‘Angry Birds’ maker spreads wings in market debut

Finland’s Rovio, creator of the popular smartphone game “Angry Birds” saw its shares take off in its stock market debut Friday, adding tens of millions of euros to its market value within minutes of trading.

A day after Rovio set its share price at the very top of its target range at 11.50 euros, the stock went well beyond 12 in early Helsinki stock exchange business, giving the company an overall value of around 950 million euros ($1.1 billion).

Some 78 million shares changed hands on the pre-list market in early dealings, pending their expected move to the main market next week.

“We feel extremely happy and honoured to have received so much interest towards Rovio’s IPO both by Finnish and international investors,” Rovio’s CEO Kati Levoranta said in a statement.

She added that Friday’s listing “is an important milestone in developing Rovio into an even stronger games-first entertainment company”.

The offering consisted of new shares and a portion marketed by Rovio’s main owners, including Dutch holding Trema International.

After an overall fall in sales and the slashing of almost one in six of its workforce in 2014, followed by a loss-making 2015, the company has accelerated its diversification.

The “Angry Birds” movie from 2016, produced by Sony Entertainment, was a huge success as it grossed $350 million worldwide, and is expected to help bolster Rovio profits in 2017 and 2018.

Rovio also runs “Angry Birds” theme parks in several countries, including Finland, China and Spain.

It oversees the publication of children’s books in a dozen languages on the famous birds while boasting an average of 80 million active players per month and 11 million per day.

Powered by WPeMatico

Westcon-Comstor Southern Africa provides African Resellers Access to Azure

Westcon-Comstor Southern Africa provides African Resellers Access to Azure

Prebashini Reddy, Microsoft CSP and VL Product Manager at Westcon-Comstor South Africa and Rest of Africa.

Westcon-Comstor Southern Africa is offering African customers the opportunity to purchase and leverage the full power of Azure through the company as well as from its BlueSky digital logistics platform.

Microsoft Azure continues to grow in popularity and use cases. It is fast being recognised as the cloud solution platform of choice for African customers looking to take advantage of cloud-based services, to help them better take advantage of the cloud, as well as digital transformation. As a tier-two member of the Microsoft Cloud Service Provider (CSP) programme, the Westcon-Comstor Cloud Solutions team is uniquely geared to provide customers on the continent, with support and services around all of the vendor’s cloud solutions as well as Azure.

“Azure unlocks a host of benefits for African customers looking to mobilise into the cloud, as it is an all in one cloud solution, making it ideal for a business who needs the power of enterprise computing, no matter their size,” states Prebashini Reddy, Microsoft CSP and VL Product Manager at Westcon-Comstor South Africa and Rest of Africa. “By making the Azure platform available for our African customers we immediately quell concerns around local or in-country support and technical skills, as Westcon-Comstor is able to assist resellers with this through our value-added services offerings.”

Microsoft Azure is the vendor company’s most flexible solution to date as it offers an open and flexible platform with all of the required building blocks for rapid construction, implementation, and management of cloud-based solutions. Furthermore, its application, compute, storage and networking consumption services, enable a customer to build, host and manage applications and services in a multi-language environment accessible from anywhere.

The most popular application for Azure to date, include its ability to assist customers with the development of web and mobile applications, spinning up of virtual machines in minutes, data analysis, as well as storage, back-up, and recovery.

“Azure gives a customer practically unlimited data capacity and elastic storage that they can dictate the price of, as well as apply consumption models and thresholds to. Its ability to integrate into a legacy environment, also offers the perfect hybrid cloud offering. Our customers can now also acquire Azure through our BlueSky platform, meaning we can add a host of value-added services for customers to their purchase, including the fact that BlueSky will alert the reseller on a user’s usage and consumption of their Azure, and for that matter, all their Microsoft cloud solutions, and then create a recommendation on future use, by week, month and even year,” ends Reddy.

The announcement is particularly relevant as it follows on Microsoft’s own announcement that it has officially (as of 1 February 2017) shifted all licensing for its Azure cloud service to CSP partners on its CSP programme.

Staff Writer

Powered by WPeMatico

New Pai tech educational games launched in South Africa

New Pai tech educational games launched in South Africa

New educational tech for kids launched by Gammatek.

Gammatek, a distributor of technology accessories, has announced the introduction of Pai Technology educational games for children in South Africa. The company will add Pai Technology’s TJ’s Math Adventure, Stem Lab-Little Engineer, Ocean Pets and Cube Tastic to its offering for young people.

“These educational games are designed to stimulate your child’s imagination and aid their development. Pai Technology introduces a world of playful, fun and safe technology that encourages a love for learning that ultimately benefits a child’s growth,” says Gammatek’s Zev Cherniak.

TJ’s Math Adventure combines physical puzzles and augmented reality play to help children master basic math concepts in a fun and adventurous way. They join TJ as he leads an army on a mission to save the planet, learning to recognise shapes and solve math challenges along the way. The system utilises an interactive app available from app stores, as well as a physical board game. Stem Lab-Little Engineer pairs toy blocks with augmented reality to create a unique experience for children learning basic programming skills.

With Ocean Pets, children get to create their own virtual aquarium using augmented reality with a special lightweight putty. They can create fish and sea creatures with the mess-free putty and then scan it with a device to see their Ocean Pets come to life in 3D. Thereafter they must care for their pets while learning fun facts about the ocean and its inhabitants. The more they take care of their pets, the more game features are unlocked. Cube Tastic is a throwback to the puzzle cube with a twist. The puzzle cube uses 3D augmented technology with an app to teach kids how to solve the cube. Once they master it, new combinations are unlocked for endless play.

The learning Pai Technology products will be available at leading retailers.

Edited Fundisiwe Maseko
Follow Fundisiwe Maseko on Twitter
Follow IT News Africa on Twitter

Powered by WPeMatico

Kwesé TV launches in Botswana through Orange partnership

Kwesé TV launches in Botswana through Orange partnership

Botswana: Kwesé TV and Orange partner in mobile launch.

Telecommunications company Orange Botswana and pay-TV broadcast network Kwesé TV have announced a partnership which aims to provide its customers with premium entertainment and sports programming on their mobile devices. This is according to a report by Bizcommunity.

There has been no date set for the launch with the company only revealing that the service “will be available soon.”

According to Telecompaper, this new offering will deliver Kwesé’s sports and entertainment content through its mobile streaming service by leveraging Orange’s 4G network. This includes a collection of channels spanning sports, general entertainment, news and actuality. The content will include exclusive access to P Diddy’s Revolt TV, NBA TV, Viceland and Premier League games, to name a few.

Lepata Mafa-Nthomola, Orange Botswana’s Director of Corporate Affairs, speaking on the partnership said, “We’re delighted to introduce Kwesé’s mobile product to our subscribers as part of our efforts to deliver top quality entertainment and lifestyle services on our superfast data network. Botswana has been hungry for rich, engaging content and this partnership enables us to deliver TV into the palms of their  hands.”

“This collaboration will extend our offering in Botswana where we have recently introduced our satellite TV service a few weeks ago. As a multi-platform media business, we are proud to offer our quality content to Orange subscribers on the move,” explained President and Group Chief Executive Officer of Econet Media, Joseph Hundah.

Kwesé’s mobile streaming service will be accessible to Orange subscribers through the network provider’s video data packages. Subscriptions can also be paid through Orange Money.

Edited by Dean Workman
Follow Dean Workman on Twitter
Follow ITNewsAfrica.com on Twitter

Powered by WPeMatico

POPI is the wake-up call your IT needs

POPI is the wake-up call your IT needs

POPI is the wake-up call your IT needs

We have all spent countless hours attempting to become experts on the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act and, if you conduct business in Europe, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). If you’re anything like me, you still feel a long way from fully understanding the implications of these legislations. Unfortunately, clear or not, the urgency is real.

When I read the warnings that fill our media, and the scramble for information, I’m reminded of the Y2K bug. Just like 1999, we are getting close to a full-scale panic about compliance, fines and the potential loss of business if we don’t make some pretty big changes.

While the eyes of every business are on your IT systems, there is a huge opportunity that you can take advantage of. POPI and GDPR are not just about privacy or incredible fines. They present an opportunity to take a holistic look at your security portfolio, and underline the necessary steps you need to take to become compliant.

Security is a business problem, not an IT problem, and with the support of business leaders, you can build on POPI and GDPR to create an end-to-end strategy for your IT systems. It’s an opportunity to gain much greater visibility of your network, and preparing you for any future changes or possible attacks that may occur.

Getting ahead of growing networks through automation
In the event of a security attack, particularly if malware is involved, IT systems have to be taken offline. This can cost a company millions in lost revenue, and longer lasting damage to its reputation.

The potential sources for security breaches are huge, and that, to me, is the biggest catalyst for action. Every business is becoming more reliant on connected things, from old operational technology (like energy sensors) to GPS, to the latest connected lighting or locking systems. Your network is an enormous web of endpoints, from the core out to the millions of user devices at the edge, and customer data can travel through any one of them.

Without looking at this entire landscape, and applying some more rigorous security policies, the loss of customer data in the future is almost inevitable.

When I speak to CIOs, I hear a lot about the need to audit the entire network to understand every place that customer data can touch. This is key to POPI and GDPR compliance of course, but if we stop there, we only tackle half the issue.

To achieve real end-to-end security, CIOs should work towards:

1. Segmenting the network so that each individual user and device can be reviewed separately

2. Automating the network configuration using machine learning

Using this combination, we will see machines become wise to individual devices and user behaviours, meaning they will act when a new behaviour is recognised. The subsequent actions could be network re-authentication, quarantining or blacklisting the user or device. All without the intervention of IT staff.

As the network continues to grow exponentially, IT systems are running to keep up. POPI and GDPR are just the beginning of a bigger security concern that is never going to go away. To effectively manage endpoint security, end users and user devices in a secure and sustainable way, we can no longer view the network as piecemeal. The network of the future will represent a single ecosystem, with the ability to create unique policies at any time, in any location. It’s our best chance to get ahead of what’s coming.

By Pieter Engelbrecht, Business Unit Manager for HPE Aruba

Powered by WPeMatico

Kenya gets new cybersecurity policy

Kenya gets new cybersecurity policy

Aon Kenya has launched an enterprise cyber risk policy.

Aon Kenya, an insurance company has launched an enterprise Cyber Enterprise Solutions with the aim to protect businesses against cybercriminals, data loss and the potential ramifications of a cyber-incident. According to the company, the policy covers products liability to address Internet of Things exposures, offers comprehensive and integrated enterprise-wide coverage against cyber risk.

Aon Kenya Chief Executive Officer Sammy Muthui said the launch is a response to the growing cyber-criminality threatening companies, with hackers increasingly targeting sectors that are digital-savvy, especially with the rise of financial technology and internet banking. Muthi said this is not just limited to financial sectors.

The policy provides comprehensive cyber risk cover, including cover for property damage. It also includes cyber terrorism coverage; privacy and security liability and event expense coverage; and media liability and technology errors and omissions by endorsement.

“Data is an organisation’s most valuable asset but it’s also most vulnerable asset. However, as businesses and companies grow, so do their exposure to cyber risk. This simply means that as the value of a business grows, it raises its profile among hackers,” said Muthui.

“Our simplified policy wording and holistic approach to risk management and incident response means clients and brokers can feel confident about what they are getting,” Muthui said.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
Follow Fundisiwe Maseko on Twitter
Follow IT News Africa on Twitter

Powered by WPeMatico

Top 5 steps to ensure your IoT strategy is a success

Top 5 steps to ensure your IoT strategy is a success

Five steps to ensure your IoT strategy is a success. (image source: pixabay.com)

Whether it’s a smart scale in our home, which advises us how to adapt our eating and exercise regimes, or a smart shelf within a retail store that is able to ‘restock’ itself using sensors which automatically trigger stock orders as shelves empty, it’s easy to get excited about the possibilities the Internet of Things (IoT) revolution brings to both our homes and the workplace.

It’s important though not to get too carried away by the current hype around IoT and make sure that the projects you want to implement are going to yield proper returns on investment. You might think you have an amazing idea but what are its actual business benefits?

To ensure your IoT project is a success, there are a few simple steps businesses can follow.

1. Identify your challenges
Before getting started make sure you understand the challenges you face both inside and outside your organisation. Generally, there are three areas you need to take into consideration, including people, technology and process.

It’s important that all your business stakeholders are aligned with what you are trying to achieve. Another consideration would be your legal environment. Are there any pieces of legislation which you need to adhere to or which may prevent you from proceeding?

Before you start, make sure all your data sources are available and that you can use them. You also need to think about how you will anonymise that data.

2. Set realistic goals
As with any project, you will need to set goals and make sure you can realise them in a reasonable amount of time – this would be roughly one to six months for a starter project. When starting out your focus should be on solutions which are easy to implement but also offer high value.

Good examples of these types of projects might include offloading your data from a data warehouse and then enhancing that data with data from social media to gain a better understanding of your customer environment.

Avoid solutions that are complicated and offer low value as these will only get you in trouble.

Ultimately your aim will be to implement solutions which are more complex but also offer significant value, for example, predictive maintenance. You want to arrive in a space where you can not only predict what will happen but actually influence it.

3. Select relevant data sources
Once you have set your goals you can go about selecting the right data sources. These would include IT infrastructure or data centre infrastructure, but will also likely involve a lot of industrial information from devices such as cameras, heavy machinery, cars or the drivers of these cars.

4. Build the eco-system
Your next step is to determine the eco-system necessary to help you work with different data types and handle different speeds of data ingestion. Does your environment require you to handle data streams in milliseconds or are you able to process data in hours, or perhaps even a few days later?

Ultimately, your goal is to have these environments automated as much as possible such that they manage themselves, freeing you to focus on the business outcome of your solution. You’ll also want to try and reduce the time it takes to set up your IoT environment – so when introducing appliances think about easy management, integration and scalability.

To simplify things, you should implement data-in-place processing. Think about a lake containing petabytes of data – ideally, you don’t want to have to move that data to an application and should rather move the application to your data. This not only saves you time, but will also make your life easier with regards to network load, infrastructure load and so on.

5. Integrate data sources
Once your ecosystem is in place, you need to start integrating various sources of data, such as the data from your warehouse and data from unstructured sources like social media. This will enable you to start building a 360-degree profile of your clients, and then combine that information with web analytics to understand your clients’ buying behaviour.

Once you have these processes in place, you can begin to transform your business models, drive greater efficiencies, and ultimately, help promote an enhanced quality of life in whichever sector you operate.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
Follow Fundisiwe Maseko on Twitter
Follow IT News Africa on Twitter

Powered by WPeMatico

Blockchain could make bank reconciliation easier

Blockchain could make bank reconciliation easier

Blockchain could make bank reconciliation easier, lowering banking costs for consumers.

Blockchain is a buzz word that isn’t going away. Yet few people in the financial industry truly understand the technology and the implications thereof.

Blockchain is an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two entities efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way. Theoretically, reconciliation done by the intermediaries that currently process these transactions for us such as lawyers, brokers and bankers might no longer be required – as individual entities could freely transact with little friction. This is the promise of blockchain.

Despite the potential for massive impact, as a new market infrastructure or foundational technology, blockchain still has a long way to go prior to becoming ubiquitous. The adoption will be gradual, so don’t expect a sudden disruptive big bang.

Like many in the global financial industry, BBD’s financial sector clients are exploring blockchain as the next big technological advance. Matthew Barnard, an executive at BBD, explains: “The truth of the matter is that we don’t yet have the how or the why, as multiple versions of the tech are still in the experimental phase. Banks are not at the stage where they fully realise the business case. More experimentation and understanding is needed before any bank can claim to be significantly reducing costs at this stage.”

It is important to understand that the blockchain needs a whole network of participants to work together, as the real benefit of the technology is only found at scale. Bluntly put, there is no advantage to one person or one bank verifying a transaction for themselves.

So far it is not only start-ups launching themselves into the blocksphere. Unlike start-ups, banks are a part of existing communication networks which exist on a global and local scale. SWIFT, for instance, is the most dominant alliance between global banks. It allows for banks to move money and transactions between the different global branches of different banks. It forms a communication community for transactions. SWIFT is currently running a blockchain proof-of-concept with 22 global banks to help with Nostra account monitoring.

In South Africa, the South African Financial Blockchain Consortium (SAFBC) and Springblock are allowing local financial institutions to create the necessary network to work together to discover the potential for blockchain usage in South Africa.

Blockchain has the potential to effectively lower the cost of banking because, as Barnard points out, a significant percentage of a bank’s efforts is spent on reconciliation. With blockchain that reconciliation would theoretically be instantaneous, effectively lowering costs for the bank and consumer.

While this sounds very positive, the reality is that a lot must still be determined before the technology can become an industry norm. Below are three areas of concern that must be addressed before the industry can move forward with this digitally disruptive technology.

1. Speed, scalability and interoperability
For the digital blockchain ledger to reduce the cost of reconciliation, a vast number of transactions must be processed each second. Currently, the bitcoin blockchain can only process around seven transactions per second, which is slow when compared to the tens of thousands of transactions processed by the card payment networks today. There are many initiatives trying to address the speed and scalability constraints (these also require compromises) e.g. the size of the blocks can be increased, compression added, cryptography and cross blockchains. An initiative called the Lightning Network (LN) is trying to address the speed issues in blockchain.

Additionally, there will be many different blockchains for different purposes as to solve end-to-end use cases these blockchains will have to be able to be interoperable – this is not something easily done at present. Aion Network is working on solutions in this space and worth looking into.

Regardless of any possible solutions currently being aired, the speed for transaction processing is a big issue that must be resolved.

2. Privacy, security and regulation
Blockchain technology can allow every participant in the network to see each transaction that is taking place (not the specifics, but the fact that a transaction is taking place). Barnard asks the question: “Would you be happy for everyone to know exactly how much you’re being paid a month for instance?”. It is therefore important for us to understand what information is being communicated, who can see it, and what the implications are on regulation such as PoPI.

On the flipside, everyone can see all the bitcoin transitions ever done, but you can’t see who the actual entity is behind the transaction. This leads to the cryptocurrencies being used for black market transactions.

Additionally, your security is only as secure as your private key, lose that and someone can take all your money. Digital wallets and cryptocurrency exchanges have also been hacked with millions of dollars stolen, and given that they are unregulated you have no recourse to the local regulators.

Barnard believes that private as opposed to public blockchains in the financial services sector is one way forward. Private networks allow only a set of specific participants to have access and knowledge of the transactions taking place.

A start-up company called Zcash is doing great work in this area of blockchain using zero-knowledge cryptography.

3. Clear business case
Maybe the most important question that will need to be answered is, “Will this technology save people money, and can you prove it?”, and are the incumbent financial institutions the right stakeholders, or will the start-ups trying to disintermediate them and succeed first.

As with most changes there will not be one clear winner, but we expect to see a growing number of specific use cases tested in the market and resolving specific problems.

Although it is only in the experimental phase, and offers huge promise, the industry is rife with innovation around blockchain and its possible uses. It will be a while yet until blockchain technology is ubiquitous, and before any of that is possible, the concerns pointed out above will need to be addressed.

The end game should be good for the consumer, but that benefit will not be seen in the short term.

By Matthew Barnard, BBD executive

Powered by WPeMatico

Zuckerberg fires back at Trump over Facebook barb

Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg fired back at US President Donald Trump on Wednesday after he accused the leading social network of being “always anti-Trump.”

Zuckerberg rejected the notion, countering that Facebook is working to ensure “free and fair elections” with an online platform that does not favor one side over another.

Zuckerberg’s post at Facebook came after Trump accused the social network of bias in a morning tweet that read:

“Facebook was always anti-Trump.The Networks were always anti-Trump hence,Fake News, @nytimes(apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?”

Early morning Twitter tizzies have become a hallmark of Trump’s presidency.

“Trump says Facebook is against him. Liberals say we helped Trump,” Zuckerberg said in his post.

“Both sides are upset about ideas and content they don’t like. That’s what running a platform for all ideas looks like.”

Facebook last week said that Russia-linked ads on the social network aimed at inflaming tensions around last year’s US presidential election will be given to Congress.

The ads sought to sow discord among Americans on hot-button social issues.

News of the decision came with word that Facebook is cracking down on efforts to use the leading social network to meddle with elections in the US or elsewhere.

“After the election, I made a comment that I thought the idea misinformation on Facebook changed the outcome of the election was a crazy idea,” Zuckerberg said.

“Calling that crazy was dismissive and I regret it. This is too important an issue to be dismissive.”

He held firm that Facebook biggest role in the election was as a platform for candidates and citizens to communicated directly with one another regarding issues.

The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked top tech companies Google, Facebook and Twitter to testify about Russian interference in US politics, a Senate aide confirmed Wednesday.

The three internet and online social media giants are expected to appear on November 1 in an open hearing on the rising evidence that they were covertly manipulated in a campaign to help Donald Trump win the presidency.

A core question in the congressional investigation is the extent to which online social networks were manipulated by Russian interests to covertly influence the US election, according to Representative Adam Schiff, a Democrat and the ranking member of the House permanent select committee on intelligence.

Russia has denied meddling with the US election.

“We will do our part to defend against nation states attempting to spread misinformation and subvert elections,” Zuckerberg said.

Powered by WPeMatico

Google, Facebook, Twitter asked to testify in Russia probe

The Senate Intelligence Committee has asked top tech companies Google, Facebook and Twitter to testify about Russian interference in US politics, a Senate aide confirmed Wednesday.

The three internet and online social media giants are expected to appear on November 1 in an open hearing on the rising evidence that they were covertly manipulated in a campaign to help Donald Trump win the presidency.

Before that they could also testify in the House Intelligence Committee: Representatives Mike Conaway and Adam Schiff, who lead the committee’s Russia probe, announced late Wednesday they too had invited representatives of technology firms to testify on Russian manipulation.

“Congress and the American people need to hear this important information directly from these companies,” they said.

Facebook recently revealed that for just $100,000, apparent Russia-linked buyers placed some 3,000 advertisements on its pages last year that appeared aimed at influencing the election.

Facebook has turned the details of those ads over to investigators. According to reports, the ads sought to boost the Democratic and Republican rivals of then-election frontrunner Hillary Clinton, as well as to sow discord among Americans in ways that would damage Clinton’s voter base.

“The vast majority of ads run by these accounts didn’t specifically reference the US presidential election, voting or a particular candidate,” Facebook Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos said early this month.

“Rather, the ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the ideological spectrum — touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights.”

Google, a unit of Alphabet, has said it was not used in the alleged Russian campaign to steer the US election.

But according to Buzzfeed, its automated ad-targeting system lets advertisers direct ads to people using racist and anti-Semitic search terms.

Twitter meanwhile has been shown to be a dense thicket of easily faked accounts and news items that allowed alleged Russian operatives to pump out politically divisive and anti-Clinton tweets.

Powered by WPeMatico