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Cisco joins forces with IBM

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IBM and Cisco have announced they will partner to form a suite of cloud-based workplace tools and applications infused with IBM Watson.

As part of the transformation, the highly secure Cisco Spark and WebEx collaborative workspace platforms will be integrated with IBM’s leading cloud collaboration solutions, including Verse and Connections, and underpinned by IBM’s cognitive computing capabilities.

The companies aim to make collaboration simpler by combining IBM’s advanced analytics, Watson, and email and social offerings with Cisco’s collaboration solutions, including business messaging, meeting and calling offerings.  The two companies will design joint solutions that take advantage of all types of data to help people get more done, in less time. This will be achieved by providing the right insights in the right context – served up through the tools, apps, documents, or actions needed at any given moment based on an individual employee’s role, historical work patterns, and current work assignments.

With Watson powering a joint IBM-Cisco solution, backed by a robust partner ecosystem, new classes of solutions will emerge. For example, a financial advisor could meet with a high value investor over Cisco video with a Watson service offering real-time advice and handling tasks, while files would be securely stored and available in IBM Connections, shared through WebEx for a seamless transaction.

IBM and Cisco are working to address today’s fast-paced work environment. Currently, the average employee is distracted once every 11 minutes and needs an average of 25 minutes to refocus on tasks.1 People compensate by working faster (but not necessarily more effectively), and experience more stress, higher levels of frustration, and greater time pressures.2 By bringing the best of collaboration and cognitive tools together, IBM and Cisco plan to create a more inspiring, productive and data-driven workplace.

“The irony of many workforce tools available today is that with because there are so many to choose from, they can reduce employee effectiveness,” said Inhi Cho, General Manager, IBM Collaboration Solutions. “With our combined technology strengths and understanding of how teams get work done, IBM and Cisco can deliver the next generation of collaboration tools needed to cultivate innovation and drive productivity. By incorporating analytics and cognitive technologies into these solutions, we expect them to be able to learn what is important, in context, and take the right actions on behalf of the user.”

The goal is for the combined IBM and Cisco offerings to be integrated to connect seamlessly on behalf of users to complete mundane tasks such as scheduling and note-taking, and proactively bring people and content together in the context of specific tasks.

“At Cisco, we are constantly innovating to improve the collaboration experience and there has never been a better time to take our offerings to the next level,” said Jens Meggers, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Cisco Cloud Collaboration Technology. “That’s our goal here—to think exponentially and together with IBM create the next generation of collaboration. Now we can deliver amazing, next-generation “Intelligent Collaboration” that allows enterprises to compete in this fast moving digital world.”

The new solutions will incorporate structured and unstructured data in any form, whether from on-premises, the desktop, or the cloud. With applications to handle hundreds of work-related tasks, they are built to seek, consume and analyze all types of data, uncover meaningful workflow patterns, and provide actionable insights through the course of daily activities and interactions.

The joint solutions will utilize IBM Watson and Connections APIs as well as Cisco Spark and WebEx APIs. This allows solutions to take action on routine tasks like prioritizing complex and chaotic collaboration and communication environments and connecting users to powerful cognitive sources of expertise in the moment they need them.

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Android Go puts reliable smartphones in budget pockets

Nokia, Vodacom and Huawei have all launched entry-level smartphones running the Android Go edition, and all deliver a smooth experience, writes BRYAN TURNER.

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Three new and notable Android Go smartphones have recently hit the market, namely the Nokia 1, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 and the Huawei Y3 (2018). These phones run one of the most basic versions of Android while still delivering a fairly smooth user experience.

Historically, consumers purchasing smartphones in the budget bracket would have a hit-and-miss experience with processing speed, smoothness of user interface, and app stability. The Google-supported Android Go edition operating system optimises the user experience by stripping out non-important visual effects to speed up the phone. Thish allows for more memory to be used by apps. 

Google also ensures that all smartphones running Android Go will receive feature and security updates as they are released by Google. This is a major selling point for these smartphones, as users of this smartphone will always be running the latest software, with virtually no manufacturer bloatware.

Vodafone Smart Kicka 4

At the lowest entry-level, the Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performs well as a communicator for emails and WhatsApp messages. The 4” screen represents a step up for entry-level Android phones, which were previously standardised at 3.5”.

The display is bright and very responsive, while the limited screen real estate leaves the navigation keys off the screen as touch buttons. It uses 3G connectivity, which might seem like an outdated technology, but is good enough to stream SD videos and music. Vodacom has also thrown in some data gifts if the smartphone is activated before the end of September 2018. 

Its camera functionalities might be a slight let down for the aspirant Instagrammer, with a 2MP rear flash camera and a 0.3MP selfie snapper. Speed wise, the keyboard pops up quickly, which is a huge improvement from the Smart Kicka 3. However, this phone will not play well with graphics-intensive games. 

Nokia 1

Next up is the Nokia 1, which adds a much better 5MP camera, improved battery life and a bigger 4.5” screen. It supports LTE, which allows this smartphone to download and upload at the speed of flagships. It also sports the Nokia brand name, which many consumers trust.

Although the front camera is 2MP, the quality is extremely grainy, even with good lighting. This disqualifies this smartphone for the social media selfie snapper, but the 5MP rear camera will work for the landscape and portrait photographer. 

The screen also redeems this smartphone, providing a display which represents colours truly and has great viewing angles. Xpress-on back covers allows the use of interchangeable, multi-coloured back covers, which has proven to be a successful sales point for mid-range smartphones in the past. 

Huawei Y3 (2018)

The most capable of the Android Go edition competitors, the Huawei Y3 (2018) packs an even bigger screen at 5”, as well as an improved 8MP rear camera and HD video recording. The screen is the brightest and most vibrant of the three smartphones, but seems to be calibrated to show colours a little more saturated than they actually are. 

Nevertheless, the camera outperforms the other smartphones with good colour replication and great selfie capabilities via the 2MP front camera – far superior to the Nokia 1 despite the same spec. LTE also comes standard with this smartphone and Vodacom throws in 4G/LTE data goodies until the end of September 2018. The battery, however, is not removable and may only be replaced by a warranty technician.

Comparing the 3

All three smartphones have removable back covers, which provide access to the battery, SIM card and SD card slots. The smartphones have Micro USB ports on the bottom with headphone jacks on the top. The built-in speakers all performed well, with the Y3 (2018) housing an exceptionally loud built-in speaker. 

Although all at different price points, all three phones remain similar in performance and speed. The differentiators are apparent in the components, like camera quality and screen quality. It would be fair to rank the quality of the camera and battery life by respective market prices. The Vodafone Smart Kicka 4 performed well, for its R399 retail price. The Nokia 1, on the other hand, lags quite a bit in features when compared to the Huawei Y3 (2018), bwith oth retailing at R999.

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SA gets digital archive

As the world entered the centenary of Nelson Mandela’s birth on Mandela Day, 18 July 2018, South Africa celebrated the launch of a digital living archive. 

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The southafrica.co.za  site carries content about the country’s collective heritage in South Africa’s eleven official languages.

Designed as a nation building,  educational and brand promotion web based tool, the free-to-view platform features award-winning photographic and written content by leading South African photographers, authors, academics and photojournalists.

The emphasis is on quality, credible, factual content that celebrates a collective heritage in terms of the following: Cultural Heritage; Natural Heritage; Education; History; Agriculture; Industry; Mining; and Travel.

At the same time as reflecting on the nation’s history, southafrica.co.za celebrates South Africa’s natural, cultural and economic assets so that the youth can learn about their nation in their home language.

Southafrica.co.za Founder and CEO Hans Gerrizen conceptualised southafrica.co.za as a means for youth and communities from outlying areas to benefit from the digital age in terms of the web tool’s empowering educational component.

“We can only stand to deepen our collective experience of democracy and become a more forward planning nation if we know facts about our nation’s past and present in everyone’s home language,” he says.

Southafrica.co.za, with sister company Siyabona Africa, is the organiser and sponsor of the Mandela: 100 Moments photographic exhibition that runs until 30 September at Cape Town’s V&A Waterfront-based Nelson Mandela Gateway to Robben Island.  The 3-month exhibition, which runs daily from 08h00 until 15h00, is showcasing one hundred iconic Nelson Mandela images taken by veteran South African photojournalist and self-taught lensman Peter Magubane.

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