Sage calls for businesses to define the ethical principles that guide AI development

Sage calls for businesses to define the ethical principles that guide AI development

Sage calls for businesses to define the ethical principles that guide AI development

Sage, multinational enterprise software company in cloud business management solutions released “Building a Competitive, Ethical AI Economy,” a position paper that uncovers the important and unanswered questions surrounding AI.

The paper by Sage, which serves 3 million businesses in 23 countries, was compiled with participation from global businesses and government representatives.

It outlines actionable insights for business and society to leverage AI-powered technologies in an ethical, trustworthy and sustainable way.

“The danger of overhyping and objectifying AI is that we don’t realize the valuable opportunity that presents itself. Fundamental to this will be addressing the ethical issues posed by AI, head-on. As an established business embracing this technology, we think that is our responsibility to do that with our peers, for our customers and society as a whole.” said Kriti Sharma, VP of Artificial Intelligence at Sage.

“We know that the businesses we serve – from start-up to enterprise – could make huge productivity gains by embracing AI. But we need industry and government to help clear a way through the ethical issues and move the global conversation forward. This paper, built with experienced business leaders and with government officials, sets out a proposal for doing exactly that.”

Ethical AI implementation has gained new urgency as global consumer concerns have peaked. Transparency over data collection and subsequent usage have entered the mainstream lexicon in recent months. Building a Competitive, Ethical AI Economy builds on Sage’s core principles for ethical AI development – The Ethics of Code – released in June 2017, propelling the conversation around the future of AI forward. Shortly after the publication of The Ethics of Code, Sage was called to testify before the UK Parliament’s Select Committee on AI. Because of this work for Sage, Kriti Sharma was also invited a civic leader to the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit.

1. Introducing AI corporate governance and ethical frameworks

  • For business – Develop or revise corporate governance frameworks.
  • For government – Look at the role of regulators, like the UK’s Financial Reporting Council (FRC), in guiding and assisting specific sectors on ethical best practices implementation.

2. Demystifying AI and sharing accountability

  • For business – Engage external ethical experts to explore how AI accountability or explainability applies to specific corporate ambitions.
  • For government – Recognize that there needs to be a balance between corporate AI innovation and increased accountability.

3. Building human trust in corporate AI

  • For business – Make corporate approaches to informing stakeholders about AI and its purpose as transparent as possible.
  • For government – Run government-anchored awareness campaigns to reduce public inhibitions around AI presence in work and everyday life.

4. Welcoming AI into the workforce

  • For business – Empower HR functions with data to map future skills demand.
  • For government – Ensure young people leave education equipped for applying AI and redirect existing skills investment into staff retraining for jobs that interact significantly with AI.

Edited by Neo Sesinye
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Lagos Digital Academy to empower entrepreneurs in Nigeria

Lagos Digital Academy to empower entrepreneurs in Nigeria

Digital Academy unveiled in Nigeria

Lagos Digital Academy (LDA) has unveiled an academy that aims to enable Nigerians to take advantage of the opportunities available in the digital market space. LDA is designed to create a step-change and equip digital migrants with market-driven, dynamic and practical training.

The Chief Executive Officer and founder, Lagos Digital Academy, Dotun Babatunde, says there is need to equip Nigerian businessmen and women with the requisite knowledge and skills required to tap into the huge digital market industry.

“What we are trying to do at Lagos Digital Academy is to educate and empower people to get access to knowledge they need to survive in this new century that we find ourselves,” he said.

“Apart from the dearth of skills in the industry, we do not have the technical know-how, but with time we believe things would improve because we have started seeing a lot of incubation companies coming up in the country. We are tailoring a boot camp for different sectors of the economy with the help of our intensive programme which will take participants through all they need to know about digital marketing”, he said.

The Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, Kunle Shittu, said Lagos Digital Academy is a social enterprise that is strongly committed to teaching and inspiring a new generation of digital professionals and entrepreneurs.“Our mission is to equip you with market-driven, dynamic and practical training that would prepare you for quality placement and industry exposure, open up ways and means for impact in your business or career.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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South Africa needs to prioritise STEM education of face deepening unemployment

South Africa needs to prioritise STEM education of face deepening unemployment

SA needs to prioritise STEM education of face deepening unemployment

South Africa already faces well-known challenges in its education system, felt nowhere more strongly than in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). And while this is a major concern under any circumstance, the relentless penetration of technology into the way we live and work means that an even more severe skills shortage cannot be far away.

In a sluggish economy, countless businesses are turning to digital solutions to cut costs and gain a competitive advantage. Many have already moved to the cloud, while most others plan to do so in the next few years. Others are experimenting with AI, AR and VR in their efforts to stay ahead of the pack. But who will run these complex systems in a nation where the skills needed to develop these solutions are in short supply? And how can we educate South Africans to utilise digital tools for their benefit, rather than ultimately being to their detriment?

How pertinent is digitisation in the local landscape?

According to last year’s Digital Statistics in the South Africa Report, there has been an impressive increase of 7% more locals making use of the Internet in one way or another since January 2016. That means that approximately 52% of South Africans regularly access the Internet, with 15 million using it for social media, and 13 million using their mobile phones to access these platforms. If these statistics are anything to go by, most South Africans have embraced, or are ready to embrace, digitisation with open arms.

From a workplace perspective, most organisations today employ a Google Cloud and Microsoft Email system, with many also utilising ERP software to aid the flow of internal business processes. No one can deny the powerful impact technology has had on improving the overall functionality and productivity of any business.

A threat to human productivity?

With this exciting influx of new, automated technology – that helps us better our lives and work – comes global concerns about the possibility of digitisation dominating the workforce, as well as the possibility of leaving humans jobless.

Fortunately, AI-driven technology, at its very core, remains dependent on human involvement. Most systems that have been, or are currently being developed, have a point in their process where human intervention is needed to continue. AI can only do so much when it comes to decision-making, as it is tuned for binary workings. And, as much as we can use the digital information extracted from machine learning to inform better choices, at the end of the day, the human factor is still an essential component of intelligent decision-making.

If anything, digitisation should be seen as an enabler of education and employment opportunities. AI technology allows for more learners to become familiar with the fundamentals of coding to communicate with backend systems, offering them the building blocks to further develop and enhance digital tools. On the employment side of things, automated technology enables people to create businesses which would be very difficult to manage without digital aid. If we look at Uber, for example, the technology behind the app drives a large part of its workforce, because it has streamlined and optimised the process of finding taxi clients. No more getting in a car and driving around aimlessly while you wait for someone to stick their thumb out for a lift.

In addition, digitisation can potentially create more jobs, because AI systems require human resources behind the scenes to handle tasks, after the initial frontend work has been completed by machines. Take a call centre, for example: AI technology can handle more incoming content from callers initially, but agents are still required to take over when it comes to dealing with a caller on a personal, human level.

The importance of digitally-geared training and skills development

Moving forward, South Africa’s education system needs to prioritise Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics courses to successfully accommodate the shift to digital implementation in both the workplace and at home.

At a fundamental level, students with engineering and maths skills are mandated to develop and employ new technologies that will expand our globe digitally. Companies also need to safeguard themselves by upskilling their staff to become more confident, competent users of digital tools.

There are currently other good incentives in place for South African organisations to invest in skills development, including a better empowerment rating. At Connection Telecom, we take skills development very seriously – we currently have one learner or intern for every six people in our business, and about 60% of our learners and interns eventually become permanent staff. In addition, we focus on training our staff to be able to successfully onboard our customers when introducing them to new systems. We spend as much time on our installation process as we do on user testing and staff training.

In conclusion, the importance of STEM education at a school and university level, as well as digital skills development within businesses, cannot be stressed enough. Our youth can shape the future, and an awareness at an early age of how to use digital tools is imperative for the growth and digital expansion of our country’s economy. All organisations are responsible for upskilling their staff to stay relevant and profitable in a fast-growing business sector.

Rather than fearing that automation and AI technology will rob us of our jobs, why not learn their inner workings and operate alongside them to dramatically improve the way we live and work?

By Rob Lith, Business Development Manager at Connection Telecom

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SmartICT, has announced an automated monitoring service for Cisco infrastructure

SmartICT, has announced an automated monitoring service for Cisco infrastructure

New automated performance monitoring For Cisco Infra From SmartICT

Whilst data is the currency of the future, it is common cause that too much data can create inefficiencies and serious bottlenecks in performance monitoring.

Local IT and business monitoring service, SmartICT, has announced an automated monitoring service for Cisco infrastructure as an addition to its offering, which specifically allows incident automation and actions on Cisco network devices.

“Whether customers have ten or ten thousand Cisco devices, it’s important to quickly see how they are performing,” says AppCentrix COO, Tito Pereira. “By adding Cisco automations to our single view service, SmartICT, we can monitor the health, performance, and configuration of all Cisco technologies whether hosted or on-premises. This adds to our offering of a unified operational view of the entire IT estate with SmartICT —across networks, compute, storage, and clouds.”

Appcentrix SmartICT is a service that leverages data capturing technologies to understand causation and derive insights from big data. It optimizes operations and provides business with insights and content to enable digital and business transformation across the organisation. SmartICT has been deployed in private, public and hybrid cloud solutions across 45 datacentres and 6000 sites, with a local helpdesk and global support via our extensive partner network.

“Research shows that companies spend around one and a half hours creating, populating and verifying each incident, and a further 45 minutes closing out on incidents when resolved. That’s regardless of the time to resolve the actual issue. By offering a proactive, automated service, we can bring major time and cost savings, as well as reduced downtime and meantime to repair. The automated process also eliminates any risk of human error and frees up technical resources to attend to more complex issues,” adds Pereira.

According to Pereira, SmartICT’s value proposition lies in its broad spectrum of capability: – the speed at which coverage can be gained and the ability to convert large volumes of technical performance metrics into meaningful business intelligence that empowers the business to make intuitive decisions.

Edited by Neo Sesinye
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Why ‘Chat Banking’ is the future of financial services in Africa

Why ‘Chat Banking’ is the future of financial services in Africa

Why ‘Chat Banking’ is the future of financial services in Africa.

Numerous reports indicate that messaging has overtaken social media in popularity, with the combined users of the top four chat apps outnumbering the combined users of the top four social networks. WhatsApp alone reports that users send 65 billion messages per day.

Yet despite the continued growth of messaging apps and changing user behaviour, very little has been done to integrate financial services into the messaging experience. This is partly because WhatsApp has not provided a developer API – but that will likely change in the coming months (more on this below). There’s a vast opportunity for integrating financial services (eg: banking, payments, mobile money, etc.) into messaging apps, and that now is the time to invest in this integration.

What is ‘Chat Banking’?

Imagine you are chatting with your friend William on WhatsApp and planning a weekend trip together in Kenya. You wonder how much the trip would cost and whether you have enough in your current account to cover the expenses. Instead of going through a USSD menu or opening your bank’s app (if you even have that installed), you simply find your bank as another contact in WhatsApp and type “Balance” as a text message. The bank immediately texts you your current balance – which is enough to cover your share of the hotel reservations William is making. Next, you find your mobile money company on WhatsApp and text them “Pay Ksh 5000 to William.” Later that day, you get a WhatsApp message from the mobile network operator, asking if you want to top-up your account. It takes you a second to respond “Yes” – you’ve now covered both your travel arrangements and airtime for your trip, all through WhatsApp.

The key innovation in the preceding paragraph is not the technical integration necessary to connect these various providers, but rather the seamless user experience of never having to leave your favourite apps. When financial service providers put users at the centre, they can offer these enabling services without requiring complex interactions or transactions.

Customers will love this approach for several reasons:

  • It’s fast – it connects banking to the services they are already using.
  • It’s easy – there is no learning curve, since the services plug into the messaging
    channels that everyone already knows how to use.
  • It’s personalised – financial institutions can factor user preferences into the chat and
    create a personalised experience.

How Close is Chat Banking to Becoming Reality?

While the idea for chat banking (also referred to as ‘chatbots’) is still in its early stages, the
technology to build this experience has already been in the market for years. A few banks in
Africa have started to explore how they might integrate their services with messaging apps,
including:

  • ABSA Chat Banking (South Africa) – ABSA customers can use Facebook Messenger
    and Twitter to check their account balances, view their past transactions, and make
    payments to approved contacts.
  • Leo by United Bank Africa (Nigeria) – United Bank Africa has unveiled an interactive
    chat banker that enables customers to make use of their social media accounts to carry
    out transactions. Leo has had over 35 million conversations and processed over 500,000
    transactions.
  • MoMo by Orange Money (Madagascar) – Orange Money Madagascar was the first
    mobile money company to build and launch a chatbot to help onboard users, answer
    basic customer service questions, and provide helpful tips about the service. (Disclaimer:
    this is a project that my startup worked on.)

How Should a Financial Institution Get Started?

Any organisation thinking about launching a chatbot must answer several questions, such as:

  • Do we want to treat messaging as another channel or a new experience?
  • What channels do we want to support?
  • How does this change our customer service experience?
  • What kind of budget do we have to support this project?

Numerous banks and mobile money companies are interested in working on a small proof-of-concept (POC) or a limited pilot with Teller. A POC or pilot would allow them to see how the technology
works, get feedback from internal and external stakeholders, and also get buy-in from decision
makers. And working with a fintech partner would allow a bank to do this without investing too
many resources up front.

Many potential clients are also interested in exploring this space to prepare their business for
the eventual launch of a WhatsApp developer API. Preparing their back-end chatbot
infrastructure now could help them avoid spending 6-12 months catching up to competitors once
WhatsApp allows integration. It’s clear from my conversations with players in this space that
these developments are coming: It’s only a matter of time.

By Sidharth Garg, Founder of Teller

This post was originally published on NextBillion.

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Is the Cloud the alpha and omega?

Is the Cloud the alpha and omega?

Sonja Weber, Lead Delivery Solution Manager at T-Systems South Africa

Cloud has been punted as the panacea to virtually every digital transformation challenge, and it’s not uncommon for businesses to buy into this hype.

Promises of cost reduction, improved productivity and automatic efficiency are attractive, adding to cloud’s appeal. While it’s true that the cloud certainly can accelerate digital transformation strategies, and there are cost savings and other benefits to be had, these can be lost under the weight of complex, expensive migrations.

Lost in the cloud(s)

A common misconception is that businesses can seamlessly move from existing systems to the cloud with little to no effort. This is not always the case. In fact, most cloud migrations are complex projects of fairly large scope, involving many processes, people and change management.

Another commonly held belief is that the cloud will solve all business problems. However, many organisations who successfully shift to the cloud are often surprised – and disappointed – to find that they have many of the same business problems that they had before the move. The cloud may enable many digital goals depending on what functionality is leveraged, however, at its core it’s simply a replacement of physical infrastructure with cloud-based infrastructure; the same interconnects and challenges will remain.

Finally, cloud is touted as being incredibly cost-efficient. And it is, in most cases. However, the cost involved with migrating to the cloud can negate any cost savings to be had once the move is made. There are also additional costs to consider around increasing international bandwidth and complying with international regulations.

Many businesses also have sunken investments in their existing infrastructure, which needs to be modernised before the move to cloud. Organisations don’t always factor in everything that is required, revealing “hidden costs” and “surprise expenses”.

What are we missing?

Much of the disillusionment around cloud migrations comes from believing the hype and making the move without fully investigating and justifying the reasons to move to cloud. Businesses are left with a shiny new system, but it looks and feels the same as what they had before.

Organisations need to take a step back, first, and understand the way their business is currently operating and what steps need to be taken to get to where they want to be. Cloud should be considered as an enabler, but only if it will enable the business to achieve its goals.

They need to measure their current position alongside their goals, assessing where cloud can and will address their needs, as well as where it won’t. Things they need to consider include their current infrastructure investment and how it needs to be modernised to be able to move to the cloud; what can be achieved with cloud that they may not be able to achieve currently; what their current running costs are versus the costs of running on the cloud; the costs involved in training users for the new platform; etc.

In most cases, it makes sense to consult with a cloud partner who can work with you to assess your business and your goals, and work out a complete, holistic migration strategy that is transparent in its costs, capabilities and requirements to modernise as needed.

What can a partner offer?

A cloud partner who understands the cloud and has experience across multiple industries will be able to identify common pain points and requirements. Cloud partners who have successfully migrated customers from various verticals onto the cloud will have an understanding of the challenges and how best to address them, transparently showing a business what to expect before they migrate, and even pointing out where it may not make sense.

The cloud is built for the commodity space, and may not be the right solution for all industries. Often, a migration makes more sense for a hybrid model, where only parts of the business are moved to the cloud, while others remain firmly on-premise.

Cloud providers can provide a modernisation plan for existing infrastructure, which needs to be tackled before a migration can happen, as some systems are not designed to be operated on the cloud and need complete revision before they are cloud ready.

In many instances, the smallest, seemingly most inconsequential factor can completely disrupt a migration. For example, a hardwired printer system may prove incompatible with an ERP system that has moved to the cloud, requiring a need for the entire printer system to be modernised before functionality is enabled.

The cloud offers many benefits and may provide both cost savings and desired efficiency, however consulting with a partner before migrating can mean the difference between a cloud solution that works for you, and one which leaves you with a bitter taste in your mouth.

By Sonja Weber, Lead Delivery Solution Manager at T-Systems South Africa

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Cyber-crime attacks among start-ups are on the increase

Cyber-crime attacks among start-ups are on the increase

Cyber-crime attacks among smaller and medium-sized companies are on the increase

Cyber-crime is a real and present danger and attacks are becoming increasingly common and more sophisticated, especially among small to medium-sized businesses (SMEs). It is estimated that 32% of South African businesses have experienced cyber-attacks according to the Global Economic Crime Survey (2016) conducted by PWC – on a par with the global average.

Cybersecurity is uniquely challenging for SMEs, due to a combination of the frequency with which these threats become bona fide cybersecurity incidents, the severe business disruption and financial impact, and limited resources to respond and recover in the event of an attack.

Jenny Jooste, Professional Indemnity and Cyber Underwriter at Chubb Insurance South Africa, says: “Our claims data and global research is showing that cyberattacks directed at SMEs are steadily increasing. As a group, SMEs tend to devote inadequate resources, time and funds to cybersecurity with fewer than 3% of all SMEs having cyber insurance. Criminals target these companies because their IT controls are not as sophisticated as large corporate companies, and the skills for dealing with these threats are often not specialised, making them perfect targets.”

According to Jenny, cybercriminals typically look for targets that can be hacked with ease. “They often accomplish this by using software that automatically scans the web and identifies businesses with specific security weaknesses such as outdated or unpatched software, poor password hygiene, open web ports, unencrypted data in transit, lacking endpoint protection and the like. They can also gain entry through a server room break-in or from internal network hacking, which then enables monitoring by criminal third parties. This can often be triggered by something as innocuous as plugging an infected USB drive into a computer or device that is connected to an internal network.”

She also raised the issue of liability relating to cyber exposure, which company directors ignore at their peril.

“Directors and officers can be held liable in their personal capacity for their fiduciary duties should the necessary measures and policies not be in place to mitigate cyber liability exposure for the company. Claiming ignorance about cyber risks is no longer an excuse, and proactive steps must take centre stage to mitigate and prepare for potential cyber threats, no matter the size of your business,” warns Jenny.

How can SMEs protect themselves from cyberattacks?

Although stopping cyber criminals from accessing data may seem like a formidable task, there are simple measures that companies can use to create their own cyber risk management program and limit their exposure. Chubb Insurance provides the following important tips:

• Focus on the basics

Ensure that antivirus, firewalls, patches and other security software is always up to date. Also ask a cybersecurity consultant to identify high risk areas and address these.

• Does IT know at which point you want to be alerted regarding a breach?
• Do you have a specific person with responsibility for Information Security (IS)?
• Is there a formal IS policy in place? How often is it reviewed and by who? Are recommendations acted upon?
• Have you implemented user security awareness training? How often? How relevant is it to your business?
• Is an audit report done on potential areas of risk on operational (non-financial) systems?
• Is someone tracking the evolving cyber-regulatory environment?
• Will someone monitor decisions made by regulators in response to cyber incidents?
• Do you have an appropriate cyber insurance programme in place and do you know how it will work?
• Is your data encrypted?
• Is IT conducting forensic readiness assessments?
• Are incident response plans being tested?
• Has the quality of the back-ups been tested?
• Are effective “real-time” monitoring processes in place?
• Is the type of data and the impact of breach understood? Have you identified critical information security risks and put in place appropriate monitoring and controls?
• Have information resources been classified according to sensitivity and criticality? Have corresponding levels of security been implemented?
• Is dual authentication required for access to critical Information Systems?
• Are users required to regularly update passwords? Criteria?
• Are laptops protected by personal firewalls?
• Is antivirus software installed on ALL systems and are updates monitored?

• Educate all employees regularly on cybersecurity vigilance

Employees should be aware of the role they play in preventing a cyber breach, especially when company laptops or other devices are used offsite. They should gain access via VPN sign on procedures and never use USBs. Establish positive and secure habits with regularly scheduled training and education by empowering the IT department to send regular “tester emails” to staff to see who can identify phishing emails. This training needs to be ongoing. Some basic clues that indicate phishing:
1. Enticing: Offers that are too good to be true
2. Urgent: Pressure tactics such as threats, rushing or name dropping
3. Unsolicited: Contact is unexpected or not from someone you would expect e.g. CEO.
4. Odd: The tone is off, especially from a colleague or friend.
5. Unknown: Unknown requester, email address doesn’t match the message e.g. someone@gmail from UPS, the URL isn’t correctly ( AmericExpress.com)
6. Sloppy: Spelling or grammatical mistakes, branding is old or unusual.
7. Unusual: Requests are outside normal procedures or break of normal policy

• Develop and enforce a formal, written password policy

Establish a written password policy requiring strong passwords such as a mix of letters, numbers and symbols that are frequently changed. Passwords should also be changed and user portfolios marked as inactive when employees leave the company.

• Update IT equipment and deploy security software

Outdated operating systems and computers are inherently more vulnerable to more sophisticated hacking techniques and newer forms of malware. It is also important to monitor those who have legitimate access to the network as well as monitoring the network itself to highlight abnormal activities. Basic downloadable software offerings are available to SMEs and can be operational within minutes.

• Create a cyber incident response plan

Less damaging incidents can be resolved with a dedicated and prepared team of cyber responders that may comprise of employees and outside service providers. It will provide a shorter response time and a quicker resolution to the issue, if it is within the means of the team.

• Put a disaster recovery plan in place

Typically, disaster recovery planning involves analysis of business processes and continuity needs that are required so that an organisation can continue to operate, even if it is offsite from a different location. Make sure a copy of the plan is printed for staff use because if your system is hacked, you won’t be able to get your plan from your PC.

• Purchase cyber insurance

After getting all IT control measures in place, ensure that you investigate purchasing a cyber liability insurance policy, which covers first and third-party liability. The cost of this will always be far less than the cost of shutting down a business in the wake of a cyberattack.

“It is evident that the threat of cyber-crime is not going away anytime soon and the cost of a breach can be crippling to a small business. Businesses that embrace the necessary safeguards, together with other measures outlined by their insurer and broker are putting themselves in a strong reactive position to recover with their bottom line and reputation intact,” concludes Jenny.

Edited by Neo Sesinye
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Local Azure data centres to create new revenue streams for South African IT channel

Local Azure data centres to create new revenue streams for South African IT channel

Local Azure data centres to create new revenue streams for South African IT channel

The imminent launch of Microsoft Azure data centres in South Africa will help dispel many of the fears still holding companies back from deploying the cloud for mission-critical applications, in turn creating a significant market opportunity for local resellers and systems integrators.

That’s the word from Othelo Vieira, Microsoft CSP product manager, Tarsus On Demand, a cloud enablement company in the Tarsus Technology Group. He says the presence of local, hyper-scale Azure data centres will spur many local end-user organisations to start shifting key production systems to the cloud.

Says Vieira: “Many South African organisations are using software-as-a-service offerings for email, office productivity tools, and other less mission-critical loads, often from local cloud service providers. However, a lot of them have held back from adopting cloud-based infrastructure-as-a-service solutions, or moving line applications with sensitive data to the cloud.

“They had two major concerns. The first was the compliance risk of moving data outside South Africa’s borders, especially with the introduction of the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI); the other was high network latency between South Africa and Amazon, Google or Microsoft data centres situated in Europe or North America.”

The launch of the Azure data centres overcomes both of those obstacles, giving local users access to the same suite of hyper-scale cloud services Microsoft clients enjoy elsewhere in the world, with the low latency needed for many enterprise applications as well as full compliance with South Africa’s data privacy laws, says Vieira.

Recent World Wide Worx research found that 90% of companies in South Africa increased spending on cloud computing last year, and 83% planned to increase budgets in 2018. Thus, cloud services form an important opportunity for resellers and are likely to become a larger part of their revenue mix in the years to come.

“However, we are seeing some resistance to moving to the cloud and Azure among South African resellers,” Vieira says. “They share some of the compliance and latency concerns of their clients, and many are unsure how the pricing and revenue model will work. But that will change rapidly once the local Azure data centres go live.”

Resellers have an important part to play in guiding organisations to the cloud, helping them to understand the offerings in the market, procure the right solutions, integrate the cloud with their processes and other systems, and manage the security implications, says Vieira. Those that get it right can build a predictable revenue stream by offering their clients subscription-based solutions.

They can also position themselves as true partners and advisors to their customers, he adds. “Moving to the cloud doesn’t remove all the complexity from the client’s life,” says Vieira. “The decisions about when to use the public cloud, when to use a private cloud, which apps to migrate, which providers to use, and how to manage the cloud and in-house infrastructure are complex, and resellers have a great deal of value to add.”

Cloud-enablement partners like Tarsus on Demand can help resellers to deliver complete cloud-based business solutions to their customers and present them with a single invoice. This includes value-added services such as support, financial backing, and an automation and billing platform. “Resellers can already sell internationally hosted Azure solutions to their clients, but as the local data centres go live, the value proposition will be stronger than ever,” says Vieira.

Edited by Daniëlle Kruger
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Critical features for your best CMMS

Critical features for your best CMMS

Critical Features for your best CMMS

It’s your duty as a maintenance planner or maintenance manager to ensure facilities, equipment and facilities are adequately maintained. Where there’s a lot of machinery and equipment, keeping track of this information can be extremely challenging.

Having a Best CMMS will help you ensure your needs are met. It allows you to identify potential problems and work on them before they arise. It also makes it easier to keep a record of all your maintenance activities and expenses.

In this article, we’ll look at the essential features that your Best CMMS should have. Take a look.

1. A Task Template

CMS

The system should allow you to create a task template for the most repetitive jobs. Such may include an inspection of your HVAC systems and quarterly inspection on your pumps and so on.

The template will help you save time you need to recreate these working orders. All you need to do is, have a discussion with your technician, and make arrangements on how the exercise will be done.

Schedule Maintenance Tasks in Different Ways

• It’s imperative to have a schedule of maintenance for every plant or machinery in your firm. The program may be regarding months or weeks.

• You’ll also need to create work orders for any unplanned repairs and maintenances. At times you may need to schedule a work order due to an alarm condition or change in your meter readings.

The maintenance schedule tasks help plan the maintenance activities that are due in weeks or months into the future. With this, it becomes almost impossible for your team to undertake any maintenance tasks. In the end, the possibility of breakdowns is significantly reduced.
Secondly, you can use this schedule to work with other departments in your firm to make sure that the exercise doesn’t stall their operations.

Being able to plan and coordinate your maintenance activities should be one of the reasons why you buy Best CMMS software.

2. Ability to Collect Feedback

If you have a team of technicians, who move around, appraising their tasks may be a challenge. But not anymore. The software will help you a big deal appraise your technicians. All you need is to generate work orders and send them to your technicians. The CMMS software helps you save on time and cost. You don’t need to waste time or money to check the equipment that requires maintenance.

3. Ability to Offer a Maintenance Backlog

Can your maintenance system software track the projects that are pending, and the ones that are due? In generating many work orders in a day, there’s the possibility that some work orders will be left out.

At times, the orders may also be delayed because you don’t have the materials needed or you’re short of technicians. The CMMS software you choose should allow you to track the maintenance backlogs as well as the work in progress.

Remember, missing your maintenance appointments is not healthy for your equipment. It increases their risks for the breakdown. This means loss of production time and operation hours. This can negatively affect your enterprise.

Staff Writer

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Internet of Things explained for the CFO in six short words

Internet of Things explained for the CFO in six short words

Roger Hislop, Senior Engineer: R&D, Internet Solutions.

When you boil it right down, the primary responsibility of the corporate Chief Financial Officer comes down to a few short words. “Allocate resources well, reduce waste and manage risk”.

For CFOs and the finance leadership in organisations, someone raising the overhyped term “Internet of Things (IoT)” has most likely returned only sighs and eye-rolls. Most finance executives have seen too many new technologies that promise to do astonishing things, but end up just being smoke and mirrors.

IoT is not one of these technologies. It won’t change much. It will change everything.

Why? Because for the first time, it’s easy and cheap to “instrument” the real world. To put it as an allegory, a company is a car driving along the highway as far as it can. You buy a car (capital), put in fuel (revenues), lose headway from air and tyre friction (operational costs) and sometimes break down (capex). You know exactly how much you spent on the car, and how much fuel and repairs cost, and you certainly know how far you’ve gone (accrued revenue), but you can only guess what is habitually slowing you down, or what you need to change to get out a little more mileage.

That’s because almost all of the ‘instrumentation’ available to the CFO is financial – money spent and earned. This is generally the only easily available and accurate data a company has – it can be counted, tracked, measured and predicted. Almost every other aspect of a company’s performance uses financial performance as a proxy. How efficiently are we running our office air conditioners? How much utilisation are we getting from our expensive forklifts? What is the active utilisation of office square meterage reserved for meeting rooms?

This is why CFOs need to look very hard at IoT. Certainly, modern IoT products are a technical person’s dream (easy to implement, low cost, flexible, connecting the physical world with awesome software tools available in the Cloud). However, it also gives the CFO incredible tools that they never had before.

If the true job of the CFO is to “better allocate resources, reduce waste and manage risk”, then the ability for IoT tech to provide CFOs with a rich range of new tools is unprecedented in corporate history.

Instead of knowing how much was spent on inventory, and how much was tallied up by the point of sale terminal, you can now know exactly how many of each item is sitting on the shelf. Instead of estimating metrics of how much-spoiled dairy product was delivered to retailers and how much as “fake overstock returns”, you can now know exactly what the temperature of every crate is at all times until the milk is handed over. You no longer use a rough formula fed with usage guesstimates to allocate how much meeting room space you need, you allocate the exact square meterage that is needed, and know exactly when it changes.

Having real-time physical data direct from your operating environment lets you know exactly how your systems suppliers are meeting their service levels. You can cost equipment maintenance better, and you can push it much closer to its operating limits, but still be able to do pre-emptive maintenance because you know whether failure is imminent through artificial intelligence based on multiple, accurate sources of physical data.

This new world of real time operating data to validate financial data is going to be a huge challenge for the corporate CFO.

A decade ago, product design and marketing was totally upended by the oxymoron of “mass customisation”, and “mass targeting” – respectively manufacturing technology that allowed you to create a completely customised, but mass produced item; and marketing technology that let you fine-grain target millions of people. These techniques used to be impossibly expensive in practical terms but became highly affordable.

Now we have “mass instrumentation” – low cost, flexible, real-time ways to measure our physical environment. IoT technology gives finance leaders detailed tools to get a firm handle on every aspect of their business environment. Instead of trying to make intelligent guesses using financial proxies, CFOs now have a direct way of measuring efficient allocation of resources, pinpointing exactly where waste is happening and getting a tight handle on day-to-day risks.

Combine IoT with modern Cloud software technologies, and it becomes unbeatable as a tool. You don’t need to drown in a sea of details – rules engines, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, advanced analytics – all these can filter out the background hum of your business operations, and give you just the important information.

The modern CFO can’t leave the investigating of IoT to the technical people – it’s far too important as the enterprise evolves.

With IoT, the Chief Financial Officer watching the Rands and the Cents must become the Chief Resource Officer watching everything

By Roger Hislop, Senior Engineer: R&D, Internet Solutions

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