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Big data goes beyond IT

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Big data is a concept that every company should be striving to embrace. However, just having mounds of data is useless. It needs to be properly analysed and sorted before it will offer any use to a company, says GARY ALLEMANN, MD of Master Data Management.

Big data is one of the most significant trends currently affecting organisations. As data volumes have continued to grow, enterprises have been challenged with the task of storing and managing it effectively. However, the value of big data can only be leveraged if organisations move beyond IT-driven storage to business-driven analysis of data for insight and competitive advantage. As enterprises begin to realise the potential value and importance of big data, so the trend has moved from an IT issue to a business problem. Big data projects are increasingly being driven not by the IT department, but by business departments looking to harness data to solve specific business problems. To cater to this demand, the big data role needs to shift away from data science toward business analysis, and technologies such as self-service big data analytics are growing to address this changing need.

Research conducted in Europe and the US, by big data pioneers, Datameer, showed a shift in ownership of big data initiatives over the second half of 2014. In a webinar titled Big Data Predictions for 2015 they noted that “there was a marked shift in investigating big data offerings from IT to business.  In the second half of the year business executives far surpassed their IT counterparts”.

As big data technology matures the focus is shifting from understanding the technology to realising the business value. Big data has the potential to deliver significant business insight in multiple areas, including identification of new trends, advanced customer profiling and more. As such, many organisations are focussing on empowering the business to become more big data driven.

Big data requirements are being driven by specific business cases or problems that require timely, accurate answers. As a result, organisations are now beginning to ask how they, from a business perspective, can use technology appropriately to achieve business goals through the analysis of big data in business time. The long development life cycles typical of enterprise data warehousing projects simply are unacceptable.

This shift to the business is also moving big data away from the pure ‘science’ approaches. The much hyped “data scientist”, once seen as the sexiest job of the 21st century  making way for the more value-driven role of the business analyst. The shift is evident – analytics is no longer viewed as a technology function, but rather a business function that needs to cross the boundaries between IT and business. As a result, the importance of involving business-focused staff such as analysts and managers is becoming clear. Bridging the business-IT gap is essential and business staff must be more directly involved in big data analytics. The data scientist will survive, for specialist analytics that require their unique combination of skills, but day to day analytics is shifting to the business.

The governance and integration of big data from multiple sources into a single usable format remains a challenge. This, as well as the current mind-set shift, is driving a new technology trend – the emergence of self-service analytics, which makes relevant information available to business for faster time to insight. In addition, self-service big data analytics frees the IT department from the provision of information, enabling them to address other areas that will enable the organisation to make better use of big data assets.

In an IDC Analyst Connection report, Datameer posed several pertinent big data questions to a top big data and business analytics analyst at IDC on behalf of its customers. To read the report, download the white paper here: http://info.datameer.com/IDC-Self-Service-LOB.html

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Opera launches built-in VPN on Android browser

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Opera has released a new version of its mobile browser, Opera for Android 51, which features a built-in VPN (virtual private network) service.

A VPN allows users to create a secure connection to a public network, and is particularly useful if users are unsure of the security levels of the public networks that they use often.

The new VPN in Opera for Android 51 is free, unlimited and easy to use. When enabled, it gives users greater control of their online privacy and improves online security, especially when connecting to public Wi-Fi hotspots such as coffee shops, airports and hotels. The VPN will encrypt Internet traffic into and out of their mobile devices, which reduces the risk of malicious third parties collecting sensitive information.

“There are already more than 650 million people using VPN services globally. With Opera, any Android user can now enjoy a free and no-log service that enhances online privacy and improves security,” said Peter Wallman, SVP Opera Browser for Android.

When users enable the VPN included in Opera for Android 51, they create a private and encrypted connection between their mobile device and a remote VPN server, using strong 256-bit encryption algorithms. When enabled, the VPN hides the user’s physical location, making it difficult to track their activities on the internet.

The browser VPN service is also a no-log service, which means that the VPN servers do not log and retain any activity data, all to protect users privacy.

“Users are exposed to so many security risks when they connect to public Wi-Fi hotspots without a VPN,” said Wallman. “Enabling Opera VPN means that users makes it difficult for third parties to steal information, and users can avoid being tracked. Users no longer need to question if or how they can protect their personal information in these situations.”

According to a report by the Global World Index in 2018, the use of VPNs on mobile devices is rising. More than 42 percent of VPN users on mobile devices use VPN on a daily basis, and 35 percent of VPN users on computers use VPN daily.

The report also shows that South African VPN users said that their main reason for using a VPN service is to remain anonymous while they are online.

“Young people in particular are concerned about their online privacy as they increasingly live their lives online,” said Wallman. “Opera for Android 51 makes it easy to benefit from the security and anonymity of VPN , especially for those may not be aware of how to set these up.”

Setting up the Opera VPN is simple. Users just tap on the browser settings, go to VPN and enable the feature according to their preference. They can also select the region of their choice.

The built-in VPN is free, which means that users don’t need to download additional apps on their smartphones or pay additional fees as they would for other private VPN services. With no sign-in process, users don’t need to log in every time they want to use it.

Opera for Android is available for download in Google Play. The rollout of the new version of Opera for Android 51 will be done gradually per region.

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Future of the car is here

Three new cars, with vastly different price-tags, reveal the arrival of the future of wheels, writes ARTHUR GOLDSTUCK

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Just a few months ago, it was easy to argue that the car of the future was still a long way off, at least in South Africa. But a series of recent car launches have brought the high-tech vehicle to the fore in startling ways.

The Jaguar i-Pace electric vehicle (EV), BMW 330i and the Datsun Go have little in common, aside from representing an almost complete spectrum of car prices on the local market. Their tags start, respectively, at R1.7-million, R650 000 and R150 000.

Such a widely disparate trio of vehicles do not exactly come together to point to the future. Rather, they represent different futures for different segments of the market. But they also reveal what we can expect to become standard in most vehicles produced in the 2020s.

Jaguar i-Pace

The i-Pace may be out of reach of most South Africans, but it ushers in two advances that will resonate throughout the EV market as it welcomes new and more affordable cars. It is the first electric vehicle in South Africa to beat the bugbear of range anxiety.

Unlike the pioneering “old” Nissan Leaf, which had a range of up to about 150km, and did not lend itself to long distance travel, the i-Pace has a 470km range, bringing it within shouting distance of fuel-powered vehicles. A trip from Johannesburg to Durban, for example, would need just one recharge along the way.

And that brings in the other major advance: the i-Pace is the first EV launched in South Africa together with a rapid public charging network on major routes. It also comes with a home charging kit, which means the end of filling up at petrol stations.

The Jaguar i-Pace dispels one further myth about EVs: that they don’t have much power under the hood. A test drive around Gauteng revealed not only a gutsy engine, but acceleration on a par with anything in its class, and enough horsepower to enhance the safety of almost any overtaking situation.

Specs for the Jaguar i-Pace include:

  • All-wheel drive
  • Twin motors with a combined 294kW and 696Nm
  • 0-100km/h in 4.8s
  • 90kWh Lithium-ion battery, delivering up to 470km range
  • Eight-year/160 000km battery warranty
  • Two-year/34 000km service intervals

Click here to read about BMW’s self-driving technology, and how Datsun makes smart technology affordable.

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