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Beware IT scare tactics

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It’s a common misperception is that SMEs using old software could put their companies at risk as many vendors maintain a range of platforms based on technologies ranging from legacy to cutting-edge, says STEVEN COHEN of Sage One.

It’s good practice to support customers using your older software as best you can. Even with vendors trying to frighten them into buying new software, many businesses know that these security risks are reasonably small once you quantify them.

Those that are concerned should remember Chief Vitalstatistix in the Asterix comic books who worried the sky may fall on his head. Of course, it never did. As far as we’re concerned when SMEs are ready to upgrade to new technology, they should do so for the right business reasons, and not out of fear.

IT vendors have so often used scare tactics to move users onto new software that customers are disillusioned with the industry as a whole. The Year 2000 panic was one example. We all woke up on 1 January 2000 after the New Year’s celebration, only to find that the sky had not fallen.

A new horizon

The sad thing is that when something comes along that offers true transformation for the industry, many end-users are cynical. The cloud presents such a change, and it has already revolutionised our private lives, through the Apple iCloud, web-based email, Dropbox, and so many other online services we use every day.

Businesses are also using some of these services, but they are a little slower in moving their business processes to the cloud. All the fear they’re being sold by the industry leaves them unmoved; they want to know what the business benefits are. I believe there are three obstacles to them adopting the cloud more aggressively.

1.     Maturity

The cloud was an opportunity for software vendors to get a fresh start – cut away the bloat and the complexity of today’s desktop software, reduce clutter and improve ease of use. The downside is that cloud software – for example, an accounting and payroll solution – doesn’t contain as many features as their desktop equivalents.

That means some worry that a cloud offering won’t have a feature they have grown to depend on. While cloud software contains most features mainstream users need, it hasn’t had the benefit of maturing over 20 years. We have written documents for our 200,000 desktop users explaining the exact feature differences that exists between our cloud and desktop offerings and they make their decisions accordingly.

2.     Low speed and poor reliability of the South African Internet

This is still a concern for some business owners, but it’s increasingly a perception rooted in the past rather than a reflection of reality. It was unthinkable 2 years ago to stream a high definition movie to your home TV. Today, we have Netflix and we watch YouTube to our heart’s content. Users with a 2.5 Mb or better connection are good to go.

3.     Inertia

We all leave things to the last minute, whether it’s paying more for air tickets after booking an overseas holiday at the last minute or neglecting to upgrade our business software. Steven Covey talked about the “urgent but not important” quadrant; we spend so much time on “non-important issues” that seem urgent to us that we don’t get the important things done.

We think it’s important for our customers to use the latest technology to save money and be more efficient. However, we also know that with the challenges they fight every day, upgrading to the cloud from an accounting package that is working well is not an urgency for them.

Closing words

We recommend that our customers ask themselves two questions about their software: does it need to be done and will it become easier to do later? For most SMEs, the answer about upgrading their software and migrating to the cloud will be respectively yes and no.

Cloud applications can help SMEs to modernise their setup and access world-class security without needing to spend a fortune on hardware, consulting and software. I think that getting it done and being ready for the future offers peace of mind that makes it all worthwhile.

In a time of seismic technological change and digital innovation, Sage is using the smartest technology to reinvent and simplify business accounting. For us, today’s smartest technology is in the cloud. But we’d rather sell our users on the benefits of the cloud than try to scare them into moving. It’s time for the IT industry to move beyond fear as a sales tool.

* Steven Cohen, Head of Sage One International (Africa, Australia, Middle East, Asia and Brazil)

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Welcome to world of 2099

The world of 2099 will be unrecognisable from the world of today, but it can be predicted, says one visionary. ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK met him in Singapore.

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Futuristic structures tower over the landscape. Giant, alien-looking trees light up with dazzling colours amid the hundreds of plant species that grow up their trunks. Cosmetic stores sell their wares via public touch-screens, with products delivered instantly in drawers below the screens.

This is not a vision of the future. It is a sample of Singapore today. But it is also an inkling of the world we may all experience in the future.

Singapore was the venue, last week, of the World Cities Summit, where engineers, politicians, investors and visionaries rubbed shoulders as they talked about the strategies and policies that would enhance urban living in the future.

As part of the Summit, global payment technologies leader Mastercard hosted a small media briefing by one of Singapore’s leading thinkers about the future, Dr Damian Tan, managing director of Vickers Venture Partners. The company’s slogan “We invest in the extraordinary,” offers a small clue to Tan’s perspective.

“We look as far forward as 2099 because, as a venture capital firm, we invest in the long term,” he tells a group of journalists from Africa and the Middle East. “Companies explode in growth because there is value in the future. If there is no growth, they won’t explode.”

The big question that the Smart Cities Summit and Mastercard are trying to help answer is, what will cities look like in the year 2099? Tan can’t give an exact answer, but he offers a framework that helps one approach the question.

“If you want to look at 81 years into the future, and understand the change that will come, you need to double that amount and look into the past. That takes us to 1856. The difference between then and now is the difference you can expect between now and 2099.”

Click here or on the page link below to read on: Page 2: Soldiers and Health in 2099.

  •    Arthur Goldstuck is founder of World Wide Worx and editor-in-chief of Gadget.co.za. Follow him on Twitter on @art2gee and on YouTube

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Street art goes electric

Kaspersky Lab and British street artist D*Face have unveiled the first-ever “art helmet” design at the Formula E finale for electric cars in New York.

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The ‘Save The World’ helmets will be raced by DS Virgin Racing’s drivers, Sam Bird and Alex Lynn, as they traverse the New York street circuit during the final races of the Formula E season.

The announcement signals the first art helmet by a Formula E team, continuing the heritage of art in motorsport and the cybersecurity brand’s commitment to contemporary art, creativity and innovation. D*Face took inspiration from Kaspersky Lab’s tagline, “A Company To Save The World”, and hopes that his colourful work will inspire people to take positive action.

D*Face will announce his first-ever art car design with a custom-made livery for the DS Virgin Racing Team. Its design will be released at the “Art Goes Green” event after Saturday’s race. The helmets and art car are the latest installations in the “Save the World” collection, following a major permanent public mural that was installed in Brooklyn, New York, in May.

D*Face, whose real name is Dean Stockton, said: “It is exciting to work with Kaspersky Lab on this project and create art with a real message of hope for a better future. After all, this is our world and we need to look after it. It will take every one of us to make a real lasting, impactful change. I love the mentality of the DS Virgin Racing Team and that of Formula E by showcasing sport in a way that doesn’t harm the environment, but is still just as exhilarating and fun.

“It is time for us all to stand together and make a change… be that stopping data steals, climate change, plastic waste or using damaging fuels. I want everyone to make a pledge to do one thing that will help make a change.”

As a sponsor of DS Virgin Racing Team, Kaspersky Lab is responsible for protecting the team’s devices against cyber threats. The company sees the technical environment in the global sport of Formula E as the next frontier in furthering its research and development of new technologies to keep vehicles secure in the digital world.

Sylvain Filippi, Managing Director at DS Virgin Racing, said: “The whole team fully supports this great initiative and our thanks got to Kaspersky and D*Face for their collaboration. It’s an honour to have such an innovative artist bring his talents to bear in our team ahead of the season-finale; the car, drivers’ crash helmets and mural all look amazing.”

Aldo Fucelli Pessot del Bo, Head of Global Partnerships and Sponsorships at Kaspersky Lab added: “There is a need for innovation on a global scale, both in contemporary art and in the fast-growing sport of Formula E. Now, for the first time ever, Kaspersky Lab is proudly bringing together the two sectors in an effort to Save the World and unleash creativity, encourage freedom of expression and further innovation.”

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