Accenture Interactive launches Fjord Johannesburg

Accenture Interactive launches Fjord Johannesburg

Accenture Interactive launches Fjord Johannesburg

Accenture has launched its first design and innovation studio on African soil, Fjord Johannesburg. The move significantly expands the company’s design capabilities and demonstrates its commitment to unlocking Africa’s innovation potential through the creation of experiences that redefine industries in our constantly evolving digital era.

The new studio, opening in November, will be located at Accenture’s new 3875m² offices in Waterfall. It will be led by Marcel Rossouw, design director and studio lead for Fjord Johannesburg.

Said Rossouw, “Brands are constantly asking, ’how does one take a business need or problem, build that out into a definition of a service experience, and then bring it to market?’ It’s about re-engineering existing service experiences, identifying customer needs, prototyping rapidly, iterating often and proving or disproving assumptions. But it’s also about getting feedback from customers. The combination of these factors helps companies advance towards the ultimate service experience.”

Fjord is the design and innovation consultancy of Accenture Interactive. The Johannesburg location marks its 28th design studio globally, solidifying its position as the world’s leading design powerhouse.

Working in the same location as Accenture Interactive will allow Fjord to fuse its core design strategy DNA with the digital agency’s expertise in marketing, content and commerce to create and deliver the best customer experiences for the world’s leading brands. Accenture Interactive Africa‘s blend of intelligent design and creative use of technology has already been used by some of South Africa’s largest and most prominent brands, including Alexander Forbes, Discovery, MultiChoice and Nedbank. The digital agency has also earned industry accolades for its innovative and compelling business results, most notably two gold awards in the Service Design category at the 2017 and 2018 Loeries awards.

“Great design tells great stories,” explains Wayne Hull, managing director of Accenture Digital and Accenture Interactive lead in Africa. “It unifies a brand, drives innovation and makes the brand or service distinctive and hyper-relevant in both the digital and physical worlds. This is critical to achieving results. Having Fjord Johannesburg as part of Accenture Interactive, and collaborating with all of Accenture Africa, will provide unique experiences and forward-thinking capabilities for our clients.”

“Businesses in South Africa are becoming more design-aware and are looking to take greater advantage of design skills to compete with the rest of the world,” said Thomas Müller, head of Europe, Africa and Latin America at Fjord. “We’re excited to open our first design studio on the continent and to be part of an emerging market that is ripe for design and innovation, and open for business. Developing markets like South Africa are challenging assumptions and norms about what digital services and products are meant to be, and we’ll strive to put design at the heart of the innovation being produced there.”

Edited by Daniëlle Kruger
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Robotics play an active role in 4th Industrial Revolution

Robotics play an active role in 4th Industrial Revolution

Encouraging South African youth to play active role in 4IR Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Innovation

Paramount Group, an African-based global defence and aerospace business, proudly announces the launch of an excitingly-new annual robotics competition entitled ‘Parabotics’, a contest (commencing in January, with finals scheduled for December) open to high school pupils, college students and university undergraduates from all across South Africa.

The Parabotics competition will enable young learners to be educated and trained on how to build and program world class, desktop-scale robots, while being encouraged to pursue tertiary education in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Announced at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) Exhibition 2018, Parabotics is a Paramount Group initiative hosted in partnership with the Technology Localisation and Implementation Unit (TLIU) and the AAD Youth Development Programme (YDP). The Parabotics partnership will also include a year-long training programme , initiated annually for previously-disadvantaged youth, whereby they will receive support and training in electronics, programming and robotics.

At the YDP pavilion, which forms part of the AAD Exhibition, students will learn how to build and program a desktop-scale robot to autonomously navigate through a maze. In addition to preparation guidance for said competition, Parabotics-provided training in electronics and mechatronics will equip South African youth with next-generation skills in automation and control, machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI), technologies today required to meet the challenges and opportunities borne from the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR).

Alison Crooks, CEO of Paramount Industrial Holdings stated:” We wanted South African youth from all across the nation to be able to participate in an open-source hardware robotics competition like no other, which means also delivering training and opportunity to remote parts of the country. South Africa may be an emerging market, but we can be world class in every way; through the boons of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, we today have the potential to effectively leapfrog the west in technological proficiency. If one just looks at the products that Paramount Group has on show at AAD 2018, they are miles ahead in certain cases, than similar products available from our first-world competitors”.

The YDP will transport over 1000 youth to the AAD Exhibition 2018 from all parts of South Africa, being brought in by air, train and bus, made possible through generous sponsorships.

Members of the public are encouraged to not only watch the flying displays, but especially, to bring their children to the AAD Youth Development Pavilion where they will be able to meet members of the University of Pretoria’s Faculty of Engineering and learn more about the Parabotics Africa competition; how they can follow along at home, build the robot, and enter.

Edited by Neo Sesinye
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AI Transformation in Africa: Are you paying attention?

AI Transformation in Africa: Are you paying attention?

The fourth industrial revolution has been ushered in by the power of AI.

In the sixties, Philip Emeagwali grew up in a civil war-torn Nigeria but found the curiosity, resourcefulness and tenacity to obtain two master’s degrees in mathematics and civil engineering despite incredible odds. Inspired by a 1922 science fiction novel, Emeagwali disproved naysayers and accessed the Los Alamos National Laboratory to remotely program 65,536 processors to perform 3.1 billion calculations per second. This, amongst other notable technology advances in that era, laid the foundation for the computational models behind the Artificial Intelligence (AI) machines and mechanisms of today. In modern computational circles, he is considered one of the true AI visionaries, and a pioneer to a league of great African innovators.

Fast forward to 2018, and the fourth industrial revolution has been ushered in by the power of AI, with a potential to add $16 trillion to the global GDP and create 2.3 million new type of jobs according to data from McKinsey. Attentive and innovative nations are currently devoting significant investments towards better placement in the potential reformulation of the new world order.

Across Africa, some visionaries have also started tackling major socio-economic challenges with AI with multi-sectorial focus and outcomes. South African business icon and chief supporter for AI initiatives in Africa Andile Ngcaba once remarked “the blank slates in many areas of Africa represent massive opportunities for the brightest entrepreneurs and innovators”.

DEMO Africa, the continent’s premier launchpad for startups recently announced its 2018 class of 30 finalists for this year’s edition in Casablanca, Morocco. Six of the 30 competing startups leverage AI to tackle important socio-economic challenges across industries like finance, healthcare and agriculture.

From our vantage point, there are three (3) major factors that will drive Africa into the Fourth Industrial revolution, and these factors will be powered by AI in a new age of venture creation and innovation methods. The factors that we are betting on are Courageous Founders, Ecosystem Enablers and Infrastructure Advancements.
Courageous Founders

The six (6) DEMO finalists leveraging AI are my new favorite class of founders, as they look to transform lives for millions on the continent across a number of industries. In the health space Elcs research from Algeria has built Smarth.io, a radiology information system that helps hospitals manage cancer patients, provide access for doctors abroad to assist during busy periods and collect data used to train AI models to automate cancer diagnosis for millions who can’t make it to the hospital. In agriculture, Complete Farmer from Ghana is looking to create food sustainability in the region by offering a secure online channel for expanding local agricultural investments while employing improved seedlings, novel farming methodologies and AI-driven insights to maximize farm output.

In the industrial space, Niotek from Egypt is building industrial IOT solutions to enable manufacturing facilities automate processes to reduce errors, improve quality of service and directly impact bottom line. Casky from Morocco is making it safer to be a motorcyclist by offering an IOT safety and data collection device attachable to driver helmets, along with a SaaS platform with data analytics to improve riding habits and insurance premiums. Atlan Space also from Morocco is providing drones to track illegal fishing activity, while Chefaa from Egypt offers a smart on-demand prescription drug service to expand care to more people.

These founders along with the 24 other finalists represent the fresh crop of African entrepreneurs who, like their counterparts abroad, obsess about making the world around them a better place, but also have to display a peculiar courage and tenacity to innovate through all the infrastructure and resource gaps unique to their countries. They have shown great personality to make it this far, and hope to meet and engage with DEMO delegates who will plug their gaps and accelerate their road to impact.

Ecosystem Enablers

African governments, investors, entrepreneurs and innovation stakeholders including diasporans are beginning to build pockets of innovation ecosystemsacross the continent to promote the use of AI driven technologies in delivering solutions to some of the continent’s greatest problems.

Investors

General venture investments on the continent grew about 50% last year to the tune of about $560 million. Recently the Rise Fund invested $47.5 million in Cellulant to advance the direct application of cutting-edge technologies like AI and Blockchain to drive financial inclusion. As far back as 2011, Cellulant had built e-wallets for Nigerian farmers to receive subsidies from government and increased the reach of the national subsidy program from 1 million to 17 million farmers. Cellulant intends to continue to leverage this type of reach to expand the transformation and digitization of the Agricultural value chain across Africa.

Innovation Catalysts

Now on its 7th edition, DEMO Africa continues to provide a technology launchpad for young African startups to meet a global stage of customers, investors and enthusiasts. Moving from South to East and now North Africa via Casablanca, Morocco, the DEMO event has also focused on identifying budding ecosystems and opening them up to the rest of the world for an innovation exchange that positions that region for stronger growth and impact. This year, a good percentage of the DEMO Africa finalists are launching technologies that are AI driven.

National Governments

A number of African governments are also driving initiatives to foster a culture of solving problems with data, bringing in transparency and efficiency to the way resources are deployed. Tunisia and Kenya are two African countries that have publicized their long-term national strategies towards growing the general awareness of AI driven initiatives that will drive economic growth. A number of national governments and their respective innovation stakeholders continue to send key delegates around the world to engage in knowledge exchanges with leading global innovation actors,and return home to implement policy and infrastructure improvements that position their countries for growth powered by AI.

AI Infrastructure

The nature of infrastructure that is necessary for sustainable AI adoption and integration continues to evolve around the world especially as technology as tools and services advance towards making the complex processes of AI more practical, and expanding the required human capital pool from just statisticians and scientists to software developers, and from tier-1 engineering organizations to regular businesses. This encapsulation and abstraction layer is best delivered by cloud service providers around the world who provide access to the required big data storage, low-latency serving networks and specialized high performance computing hardware and software stack to catalyze scalable AI environments.

Cloud and mobile penetration are key to operationalizing AI in Africa, and both depend on having a strong network capacity and connectivity backbone to support smooth distribution for smart end-user services. It is no longer news that the Africa mobile phone adoption growth rate is one of highest in the world, with almost a billion connections and over 35 mobile network operators on the continent today. Several countries, such as Seychelles, Tunisia, Morocco and Ghana, have mobile subscription penetration rates in excess of 100%. Mobile phones are the primary distribution channels for new technology solutions on the continent and have already enabled companies distribute AI-powered finance, health and education solutions to users in urban and rural centers alike.

Cloud adoption is a bit slower as large corporates continue to hesitate on moving away from their already deployed on-premise infrastructure, but represents a remarkable opportunity. Companies like Deviare in South Africa continue to push the cloud & digital transformation message and have achieved considerable success transitioning younger companies to the cloud and ramping up their operations to serve millions of customers.

Internet penetration on the continent grew a further 20% in 2018, after growing more than seven times the global average from 2000 to 2012. Bandwidth and connectivity on the continent continues to grow with strategic investments to reduce cost of access. Continental pioneers like Convergence Partners, Liquid Telecom and SEACOM in collaboration with Silicon Valley players like Google, Verizon and Facebook have deployed critical infrastructure towards faster and better priced broadband services across the continent. These investments and advancements will open the doors to new digital economies across the continent driven by ubiquitous, high-speed networks that will deliver digital services to millions of citizens at affordable rates.

As African stakeholders continue to bet on future technologies like 5G, local economies will start to set infrastructure targets towards supporting everything from self-driving cars to remote medical surgery, new immersive virtual realities, drone deliveries, AI robots, intelligent agriculture, connected cities, smart logistics and more.

Africa Is Ready — Are you?

As the continent embraces the Fourth industrial Revolution, progressive thinking early adopters are using AI to address tough socio-economic challenges and ensuring that a lot more businesses are empowered with knowledge, capital and market ready resources to solve a myriad of multisectorial problems with cutting edge solutions.

The recently concluded conference for African Academics in AI — Deep Learning Indaba — saw a total of 274 top quality research papers get showcased and the likes of Nando de Freitas of DeepMind shared their experiences on the ingenuity and applicability of Africa specific research in solving problems of global relevance. Over 500 professionals in AI from within and outside the continent came together to gain knowledge and exchange global best practices that are geared towards advancing the impact of AI on the continent and empowering a self taught, youthful population that is bench-marking against global standards.

By Alex Tsado, Product Marketing Lead for Cloud Service GPU business at NVIDIA

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Digital education promises to be a game-changer

Digital education promises to be a game-changer

Digital education promises to be a game-changer. (Image Source: http://media.al.com).

The buzzword in many industries all around the world is undoubtedly digital transformation. In the education sector the key is how it will continue to revolutionise the learning experience. Simply put, the ability to share knowledge and resources at increasingly lower costs is a fundamental reason why the current eLearning or digital education environment offers such enormous potential to improve education in South Africa.

Due to budget, it is nearly impossible to expect the South African Government to single-handedly introduce digital transformation in the education system. The private sector needs to come to the party and join forces with the government, to help develop speedy and cost-effective solutions that will benefit the entire country.

Recently, an annual digital study by global agency, We are Social, revealed that just under 50% of South Africa’s total population have access to the internet, with the figure standing at 26.8 million users in January 2016. In terms of platforms used, 92% use mobile phones while 18% use a laptop or desktop computer.

With mobile being the preferred device to access information, coupled with the introduction of apps such as mobile money, instant messaging and social media, the popularity and impact of mobile technology has the potential to revolutionise and empower communities.

With the development of more affordable smartphones more people are able to access devices that enhance the growth of digitalisation. Examples include Facebook, which is a widely used platform for content sharing at zero-to-no cost, and serves as a forum for interactive discussions between students and lecturers. The social media site also has several applications that can be harnessed by educators. An example is We Read, where students can manage books on their reading lists and discuss content with other students.

It is clear that the adoption of basic digital learning programmes is already starting to make inroads locally, in terms of transforming learning experiences. A scenario where a high school learner, who is struggling with the interpretation of a subject, is able to point their smartphone to the text so that an explanatory video pops up on the screen, is not far off. This is known as Augmented Reality (AR), technology that includes supplementary features to the printed word, such as pictures, text or video. This is already being used in classrooms in some parts of the world.

Virtual Reality (VR) is another emerging technology which has the potential to transform the learning experience. It enables students to learn in a three-dimensional (3D) environment, bringing abstract concepts to ‘life’. A great example is when learners are studying the Grand Canyon, and then they are able to ‘see’ it for themselves thanks to smartphones with virtual reality headsets.

A number of private and public schools in South Africa have already introduced digital content- including Pearson, having moved away from simply providing e-books, to delivering interactive materials aimed at keeping learners engaged. It is only a matter of time before such technologies become more common in South Africa and become a game-changer in the education system.

If digital technology is to be successful in the classroom environment in South Africa, and potentially address many of the current shortcomings in terms of access, quality and limited resources, much still needs to be done. While the burden of this falls mainly on the state, it is critical that significant support is provided by the private sector.

While the initial outlay may be costly, it is outweighed by the long-term benefits of improved access to education for the masses. Naturally, a lot more field work, development, training and planning needs to take place among all the industry stakeholders – including government, the education sector, mobile service providers and private companies. Such collaboration is vital in order to ensure a robust methodology is developed to take our education system forward into a digital future.

By Ebrahim Matthews, MD of Pearson South Africa

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Why Everyone’s Buzzing About The Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Why Everyone’s Buzzing About The Samsung Galaxy Note 9

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Samsung Galaxy Note 9

Samsung Galaxy Note 9

It’s not news that Samsung is one of the leading smartphone vendors in the Nigerian market, and in the African market in general. This is no coincidence as the company is continually focused on meeting its customer’s needs with every new upgrade.

Its latest release the Galaxy Note 9, has everyone buzzing since its release late August. It is widely known that Samsung started its Galaxy note series to be intentionally designed for people who want to do more with their phone. Hence their tagline, ‘Do what can’t be done.’ The Galaxy Note 9 is equipped with powerful technology for its users to do more with a smartphone, focusing on solving issues that matter most in today’s mobile world.

So what’s the buzz all about, you might be wondering? Let’s look at some of the new features that are making this phone buzz-worthy.

Largest battery in a Galaxy Note device
The new Samsung Galaxy Note 9, although similar to the earlier model –– the Galaxy Note 8 –– has new features that have taken it from a great phone to an astounding phone. The battery is the biggest improvement.

Compared to the Note 8, this battery on this phone lasts a whole day after a single charge even when you are using it frequently – impressive! With a Galaxy Note 9 you can use your phone on the go without having to worry about charging it.

Incredible display
With their largest infinity display, Samsung is giving us with an all-round cinematic experience with the Galaxy Note 9. It has a 6.4-inch bright screen with HD+ resolution. The screen also intelligently adjusts the contrast based on the light. Gone are the days of worrying about not being able to see the screen clearly in direct sunlight. The images are always clear and bright. The wide screen also makes it even more enjoyable to watch videos and play games.
High Performance
Who wouldn’t love to use their phone for a long period without it heating up? The Galaxy Note 9 is designed to eliminate just that.

You can freely play games, stream videos, multitask and do other time-consuming, demanding tasks on the phone without worrying about heating up the phone. Even more, because it can handle heavy usage, it still maintains its fast speed regardless of how you’re using it.

You can use many apps and features all day long without it becoming slower or hanging. You can’t say this about many other phones and that’s one of the things that makes the Note 9 stand out from the rest.

Enhanced productivity with a PC – like experience
Samsung is making waves in the smartphone industry with their upgraded Dex software which allows you to get a PC – like experience with their phone. The software is sold separately. After it is installed, all you have to do is connect your phone to a monitor using a HDMI cord.

Also, the Galaxy Note 9 comes with a Bluetooth stylus Pen. Not only can you write easily with the pen, but because of the Bluetooth function, you can also use it to change slides in a presentation, take pictures or even change the song on your playlist without you touching your phone. You can do all this by simply pressing a button on the pen. Cool right?

Like all that wasn’t enough, you’re also able to connect multiple Bluetooth devices at the same time to the Note 9. You can connect a mouse, a keyboard and headphones all at once. We like to call it smartphone computer.

Is the Galaxy Note 9 worth the buzz?
There is a plethora of smartphones in the African market but it’s safe to say that Samsung continues to prove why it’s one of the leading smartphone companies. It has outdone itself with the new Galaxy Note 9 by marrying the needs of its target users with sophisticated technology. Its capabilities extend beyond the features mentioned here but one thing is for sure: It is a device that does everything, and then more. What more could you ask for from a smartphone?

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IT News Africa: Most read articles of the week

IT News Africa: Most read articles of the week

IT News Africa: Most read articles of the week

It’s been another insightful week in the world of technology.

The annual Gartner Symposium ITXPO kicked off at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Monday, 17 September 2018 which unpacked an array of topics including data & analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, culture, customer experience, cybersecurity, and more.

IBM also introduced technology that gives businesses new transparency into AI and Huawei’s announced the launch of their latest device.

IT News Africa also had the chance to sit down with Huawei’s CTO, Steve Apps as he gave insight on IOT and Smart Cites. Here’s a round up of the most read articles of the week.

Interview: Huawei’s CTO, Steve Apps, unpacks IOT as part of a “Smart Cities” landscape

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a talking point in many discussions on how connectivity will move us forward as a society and what kinds of technologies will help shape future cities. Huawei is one of many large tech companies with a vested interest in IoT. Steve Apps, Huawei’s Chief Technology Officer, recently spoke on the subject at TechX in Johannesburg. Read more.

Huawei Mate 20 Lite to launch 5 October 2018

Huawei’s new Mate 20 Lite, which will be launched in South Africa on 5 October 2018, will have multiple new features – as revealed by the firm. Perhaps the most eagerly anticipated of these is the device’s four AI cameras – two rear-facing and two front-facing – which will be a first for South Africa. Users will now be able to fully optimise their selfies, as Huawei brings the power of AI to front-facing cameras. Read more.

Machines learning to speak as we do

The fact that machine learning (ML) services are now available through AWS has led to a shift in the capabilities that developers can offer their clients with regards to natural language processing (NLP) and the cloud services they inform. Machine learning is an area of artificial intelligence (AI) built on the idea that systems can learn from data, identify patterns and make decisions. Read more.

New IBM software service addresses need for more transparency in AI decision making

IBM introduced technology that gives businesses new transparency into AI, enabling them to more fully harness its power. The software service, which automatically detects bias and explains how AI makes decisions – as the decisions are being made – runs on the IBM Cloud to help organizations manage AI systems from a wide variety of industry players. IBM Services will also work with businesses to help them harness the new software service. Read more.

Gemalto pilots blockchain technology to put users in control of their Digital ID

Who are you, and can you prove it? The new Gemalto Trust ID Network enables users to give digital service providers fully verified and secured answers to these simple yet critical questions. By creating and managing their own ‘Self-Sovereign’ Digital ID, users can enroll with a host of different digital banking, eCommerce and eGovernment services, without having to go through repeated due diligence processes  for each of them. This innovative distributed approach to Digital ID management enables service providers to leverage ubiquitous identities certified by trusted parties whilst putting users firmly in control of their data. Read more.

South Africa takes 6th place in Global Robotics Olympics

A team of learners from Tshwane, mentored by the University of Pretoria’s (UP) MakerSpace centre and a group of UP engineering students, was placed sixth out of 180 teams from around the world participating in the annual FIRST Global Challenge Robotics Olympics in Mexico City. The teams were required to build and code their own robot. Team South Africa (which nicknamed itself ‘The Springbots’), in addition to placing sixth, won The Walt Disney Award for Imagination and Creativity, awarded to the team that displays the most creative approach to problem-solving. Read more.

Customers to benefit from disruption in retail banking, says FNB

Customers will be the main beneficiaries of disruption and increased competition in Retail banking due to a potential improvement in value and customer service. This is according to Raj Makanjee, CEO of FNB Retail who is reflecting on the increasingly competitive environment as new entrants enter the market. Read more.

Mike Harris delivers opening keynote at Gartner Symposium ITXPO 2018

The annual Gartner Symposium ITXPO kicked off at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on Monday, 17 September 2018. The three-day conference is set to bring Africa’s leading CIOs and senior IT executives together in Cape Town to discuss key topics including data & analytics, artificial intelligence, machine learning, culture, customer experience, cybersecurity, and more. Read more.

Payspace selected as cloud service provider to former Sage Managing Director

PaySpace, a cloud-based Payroll and Human Capital Management software solutions, announced that it has been selected as the preferred cloud service provider to former Sage Managing Director for Africa and the Middle East, Anton Van Heerden’s company, DNA HR and Payroll. Speaking of the partnership and what attracted DNA to PaySpace, Anton van Heerden comments: “They basically achieved what I knew needed to be the future of payroll software. The system ticks all the right boxes around efficiency, security, ease of use and has some amazing differentiating features. Read more.

New report unveils predictions for the Future of Multi-Cloud

F5 Networks has unveiled EMEA’s first-ever Future of Multi-Cloud (FOMC) report, highlighting game-changing trends and charting adaptive best practice over the next five years. The F5 commissioned report was conducted by the Foresight Factory, which drew on its proprietary bank of over 100 trends and original research across 25 regional markets. It also features exclusive qualitative interview input from influential global cloud experts specialising in entrepreneurialism, cloud architecture, business strategy, industry analysis, and relevant technological consultancy. Read more.

By Neo Sesinye
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Security a key issue as most organisations start digital transformation

Security a key issue as most organisations start digital transformation

Doros Hadjizenonos Regional Sales Director – Southern Africa

67% of organisations have embarked on digital transformation journeys, and South African companies are not lagging behind. But going digital can increase security risks, warns Fortinet.

Fortinet, a global leader in broad, integrated and automated cybersecurity, recently released its 2018 Security Implications of Digital Transformation Survey, which provides insights into the state of cybersecurity in organisations around the world. The findings came from an independent survey of over 300 Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) and Chief Security Officers (CSOs) at 2,500+ employee organisations around the world.

According to the survey, a majority of organisations have already begun their digital transformation process, with 67% of respondents stating that their organisations started implementing DX more than a year ago, and 95% saying that they are at least trialling a solution today.

There is a good reason for this rapid growth of DX: 85 percent of the CISOs and CSOs surveyed say DX is having a large impact on their businesses. When it comes to DX, some of the areas of fastest adoption include IoT and artificial intelligence/machine learning.

Security Challenges to Digital Transformation
While it’s generally acknowledged that DX can fundamentally change how an organisation operates and delivers value to its customers, DX can also increase the risk of cyber-attacks. The proliferation of endpoints, increasingly distributed networks, and the exponentially increasing volumes of data and network traffic are all sources of concern for IT security teams and IT departments. CISOs and CSOs certainly agree: 85 percent cite security as the largest hurdle for implementing DX. Key findings from the survey include:

The median respondent estimates that 25 percent of their network infrastructure is not protected against security threats. This is due to a number of factors – an expanding attack surface that DX can bring, the growth in the volume and level of sophistication of the threats themselves and a lack of staff with the necessary security skills.

The median organisation participating in the survey experienced 20 cyber-attack related intrusions in the past 24 months, with four of these resulting in outages, data loss, or compliance events.

Two sources of risk are of special concern to CISOs and CSOs: the rise of polymorphic attacks (85%) — threats that constantly morph or change — and vulnerabilities in DevOps (81%).

“The digital transformation or DX wave appears to be sweeping away everything that stands before it, and cybersecurity worries have emerged as a significant obstacle to the transformation process,” says Hadjizenonos.

“Currently, four areas stand out as particularly acute cybersecurity pain points for organisations adopting a DX approach: cloud computing, with a particular focus on multi-cloud environments; IoT; a burgeoning threat landscape; and rising regulatory pressure. It is crucial to understand that while organisations are turning to DX to achieve growth as well as other key business objectives, DX processes also require an equivalent security transformation with the integration of security into all areas of digital technology. This results in fundamental changes to how security is architected, deployed, and operated, highlighting why organisations need a programmatic approach to DX and security transformation, one where they are tied in lockstep with each other.

“African countries are typically high on the attack radar, so security is just as crucial for local organisations,” says Hadjizenonos. “The risk profile is growing with the addition of more and more mobile devices, IoT devices, IP cameras and other connected devices”

Securing Digital Transformation with a Holistic and Strategic Approach
Looking more deeply into the data, the survey shows remarkable differences between the top-tier organisations – those that have not suffered a damaging attack during the past two years — and bottom-tier organisations – those that suffered 16 attacks which have caused damage during the same time frame. Each group comprised approximately one-third of respondents.

The survey shows that top-tier organisations tended to take a more holistic and strategic approach to security. Among the findings, these top-tiers organisations are:

● 76% more likely to integrate security systems to form a unified security architecture
● 38% more likely to share threat intelligence across their organisation
● 34% more likely to make sure safeguards work everywhere (on-premises cloud, IoT, mobile, etc.)
● 24% more likely to build in compliance controls for centralised tracking and reporting, for both industry and security standards
● 24% more likely to have automated more than half of their security practices
● 20% more likely to have end-to-end visibility across all environments

Hadjizenonos says: “The implications are clear. Holistic and integrated security strategies are more effective than siloed, reactive ones. A strategic approach becomes increasingly important as an organisation’s attack surface increases with the proliferation of devices, whether for a mobile workforce or as part of an IoT initiative and the adoption of cloud, particularly multi-cloud, environments. Further, a comprehensive strategy that unifies IT tools and processes across all parts of the network is necessary for addressing advanced threats such as polymorphic attacks, as well as new vulnerabilities that sneak in because of DevOps. At the same time, integration of security elements is a fundamental requisite for an organisation seeking to automate workflows and threat intelligence sharing.”

Methodology for the Study
For the ‘2018 Security implications of Digital Transformation Survey’, 300 security leaders were surveyed across Australia, Asia, Europe and North America. As CISOs/CSOs, all participants are responsible for security at an organisation with more than 2,500 employees. The organisations where they work are active in a variety of industries, such as education, government, financial services, healthcare, technology, and energy.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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5 Reasons why you should use ChatBanking on WhatsApp

5 Reasons why you should use ChatBanking on WhatsApp

5 Reasons why you should use ChatBanking on WhatsApp

How many times do you check your phone every day? Probably a good few. And if you’re like most other people with a smartphone in South Africa – or anywhere in the world, actually – chances are that it doesn’t end there and that you get sucked into the addictive world of browsing and chatting. Especially chatting: apparently humans spend more time on WhatsApp than any other app that exists. A whopping 85.21 billion hours globally over only three months, to be precise.

That’s a lot of time spent sharing pics of how cute your [insert pet or bae here] is, or videos of your amazing weekend adventures or travels. So just think how much easier it would be if you didn’t even have to exit the app to get things done. These are top 5 reasons that we love being able to bank directly through WhatsApp:

  • You’re always on and always connected – you don’t have to leave the app to do something as silly as top up your data, meaning you don’t miss a minute of your friend’s gossip from the night before.
  • Purchasing the bare necessities is now right at your fingertips – it’s more than just a catchy tune from the Jungle Book. If you use ChatBanking on WhatsApp, you get to do things like buy essentials such as pre-paid electricity quickly and easily.
  • It’s a more personalised way of interacting with your bank – and best of all is that you get to do it on your terms. Also you can use conversational language and shortcut commands, making it easier than ever before to get what you need from your bank. You don’t need to phone a call centre and wait in a queue with elevator tunes making you question your life’s purpose
  • You don’t have to stress about being ripped off – it’s totally safe, and because you add the bank to your phone as a contact, you have the peace of mind you need. Your personal information is protected, and your account number and personal details will never be displayed in a chat. No hackers or scammers invited to the party.
  • You win back time – okay, technically you don’t actually win time back, but with the time you save by not needing to leave one app and open another to do anything from checking your bank or Rewards balance, redeeming your Rewards balance, paying beneficiaries and getting mini-statements or credit reports, it will feel like you are winning it back. Which is great, because it’s more time that you get to spend on WhatsApp sending those pics and videos of your lunch and/or loved ones.

Sound too good to be true? The old saying goes that if it sounds too good to be true, it is. Another old saying also goes that there is always an exception to the rule. And this is the exception. Brands and service providers are realising more and more that customers lead jam-packed lives with very little spare time – meaning that they have to fit as seamlessly as possible into your day. WhatsApp banking is just one of the ways they are doing that. So you might as well make the most of it.

By Suzanne Patterson, Senior Digital Product Owner (Retail & Business Banking), Absa Group Limited

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MEST unveils new tech incubator in Nairobi

MEST unveils new tech incubator in Nairobi

MEST unveils new tech incubator in Nairobi

The Meltwater Entrepreneurial School of Technology (MEST) has recently launched its fourth incubator and tech hub in Nairobi, Kenya. This will serve as its flagship East African space, joining hubs in Ghana, Nigeria and South Africa.

The incubator will provide the same on-the-ground support, access to resources and global MEST network received by portfolio companies in Accra, Lagos and Cape Town.

One of the first companies to move into the Incubator in Nairobi will be recent investment Sharehouse, an ‘Airbnb for warehouses’. They will be joined by existing portfolio company Nestmetric , a platform that makes business insights and predictions through machine learning accessible to all types of businesses.

Nairobi Garage has been selected to host the new Nairobi operations of the African Leadership University and MEST.

The expanding MEST network will offer entrepreneurs looking to grow their market across the continent with resources and connections in several major African cities.

To date, MEST has invested in over 25 startups across industries from SaaS and consumer internet, to eCommerce, Digital Media, Agritech, Fintech and Healthcare IT.

Edited by Neo Sesinye
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Know your customer models need to upgrade

Know your customer models need to upgrade

KYC models need to upgrade

Know your customer (KYC) and anti-money laundering (AML) is a worldwide focus in the financial services sector, as regulators seek to embed greater transparency in transactions and stamp out fraud and money laundering. But KYC and AML management models in their current form present challenges.

“Effective KYC and AML are vital, as a wave of digital change and the mainstreaming of blockchain technology increases financial services’ risk profiles, but the current KYC and AML models need an urgent upgrade if they are to cope with future demands,” says Marius Coetzee, CEO of SA-based identity specialists Ideco.

Coetzee notes that currently, standards for KYC are inconsistent across borders and even between various financial institutions. The verification data and documents needed by one institution may differ from those required by another. KYC can also add challenges, cost and frustration to the onboarding of customers and processing of transactions.

Last year, Thomson Reuters found that major financial institutions spend up to $500 million annually on KYC and customer due diligence, and that customer onboarding time increased by 22% in 2016 and was expected to increase by another 18% in 2017, with customers voicing growing frustration at the amount of information they had to share, as well as the fact that they had to do so repeatedly when engaging with their banks.

“In South Africa, we’ve heard figures ranging from R180 to R1,800 with regards to the cost of onboarding a new customer in ways that are compliant and trusted,” says Coetzee. “But as banks step up their efforts to bank the world’s unbanked people – estimated to total around two billion people – questions will arise around whether the cost of onboarding these new customers will be recouped.”

“Traditional KYC typically requires proof of identity, proof of residence and contact ability; but across much of the developing world, people may lack identity documents or formalised addresses. This hampers KYC efforts and could even stand in the way of unbanked people enjoying formalised banking services.”

Overcoming these hurdles demands fresh approaches to identity management and KYC models, he says. “It’s a complex challenge: it’s crucially important to enable the digital economy, but equally crucial to protect identity and mitigate risk. We have the ‘first world’ on one side, the ‘third world’ on the other, and the digital world rising fast,” says Coetzee.

Amid growing calls for self-sovereign identity and fully digitised identity management, standardisation and digitisation of identity within a trusted environment is set to become key to effective KYC, and modes of managing identity verification and authorisations will have to become increasingly advanced in future, Ideco believes.

Advanced biometrics is already being harnessed as an important tool for KYC, but the real benefits of biometrics emerge when scanners and readers are integrated into a secure ecosystem for identity verification and management. “This is one reason Ideco continuously invests in identity as a service technology, harnessing biometrics, cloud and mobile technologies to enable a trusted ecosystem that facilitates enrolment and verification of identity in such a way that there is trust for all parties,” says Coetzee.

“We have a number of patents in this space – including customer-centric cryptography which encrypts and protects consumer data, with an additional layer of security which prevents access to the data unless the owner of that data – the consumer, is present in the transaction.”

An integrated trusted identity ecosystem such as this offers ease of use, a high level of compliance and trust for all parties, says Coetzee. Ideco is currently in talks on expanding its identity as a service platform in a number of markets, presenting a simpler, secure solution to the KYC challenges.

Edited by Daniëlle Kruger
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