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Digital can deal with Africa’s legacy problems

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Many businesses are grappling with the challenges posed by digitalisation as fears mount on the impact on jobs and growth. However, this view overlooks the real economic value that a digital industry will bring, writes WILLIAM MZIMBA of Accenture.

However, this myopic view of the future comes with a significant risk as it overlooks the real economic value that digitally driven industry initiatives will bring to growth, development, jobs and society at large. While research has generally been scarce on exactly what this means in rands and cents, the World Economic Forum launched the Digital Transformation Initiative (DTI) in 2015, in collaboration with Accenture, to maximize opportunities for businesses and society stemming from digital technologies.

Since then the DTI has assessed how digitalization in 13 major industries is transforming business and wider society. This work has brought us into direct contact with more than 1,000 executives, policy makers and experts, who have helped uncover some key themes for ensuring the value of digitalization is captured by both business and society.

Thanks to this initiative it is now possible to more adequately determine how these initiatives can make an extremely positive contribution over the next decade if harnessed early enough.

While embracing something new is always hard to do and a desire to stick to your knitting is only natural, key role players in Africa must realise they are on the cusp of a real game changer and by embracing digital change in a strategic fashion they can leapfrog many legacy problems they face.

It certainly won’t happen overnight but the first step is for business, labour and government to understand the potential and to work together on making changes that matter.

Many are too quick to focus on the negatives as a reason for not taking action – for instance, estimates of global job losses due to digitalization range from 2 million to as high as 2 billion by 2030.

Could it be they have never actually been able to quantify the benefits in their sector? If that is so, a white paper by the World Economic Forum in collaboration with Accenture, throws considerable light on the potential value for industry due to digital transformation. To date, the research has confirmed that digitalization has immense potential: we estimate it could deliver around $100 trillion in value to business and society over the next decade.

There is therefore little doubt DTI represents an immense opportunity for new value creation and lead in the new, often against a backdrop of a stagnating market, regulatory pressures, or changing consumer preferences.

What is urgently needed, however, is a new framework for public-private dialogue, as we are still at the early stages of discovery about the true benefits of DTI. It is no use paying lip service to these realities and far more discussion and input is required from all stakeholders as this journey unfolds.

Breaking down traditional barriers to entry and expansion will be key and our DTI research across the automotive, consumer, electricity and logistics sectors estimates the value of DTI in the region of $8.4 trillion; and value for society of approximately $12.7 trillion, between 2016 and 2025.

Zoning in on a specific industry of critical importance to Africa – electricity – optimizing the grid to manage real-time supply and demand is worth $191 billion for electricity companies, while the value this could deliver to society is three times as much ($623 billion). This is derived from cost savings for customers (offering an incentive to postpone consumption during peak hours), lower fuel emissions and jobs created.

Nothing could be more important in Africa today than making a difference to broader society. The dialogue I mentioned above needs to take numerous realities into account if the benefits are to be realised. For instance, in many instances, digital initiatives are projected to deliver high value to business and society. This means that no intervention is likely needed to realize those benefits – industry has a clear incentive to act of its own accord. For example, omni-channel retail is likely to deliver such huge benefits to industry (estimated at $1.4 trillion) and to society (from a $5 trillion reduction in costs and productivity improvement, amounting to 300 billion hours saved), that there would appear to be little need for policy/regulatory intervention.

However, in logistics the value to society of shared warehousing is equivalent to approximately 500 times the value to industry. In the automotive industry, the value to society of automotive partners agreeing on usage-based insurance to help reduce road deaths, insurance premiums and crash costs is worth approximately 200 times the value to industry. This is where multi-stakeholder collaboration is needed and, potentially, new incentives required to change the direction of the market.

The bottom line is DTI needs to be used to augment and fast track growth, development and education in Africa, but this will require significant buy-in from all stakeholders. That journey needs to start today.

* William Mzimba, Chief Executive of Accenture South Africa and Chairman of Accenture sub-Saharan Africa

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Password managers don’t protect you from hackers

Using a password manager to protect yourself online? Research reveals serious weaknesses…

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Top password manager products have fundamental flaws that expose the data they are designed to protect, rendering them no more secure than saving passwords in a text file, according to a new study by researchers at Independent Security Evaluators (ISE).

“100 percent of the products that ISE analyzed failed to provide the security to safeguard a user’s passwords as advertised,” says ISE CEO Stephen Bono. “Although password managers provide some utility for storing login/passwords and limit password reuse, these applications are a vulnerable target for the mass collection of this data through malicious hacking campaigns.”

In the new report titled “Under the Hood of Secrets Management,” ISE researchers revealed serious weaknesses with top password managers: 1Password, Dashlane, KeePass and LastPass.  ISE examined the underlying functionality of these products on Windows 10 to understand how users’ secrets are stored even when the password manager is locked. More than 60 million individuals 93,000 businesses worldwide rely on password managers. Click here for a copy of the report.

Password managers are marketed as a solution to eliminate the security risks of storing passwords or secrets for applications and browsers in plain text documents. Having previously examined these and other password managers, ISE researchers expected an improved level of security standards preventing malicious credential extraction. Instead ISE found just the opposite. 

Click here to read the findings from the report.

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MWC: Next generation of inflight connectivity to be unveiled

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Next week at Mobile World Congress, the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal progress on its mission towards enabling the next generation of inflight connectivity. This follows a significant start for the Alliance, which has seen membership increase five-fold since the first meeting in June of last year. The Alliance has a new research laboratory setup and continues progress through its three working groups, writing specifications for the technology, requirements, and operations.

These developments represent a huge leap towards the goal of making connectivity as easy and enjoyable in the skies as it is on the ground. Appearing as part of the Airbus stand (Hall 6, stand 6G34), the Seamless Air Alliance will reveal specification topics that have been completed and published to its membership.

“The passenger experience with inflight connectivity remains one of the great technology challenges. From Day One we have been determined to deliver on our mission to bring industries and technologies together to make the inflight internet experience simple to access and a delight to use,” said the Alliance’s Chief Executive Officer, Jack Mandala.

“I have been tremendously encouraged by the enthusiastic and committed response we have seen and the widening areas of expertise we can call upon as more and more companies and organisations continue to join us,” he added.

Announced during MWC 2018, the Seamless Air Alliance has since grown to twenty-three membercompanies with more than one-hundred key personnel from across the membership participating in its three working groups, with numbers continuing to increase.

The Seamless Air Alliance was created by founding members Airbus, Airtel, Delta Air Lines, OneWeb and Sprint, and quickly joined by Air France KLM, Aeromexico, and GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes and global technology leaders including Astronics, Collins Aerospace, Comtech, Cyient, iDirect, Inmarsat, Intelsat, Latecoere, Nokia, and Panasonic. 

Today, the Alliance is pleased to announce five additional new members: Adaptive Channel, Etihad Airways, GlobalReach Technology, Safran, and SITAONAIR.

“We are extremely pleased to have these companies join and be a part of the companies driving the next generation of connectivity.” said Mr Mandala.

The Seamless Air Alliance will enable travelers boarding any flight, on any airline, anywhere in the world, to use their own devices to automatically connect to the Internet with no complicated login process nor paywall to scramble over.

The Alliance is also announcing the release of a new research study on the economic benefit of standardization on the inflight connectivity market at Mobile World Congress. This report is available for download at https://www.seamlessalliance.com/publications/

The Alliance is moving rapidly towards an expected demonstration of the technology later in 2019 and anticipates massive interest in Barcelona from the whole communications eco-system.

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