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Disrupt or be disrupted

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Multiple small companies are challenging the status quo and embracing the notion – disrupt or be disrupted. These disruptors are leveraging the key digital transformations to reinvent – if not invent, writes INDRAN NAICK.

Across the continent we see more and more forward-thinking empowering applications of technology. There is a surge in tech start-ups and a swell in the optimism for what technology can do to help the manifold challenges facing the continent.

Companies like the winner of IBM Smart Camp 2015 in South Africa, micro jobbing platform M4JAM (Money for Jam), are shaking up industry with their disruptive business models.  They are on a mission to change the world one micro job at a time – disrupting traditional players in the research, mystery shopping, merchandising and brand activation sector. Their engaging platform enables their community of over 90000 people the opportunity to earn money by using their smart phones as they go about their daily routines.

In just under 15 months M4JAM has been able to demonstrate value to 95 of the biggest brands in South Africa. Providing them with real time data which, with the help of Pondering Panda, is now being turned into real time insights. This access to immediate information allows brands the opportunity to change strategy or respond to market changes while a promotion is on or product is still offered.

Real time, in the moment insights, is proving to be a significant competitive advantage for companies embracing M4JAM.

Interestingly, it’s not alone. Multiple smaller niche digital companies are challenging the status quo and embracing the notion – disrupt or be disrupted.

These disruptors are doing something different. They are leveraging the key digital transformations to reinvent – if not invent – their business processes.

Using new mobile apps to bring data and decision making to the fingertips of people at the front lines, disruptors are enabling the people who need to respond. In doing this they enable the organisation to become more nimble and provide better service.

Today more data, insight and capabilities are available in both employee and customer devices at the point of action, enabling faster, better decisions and action in the business moment. Disruptors are using insight from nontraditional data – social data from the likes of Twitter, the Internet of Things (IoT), wearable devices and m2m to capture insight and create new business moments.

Disruptors are also focusing on creating their unique differentiation and sourcing from developer communities to help complete complex products and solutions. They are leveraging digital services from a broad ecosystem so they can focus on their core competencies. Pretty smart, right?

Yet these new perspectives and approaches are grounded firmly in digital business transformation.  Understand which business processes are going to change, which ones are impacted and which have potential for improvement with technology – specifically cloud.

Above all, disruptors understand the next generation of IT is built around a hybrid cloud. That’s cloud that uses private cloud foundation combined with the strategic integration and use of public cloud services. The best of both worlds so to speak.

Cloud technology in this hybrid format offers the company the ability to securely connect apps, data and services across the cloud and traditional systems – along with devices – and also seamlessly weave data and services with APIs to create new apps.

Now imagine using the insight from that data in real time business critical processes and you can begin to grasp just how this new hybrid cloud provides access to a wealth of data for innovation.

Another example of this born-on-the cloud innovation is from a company called Figtory, a small mobile development shop that has adopted Bluemix and Softlayer to accelerate their product development lifecycle. The IBM cloud platforms gave them the ability to quickly host and test new products and services. They can now quickly turn innovations into prototypes to show their prospective clients what the finished product might look like, reducing the cycle time from weeks to days.

So, while there may not be a “one size fits all” remedy for business today, or a cloud solution that fits every situation, there is a growing awareness that cloud technology enables and accelerates digital business. It’s the transformation required to disrupt or avoid being disrupted.

* Indran Naick, Cloud Ecosystems and Enterprise Development Leader, IBM South Africa.

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CES: And thanks for all the beer!

Last week, the Las Vegas expo showed off its fun side with state-of-the-art technologies for making and enjoying beer, writes BRYAN TURNER

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From craft beer-making machines to robots that pour beer, CES had more beer than usual in Las Vegas last week. And even free beer if you found the right stand. Stampede’s saloon-style booth offered beer to visitors who tried out its latest drones, virtual reality, and other gaming products. No beer tech, though.

Here are some of the beer technologies that stood out:

LG HomeBrew – Craft beer made at home

LG’s HomeBrew craft beer-making machine,  debuted at CES 2019, brings the brewing process home thanks to single-use capsules,  a self-cleaning feature, and an algorithm optimised for fermentation. 

Like a Nespresso coffee machine, the beer maker uses capsules, which contain malt, yeast, hop oil and flavouring. At the press of a button, LG HomeBrew automates the whole procedure from fermentation and carbonation to ageing. A companion app lets users check HomeBrew’s status at any time during the process, from their handsets.

The beer machine not only offers a simple way to make craft beer, but also enhances the quality of beer it makes. The fermentation algorithm intelligently controls the fermenting process with precise temperature and pressure control. It automatically sanitises itself, using nothing more than hot water, ensuring everything is hygienically clean for the next batch.

Designed with discerning beer lovers in mind, HomeBrew allows for in-home production of batches of more than 4 litres of beer in a variety of styles. The following five distinctive, flavoured beers are available now: 

  • Hoppy American IPA
  • Golden American Pale Ale
  • Full-bodied English Stout
  • Zesty Belgian-style Witbier
  • Dry Czech Pilsner

The only catch? It takes about two weeks to make, depending on the beer type.

“LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we’ve developed over the decades,” said Dan Song, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solutions Company. “Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace, but there are still many beer lovers who haven’t taken the jump because of the barriers to entry, like complexity, and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew.”

Click here to read about the party speaker that holds beer and robots that pour beer.

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CES: Alienware gets Legend-ary

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At CES in Las Vegas last week, Dell’s Alienware released a family of high-end, thin, light, and affordable machines for both amateur and professional gamers – and a new identity.

Alienware marked CES 2019 as a brand milestone with the debut of a new design identity, Alienware Legend. It aims to set a new bar of excellence for what gamers want most – performance and function. Alienware says it evaluated multiple concepts and chose one that was the biggest and boldest departure from its current look.

Alienware Legend, says the company, stays true to the brand’s core design tenets, taking cues from its deep roots in sci-fi culture and its early industrial designs, to distinguish the brand from the rest of the industry. The new Legend design is optimised with cutting-edge thermal cooling technology to achieve and sustain overclocking power, improved AlienFX lighting, and ultra-thin screen borders. It also unveiled a new “three-knuckle hinge” design that reduces the overall dimension while creating a stronger assembly, all combining to yield a better gaming experience.

“We’re excited to come to this year’s CES with some truly groundbreaking products, next-gen software and strategic partnerships that will bring more people to experience PC gaming and advance the industry,” said Frank Azor, vice president and general manager of Alienware. “The legend design answers the call for more and better from our gaming community, and the new G Series laptops will make PC gaming even more accessible to those looking for high-performance gaming at a cost they can appreciate.”

Click here to read about Alienware Legend in action with the Area-51m and m-series laptops

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