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Adobe rises to Document Cloud

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Adobe has announced Adobe Document Cloud, a new way to manage critical documents at home, in the office and across multiple devices.

At the heart of Document Cloud is the all-new Adobe Acrobat DC, which will take e-signatures mainstream by delivering free e-signing as part of the integrated solution.

Adobe Document Cloud consists of a set of integrated services that use a consistent online profile and personal document hub.  People will be able to create, review, approve, sign and track documents whether on a desktop or mobile device. Acrobat DC, with a touch-enabled user interface, will be available both via subscription and one-time purchase.

“People and businesses are stuck in document-based processes that are slow, wasteful, and fragmented. While most forms of content have successfully made the move to digital (books, movies, music), documents and the process of working with them have not, and that needs to change,” said Bryan Lamkin, senior vice president of technology and corporate development at Adobe. “Adobe Document Cloud will revolutionize and simplify how people get work done with critical documents.”

A study by Adobe titled Paper Jam: Why Documents are Dragging Us Down, has exposed how antiquated business processes and outdated ways of working with documents are having a dramatic impact on productivity, efficiency and worker satisfaction. The findings show that 83% of workers feel their success and ability to be productive at work are slowed down by outdated ways of working with documents, and 61% said they would change jobs if the only benefit was dramatically less document and administrative work. It’s a problem that businesses can no longer afford to ignore.

Adobe Document Cloud will include:

·         All-new Acrobat DC
With Acrobat DC, Adobe is taking the world’s best PDF solution to an entirely new level. With an intuitive, touch-enabled interface, Acrobat DC delivers powerful new functionality to get work done anywhere. The new Tool Center offers simplified and quick access to the tools you use most.  And, Acrobat DC uses Photoshop imaging magic to convert any paper document into a digital, editable file that can be sent for signature. Read to discover more about Acrobat DC

·         E-signing Anywhere, for Everyone

eSign Services (formerly Adobe EchoSign) will be included with every subscription of Acrobat DC, which is part of both Document Cloud and Adobe Creative Cloud.  Now you can electronically send and sign any document from any device.  New Fill & Sign makes signing anything fast and easy, including smart autofill across devices.

·         Introducing Mobile Link and New Mobile Apps
Access your work as you move between desktop and devices, and pick up that form or document where you left off with new Mobile Link – your files, settings and signatures stay with you. With two new mobile apps, Acrobat Mobile and Fill & Sign, people can create, edit, comment and sign documents directly on their mobile phones and tablets. Plus, use the camera on your device as a portable scanner to easily convert any paper documents to digital, editable files that can be sent for signature.

·         Document Management & Control
Services such as Send & Track let you manage, track and control your documents.  With intelligent tracking, you gain visibility into where critical documents are along their process, including who has opened them and when.  Control features also help to protect sensitive information, both inside and outside the firewall, for business or personal use.

Integration with Adobe Creative Cloud and Marketing Cloud

Acrobat has been central to Adobe Creative Cloud and its massive success – enabling creative mock-ups, markup and response, pre-press support, and more. Adobe Document Cloud will extend that use, allowing creatives to work with PDFs anywhere, and adding e-signing capabilities and the ability to synch with Creative Cloud. Adobe Creative Cloud customers will have access to Document Cloud through Acrobat DC, which will be included with a membership to Creative Cloud.

Today, Adobe Document Cloud e-Sign services integrates with Adobe Experience Manager Forms to provide seamless experiences to customers across web and mobile sites.  In the future, Adobe will integrate key components of Adobe Marketing Cloud to help businesses test, measure and manage documents, providing the same visibility into usage and interactions with documents that marketers already have with digital marketing assets today.

Document Cloud for the Enterprise
According to a recent survey by IDC*, disconnected document processes are pervasive and negatively impact all areas of business. More than 80% of document work is still not digital, with documents often making one or more transitions into and out of paper, especially when signatures are involved. Each time that happens, valuable time is lost.  In addition, workers are spending more than one-third of their time on administrative process instead of core work.

“Our study shows that organizations of all kinds are suffering from what we call the ‘document disconnect’,” said Melissa Webster, Program Vice President, Content and Digital Media Technologies, IDC.  “It afflicts organizations of all sizes in all industries around the world.  It results in significant delays and errors across critical business functions such as sales contracting and quoting, procurement, talent acquisition, and onboarding.  And it is a serious impediment to business that — according to our respondents — negatively affects revenue, compliance, cost, productivity, and customer experience.”

Document Cloud for the enterprise addresses this disconnect by providing departments and entire organizations with services, including enterprise-class e-sign services, that bring speed and efficiency to business document workflows, both inside and outside the organization. Document Cloud for the enterprise offers solutions for industries including healthcare and insurance, financial services, media and entertainment, government, and schools and universities. In addition, enterprises can centrally manage Document Cloud and Creative Cloud user accounts and licenses with single sign-on (SSO) in the Adobe Enterprise Dashboard.

According to the IDC survey, business leaders have estimated that the potential benefits of addressing the ‘document disconnect’ would increase revenue by 36%, reduce costs by 30% while reducing compliance risks by 23%. It’s an upside that any business should embrace.

* Follow Gadget on Twitter on @GadgetZA

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Online retail gets real

After decades of experience in selling online, retailers still seek out the secret of reaching the digital consumer, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK.

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It’s been 23 years since the first pizza and the first bunch of flowers was sold online. One would think, after all this time, that retailers would know exactly what works, and exactly how the digital consumer thinks.

Yet, in shopping-mad South Africa, only 4% of adults regularly shop online. One could blame high data costs, low levels of tech-savviness, or lack of trust. However, that doesn’t explain why a population where more than a quarter of people have a debit or credit card and almost 40% of people use the Internet is staying away.

The new Online Retail in South Africa 2019 study, conducted by World Wide Worx with the support of Visa and Platinum Seed, reveals that growth is in fact healthy, but is still coming off a low base. This year, the total sale of retail products online is expected to pass the R14-billion mark, making up 1.4% of total retail.

This figure represents 25% growth over 2017, and comes after the same rate of growth was seen in 2017. At this rate, it is clear that online retail is going mainstream, driven by aggressive marketing, and new shopping channels like mobile shopping. 

But it is equally clear that not all retailers are getting it right. According to the study, the unwillingness of business to reinvest revenue in developing their online presence is one of the main barriers to long-term success. Only one in five companies surveyed invested more than 20% of their online turnover back into their online store. Over half invested less than 10% back.

On the surface, the industry looks healthy, as a surprisingly high 71% of online retailers surveyed say they are profitable. But this brings to mind the early days of Amazon.com, in 1996, when founder Jeff Bezos was asked when it would become profitable.

He declared that it would not be profitable for at least another five years. And if it did, he said, it would be in big trouble. He meant that it was so important for long-term sustainability that Amazon reinvest all its revenues in customer systems, that it could not afford to look for short-term profits.

According to the South African study, the single most critical factor in the success of online retail activities is customer service. A vast majority, 98% of respondents, regarded it as important. This positions customer service as the very heart of online retail. For Amazon, investment back into systems that would streamline customer service became the key to the world’s digital wallets.

In South Africa online still make up a small proportion of overall retail, but for the first time we see the promise of a broader range of businesses in terms of category, size, turnover and employee numbers. This is a sign that our local market is beginning to mature. 

Clothing and apparel is the fastest growing sector, but is also the sector with the highest turnover of businesses. It illustrates the dangers of a low barrier to entry: the survival rate of online stores in this sector is probably directly opposite to the ease of setting up an online apparel store.

A fast-growing category that was fairly low on the agenda in the past, alcohol, tobacco and vaping, has benefited from the increased online supply of vapes, juices and accessories. It also suggests that smoking bans, and the change in the legal status of marijuana during the survey, may have boosted demand. 

In the coming weeks, we can expect online retail to fall under the spotlight as never before. Black Friday, a shopping tradition imported “wholesale” from the United States, is expected to become the biggest online shopping day of the year in South Africa, as it is in the USA.

Initially, it was just a gimmick in South Africa, attempting to cash in on what was a purely American tradition of insane sales on the Friday after Thanksgiving Day, which occurs on the third Thursday of November every year. It is followed by Cyber Monday, making the entire weekend one of major promotions and great bargains.

It has grown every year in South Africa since its first introduction about six years ago, and last year it broke into the mainstream, with numerous high profile retailers embracing it, and many consumers experiencing it for the first time. 

It is now positioned as the prime bargain day of the year for consumers, and many wait in anticipation for it, as they do in the USA. Along with Cyber Monday, it provides an excuse for retailers to go all out in their marketing, and for consumers to storm the display shelves or web pages. South African shoppers, clearly, are easily enticed by bargains.

Word of mouth around Black Friday has also grown massively in the past two years, driven by both media and shoppers who have found ridiculous bargains. As news spreads that the most ridiculous of the bargains are to be had online, even those who were reticent of digital shopping will be tempted to convert.

The Online Retail in SA 2019 report has shown over the years that, as people become more experienced in using the Internet, their propensity to shop online increases. This is part of the World Wide Worx model known as the Digital Participation Curve. The key missing factor in the Curve is that most retailers do not know how to convert that propensity into actual online shopping behaviour. Black Friday will be one of the keys to conversion.

Carry on reading to find out about the online retailers of the year.

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Reliable satellite Internet?

MzansiSat, a satellite-Internet business, aims to beam Internet connections to places in South Africa which don’t have access to cabled and mobile network infrastructure, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Stellenbosch-based MzansiSat promises to provide cheap wholesale Internet to Internet Service Providers for as little as R25 per Gigabyte. Providers who offer more expensive Internet services could benefit greatly from partnering with MzansiSat, says the company. 

“Using MzansiSat, we hope that we can carry over cost-savings benefits to the consumer,” says Victor Stephanopoli, MzansiSat chief operating officer.

The company, which has been spun off from StellSat, has been looking to increase its investor portfolio while it waits for spectrum approval. The additional investment will allow MzansiSat’s satellite to operate in more regions across Africa.

The MzansiSat satellite is being built by Thales Alenia Space, a French company which is also acting as technical partner to MzansiSat. In addition to building the satellite, Thales Alenia Space will also be assisting MzansiSat in coordinating the launch. The company intends to launch the satellite into the 56°E orbital slot in a geostationary orbit, which enables communication almost anywhere in Africa. The launch is expected to happen in 2022. 

The satellite will have 76 transponders, 48 of which will be Ku-band and 28 C-band. Ku-band is all about high-speed performance, while C-band deals with weather-resistance. The design intention is for customers of MzansiSat to choose between very cheap, reliable data and very fast, power-efficient data. 

C-band is an older technology, which makes bandwidth cheaper and almost never affected by rain but requires bigger dishes and slower bandwidth compared to Ku-band connections. On the other hand, Ku-band is faster, experiences less microwave interference, and requires less power to run – but is less reliable with bad weather conditions.

MzansiSat’s potential military applications are significant, due to the nature of the military being mobile and possibly in remote areas without connectivity.  Connectivity everywhere would be potentially be life-saving.

Consumers in remote areas will benefit, even though satellite is higher in latency than fibre and LTE connections. While this level of latency is high (a fifth of a second in theory), satellite connections are still adequate for browsing the Internet and watching online content. 

The Internet of Things (IoT) may see the benefits of satellite Internet before consumers do. The applications of IoT in agriculture are vast, from hydration sensors to soil nutrient testers, and can be realised with an Internet connection which is available in a remote area.

Stephanopoli says that e-learning in remote areas can also benefit from MzansiSat’s presence, as many school resources are becoming readily available online. 

“Through our network, the learning experience can be beamed into classrooms across the country to substitute or complement local resources within the South African schooling system.”

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