Apple apologizes for slowing iPhones, offers discounted batteries

Apple on Thursday apologised to its customers for slowing down performance of older iPhone models and said it would discount replacement batteries for some of its handsets.

The move by Apple responded to an uproar from iPhone users — and a series of lawsuits — after news of the battery problems stoked concerns the company was unfairly nudging consumers to upgrade.

“We know that some of you feel Apple has let you down. We apologize,” Apple said in a message to customers on its website.

“We’ve always wanted our customers to be able to use their iPhones as long as possible. We’re proud that Apple products are known for their durability, and for holding their value longer than our competitors’ devices.”

Apple said it was reducing the price of an out-of-warranty iPhone battery replacement from $79 to $29 for anyone with an iPhone 6 or later whose battery needs to be replaced, starting in late January through December 2018.

The company said it also would issue a software update to make it easier for customers to see if an aging battery is affecting performance.

“As always, our team is working on ways to make the user experience even better, including improving how we manage performance and avoid unexpected shutdowns as batteries age,” the statement said.

The controversy erupted last week after Apple acknowledged a feature to “smooth out” spikes in demand for power to prevent iPhone 6 models from shutting down due to the cold or weak batteries.

Rumors had persisted for years at tech news websites devoted to Apple products and among fans of the company’s products that iPhone performance was being intentionally slowed, perhaps to push users to buy newer models.

Apple’s latest statement said that “we have never — and would never — do anything to intentionally shorten the life of any Apple product, or degrade the user experience to drive customer upgrades.”

But it noted that “batteries are consumable components that become less effective as they chemically age” and that factors such as heat can affect performance.

Apple said a software update last year “manages the maximum performance of some system components when needed to prevent a shutdown” and that “in some cases users may experience longer launch times for apps and other reductions in performance.”

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The changing face of Enterprise Resource Planning

The changing face of Enterprise Resource Planning

Stuart Scanlon, Managing Director of epic ERP.

Today’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) is a far cry from the cumbersome and expensive systems of the past. With the cloud, mobility, and machine-learning taking centre stage on the corporate agenda, the evolution of ERP has become as much a symbol of the times as it has a business imperative.

Traditional ERP approaches were often difficult to implement and took months to integrate effectively with existing systems and processes. Typically, only large enterprises had the funds to go the ERP route with the rest of the market having to make do with cobbled-together solutions hardly designed for such a mission-critical role. However, despite its level of importance, ERP was predominantly focused on finance and accounting with little regard given to the rest of the business.

And when it came to bespoke development, the off-the-shelf ERP solution was not something that could be effectively customised for company-specific requirements. Granted, this was not only limited to ERP but to many other IT systems at the time. For the better part of two decades, ERP was kept as the preserve of those who could afford it and had the patience and resources to ensure its effective implementation.

A new world
During the past few years this has changed. There has been a resurgence in ERP not just because of what it can do for an organisation but as reflective of how it has grown to be more in tune with current trends and business approaches.

While it might seem unfair to paint ERP as a picture of the slow-moving behemoth of the past, there was certainly the perception that it was just that. Whether it is thanks to the changing importance of data or an increased awareness of what ERP can deliver, this was no longer the case.

In many respects this can be attributed to how technology has permeated every facet of business. Even CIOs are no longer seen as just being responsible for managing hardware and software inside the organisation but as integral to its success when it comes to embracing new innovations for competitive advantage. With the modern enterprise moving away from the silo approach, ERP has a key part to play in ensuring there is collaboration and integration that takes place between systems.

Reinvention of the enterprise
Business agility goes together with the shift towards the digital environment. And while it might seem contradictory to say, ERP is essential to this. Companies must operate in a real-time environment if they are to differentiate themselves and continue to be relevant.

ERP has been instrumental in this. The modern, more flexible incarnation is now all about empowering decision-makers to perform their jobs more effectively by giving them the opportunity to focus more on implementing strategy and less on back-end system integration.

The glue of the modern business is ERP keeping all components running smoothly and in unison. Thanks to virtualisation and the cloud, ERP has also become affordable to even small companies giving them the ability to ‘pick and choose’ the elements most important for their current business needs. And because its focus is less on just managing the books and paying accounts, ERP can also be better customised to more dynamic business needs.

The business scenario in which ERP works is far removed from its traditional roots. Say hallo to a more nimble, adaptable, and cost-effective enterprise world.

By Stuart Scanlon, managing director of epic ERP

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Tech trends set to dominate hospitality in 2018

Tech trends set to dominate hospitality in 2018

Danny Bryer is Area Director, Sales, Revenue and Marketing Management, Protea Hotels by Marriott.

Destinations often focus on where travellers are choosing to go, since places can become trendy – one year it may be Bali, the next, Dubai. These kinds of consumer trends have featured heavily on lists for many years. Increasingly, however, it’s not where travellers are going, but how they’re being reached by marketers, how they’re researching and how they book. It’s also about how they experience their holidays, and all of these elements are indicative of the lengths to which technology has infiltrated the tourism experience.

Take a look at the past 25 years. Within that relatively short period, mobile devices have, overwhelmingly, been placed in the hands of consumers that empower them. They choose to research and plan their holidays online, pay for them the same way, and curate them via social media platforms. It’s almost unthinkable that we used to store up our memories on 24-unit film rolls, hoping that they wouldn’t get accidentally exposed, and then we’d have to get them developed before placing them in an album that we’d have to physically show to friends and family. Now, you can say, “hey, mom, look where I am today”, from the other side of the globe.

That’s a simple illustration of consumer adoption of technology, but it mirrors the parallel adoption of tech within the hospitality sector.

From facilitating guest experiences with feedback apps on property, to rolling out marketing campaigns based on data-driven insights about guests and then also providing slick payment options, it’s all changed.

Customer experience management
Customer, or in our case, visitor experience management has taken over from customer service as a focus. Businesses recognise the need to personalise what they have on offer, since this is what the market expects. However, despite this knowledge of the need that exists, companies are lagging behind when it comes to strategic implementation of initiatives that work towards enhanced visitor experiences.

In 2018 we expect to see CEM roles created within hospitality groups with this goal in mind. An entirely new career option that’s been created upon demand. The Customer Experience Manager will be tasked with tracking the visitor’s experience at all touch points and, where necessary, streamlining processes to improve on this. It’s not just a customer-facing role (or for hotel professionals who do that), it’s a behind-the-scenes examination of everything that goes into a hotel stay.

Smart keys, connectivity, chatbots and apps
Connectivity allows for many enhancements to the visitor experience, from smart keys that allow access to rooms from mobile devices to Instant Messaging apps that allow the visitor to communicate with hotel staff. Chatbots can reduce the time human agents have to spend dealing with inquiries by providing basic information via websites, or, if the bots are Artificial Intelligence-driven, perform more complex tasks.

AI is key to data-driven business, since it can assist with workflow optimisation, route queries according the best agents to resolve them and refine processes, making it easier for hotels and customers to conduct business.

Another application for a chatbot is in training – in a large, perhaps multi-national company where consistency is high on demand, it may not be possible to train thousands of people all at once on a new product, but a chatbot allows teams to receive training right where they are by asking it questions.

Security and data protection
While on the subject of data, it’s clear that hospitality businesses need to seal the places where personal data could leak. There have need numerous stories of data breaches in the news recently – it’s no longer an option to secure your business and customer data – it’s a must.

Let’s say your guest’s personal information gets leaked. An unscrupulous hacker could call up a contact centre and use that information to answer security questions for the purpose of identity verification. A couple of minutes, and they could access online profiles, change details and passwords, effectively becoming that person.

Hospitality companies can look towards more watertight forms of identity verification such as biometric identification. Voice authentication is one such solution that closes many of the security question loopholes, for example. It’s fast, simple and secure, making the experience a far smoother, safer one for guests.

Will we see Bitcoin and the wider Blockchain trust economy taking a stronger foothold in hospitality? It’s highly likely, although, this is largely at the experimental or explorative phase, so we won’t see Blockchain-based solutions being rolled out on a grand scale in the near future – but watch this space.

It still comes down to trends – what visitors want and how to deliver that – but the options are so much more sophisticated now; we can reach our market in their own homes, on their devices, and speak to them in a language that appeals to them.

By Danny Bryer is Area Director, Sales, Revenue and Marketing Management, Protea Hotels by Marriott.

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Next-level education embraces technology as an essential tool

Next-level education embraces technology as an essential tool

Craige Fleischer Samsung’s Director of Integrated Mobility.

One area in which technological advances are making a significant impact is in education. Since the introduction of modern schools, the way in which children are taught has lacked the inclusion of multi-dimensional thought processes. Today, the need to focus on holistic learning is even more urgent as future generations move into a fast-changing workplace.

In Keith Sawyer’s book ‘The New Science of Learning,’ he states that, “By the twentieth century, all major industrialised countries offered formal schooling to all of their children. When these schools took shape in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, scientists didn’t know very much about how people learn. Even by the 1920s, when schools began to become the large bureaucratic institutions that we know today, there still was no sustained study of how people learn. As a result, the schools we have today were designed around common-sense assumptions that had never been tested scientifically.”

Education systems around the world haven’t effectively addressed learner’s ability to absorb information. As the modern world shifts, new information and ways of using that information has changed what learners need to know, including the way in which they interact with and absorb knowledge.

While education systems have evolved to an extent to include conceptual understanding as well as more practical learning, there is still a long way to go in addressing the real-world needs of future generations. This is where technology has stepped in – changing the way students interact with the material they’re required to learn as well as the way in which they absorb and experience this information.

Tech Reach
According to Sawyer, learners need “to learn integrated and usable knowledge, rather than sets of compartmentalised and decontextualised facts. They need to be able to take responsibility for their own continuing, lifelong learning. These abilities are important to the economy, to the continued success of participatory democracy and to living a fulfilling, meaningful life.”

How technology can address this new way of learning has been explored using augmented reality, virtual reality and mixed reality – technologies that enhance teacher instruction at the same time as creating fun, engaging and immersive lessons. A peek into future classrooms will see learners fully engaged with VR sets and a complete immersion into concepts, problem-solving, facts, scenarios and multi-layered subject matter.

While some countries have been able to fully embrace new technology in schools and universities, the uptake is highly dependent on teacher skill levels and funding. But all educational institutions need to make a start. This includes introducing learners to technology by allowing them to have their own individual devices, thus expanding their learning and understanding of digital domains. This helps learners to internalise the study material and connect better with their peers and teachers.

A new beginning
At Samsung, we apply the latest technology, human and financial resources to create and run regionally-tailored education programs that offer relevant and valuable learning opportunities. One such example is the partnership Samsung has with Walter Sisulu University (WSU) in the Eastern Cape, South Africa where over 2,800 Samsung Galaxy Tab E 9.6” devices were purchased by the University between 2016/7 for their first-time entering students in selected extended programme qualifications. This has not only substantially eased student and lecturer work-load, but has also given students unprecedented access to information and the ability to create and submit assignments and other learning tasks on the go.

Students have access to e-learning materials and the internet, allowing them to further explore their areas of learning and conduct their own additional research. Students are also able to access the university online learning management system (called WiSeUp), anywhere on campus. The devices have become a critical part of the performance of students, underlying the importance of integrating technology with education. “The tablet initiative has been a success in enhancing both teaching and learning at the university. Our students’ motivation to learn has increased and they have expressed that the tablets have created the ability to learn anywhere on- and off-campus.” (Tabile Loqo, Institutional Co-ordinator for Extended Curricula Programmes).

Technology is not just the future, it’s now, which is why it’s essential for every student in the world to gain experience with devices and technology, so they can learn the basic skills required for entering the workplace and interacting with the world.

Samsung worked closely with the WSU Centre for Learning and Teaching Development (CLTD) and in-house e-learning specialists to ensure that relevant specifications were met. In addition to the devices, some departments within the Faculty of Natural Sciences have purchased learning software, which is installed on the student tablets to enhance their learning experience. The software provides video and MP3 tutorials, access to virtual laboratories in which students can conduct laboratory experiments and much more.

As part of the project, Samsung also conducted training for the approximately 120 lecturers who would be using tablets in their teaching. Beyond this, the lecturers are receiving ongoing additional in-depth training. This training focuses on integrating technology into their teaching and learning methods, with the tablets serving as the devices that lecturers are trained on. This extra training is being conducted by WSU e-learning specialists and material developers based at CLTD.

Future evolution
In response to this changing world, companies and researchers are rapidly bringing new products and services to market and transforming entire industries. These will require an upskilled workforce and employment of new talent that is competent at working with these new cognitive technologies. Our partnership with WSU equips their graduates to become frontrunners in gaining employment and driving innovation in this new world.

Today’s young generation are looking at a vastly different future to that of their parent’s – a future that hasn’t yet been fully visualised and will require evolutionary thinking and the ability to consistently adapt and address novel changes and challenges. The future of this world is highly dependent on our learners being given the opportunity to embrace technology and fully engage with innovation.

By Craige Fleischer, Samsung’s Director of Integrated Mobility

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Are insurance companies checking your social media?

Are insurance companies checking your social media?

Are insurance companies checking your social media?

Have you ever gotten the feeling that insurance companies know a lot more about your personal life than they let on? Rumours have circulated for some time that insurance companies are keeping tabs on our social media accounts. But, is there any truth to this? And how does it affect you?

Big Insurance Is Watching You
Here’s a scary thought. It doesn’t matter where you are or what you’re doing, chances are that it’s being recorded in one way or another. The internet, for example, contains much more information about us than most people would care to realise.

Just like anything else, chances are pretty good that any such information can be accessed.

Such is the diabolical nature of an exceedingly connected world. Everything we do on our computers or smartphones or tablets all contributes to Big Data, a huge, expanding tome of information. The internet is a great resource for those looking to gather information, and can be mined by organisations or individuals.

What they choose to do with their findings could benefit the company or society as a whole. But, let’s say you were trolling Twitter at the exact moment you happened to plough your car into the back of somebody’s hatchback on the highway… Well, that’s not going to benefit you at all.

We surrender our rights to a certain amount of privacy when we take to social media. This allows insurers, for example, a certain amount of access to our ‘personal’ lives. Big Data knows where we are, where we shop, where we eat, the routes we drive, etc.

What we put on social media moves into the public domain, and unfortunately for you – Mr. Out Drunk With My Boyz At Hooters Three Hours Before My Car Crash Group Selfie Uploader – we don’t have much control over that.

Imagine what insurers could do with all that information? To pick your exercise routines and diet apart before granting your life insurance. To look into your genetic code and medicinal habits. They know it all.

Luckily for us, in South Africa we have laws.

Separating Insurance Facts From Myth
Many people have had negative experiences when the time has come to claim. Or, they have a negative perspective on the insurance industry as a whole. We’ve all heard horror stories, but this stuff is largely myth, or a result of misunderstanding. Generally speaking, insurance companies pay up without much trouble.

This is, however, a business… And would you willingly pay up if somebody were trying to dupe you? Insurance is a gambling game, and just like casinos, cheating isn’t taken very lightly. Insurers may not drag you out back and break your kneecaps with a ballpoint hammer, but they have the right to deny your fraudulent claim.

The entire insurance game is based on trust. Policy holders who make inflated or deceitful claims abuse that trust and make everything more difficult for the honest folk.

For these reasons, insurers will gather information on you and also verify that information when you apply for cover, as well as when you claim.

Let’s say your son, who had been driving drunk and wrapped your BMW around a tree, posted about it on his Facebook. You then file a claim and tell the insurer some story about you driving on a slippery road, blah blah blah. The insurer then investigates the claim and finds your son’s Facebook post.

Bingo. Claim rejected. Because you’re a liar.

Now, if insurers weren’t checking these things they would simply pay out, causing premiums to go up for everybody else. In a sense, these measures are protecting honest people, as well as the insurer.

How Insurance Companies Gather Information
Although all of this information is widely available, South African law puts limitations on how it can be used. Insurance companies are not permitted to cross a line and infringe upon your privacy rights. They’re not allowed to sneak around or gather information in underhanded ways, such as hacking, wire-tapping, etc.

They have a number of avenues they may utilise to collect information.

Their primary source is that which you provide them with on your application form, over telephone discussions, when you take out any cover and on the form you complete when submitting a claim.

Questions on the claim form may include matters that go beyond the actual claim. The answers you provide will be compared to what they have on record, and presumably, everything should match.

Information in the public domain can be gathered from a number of sources. These include police records, property ownership, etc. as well as the endless well of data that is the internet. Insurers may use this to corroborate the information you’ve provided them with.

Insurance companies, of course, do not have direct access to your social media accounts, but they will dig deep until they find a post that your friends may have shared, or a photo that’s been forwarded. We can restrict our privacy settings, but we have no control over how our friends share our information.

Other methods of information gathering may include:

Private Information Accessed With Your Consent
An insurer may have a clause stating that they have the right to request access to your personal banking or medical records. You may be asked to provide this consent when claiming. If you don’t grant them permission, it may appear suspicious and the insurer may even obtain a court order to access these records.

Your credit history is also private, but permission to access this is required upfront. You will typically be required to disclose any abnormalities before the insurer agrees to cover you. This history will be used to evaluate your level of risk, and subsequently determine your premium.

Loss Adjustors
Specialists may be brought in to assess your claim. If you’d had a house fire, they’ll come in to investigate how the fire started. Burglary might involve them checking your home security such as alarms or burglar bars. The higher the claim is, the more thorough the investigation.

They’ll look at police or fire department records, any financial motives you might have, etc. If the loss adjuster reports any inconsistencies to what you’ve reported in your claim, that’s a red flag.

Insurance Companies Will Share Information
The South African Insurance Association has created a database called the Insurance Data System for short-term insurers. This gives them access to your claims over the past seven years across all insurers, and therefore also any trends which may have emerged.

Are They Allowed To Do This?
According to MoneyWeb, who reported on this very subject a few months ago, only two South African insurance companies have admitted to using social media at the assessment stage. It may be that some insurers are still reluctant to use this kind of approach.

It could be that they are concerned about privacy rights, or flouting laws that forbid the interception of communication.

Most insurance policies, however, require us, at claims stage, to provide all proof of what has occurred. Therefore, consent to use information in our social media accounts could be implied. And as stated before, pretty much everything we put online is already in public domain, and therefore no longer private.

This may work for sniffing out fraudulent claims, but how will it affect honest claims in the future? If for instance, you post photos of the interior of your house or security system and are then promptly robbed? What if you declare for the world to see that you’ll be on holiday for two months and your house will be left unoccupied? Could this be construed as reckless, and held against you?

The best we can hope for is that these companies use the information they find responsibly, and be mindful of everything we do ourselves.

Every time you sign up, log in or click ‘I Agree’ – you’re relinquishing your right to complete privacy.

Contributed by Jason Snyman, CompareGuru

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The expedient rise of a cashless society and how this is disrupting banking

The expedient rise of a cashless society and how this is disrupting banking

Brian Richardson, CEO and founder of WIZZIT International.

The evolution in payment systems has changed from trading with physical commodities like shells, gold and livestock; to fiat money like paper notes and credit cards that in itself, has no intrinsic value. Money has taken many forms – driven by the economic circumstances and technological developments of the day.

The current age is no different. Advances in computer sciences and information technology has had a huge impact on commerce and how money is defined and interacted with. Cash, as a means of payment, could be on the decline and has been for decades. In the digital age, a cashless future is the essential next step in economic evolution.

Cashless pacesetters
First-world countries like Canada, Norway, Sweden and Denmark are drastically tightening the noose on hard cash with intentions to abandon the paper currency altogether. New laws now prohibit large cash transactions and bank branches no longer accept or offer cash.

In Denmark, retailers are authorised by the government to refuse cash payments for petrol and groceries. Donations to the homeless can be made and received with new tech innovations making cash redundant, enabling all population groups to make the transition into a cashless society.

The rest of the world is following suit to capitalise on the opportunities and benefits of the digital age. Developing countries are littered with drivers of the imminent cashless evolution.

The power of inclusion
A cashless society is exactly what African banks, businesses and citizens need, given that roughly 326 million Africans don’t have access to formal financial services. Financial inclusion means access to potentially billions of dollars, currently residing in piggy banks and under mattresses.

Breakthrough FinTech innovations by digital and mobile banking partners are radically addressing the issue of financial exclusion on the African continent. According to the World Bank, 700 million people globally gained access to financial services between 2011 and 2014, reducing the world’s unbanked population by 20%. But there is still much work to be done.

Driven by the rapid penetration of mobile phones, mobile banking solutions like mobile bank accounts, mobile wallets and virtual cards are disrupting established models in the financial landscape, fast-tracking the digital transformation of banking.

Digital business as usual
E-commerce in Africa is growing by 26% every year, as is the demand for alternative online payment solutions. Banks, businesses and citizens are losing out on the benefits and potential profits of online shopping. The gatekeeper? Traditional credit cards. Despite rapid mobile and internet penetration, millions of Africans are unable to shop online simply because they don’t have a bank card that enables them to shop online. About half of those with credit cards fear online fraud and refrain from transacting online.

Superior security and profit potential
In a cashless world, money is nothing more than electronic ones and zeros transferred between computers in seconds. Without physical money to count, process, transport and store, banks can raise profit margins by cutting down on related security risks, costly ATM maintenance, delinquent loans and human error.

Cash is expensive for the consumers too. Cash can’t earn interest and can easily be stolen, not to mention time and travel costs to and from ATM and bank branches. Making payments is just as timely and costly. Digital payment solutions like mobile bank accounts and mobile wallets, cut the queues and put customers first in line, every time. It is a secure and convenient alternative to cash under the mattress and supports purchases, cash deposits and withdrawals, money transfers and prepaid vouchers.

The bright new age of banking
FinTech innovations that cater for the unique financial needs in Africa, can give banks an unparalleled competitive edge. It can improve the lives of billions of customers who are now able to transact more efficiently and plan for the future. A cashless society is imminent. It is necessary for human prosperity and economic transformation in Africa. Banks can be ahead of the curb with the right tech innovation and partner in their arsenal.

By Brian Richardson, CEO and founder of WIZZIT International

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2018: A year of Great Potential for South Africa and the World

2018: A year of Great Potential for South Africa and the World

Doug Woolley, General Manager of Dell EMC.

The arrival of hyperscale cloud data centres in South Africa, the commercial maturing of new interactions such as Augmented Reality, and the rise of the intelligent edge paint a promising picture for 2018. But these are not just local events – globally the next year holds a lot of promise. As highlighted in the Next Era of Human-Machine Partnership report from Dell Technologies and the Institute for the Future (IFTF), some profound new realities are just around the corner.

Mega clouds are a very notable prediction from this report. ‘Mega clouds’ are so-called because they will span multiple cloud vendors. Companies and individuals will start expecting to shift workloads, data and other assets between those vendors, avoiding lock-ins and ‘cloud silos’ that are emerging as the migration away from client-server concepts continue.

In South Africa this will be preempted by the arrival of Azure hyperscale datacentres, a clear reflection of the country’s growing demand for cloud’s efficiency and innovation delivery. But the impact will be felt beyond our borders, reaching out to the rest of the SADC region. Doug Woolley, GM of Dell EMC South Africa, is particularly excited about opportunities in sub-Saharan Africa:

“It’s one of our fastest growing regions. We will look at getting more potential investment for the SADC and Indian Island territories. We see a lot of upside, we see a lot of partners engaging with us and also a lot of customers having conversations. And we’ve had good, significant wins in the territory in the past six months. I am very happy with the rate and potential there.”

With this growth of cloud will come the distinct rise of the intelligent edge. This speaks of more decision-making capacity being shifted to devices located away from the core of cloud systems. The sensor on a security system or environmental monitor will not have to wait for feedback from the central hub in order to act, thus drastically reducing response times for all types of situations. Called the IQ of Things, this revolution is already evident in our cars – where sensors feed information to local systems inside the vehicles.

Such systems will start hosting certain levels of artificial intelligence, a force that continues to reshape the world. In 2018, Dell EMC predicts this trend expanding into ‘thinking tasks’ at businesses. Using data, AIs will help companies significantly reduce time spent scoping, debating, scenario planning and testing every new innovation.

AI will also play a growing role in recruiting the right people and skills, which the report refers to as ‘bias checking’. This is the use of AI to get around human shortcomings. Not dissimilar to ‘blind’ auditions where musicians perform behind a screen, AI will be utilised to help inform hiring and promotion decisions without the unseen prejudice of humans.

Numerous companies are already using such practices. But they are the outliers. In 2018, we will start regarding them as the pioneers. Those include companies that will be using Augmented and Virtual Reality for remote interviews of candidates and engagements with customers. As digital entertainment such as e-sports grow in popularity, that tech-savvy audience will also drive the adoption of AR and VR in 2018.

Dell Technologies chairman and CEO, Michael Dell, had sight of this future when he launched the most ambitious technology merger in history between Dell and EMC, a future he has often articulated: “I think it’s nothing short of the beginning of a fourth industrial revolution, and the plot for us is being the essential infrastructure company.”

Today Dell EMC is a true end-to-end provider, from the vital infrastructure in the back to the point devices that people use to realise their ambitions. Even in South Africa, the shift has been near seamless. Less than 5 percent of employees had left the merged companies, shares have grown in key market segments, and a new partner programme is making waves with unmatched returns for everyone involved. These are things Woolley recounts with pride:

“It is always a challenge to bring two cultures together, even if they share similar outlooks. Over the past year, at a local level, we’ve managed to integrate the sales and product teams very well. On a technical level there has also been a lot work to integrate the guys under one infrastructure and leadership. From that people perspective I am very happy.”

Dell EMC believes 2018 will be a significant year in humanity’s progress and it is ready to be an active participant in that evolution, said Woolley:

“We are definitely riding that wave and having those conversations. Without sounding arrogant, I think we have positioned ourselves as the cloud infrastructure player. There is still, as an industry, work to do on how do we move effectively to the next level of cloud, and that is more around the application conversations. Dell EMC is very well positioned to have a meaningful conversation with customers on how do we cloudify their apps and get it on modern infrastructure.”

By Doug Woolley, General Manager of Dell EMC

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Wi-Fi to be seen as a “utility” in 2018 says Ruckus

Wi-Fi to be seen as a “utility” in 2018 says Ruckus

Nick Watson, Vice President for EMEA, Ruckus.

According to Gartner, artificial intelligence, immersive experiences, digital twins, event-thinking and continuous adaptive security, create a foundation for the next generation of digital business models and ecosystems will be the top strategic trends for 2018. No matter the industry, there will be significant potential for disruption as technology becomes embedded in everything in the digital business of the future and Ruckus agrees.

Nick Watson, Vice President for EMEA, Ruckus says: “Digital disruption is not new. Right from the dawn of the internet, people have been using technology to benefit business (augment an existing model) and/or disrupt an industry. The only difference today, is the speed of change. For those that are open to change, coupled with strong ideas, technology is opening up new opportunities and new ways of doing business and Wi-Fi is certainly making its mark.”

Watson shared insights into the global Wi-Fi market:

  • There are 8 times as many devices connected to Wi-Fi as there are to mobile/cellular data networks; therefore, the future of Wi-Fi looks much more like a utility rather than an add-on. This expectation is driving the need for ubiquitous coverage to accommodate emerging technologies and the increasing number of connected devices.
  • There is a move towards a free public Wi-Fi model where Ruckus anticipates larger cities to roll out smart city initiatives to improve efficiencies and drive wider connectivity.
  • The newly certified 802.11ac Wave 2 standard is opening the door to gigabit Wi-Fi. Significant advantages this standard includes: one access point can transmit multiple data streams to multiple connected device simultaneously; better overall performance with the ability to transmit larger files; more bandwidth and flexibility; and greater interoperability options. 802.11ac Wave 2 has gained ground quickly, as it provides wireless speeds as fast as–or even faster than–wired networks. Many businesses are already using Wi-Fi as the primary way to connect to the local area network (LAN)—and they are rapidly migrating to 802.11ac Wave 2 to take advantage of its performance and capabilities.
  • We are going to see an increase in people connecting to devices, along with devices connecting to devices. The Internet of Things (IoT) market in growing exponentially, and we are likely to see more practical rollouts of IoT deployments, particularly for global sustainability.
  • The ability to use virtual reality modelling (high definition video) over Wi-Fi in localised environments. Networks have always been a constraining factor but we are starting to truly realise ubiquitous communication – one where we can disregard the network, but still get a fantastic experience.
  • Everyone is talking 5G but we are likely 2 – 5 years away from a realistic delivery data. It has not been ratified as a standard and there is no clear path to market. While early adopters with low market share will try and be first to market in the hopes of gaining market traction, proof of concepts will need to be completed and verified – where standardisation will drive uptake.

From an African perspective, Riaan Graham, sales director for sub-Saharan Africa, highlighted the following:

  • Increasing effective connectivity – we see positive signs with regards to infrastructure developments across the continent and this is exactly what Africa needs.
  • There are few things that prevent Africa from truly connecting wirelessly to the internet and as these barriers fall, we are likely to see larger African cities roll out smart city initiatives in some shape and form. The technology is available but it’s up to local governments to bring budgets and departments together to make this a reality. We need a champion – someone to boldly take on this role.
  • The story of fibre in South Africa has just begun. Government plans to have fibre cables in place throughout South Africa by 2020 and while fibre to the home is continuously on the rise in South Africa’s main residential suburbs, there is still a far way to go – especially outside high affluent areas. The good news s there are a number of service providers who are focusing on fibre and driving residential connections, as more connections come online and speeds increase, prices start to drop. Fibre is bringing a more stable, reliable and faster level of connectivity that makes accessing cloud services and the possibility of the Internet of Things easier and quicker – opening up innovation for both businesses and consumers alike. What’s more, we are seeing similar models rolling out across Africa – including countries like Kenya, Botswana, Nigeria.
  • As the urbanisation of the African Cities continue to grow we will see that efficiencies in service delivery in these cities become key. How do the cities scale to service a growing urban population? Think of basic services such as water management, traffic management and waste management. All of these services are under strain. With the development of “Smart City” initiatives, new technologies such as IoT will be used to address these ever-increasing demands, ensuring real life efficiencies in service delivery. Wi-Fi is the ideal technology to use as backhaul for IoT sensors. Wi-Fi is cost effective and widely deployed in the larger African cities and will drive the mass adoption of IoT in our cities.

“Looking into 2018, we believe the state of the Wi-Fi industry continues to look positive. The bottom line is that Wi-Fi is the perfect solution for the data challenges that are coming from a worldwide infatuation with, and insatiable demand for, more and better wireless data services of all types – a utility certainly worth the investment,” concludes Graham.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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True digital enlightenment lies in data

True digital enlightenment lies in data

Yolanda Smit, Regional (Gauteng) Director at PBT Group.

The start of a year inevitably brings discussions around upcoming trends – with people debating what businesses should be taking on board to remain relevant. This is especially true within the technology space, as businesses continue to move towards becoming digitally attentive.

Given this, as digital continues to lead conversations around boardroom tables, it is becoming evident that the success of digital business lies in the accurate and timeous analysis of data, which can be leveraged, effectively, to enable digital operations.

For this reason, many companies are returning to the ‘drawing board’ and relooking the fundamentals of their data management strategy for digital success. Key to this is investigating the existing data foundation a business has in place.

However, with so much data exchange happening within a company, often decision makers focus more on investing in technology aspects, driven under the assumption that the data foundation is running effectively. Yet, with ongoing changes to governance, privacy and the focus around the security of data, existing data foundations need to be enhanced.

To truly achieve digital reformation, concerted efforts in formalising and streamlining data governance within a data foundation should become a key focus for executives. If we consider the Protection of Personal Information (PoPI) Act, which is set to come into effect at some point in 2018, there should be an urgency driving this.

As part of this process, the business will have the opportunity to automatically address, and in certain areas, enhanced data management practices – meeting governance and security requirements. Furthermore, with a robust data foundation, organisations will now have the potential to improve the quality of the data to be analysed, which can benefit the business in the results produced.

The data foundation is a critical component to the entire data strategy a business executes. In fact, the foundation will determine the capability of the business to extract insights from the information coming into the business from various sources.

And of course, a vital component to this is utilising the right skills to get the job done. This means taking on board the expertise of data architects and engineers, who have the experience and insight to shape data foundations in a way that meets these current business requirements.

The more focus a business places on digital, the more attention they will need to give to their data, as data will lead their strategies going forward and remain an important tool in achieving digital victory.

By Yolanda Smit, Regional (Gauteng) Director at PBT Group

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NITDA, Microsoft sign MoU to strengthen local ICT innovation, adoption

NITDA, Microsoft sign MoU to strengthen local ICT innovation, adoption

Director-General of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) Dr Isa Pantami PHOTO: TWITTER NITDA NIGERIA

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) and Microsoft Nigeria have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to strengthen Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Innovation and adoption in the country.

The partnership will see both NITDA and Microsoft collaborate in ICT development, particularly in the areas of cloud policies, data protection and privacy laws and data classification frameworks.

NITDA mandate is to create a framework for the planning, research, development, standardization, application, coordination, monitoring, evaluation and regulation of Information Technology practices in Nigeria.

The Nigerian Government priorities include anti-corruption drive, security; private sector led economic growth and job creation, youth training and skills development. Technology will be at the heart of driving and building a digital economy which will bring these priorities to fruition.

Speaking on the collaboration, NITDA’s Director-General/CEO, Dr. Isa Ali Ibrahim, said the agency is delighted to collaborate with Microsoft, saying “as regulators, our mandate is to create the right policies that foster innovation and help build a robust digital economy.

Nigeria is a forward-thinking economy and one which is ready to compete in the 4th industrial revolution by having policies which drive growth and encourage investments.”

He further added: “This is a positive move towards digitalization of government processes and provides a tremendous opportunity to scale up citizen’s access to services and concurrently improve the quality of services.”

Also reiterating on the collaboration, General Manager Microsoft Nigeria, Akin Banuso said Microsoft is happy to collaborate with NITDA.

Banuso noted that Microsoft is committed to providing technology “you can trust; we have been actively involved in discussions with governments around the world to digitally transform are also frequently asked by other governments to identify best practices for moving to the cloud; we are honoured to be able to work with the Nigerian government on this framework.”

The Microsoft Nigeria boss said the collaboration aimed to foster detailed discussions of recent regulatory and policy development, including global best practices, to create cloud regulatory frameworks appropriate for driving innovation and improving how the public sector operates and delivers citizen services”

NITDA and Microsoft will set up a joint working group for the collaboration.

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