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AppDate: Easy insurance when it suits you

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In his latest AppDate, SEAN BACHER highlights Sanlam Go Cover, “Narcos: Cartel Wars”, Insurance 101, Telkom’s new mobile app and the Van Schaik Rewards App.

Sanlam Go Cover

The Sanlam Go Cover app lets South Africans and tourists visiting this country purchase instant accident cover on demand, via their smart phones.

Go Cover requires a once-off registration after downloading and optional nomination of a beneficiary or contact person. A couple of clicks and smartphone users can secure up to R1 million cover for t24 hours or for an extended period up to 30 days. This comes with a minimum price tag of just R10. The cover can be activated immediately or at a precise future date and time within 30 days. For example, one can buy 14 days of cover and set it to begin automatically the following week. To simplify the product, Sanlam only offers three levels of cover. For 24 hour cover a premium of R10 gives cover of up to a R100 000, R20 for up to R500 000 or R30 for up to R1 000 000. The daily rate decreases as the period extends.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: Rates vary according the number of days and the amount of cover wanted.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

“Narcos: Cartel Wars”

The Netflix television show Narcos has come to smartphones and tablets in the form of “Narcos: Cartel Wars”. A player steps into the role of a cartel kingpin and tries to take over the narcotics world. The game is very much the same as Clash of Clans, where one raids opponent’s home bases, stealing building materials like wood, money, stone and products (in this case, drugs). The further one progresses, the more one can upgrade the base to repel attacks. The more one can upgrade the army, the better the chances of killing off opponents. Although the game includes endless in-game purchases to boost updates and troop training, a little patience and a lot of skill will eventually get you hooked.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download but with in-app purchases.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device.

 

Insurance 101

Many South Africans don’t completely understand the value of short-term insurance. With this in mind , the South African Insurance Association (SAIA) developed a mobile application aimed at promoting financial literacy around short-term insurance for consumers. Once installed, the app helps consumers understand the intricacies of the short-term insurance space. It explains why one’s assets – such as vehicle, home or cellphone – should be insured. It goes into detail about the necessity of sufficient cover and highlights where one may be vulnerable should one not have cover. Information about the claims process is also available should consumers incur a loss.

Platform: Android

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the Google Play Store

 

New Telkom app

The new Telkom allows customers to manage both home and mobile accounts from a smartphone or tablet. The app replaces two existing apps: Telkom (for home accounts) and Telkom Mobile (for mobile accounts). The consolidation of the apps means that customers will now have a better experience while managing both their mobile and home needs. The app includes options for online bill payments, data top-ups, fault-logging for landlines, logging and tracking problems, orders and appointments, phone upgrade requests and even cancellation of wireless application service provider (WASP) services.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download.

Stockists: Visit the store linked to your device

 

Van Schaik Rewards App

The Van Schaik Rewards App for students allows the lock screen on smartphones to display advertising content, course material and, at the same time, let them earn additional income. This income can then be spent at a Van Schaik bookstore to purchase e-books, paper-based books and other learning materials. The app is based on a customer loyalty program, which is nothing new, but it is one of the first in South Africa to implement it as a phone’s lock screen. The idea came about due to exorbitant tuition fees and with students spending a lot of their time on their devices. Should a user spend more than R99 on airtime (which can be purchased in a Van Schaik outlet) per month, they will be given access to additional rewards, like free Whatsapp and Wi-Fi.

Platform: Android and iOS

Expect to pay: A free download, but airtime needs to be bought from any Van Schaik Bookstore to qualify for the rewards.

Stockists: www.vanschaik.com

* Sean Bacher is editor of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @SeanBacher

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IoT sensors are anything from doctor to canary in mines

Industrial IoT is changing the shape of the mining industry and the intelligence of the devices that drive it

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The Internet of Things (IoT) has become many things in the mining industry. A canary that uses sensors to monitor underground air quality, a medic that monitors healthcare, a security guard that’s constantly on guard, and underground mobile vehicle control. It has evolved from the simple connectivity of essential sensors to devices into an ecosystem of indispensable tools and solutions that redefine how mining manages people, productivity and compliance. According to Karien Bornheim, CEO of Footprint Africa Business Solutions (FABS), IoT offers an integrated business solution that can deliver long-term, strategic benefits to the mining industry.

“To fully harness the business potential of IoT, the mining sector has to understand precisely how it can add value,” she adds. “IoT needs to be implemented across the entire value chain in order to deliver fully optimised, relevant and turnkey operational solutions. It doesn’t matter how large the project is, or how complex, what matters is that it is done in line with business strategy and with a clear focus.”

Over the past few years, mining organisations have deployed emerging technologies to help bolster flagging profits, manage increasingly weighty compliance requirements, and reduce overheads. These technologies are finding a foothold in an industry that faces far more complexities around employee wellbeing and safety than many others, and that juggles numerous moving parts to achieve output and performance on a par with competitive standards. Already, these technologies have allowed mines to fundamentally change worker safety protocols and improve working conditions. They have also provided mining companies with the ability to embed solutions into legacy platforms, allowing for sensors and IoT to pull them into a connected net that delivers results.

“The key to achieving results with any IoT or technology project is to partner with service providers, not just shove solutions into identified gaps,” says Bornheim. “You need to start in the conceptual stage and move through the pre-feasibility and bankable feasibility stages before you start the implementation. Work with trained and qualified chemical, metallurgical, mechanical, electrical, instrumentation and structural engineers that form a team led by a qualified engineering lead with experience in project management. This is the only way to ensure that every aspect of the project is aligned with the industry and its highly demanding specifications.”

Mining not only has complexities in compliance and health and safety, but the market has become saturated, difficult and mercurial. For organisations to thrive, they must find new revenue streams and innovate the ways in which they do business. This is where the data delivered by IoT sensors and devices can really transform the bottom line. If translated, analysed and used correctly, the data can provide insights that allow for the executive to make informed decisions about sites, investment and potential.


“The cross-pollination of different data sets from across different sites can help shift dynamics in plant operation and maintenance, in the execution of specific tasks, and so much more,” says Bornheim. “In addition, with sensors and connected devices and systems, mining operations can be managed intelligently to ensure the best results from equipment and people.”

The connection of the physical world to the digital is not new. Many of the applications currently being used or presented to the mining industry are not new either. What’s new is how these solutions are being implemented and the ways in which they are defined. It’s more than sticking on sensors. It’s using these sensors to streamline business across buildings, roads, vehicles, equipment, and sites. These sensors and the ways in which they are used or where they are installed can be customised to suit specific business requirements.

“With qualified electronic engineers and software experts, you can design a vast array of solutions to meet the real needs of your business,” says Bornheim. “Our engineers can programme, create, migrate and integrate embedded IoT solutions for microcontrollers, sensors, and processors. They can also develop intuitive dashboards and human-machine interfaces for IoT and machine-to-machine (M2M) devices to manage the input and output of a wide range of functionalities.”

The benefits of IoT lie in its ubiquity. It can be used in tandem with artificial intelligence or machine learning systems to enhance analytics, improve the automation of basic processes and monitor systems and equipment for faults. It can be used alongside M2M applications to enhance the results and the outcomes of the systems and their roles. And it can be used to improve collaboration and communication between man, machine and mine.

“You can use IoT platforms to visualise mission-critical data for device monitoring, remote control, alerts, security management, health and safety and healthcare,” concludes Bornheim. “The sky is genuinely the limit, especially now that the cost of sensors has come down and the intelligence of solutions and applications has gone up. From real-time insights to hands-on security and safety alerts to data that changes business direction and focus, IoT brings a myriad of benefits to the table.”

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Oracle leads in clash of
e-commerce titans

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Three e-commerce platforms have been awarded “gold medals” for leading the way in customer experience. SoftwareReviews, a division of Info-Tech Research Group, named Oracle Commerce Cloud the leader in its 2020 eCommerce Data Quadrant Awards, followed by Shopify Plus and IBM Digital Commerce. The awards are based on user reviews. 
The three vendors received the following citations:

  • Oracle Commerce Cloud ranked highest among software users, earning the number-one spot in many of the product feature section areas, shining brightest in reporting and analytics, predictive recommendations, order management, and integrated search. 
  • Shopify Plus performed consistently well according to users, taking the number-one spot for catalogue management, shopping cart management and ease of customisation.
  • IBM Digital Commerce did exceptionally well in business value created, quality of features, and vendor support.

The SoftwareReviews Data Quadrant differentiates itself with insightful survey questions, backed by 22 years of research in IT. The study involves gathering intelligence on user satisfaction with both product features and experience with the vendor. When distilled, the customer’s experience is shaped by both the software interface and relationship with the vendor. Evaluating enterprise software along these two dimensions provides a comprehensive understanding of the product in its entirety and helps identify vendors that can deliver on both for the complete software experience.

“Our recent Data Quadrant in e-commerce solutions provides a compelling snapshot of the most popular enterprise-ready players, and can help you make an informed, data-driven selection of an e-commerce platform that will exceed your expectations,” says Ben Dickie, research director at Info-Tech Research Group. 

“Having a dedicated e-commerce platform is where the rubber hits the road in transacting with your customers through digital channels. These platforms provide an indispensable array of features, from product catalog and cart management to payment processing to detailed transaction analytics.”

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