Increased focus on pricing needed in the telco sector in Africa

Increased focus on pricing needed in the telco sector in Africa

Increased focus on pricing needed in the teleco sector in Africa.

Moves to ensure fair competition and to examine pricing in the telecommunications sector is increasing in key mobile phone jurisdictions on the African continent.

The issue of high data costs has recently been under the spotlight in South Africa and that the Competition Commission’s inquiry into the South African data services market is now underway.

The inquiry was launched in August 2017, after a request from the Minister of Economic Development for the competition regulator to investigate the high cost of data in South Africa. This inquiry will coincide with efforts by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa to address issues related to the high cost of data as well as the existing practice by service providers to automatically expire data after a set period of time (usually 30 days).

The focus of the market inquiry will be on obtaining a clear understanding of the data services value chain and assessing the state of competition at every level of this value chain. This includes assessing whether the market participants hold market power, whether consumers and customers are exploited and whether the current regulatory framework contributes to any structural or behavioural aspects in the market that could impact on competition. The inquiry will also serve to benchmark the cost of data in South Africa against the cost of data in other countries.

On 20 September 2017, the South African Competition Commission called for submissions from interested stakeholders in accordance with the newly published guidelines for participation in the inquiry.  Stakeholders that wish to make submissions have until 1 November 2017.

In Kenya, in May 2017, the Competition Authority of Kenya issued a directive requiring telecommunication companies and financial institutions that provide mobile money services to provide real-time notifications of the cost of transactions to customers (before transactions are completed).  The directive, which apparently responds to consumer complaints, is to be implemented in stages and will affect mobile money services offered through apps, USSD codes and SIM toolkits. The objective of the directive is to provide for consumer protection and fair pricing through a consumer-friendly and transparent system of tariff reporting.

Further, tariffs for voice calls have been the subject of intervention by the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, who launched a cost analysis to assess the degree to which pricing in the telecommunications industry in Zimbabwe is fair and competitive.

In early July 2017, the Ugandan Communications Commission queried MTN’s recent tariff changes which were made without the regulator’s approval. While not directly a competition-related intervention, the purpose of the UCC’s powers to regulate tariffs is to prevent anti-competitive pricing.

These developments reflect the increasingly active role of telecommunications and competition regulators in regulating fair markets in one of Africa’s significant growth sectors.

By Leana Engelbrecht, Senior Associate in the Competition and Antitrust Practice at Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg, South Africa

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Increased focus on pricing needed in the teleco sector in Africa

Increased focus on pricing needed in the teleco sector in Africa

Increased focus on pricing needed in the teleco sector in Africa.

Moves to ensure fair competition and to examine pricing in the telecommunications sector is increasing in key mobile phone jurisdictions on the African continent.

The issue of high data costs has recently been under the spotlight in South Africa and that the Competition Commission’s inquiry into the South African data services market is now underway.

The inquiry was launched in August 2017, after a request from the Minister of Economic Development for the competition regulator to investigate the high cost of data in South Africa. This inquiry will coincide with efforts by the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa to address issues related to the high cost of data as well as the existing practice by service providers to automatically expire data after a set period of time (usually 30 days).

The focus of the market inquiry will be on obtaining a clear understanding of the data services value chain and assessing the state of competition at every level of this value chain. This includes assessing whether the market participants hold market power, whether consumers and customers are exploited and whether the current regulatory framework contributes to any structural or behavioural aspects in the market that could impact on competition. The inquiry will also serve to benchmark the cost of data in South Africa against the cost of data in other countries.

On 20 September 2017, the South African Competition Commission called for submissions from interested stakeholders in accordance with the newly published guidelines for participation in the inquiry.  Stakeholders that wish to make submissions have until 1 November 2017.

In Kenya, in May 2017, the Competition Authority of Kenya issued a directive requiring telecommunication companies and financial institutions that provide mobile money services to provide real-time notifications of the cost of transactions to customers (before transactions are completed).  The directive, which apparently responds to consumer complaints, is to be implemented in stages and will affect mobile money services offered through apps, USSD codes and SIM toolkits. The objective of the directive is to provide for consumer protection and fair pricing through a consumer-friendly and transparent system of tariff reporting.

Further, tariffs for voice calls have been the subject of intervention by the Posts and Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of Zimbabwe, who launched a cost analysis to assess the degree to which pricing in the telecommunications industry in Zimbabwe is fair and competitive.

In early July 2017, the Ugandan Communications Commission queried MTN’s recent tariff changes which were made without the regulator’s approval. While not directly a competition-related intervention, the purpose of the UCC’s powers to regulate tariffs is to prevent anti-competitive pricing.

These developments reflect the increasingly active role of telecommunications and competition regulators in regulating fair markets in one of Africa’s significant growth sectors.

By Leana Engelbrecht, Senior Associate in the Competition and Antitrust Practice at Baker McKenzie in Johannesburg, South Africa

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Destiny 2 Review

Destiny 2 Review

Developed by Bungie and published by Activision, Destiny 2 has officially launched on the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. For PC players, Destiny 2 will be launched on 24 October 2017. While Destiny 2 features many single-player elements, the game does require a constant internet connection. This is due to the title also being a multi-player “shared-world” environment.

While the first game in the series received decent reviews, Destiny 2 is here to right the many wrongs faced in the first outing of the series. This time around, Destiny 2 comes packaged with a cinematic storyline which is accompanied by a 12-hour campaign.

A brief synopsis of the story is as follows: One year after the end of the SIVA Crisis, Cabal forces of the Red Legion sever external communications throughout the Solar System and launch a full-scale aerial assault on the Last City, destroying the upper main portion of the Tower. The Guardian and Ghost, which are player controlled, respond and assist the Vanguard (Commander Zavala, Ikora Rey, Cayde-6, Lord Shaxx, etc.) in the evacuation of civilians, but while assaulting the Cabal command ship of Dominus Ghaul, the military emperor of the Cabal, Ghaul attaches a massive mining device to the Traveler and drains it of the Light, a special form of power used by the Guardians.

This ultimately results in all of the Guardians losing their powers. It’s at this moment where the player controlled Guardian is nearly killed by Ghaul. Waking two days after the attack, the player eventually locates their Ghost and the two escape the Last City and find a safe haven known as The Farm in the European Dead Zone (EDZ). It’s at this point where the Guardian must reclaim his/her Light in order to defeat Ghaul and the Red Region and all other opposing factions.

Unlike the first title, Destiny 2 features a rather fantastic and well fleshed out storyline. It also introduces us to a cast of characters that not only look good, but also sound fantastic too. This is due to the outstanding voice performances by Lance Reddick (Commander Zavala), Nathan Fillion (Cayde-6), Nolan North (Ghost), and Gina Torres (Ikora Rey).

While the voice artists set the scene, Destiny also has a powerful musical score. Destiny 2’s music was composed by Michael Salvatori, Skye Lewin, C. Paul Johnson, Rotem Moav, and Peter Schlosser. The soundtrack features a total of 44 powerful tracks that make Destiny 2 one of the best sounding games of the year.

To add to its praises, Destiny 2 is also a beautiful game. It features a plethora of beautifully crafted set-pieces that make it an absolute must play. In addition to this, the development team has also crafted each and every character, enemy, weapon, and planet with great detail in mind. The team at Bungie should be applauded for launching one of this year’s best-looking games.

As mentioned before, Destiny 2 rights the many wrongs we witnessed in the first title of the series. In the first title enemies were pretty predictable… often strafing left and right and back again, which ultimately made them cannon fodder. This made combat feel extremely repetitive and at times boring. However, this time around, enemies feel more aggressive and unpredictable. This allows Destiny 2 to feel a lot more difficult than the first title. No longer could I predict the movements of my enemies as they were either ducking behind cover, coming straight at me in hoards, or making their way around me in order to flank my character. This makes Destiny 2’s combat feel fresh and rejuvenated.

Throughout your journey in Destiny 2, players will also come across a plethora of different game modes. Players can essentially stick to the campaign and sidequests; however, there are a lot of challenges awaiting the player in the game’s Strike mode. Strikes are high-level activities, which last about twenty minutes on average and functioning much the same as a story mission. However, unlike story missions Strikes require a Fireteam of three players – if you don’t already have one made up in advance, you’ll be matchmade with other players.This time around, Strikes feel a bit smaller, but they also feel more a lot more challenging… come this with the game’s superb visuals and you are in for a pretty fun time.

Apart from playing Strikes, Destiny 2 players can also enter a multiplayer mode dubbed “The Crucible.” The Crucible is essentially Destiny 2’s Player VS Player (PVP) mode where players can challenge one another in various modes, which are as follows:

Destiny 2 Crucible Modes:

  • Control – A typical rendition of the PVP control-point style modes we have played in other titles. Your job is to take and hold the three control zones on the map – A, B, and C – whilst the opposing team tries to do the same.
  • Countdown – Countdown is a new mode for Destiny 2. One team will plant a bomb and defend it while the other team will try to diffuse it. There are multiple points where you can plant the bomb, so both defending and attacking requires some strong coordination from your team. The first team to six rounds won (by either successfully detonating the bomb or preventing the other team from doing so) wins the match.
  • Clash – Standard team deathmatch
  • Supremacy – Similar to Clash, but when anyone dies they leave a Crest in their wake, which needs to be collected. Collect more Crests than the other team to win.
  • Survival – Again, similar to Clash, but this team each team only has a total of eight lives. Each time a member of your team dies, you lose a life. The first team to run out of lives first loses.
  • Trials of the Nine – Trials of the Nine is Destiny 2’s version of the old Trials of Osiris, a challenging mode for the PVP area of the Crucible, which has you attempt to win multiple rounds of a certain game mode in a row, with no losses.

When it comes to Destiny 2’s multiplayer modes, they are nothing but fun and entertaining. Whether you playing as a Titan, Warlock, or Hunter you are in for a pretty good time.

Conclusion:
Destiny 2 rights the many wrongs featured in the first title in the series, which shows that the developers have really listened to consumers. It now features a strong storyline and a much more refined multiplayer experience. To add to this, Destiny 2 features beautiful set-pieces, classy voice-acting, and a music score that ultimately makes the entire package of Destiny 2 well-worth playing from start to finish, and beyond.

By: Darryl Linington
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Gartner Symposium 2017: Keith Fenner talks IoT in Africa

Gartner Symposium 2017: Keith Fenner talks IoT in Africa

Keith Fenner, Vice President: Sage Enterprise Africa & Middle East.

IT News Africa caught up with Keith Fenner, Vice-President: Sage Enterprise Africa and Middle East, at the 2017 Gartner Symposium held at the Cape Town International Conference Center in South Africa.

Fenner, at the Symposium, delivered a presentation about the “The Impact of IOT on Leadership and the Path to Digital Mastery” he then further unpacked the world of IoT in Africa during this interview.

He spoke about how seriously African companies are taking IoT, how much more companies can do, if Africa is keeping up with the rest of the world in terms of IoT development, if it can be done quicker and the importance of events such as the Gartner Symposium in educating company leaders.

Watch the full interview here:

By Dean Workman
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How digital transformation will impact the future of insurance

How digital transformation will impact the future of insurance

Darrel Orsmond, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa.

The insurance industry is facing its very own Kodak moment. 40 years after the once heart-warming 1970s ad slogan became part of popular culture, it now reminds one more of the company’s spectacular failure to act in the face of massive industry-wide disruption than it does to capturing special moments. One of the world’s most dominant market leaders was virtually wiped out because it simply could not adapt to a changing consumer and business environment.

Insurance providers across the world are facing increasing pressure of costs, the ability to grow revenues and their contact with customers. Generally, they aren’t responding fast enough to digital transformation or changing customer behaviours, and run the risk of their own Kodak Moment. And it’s not a matter of efficiency, cost reduction, or customer satisfaction only: this is a matter of survival.

So, what is the challenge?

The dangers of a quick-fix approach
One of the main mistakes insurers currently make is to think implementing a shiny new digital front end or mobile app will solve the issue of their disparate legacy systems and enable them to quickly adapt to customer expectations. It won’t because it doesn’t solve the core problems of increasing contact with customers, anticipating events which are insurable, and delivering timeous offers which make use of deep insights and customer knowledge.

Digital transformation requires end-to-end processes from the front end all the way through the business to the back office, enabling a truly data-driven capability and a digital experience for customers, brokers, affiliate partners, and internal users. Digital transformation must come from the core with a modern, dedicated digital platform supported by CEO buy-in – or you’ll simply spend a lot of money and time implementing fresh legacy systems and creating even more complexity.

Technology is accelerating the pace of change in society and business. When everything – from lifestyles to customer expectations to business models – is changing, the time for stop-gap measures is over. Forget front end and tactical workarounds, and start embarking on real transformation, harnessing meaningful, digital insights, better margins, and greater value.

The digital transformation imperative
The insurance industry is facing a set of challenges that will upend insurers’ business models. In fact, 75% of insurers believe that industry boundaries will dramatically blur due to IoT and other platforms. While most insurers are still focused on selling insurance coverage and settling claims, customer expectations are changing quickly and dramatically.

New technologies like sensors and IoT-connected devices are becoming more widespread, and customers expect their insurers to use and innovate with these technologies to improve their experience. Today’s customer expects tailor-made coverage for their individual life situations, and want insurers to offer on-the-spot, personalised products and solutions.

New fintech players are answering this call much quicker than the traditional insurers: legacy insurers can only stay in the game if they are willing to adapt.

Toward usage-based insurance
The mistake that a lot of companies are making is to think of sensors and IoT devices as the beginning and end of digital transformation. However, they are simply supporting technologies for the bigger transformation at hand. Real transformation is about how insurers use IoT and their vast sources of internal and external data to change the customers experience, and adopt current technology to reimagine entire business models.

Insurers can’t just connect sensors and instantly provide usage-based insurance. In addition to providing ever-important premium adjustments, insurers need to leverage technology and innovate to provide additional benefits and customer services pre-emptively, and then monetise such services.

This can be more readily achieved by using sensor and other data. The more sensor data created, the more opportunities insurers will have to provide additional services and benefits for the customer. Naturally, the services will vary based on the property that’s insured. For a connected car, services might include parking or roadside assistance. For a connected home, the service could be automated responses to sensor-detected issues. For example, a water leak would automatically dispatch a plumber to the house. For a connected human, wearables could detect potential health issues and alert an appropriate medical provider before it becomes life-threatening.

Insurance that uses sensor data also provides the opportunity to offer customers “loyalty points” for improving driving behaviour or exercising more regularly. And just like an air-miles program, these points could convert to cash, gifts, or premium reductions, bringing new lifestyle benefits to customers that will increase loyalty and long-term viability.

For insurers, the challenge is clear: go all-in on digital transformation, leverage sensor technology, data, and innovate new products and services that improve the customer experience. The alternative: suffer your own Kodak moment, and be relegated to the history books.

By Darrel Orsmond, Financial Services Industry Head at SAP Africa

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Mobile Trojans steal users’ money through WAP-billing services

Mobile Trojans steal users’ money through WAP-billing services

Mobile Trojans revert to old techniques and steal users’ money through WAP-billing services.

Mobile Trojan clickers that are stealing money from Android users through WAP-billing have been discovered by Kaspersky Lab researchers. The trend is becoming common with thousands of affected users in different countries across the globe.

Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) billing has been widely used by mobile network operators for paid services and subscriptions for many years. This form of mobile payment charges costs directly to the user’s mobile phone bill, without the need for bank card registration or a sign-up process. A user is usually redirected to a different web page via a button and offered a range of additional services.

By clicking on it, the user activates a subscription, and his mobile account is charged. In this current threat scenario, all of these actions can be easily implemented by a Trojan, which performs in secret and clicks on every page by itself. In addition, a simple registration of domains in a mobile operator’s billing system, allows fraudsters to relatively easy connect their website to a WAP-billing service. As a result, money from a victim’s account flows directly to the hackers’ accounts.

Kaspersky Lab detected several popular Trojan families among the “TOP 20 mobile malware programmes” using the WAP-billing service. To become active through mobile Internet, all Trojan versions are able to turn off Wi-Fi and turn on mobile data. The most popular Trojan, belonging to the Trojan-Clicker.AndroidOS.Ubsod malware family, receives URLs from its command and control server and opens them. According to KSN statistics, this Trojan infected almost 8 000 infected users from 82 countries, in July 2017.

Another popular mobile malware in this theft scenario uses Java Script files to click on buttons with WAP-billing. For instance, the Xafekopy Trojan, distributed through ads and masquerading as useful apps such as battery optimisers, can subscribe users to different services and steal their money. Kaspersky Lab experts also found that it shares some similarities with the Ztorg malware, which has also been recently reported by Kaspersky Lab. Like Ztorg, the Xafekopy is of Chinese-speaking origin.

Some Trojan families, such as Autosus and Podec exploit Device Administrator rights, making it harder to delete the Trojan. Moreover, by using JS files Trojans have capabilities to bypass CAPTCHA. For example, the Podec Trojan, which has been active since 2015. Based on Kaspersky Lab research it was the third most common Trojan in June 2017, among those exploiting WAP-billings, and is still active mainly in Russia.

“We haven’t seen these types of Trojans for a while. The fact that they have become so popular lately might indicate that cybercriminals have started to use other verified techniques, such as WAP-billing, to exploit users. Moreover, a premium rate SMS Trojan is more difficult to create. It is also interesting that malware has targeted mainly Russia and India, which could be connected to the state of their internal, local telecoms markets. However, we have also detected the Trojans in South Africa and Egypt”, says Roman Unuchek, security expert at Kaspersky Lab.

To prevent any malicious actions and to stay protected, Kaspersky Lab advises users to be attentive to apps installed on their devices, to avoid those from unknown sources, and to always keep their device updated with the latest security protection.

Kaspersky Lab also recommends that users install a reliable security solution on their device, such as Kaspersky Mobile Antivirus: Web Security & AppLock, which aims to protect users’ privacy and personal information from Android mobile threats.

Read more about mobile Trojans exploiting WAP-billings on Securelist.com.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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Discussing smarter solutions for real-world efficiency

Discussing smarter solutions for real-world efficiency

Andrey Koynov, Chief Technology Officer, InfiNet Wireless.

Fixed wireless broadband has for years been chosen for being the most cost-effective alternative network access technology, especially in the days when there was plenty of spectrum available. Companies started to emerge offering their customers a solution that would easily be slotted into an existing network, and would provide adequate coverage.

However, there has been a major shift in radio spectrum occupancy, especially in terms of the unlicensed spectrum which was dominantly being used for small and medium wireless internet service providers (WISP). Customer expectations too have changed dramatically. Five to ten years ago, customers were happy with Internet speeds of between 2Mb and 5Mb.

However, fixed wireless broadband customers today expect speeds that at the very least are comparable with the speeds when fibre is used as an access technology. In essence, it’s about providing a service that can clearly surpass the connectivity that smartphone users enjoy.

Fixed wireless broadband vendors have to be a lot smarter, especially considering the constraints now placed on the industry in terms of the availability of spectrum. Gone are the days when they could simply use high-powered radios to overcome capacity and frequency shortcomings – it no longer works.

Nowadays, vendors need to include a lot more added value to their solutions in order to stay efficient enough to meet customer expectations. The solutions need to become smarter in terms of real-world efficiencies: this also applies to interference mitigation and avoidance technologies, and spectrum efficiency, which impacts the products being developed.

A multi-faceted approach works best in order to optimise solutions from the bottom up. By introducing greater efficiency, you are able to make use of technologies which are designed specifically for mitigating interference in a smarter way, such as Instant DFS.

One of the newest editions to our product range is the R5000-Qmxb beamforming antenna base station sector. With an integrated beamforming antenna the R5000-Qmxb allows for superior interference immunity thanks to its additional gain and the dynamically steerable directional antenna radiation pattern both in downlink and uplink.

Recent product developments offer new solutions to address the latest trends and are designed to achieve both interference mitigation and better spectrum efficiency.

Seeing is believing and product demonstrations to existing and potential customers to show the capabilities of the range of products remain the most convincing way to demonstrate the effectiveness of a product to a customer.

For some, the new developments and associated products are a huge shift. For many well-established customers, we produce not only wireless pieces of equipment, but also systems that provide additional networking services, such as routing and advanced switching capabilities.

However, for some of our newer customers there is a learning curve, mainly because they are now able to do a lot more than they previously could.

Small and medium-size wireless ISPs are normally fast adopters of new wireless technologies. This is usually due to that fact that it is a highly-competitive market so they are keen to offer a superior service in order to capture their customer base.

Conversely, the enterprise-type customer – for example in the oil and gas market – is more conservative in their approach to change. They need to service their own network with zero outage, which is why they can be resistant to adopting new technologies. However, having said that, once they experience the benefits of partnering with an enterprise-grade fixed wireless system, there’s no turning back.

It is predicted that in three to five years the market will become more diversified. There are already a number of alternative technologies available that are conducive for fixed wireless broadband, such as LTE. 5G will definitely be competition in the future, but there are currently no products that support 5G. This is mainly due to the fact that there is no approved standard to define the fifth generation of mobile wireless systems. The actual deployment of 5G, together with the associated products and services, are a few years down the road.

There are other alternatives too – the MulteFire that is 100 per cent unlicensed LTE – and some new frequency bands are opening up: there are some new solutions being introduced for frequency bands such as 17, 24, 60, 70 GHz, etc. We still believe that 5 GHz will remain the biggest market in terms of the unlicensed fixed wireless technologies. What is advantageous for the customer, is that the new technologies will present more diversity for the end user.

Africa is a more challenging continent in terms of spectrum regulation, interference and operating conditions. For example, South Africa, in particular, often presents a real challenge to technologies readily used in Europe or the Middle East due to its heavy thunderstorms and extreme heat.

However, we have learnt a lot and are now able to adapt accordingly.

By Andrey Koynov, Chief Technology Officer, InfiNet Wireless

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South African companies should view data governance regulations as an opportunity

South African companies should view data governance regulations as an opportunity

Dragan Petkovic, Security Product Leader ECEMEA Oracle South Africa.

When Tim Berners-Lee declared data to be the “new raw material of the 21st century” back in 2011, he was perfectly describing the direction many economies were heading in – from industry to insights and intelligence.

But in the six years since, data has defied the economic principles that many commodities adhere to: unlike other raw materials, the more plentiful the data the more valuable it becomes. It is coveted like precious metals and valued accordingly for its power to drive the insights that help transform businesses.

The data a company owns can help it to cut costs, open up new markets and identify new business; it can make the difference between taking the lead or seeing rivals overtake it. As such, data has a value that shouldn’t just be acknowledged but recorded and accounted for.

Data-rich businesses are being acquired not for what they do, but for what they know, while exchanges trading in data have become profitable businesses in their own right, in the same way as exchanges that trade in metals, currencies and more.

Just as a business’s finances are carefully recorded, detailed, audited and regulated, the recognition of data is reaching a similar point of maturity. The financial good governance of a business is inextricably linked to its value, and the same can be said of data governance.

Now, the uses of data have reached such a level of value to businesses that it is becoming subject to more stringent standards and controls to safeguard its value and availability, which also ensures its responsible usage.

Personal data: responsibility lies with the business
In South Africa, the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPI) enshrines the constitutional right to privacy by safeguarding personal information through regulating the way in which it is processed, and providing individuals with recourse should their personal information not be processed in accordance with the regulation.

Section 19 of the Act, which deals with security safeguards, states that organisations must take appropriate measures to protect personal information against unlawful access or processing, as well as loss, damage, or unauthorised destruction. Companies must further take measures to identify risks, maintain safeguards against such risks, and ensure that these safeguards are continually updated in response to new risks.

Businesses are further responsible for keeping their security and data protection up to date and to make sure anybody who handles data on their behalf – whether internal employees or external suppliers – does the same.

Data-driven opportunities for growth
The crafting of such regulation in South Africa – and across many countries around the world – are in response to a growing digital economy, where personal data is moving faster, further and more freely than ever.

Furthermore, rapid advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning are giving businesses the ability to automate processes across the organisation and extract even greater value from the data that they have.

This is made possible through the maturation of cloud computing at the infrastructure, platform and software level, giving businesses the ability to extract, collate and analyse data at incredible volumes and speed – even from across previously disparate systems – and fully explore the potential and value of their data.

Companies should view PoPI as an opportunity to better align their organisations; data protection regulation is likely to continue evolving, and a clear view of how data moves across the business will be critical to staying on top of change.

While it may be enough for companies to merely comply with the regulations, taking a long-term view can help them work more efficiently and differentiate themselves in a highly competitive market.

By Dragan Petkovic, Security Product Leader ECEMEA Oracle South Africa

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How analytics can unlock the true value of IoT

How analytics can unlock the true value of IoT

Neil Herbert, Director: Business Analytics at SAP Africa.

With analysts estimating that up to 80 billion devices and sensors will be in the market by 2020, the need for real-time processing and analytics has escalated as companies work to realise the up to $8.9 trillion in additional revenue predicted to be unlocked by IoT. This is also leading to the development of more than 200 000 new apps and services as companies aim to take advantage of the potential benefits of the Fourth Industrial Revolution by exploring new business models, optimisations, and revenue streams. However, business leaders are quickly learning that IoT is simply a tool, not a silver bullet: to extract the optimum value from IoT projects, business leaders still need clarity on its role in driving digital transformation – and bottom-line results.

While some businesses are running multiple IoT implementations across various lines of business but still struggle to realise true commercial benefits, industries such as insurance, retail, supply chain, and agriculture are experiencing exponential benefits as their IoT initiatives deliver transformative business value. In the supply chain, for example, companies are using IoT for intelligent supply chain execution, logistics, and supply chain planning for near-real-time replenishment, smart warehousing, intelligent transportation optimisation, and real-time track and trace.

In a range of other industries, recent use cases are inspiring confidence in the business value of IoT to reduce risk and optimise processes.

IoT delivering business value across industries
The insurance industry is one of the first to deploy large-scale IoT implementations to drive innovation and improve the customer experience. As sensors become more commonplace in the home, at work, and society, insurers will have exponentially growing pools of structured and unstructured data that could provide the foundation of better customer insights, more accurate situational awareness, and improved business processes. Those that prioritise digital transformation have already shown how the combination of data sets from IoT, their own systems, social media, partners, and suppliers can drive innovation and unlock new business models, greater efficiency, and increased competitiveness.

In another example, a company managing large sports stadiums in Germany uses data sets from weather, traffic systems, supply chain, social media, sensors embedded in turnstiles, and retail outlets to monitor operational needs in real time during large events. If, for example, a specific player is performing extraordinarily well on field, their system could inform the retail outlet to increase its stock of jerseys sporting that player’s name, as there’s likely to be increased demand following the end of the match. Similarly, if weather patterns indicate unusually hot temperatures, the system could alert suppliers to dispatch additional stock of drinks and bottled water to meet heightened demand.

Here in Africa, the farming industry – which by some accounts provides income for up to 60% of African citizens – is seeing how IoT and analytics can improve livelihoods by making small but important improvements to farming processes. Farming in Africa mostly involves small-scale farmers, wherein developed countries farming is done at a grand scale by large corporations. In a recent rural agricultural project involving an IoT solution, sugar cane farmers gained valuable insights from sensors guiding the optimal harvest and processing times. Sugarcane farmers have a limited window of opportunity to process cut sugar cane; up to 50% of the yield can be degraded if it is not taken for processing within 48 hours of harvest. By using IoT sensors combined with a cloud-based analytics platform that incorporates external data sets such as weather data, African sugar cane farmers that were part of the project received timely information regarding the optimal harvest and processing timelines for their crops, helping them improve their yield and increase their revenue while minimising waste.

Cloud platform enables innovation
With the exponential growth of data, companies need to consider ways to leverage technology to reach and support employees, customers, partners, and suppliers across the world. Here, a cloud platform powered by an in-memory computing platform proves essential, as it not only connects disparate data sources and technologies, but enables innovation at a grand scale.

Globally, companies are leveraging the SAP Leonardo suite of innovation tools, including IoT, to unlock business value and transform their operations, business models, and revenue streams. The most successful implementations include a design thinking element that brings together a broad mix of people within the business to help uncover areas of high-potential IoT innovation. By partnering with a global leader in IoT innovation that can provide a platform, intelligence, insight and support, companies are now able to realise the true transformative benefits of IoT and its associated commercial applications.

By Neil Herbert, Director: Business Analytics at SAP Africa

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South Africa: Biometrics firm aims to curb identity theft

South Africa: Biometrics firm aims to curb identity theft

SA biometrics firm aims to curb identity theft.

Ideco, a South African biometrics company, has unveiled its identity assurance ecosystem – which according to the company – aims to deliver fraud-proof trusted identity authentication, confirmed with a digital certificate of authenticity in seconds.

Ideco’s new Identity-as-a-Service (IDaaS) ecosystem was officially launched at the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE) Africa conference and exhibition in Sandton this week.

With fraud costing South African organisations billions annually, and losses of up to R15 billion per annum in the medical sector alone, identity fraud is possibly the single biggest governance, risk and compliance challenges facing South African organisations today.

Manie van Schalkwyk, Executive Director of the Southern African Fraud Prevention Service, said the SAFPS maintains a database of confirmed identity fraud cases and offers protective registration for individuals whose identification documents or personal data were lost or stolen.

“Our service has saved the big four banks over R1.7 billion in potential fraud. This year alone, our data has contributed to over R936 million in savings across the banks and client companies. The number of new listings rose 56% this year and the number of victims listed rose by 55%. Clearly, fraud is not under control in South Africa.”

Ideco CEO Marius Coetzee says: “Building on Ideco’s ground-breaking biometrics and authentication solutions, including the Identity 4.0TM three-way digital key sharing system, we have developed an ecosystem designed to offer trusted identity assurance in real-time, eliminating the complexity and risk associated with traditional verification processes.”

The new Ideco IDaaS ecosystem essentially delivers identity verification as a service to organisations requiring FICA or RICA compliance, managing large financial transactions, or otherwise requiring identity verification to secure banking services, communications, healthcare, education and social protection.

Ideco IDaaS enables organisations to capture the credentials and biometric data of the consumer at the point of contact. The data, photo and fingerprints are captured in a customisable template defined in the API, and communicated securely to Ideco’s cloud-based backend service for processing. The IDaaS ecosystem validates the data in real time against multiple trusted national databases, including the Home Affairs data, and when full trust is established, the system generates a seal of authenticity which both verifies the customer identity and digitally signs the certificate in compliance with the ECT Act. “The seal of authenticity is unique in South Africa, in that it delivers irrefutable proof of identity that holds up in a court of law,” said Coetzee. This certification meets all regulatory requirements and is powered by the National Centre for Certified Identities. The commercial service is hosted securely in the cloud, with the APIs delivered through the MuleSoft ESB.

The Ideco IDaaS ecosystem, first released toward the end of 2016, has been piloted by a major South African enterprise, in part to assess customer acceptance. “There was a high level of acceptance, once customers understood the value of the process and the benefits to them in owning their identity through the use of the nuID mobile app linked to the ecosystem,” said Coetzee.

The nuID app is hosted securely in the cloud and access to their identity data is enabled by the owner of the data – the consumer being identified – via a mobile phone. Citizens will in future maintain their credentials on the new dedicated and secure portal.

“For the consumer, having access to their secure and irrefutable proof of identity via their mobile phone, will eliminate the risk of identity fraud. This means they no longer have to submit certified copies of their identity documents, which gives them control and visibility over the verification process and builds trust in their transactions with service providers,” said Coetzee. “Although the service is made available to clients as a shared service, we guarantee full protection of information. Personal information is secured using Customer Centric Cryptography, which makes the system fully compliant to the POPI Act. Through the use of the service APIs, the service can, therefore, be embedded in any customer facing transaction or point of sale, to eliminate the risk of Identity-related fraud.”

The Ideco IDaaS ecosystem and the nuID app also paves the way for a future in which trusted digital identification via a mobile device unlocks all services and transactions. “In future the mobile phone will be the bearer of your identity, and we expect to see the private sector driving this revolution in response to the need to clamp down on identity fraud.”

“As the first foolproof next-generation identity verification ecosystem in South Africa, we believe Ideco’s IDaaS delivers unprecedented levels of authentication and full trust in identity for the first time,” Coetzee concludes.

Edited by Fundisiwe Maseko
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