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Business beyond the cloud

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South African companies moving to cloud-based infrastructure need to understand that the cloud is not the end of the journey – it is just the first step in finding new ways of doing business, says Interactive Intelligence.
By ANDRE LE ROUX, Interactive Intelligence Managing Director, Africa Region.

Cloud Adoption

After a slow start in South Africa, cloud adoption is picking up fast, following global trends in which spend on cloud services is rapidly doubling and even tripling. According to IDC, spend on public cloud services will grow from around $70 billion in 2015 to over $141 billion in 2019, with Infrastructure as a Service and Platform as a Service growth outpacing Software as a Service growth. IDC predicts cloud IT infrastructure spending will pass the $53 billion mark by 2019, accounting for 46 percent of total expenditures on enterprise IT infrastructure.

While this growth is impressive, it shouldn’t be surprising. Moving to the cloud dramatically simplifies infrastructure, removes impediments to change, improves security, and allows for the collection of massive amounts of data for analysis. Most importantly, however, it facilitates experimentation, rapid change, and easier adoption of new technologies.

So, while the cloud offers inherent benefits, it’s also just the first step on the road to the new order of business. This is the point where the real business revolution begins.

Multimodal Interactions

Beyond the cloud, businesses must meet customer demand for multimodel engagement, where they can use multiple channels of communication within a single interaction seamlessly. An example is escalating from a Web chat to a video session with co-browsing.

Collaboration Technologies

Increasingly, customer engagement and collaboration technologies will merge. The above example illustrates this capability. Another is the ability of agents, along with business users, to be members of subject-specific chat rooms. Being able to quickly tap into a resource such as this would enable agents to far more effectively address customer issues in real-time.

Virtual Reality

Virtual reality is another area that’s transforming business. Imagine agents and customers walking together through virtual worlds to exchange information, demonstrate complex concepts, or showcase goods and services. As part of a multimodal interaction, the customer experience becomes deeply personalized and effortless.

Artificial Intelligence

We are already moving beyond data analytics to artificial intelligence (AI). AI automatically and proactively identifies problems and recognizes trends so supervisors don’t have to search through enormous data sets. This knowledge will drive disruptive change in products, services and customer engagement.

Conclusion

The cloud presents a wealth of as-yet untapped opportunities to completely disrupt business and society at large. The question now isn’t whether or not to embrace change. For businesses that want to succeed, the only question left is how fast can you do it?

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Get your passwords in shape

New Year’s resolutions should extend to getting password protection sorted out, writes Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa.

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Many of us have entered the new year with a boat load of New Year’s resolutions.  Doing more exercise, fixing unhealthy eating habits and saving more money are all highly respectable goals, but could it be that they don’t go far enough in an era with countless apps and sites that scream for letting them help you reach your personal goals.

Now, you may want to add a few weightier and yet effortless habits on top of those well-worn choices. Here are a handful of tips for ‘exercises’ that will go good for your cyber-fitness.

I won’t pass up on stubborn passwords

Passwords have a bad rap, and deservedly so: they suffer from weaknesses, both in terms of security and convenience, that make them a less-than-ideal method of authentication.  However, much of what the internet offers is independent on your singing up for this or that online service, and the available form of authentication almost universally happens to the username/password combination.

As the keys that open online accounts (not to speak of many devices), passwords are often rightly thought of as the first – alas, often only – line of defence that protects your virtual and real assets from intruders. However, passwords don’t offer much in the way of protection unless, in the first place, they’re strong and unique to each device and account.

But what constitutes a strong password?  A passphrase! Done right, typical passphrases are generally both more secure and more user-friendly than typical passwords. The longer the passphrase and the more words it packs the better, with seven words providing for a solid start. With each extra character (not to mention words), the number of possible combinations rises exponentially, which makes simple brute-force password-cracking attacks far less likely to succeed, if not well-nigh impossible (assuming, of course, that the service in question does not impose limitations on password input length – something that is, sadly, far too common).

Click here to read about making secure passwords by not using dictionary words, using two-factor authentication, and how biometrics are coming to web browsers.

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Code Week prepares 2.3m young Africans for future

By SUNIL GENESS, Director Government Relations & CSR, Global Digital Government, at SAP Africa.

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On January 6th, 2019, news broke of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce a new approach to education in his second State of the Nation address, including:

  • A universal roll-out of tablets for all pupils in the country’s 23 700 primary and secondary schools
  • Computer coding and robotics classes for the foundation-phase pupils from grade 1-3 and the
  • Digitisation of the entire curriculum, , including textbooks, workbooks and all teacher support material.

With this, the President has shown South Africa’s response to a global challenge: equipping our youth with the skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the 21st century digital economy.

Africa’s working-age population will increase to 600 million in 2030 from a base of 370 million in 2010.

In South Africa, unemployment stands at 26.7 percent, but is much more pronounced among youths: 52.2 percent of the country’s 15-24-year-olds are looking for work.

As an organisation deeply invested in South Africa and its future, SAP has developed and implemented a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country’s youth, including:

AFRICA CODE WEEK

Since its launch in 2015, Africa Code Week has introduced more than 4 million African youth to basic coding.

In 2018, more than 2.3 million youth across 37 countries took part in Africa Code Week.

The digital skills development initiative’s focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 events.

Vital to the success of Africa Code Week is the close support it receives from a broad spectrum of public and private sector institutions, including UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.

SAP’s efforts to drive digital skills development on the African continent forms part of a broader organisational commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 (“Ensure quality and inclusive education for all”)

A core component of Africa Code Week is to encourage female participation in STEM-related skills development activities: in 2018, more than 46% of all Africa Code Week participants were female.

According to Africa Code Week Global Coordinator Sunil Geness, female representation in STEM-related fields among African businesses currently stands at 30%, “requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success”.

Click here to read more about the Skills for Africa graduate training programme, and about the LEGO League.

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