach. The frequency of cyber breaches is increasing and incident response plans have become more complex due to regulation and mandatory disclosure obligations. The disclosure obligation is of particular interest to South African businesses with related legislation brimming on the horizon – the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) commenced on 24 May 2016 with its grace period ending on 24 May 2018, while the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act brings a further layer of complexity for any business holding personal client data. Class action lawsuits and regulatory fines have become synonymous with data breaches and in this regard, the fact that cyber risks are global makes complying with various regulatory responses across different geographies all the more challenging.

#7 Companies are grappling with new risks such as cyber-crime, and lack consensus on how to best prioritise and respond to them. Much more progress is needed in the area of cyber risk control and mitigation to keep pace with the pervasive and fast evolving cyber threats that go hand in hand with the dizzying speed of technological innovation. Currently, only 23% of companies employ financial quantification metrics in cyber risk assessment according to Aon’s 2017 Global Risk Management Survey. Without measuring the actual financial impact of identified cyber threats, companies will not be able to adequately prioritise the capital investment in risk mitigation, nor will risk managers be able to convince a potentially less tech-savvy board of its importance.

#8 Cyber liability Insurance offsets the expenses of what is essentially an unknown cost. Data breaches are difficult to budget for as they are so unpredictable. The size, scope, and complexity of each data breach vary widely, so insurance is a practical way to manage high price tag exposures such as data breach notifications, forensic investigations, legal fees, data analysis, crisis communications, monitoring, remediation, restoration and legal settlements.

#9 Cyber Liability Insurance protects you and the sustainability of your business from what could be crippling expenses. Most cyber liability policies cover first party costs and any resultant liability (third party) arising from a loss of data or a breach of network security – with data being defined as personally identifiable data and corporate information. First party costs include legal and IT services, data restoration costs, reputation management, notification costs to all affected data subjects, credit and ID monitoring, cyber extortion and loss of profits following from a network interruption. Third party costs include damages and defence costs arising from liability to others following from theft or manipulation of data held in your care, custody and control.

#10 Cyber Liability Insurance provides for specialist and expensive resources in your time of need and within hours of notification of a breach. These resources include specialised tech teams and forensics whose first role is to identify and contain the damage as quickly as possible, along with legal counsel, communication specialists and response teams whose role is to limit the organisation’s legal exposures – typically all resources that few organisations would have in-house and on-call due to their price tags.

Staff Writer

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A chance to showcase African innovation: Mastercard extends Start Path Applications

A chance to showcase African innovation: Mastercard extends Start Path Applications

Applications for Start Path Global open until August 1, 2017. (Image Source: diginomica.com)

Mastercard Start Path programme is making the call for additional applications from qualifying late-stage start-ups – marking an opportunity for the fast-growing pool of African fintech talent to benefit from the mentorship and knowledge-sharing that Start Path offers.

The initiative is open to fintech and tech start-ups from Africa and across the world who are shaping commerce by rethinking banking and payments and who already are well established, having raised a significant seed or Series A round of investment.

During the six-month virtual programme, Start Path provides the selected start-ups with the operational support and mentorship they need to develop the next generation of commerce solutions and grow the footprint of their operations. Start-ups accepted to the programme benefit from the knowledge of a global network of Mastercard experts, access to Mastercard customers and partners, and the ability to innovate on top of Mastercard solutions.

“African fintech start-ups are bringing fresh thinking to an increasingly connected commerce industry that relies on enhancing customer choice and experience to survive in the competitive and fast-paced digital age,” says Amy Neale, Vice President, Mastercard Start Path.

To date, one African start-up has been selected to the programme and has since partnered with Mastercard to introduce a game-changing e-commerce solution for developing markets plagued by cash: NetPlus benefited from knowledge-sharing and mentorship sessions in New York, London and Singapore where NetPlus met with other start-ups and Mastercard customers.

Building on the experience, NetPlus then partnered with Mastercard to develop an e-commerce solution that overcomes the challenge of payments still being made in cash at the point of delivery by allowing customers to pre-authorise the payment when placing their order online – with payment only being released once the customer has confirmed their satisfaction on delivery. This has advantages for both merchants and customers.

“The NetPlus and Mastercard collaboration to launch a groundbreaking e-commerce solution proves that there is world-class talent on the continent and that start-ups are contributing significantly to the development of Africa – with programmes like Start Path serving as a springboard to greater growth by enabling these companies to receive exposure they wouldn’t otherwise get,” concludes Neale.

Apply Now

Applications for the next six-month virtual programme will be accepted until Tuesday August 1, 2017. Interested start-ups can visit for additional information and to submit an application.

Important to note is that the programme is open to start-ups who meet the following criteria:

  • Solution live in market;
  • Established and experienced team;
  • Targeting sizeable market opportunity;
  • Demonstrable advantage over competitors;
  • Seed or Series A investment recently secured.

Staff Writer

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The irresistible allure and unstoppable rise of the public cloud

The irresistible allure and unstoppable rise of the public cloud

The digitisation of business requires enterprises to move faster and be more agile to survive.(image: bluecoat.com)

The International Data Corporation (IDC) forecasts that more than 80 percent of IT organisations will be committed to hybrid cloud architectures by the end of this year, vastly driving the rate and pace of change in organisations. In addition, its analysts predict that by 2018, at least half of IT spending will be cloud based, reaching 60 percent of all IT infrastructure, and 60 to 70 percent of all software, services, and technology spending by 2020.

While companies born in the “cloud era”, such as Airbnb, Amazon, and Snapchat, have utilised public cloud since inception (and shown the scale and business successes is offers), blue-chip companies are no different, with many reducing their data centre footprints by moving into the cloud – and ensuring that they do not become obsolete in this new computing landscape.

“The digitisation of business requires enterprises to move faster and be more agile to survive. Applying new technologies to existing business activities (how do we leverage AI to increase customer satisfaction?) fuels the cloud paradigm. For many enterprises, public cloud represents the ability to rapidly access resources for innovation while operating in a data-rich environment,” notes Rubrik’s Guide to Public Cloud, a technical white paper by the cloud management company.

The paper highlights that enterprise IT looking to increase cloud usage will find that marrying non-cloud systems with cloud-native applications and infrastructure poses new principles. These, it states are:

  • Shift from asset to service consumption: Traditional IT is largely based on providing finite assets that service relatively stable workloads and predictable business growth. In a cloud model, IT rapidly provisions services accordingly to business demand.
  • Automate service delivery: With cloud, near-zero time to market can be delivered through automation frameworks.
  • Infrastructure becomes programmable through code by being structured into templates that can be easily versioned and replicated for future deployments.
  • Develop applications based on microservices: Rapid shifts in business demand require applications to deliver newer capabilities faster, to be resilient to failures, and to scale-out on-demand. Applications built in this new manner can be decomposed into independent components called “microservices”, each delivering a single function.

“The public cloud is playing an ever more prominent role in an organisation’s holistic IT strategy, and we are witnessing its adoption across the African continent,” says Anton Jacobsz, managing director of Networks Unlimited, an official distributor of Rubrik’s cloud management platform throughout Africa.

With this growth comes the urgent need for a cloud-scale data management platform that not only protects but also manages the data.

As public cloud plays a greater role in overall enterprise IT strategy, the need for a cloud-scale data management platform becomes paramount to protect and manage data produced in both the cloud and elsewhere.

Rubrik’s white paper points out: “As enterprises migrate applications to the cloud, IT is depended on to deliver core data protection (backup, disaster recovery, archival) to maintain instant data accessibility through disasters, data loss and service outages.

The Rubrik Cloud Data Management platform provides a cloud-native approach to managing the lifecycle of data, from creation to expiration, to drive better performance and operational continuity at lower costs. Rubrik bridges the gap between owned, on-premises infrastructure and the cloud by decoupling data from the data centre through a software-defined fabric. Comprehensive data management is delivered through instant access, automated orchestration, and enterprise-class data protection and resiliency.

In summary, Rubrik’s Cloud Data Management platform provides:

  • Instant access, that is, it enables predictive global search and delivers instant application recovery by unifying data locked within disparate application silos into one globally indexed namespace while leveraging zero-byte cloning technology to enable on-demand copy data workflows.
  • Automated orchestration by dramatically reducing daily operational management, providing a step-function change in simplicity by enabling a single policy engine to orchestrate service level agreements (SLAs) across the entire data lifecycle. In essence, the Rubrik programmatic interface automates how data services are created, consumed, and retired across clouds.
  • Security and compliance, Rubrik secures data whether in-flight or at-rest throughout its lifecycle, regardless of location – the platform delivers granular role-based access control across all cloud data management workflows while providing automated compliance reporting to successfully complete various industry and internal audits.

“Delivering data protection and management for cloud requires a modern approach to accommodate the shift to service consumption, automation of service delivery, and development of modular, scale-out applications,” continues the white paper.

Jacobsz stresses the ease of deployment of Rubrik’s platform, which makes it so valuable in enabling new or complex business models in the regions. “Organisations can either deploy the platform on-premises through plug-and-play appliances and software appliances or on certified hardware platforms.”

The white paper elaborates: “To protect cloud-native applications, Rubrik can be deployed as a software instance in a public cloud provider to orchestrate all critical data management functions – backup and recovery, replication and disaster recovery, archival, search, and more. Users spin up the recommended compute instance on supported public cloud providers and can scale-out easily by growing the Rubrik cloud cluster in lock-step with cloud data growth. All data is indexed and efficiently stored in a single, scale-out repository while providing data resiliency.

Rubrik provides the same consumer-grade HTML5 interface to manage the cloud as used to manage data on premises and at the edge. Users can instantly locate (with real-time predictive search) and deliver application consistent recoveries for data born in the cloud, including files, folders, file sets, VMs, and database instances (such as Windows, Linux, SQL databases). Users receive actionable insights with Rubrik Envision’s rich visual reporting, which allows creation, customisation, and sharing of platform analytics on consumption, compliance, and more, across a multi-cloud environment.

“By using Rubrik, enterprises free data from underlying infrastructure for ultimate workload portability. Cloud vendor lock-in can be avoided by migrating data from public cloud to public cloud to optimise application service quality.”

Of note is that Rubrik supports environmental considerations too as it converges backup software, replication, catalog databases, deduplicated storage, and more into a single software fabric. It does not retain the complex, bloated architecture reminiscent of legacy data protection solutions.

“Battle-tested by the Fortune 500 companies, we have witnessed Rubrik address the four main ‘pain points’ of our customers: management complexity, lengthy recover processes, lack of scalability and cost. We are most pleased to have Rubrik’s solutions to these challenges available in our region and contributing to trading hardware management for the unbelievable strength of the public cloud,” concludes Jacobsz.

Staff Writer

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