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#feescanfall – if we embrace tech

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The time has come for all parties involved in the #feesmustfall debacle to take a step back, take a deep breath and consider the fact that the answer is staring them right in the face, writes EUGENE BEETGE, MD of Tuit.

I’m not saying that they haven’t considered the role technology-assisted distance education can play in making tertiary education more affordable, but I’ve heard no mention of it in recent reporting on the situation.  The focus is clearly on how Government is expected to subsidise tertiary education and how Universities are going to make a subsidised budget work with no or little tuition income being generated.

I’ve been a technology entrepreneur for many years, with a major focus on technology supported education, and as a spectator to the #feesmustfall situation, I believe it’s time for like-minded individuals and entrepreneurs to say #feescanfall, by shifting the focus from traditional brick and mortar institutions to virtual classrooms, libraries and student-lecturer interactions.

TUIT has been working with various universities, students, lecturers and entrepreneurial suppliers to the education sector for a couple of years, and we have developed, implemented and tested a solution that can play a major role in the reduction of the cost of tertiary education in South Africa.

One of the biggest hurdles I face on a daily basis is convincing the relevant role-players that their biggest assets are not buildings, sports facilities or residences.  Their biggest assets are knowledge, content, lecturers and most importantly its brand!

Through capitalising on the opportunity that is technology-supported education, tertiary institutions can significantly increase their teaching capacity, which increases revenue.  It will also reduce overheads linked to running and maintaining physical campuses.  The equation is simple and the reduction in tuition costs substantial.

So why has this model not been rolled out on a much larger scale?  Mainly due to the natural resistance of an older generation to embrace technology.  Thinking out of the box or being open to the disruptive practices of technology is just too far out of their comfort zone.

Having spent most of 2016 engaging with various universities, colleges and lecturers, as well as presenting many workshops on technology-assisted learning, the overwhelming obstacle remains the traditional doctrine that lecture rooms are the only way to educate.

TUIT has demonstrated that existing educational content can be repurposed and that students can be engaged in an interactive enrolment journey without the dependence on a physical campus.  And this is where technology-supported education would have enabled students who are desperate to complete their academic year, to prepare for their final exams without the threat #feesmustfall is posing.

This is not a “let’s shut down campuses and put all our courses online” solution either.  Universities will still need to maintain its brand and reputation through the quality of the content and the lecturer that presents it.  Student interaction and support will remain key to the success of any model, and campuses will probably continue to operate in a traditional manor on some level for many more years.  But physical campuses are limited in its capacity and is expensive to run.

The concept of disintermediation is a subject very close to my heart, and is reflected in every aspect of our business and the solutions we provide.  In short, it addresses the role of the middleman between the supplier and the consumer.  It is not the replacement of the middleman in the supply chain, but rather the upgrading of the middleman to shorten the supply chain, leading to a more streamlined process and an improved end-user experience.

If universities and even government can envisage the impact of disintermediation brought about by technology, creating a roadmap to affordable tertiary education, should not be such a challenge.  Through digitisation, business automation, location independence and the real-world application of disintermediation, online learning content can be available worldwide, creating student enrolment journeys, lecturer involvement and significant savings for students.

University brand recognition will be key in the future, not geographical placement or infrastructure.  Who will be first to take real steps towards embracing innovation, not just testing the waters with a few short courses, but really putting technology-supported education front and centre in their strategy for the future?

If there are a few trailblazers amongst the powers that be, that is willing to challenge the status quo, #feescanfall!

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Huawei goes ultra-premium

Porsche Design and Huawei have launched the Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS in South Africa exclusive to MTN and retailing for R 26 459.

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The Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS boasts features like the world’s first dual fingerprint design, including an in-screen fingerprint sensor, the world’s first Artificial Intelligence (AI) processor and Leica triple camera with 40MP image capture.

“After the overwhelming success of the Porsche Design Huawei Mate 10 Pro in South Africa, we now bring you our latest offering, a perfect blend of innovation in a smartphone and luxury design,” said Likun Zhao, Vice President of Huawei Consumer Business Group Southern Africa. “From three-point security feature including facial recognition, rear fingerprint scanner and the new innovative in-screen fingerprint to the Leica triple camera system. it culminates in an unprecedented experience for our customers.”

The device incorporates Porsche Design’s signature design language and Huawei’s breakthrough technology.  The phone has a 6” 2K curved OLED screen and symmetrical look, minimalist feel and 8-edged 3D curved glass body.

High performance is symbolised by the naming of the smartphone: the term “RS” in the world of Porsche motorsport stands for outstanding racing performance.

Huawei provided the following information on The Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS benefits and features :

·         The world’s first dual fingerprint scanner for enhanced convenience, allowing users to wake and unlock the device simply, thanks to an in-screen fingerprint sensor. Hover to wake the device, touch to unlock it

·         The winning combination of Leica triple camera with 40MP RGB sensor technology and exceptional photography powered by Master AI. This combination puts effortless, eye-catching photography at the fingertips of those looking to immortalise their favourite moments. Combined with 5 x hybrid zoom, and the world’s first AI image stabilisation on a smartphone camera ensures photography lovers can capture the best shots with exceptional clarity in almost any situation

·         The Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS is the first Huawei handset to allow quick wireless charging, making it even easier to keep the phone topped up and ready to go and, thanks to its long lasting battery, users will easily be powered through the busiest of days

·         An ‘intelligent’ smartphone, the powerful AI processor automatically tailors the performance of the phone according to how it is used – constantly learning, understanding and anticipating needs, it is the perfect personal assistant for the pocket

·         256GB of internal storage means those constantly on the go and constantly on their phone can be worry free

·         Dual SLS (super linear system) speakers with DOLBY ATMOS enable users to have a superior experience, with the best immersive surround sound and entertainment on the go

·         Splash, water and dust resistant, which means there is no need to worry about damaging the device in the rain or accidentally dropping it in water

Jan Becker, CEO Porsche Design Group, said: “Both Porsche Design and Huawei seek to imagine and develop products that stand for precision and perfection, intelligent functionality and highly sophisticated design. Our aim was to create an outstanding device that goes one step further. We believe we have reached this goal by taking our partnership to the next level.”

Porsche Design and Huawei have worked in tandem to develop a smartphone that fuses together the two brands’ DNA, wealth of experience in design and technology, industry-leading expertise and exceptional performance. Through the use of colour in the device’s body, software themes and accessories, the new handset is accentuated with Porsche Design’s distinguished aesthetic and purist, minimalist feel.

The Porsche Design Huawei Mate RS will be available to purchase exclusively from MTN at R 26 459.

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Cross-channel chat launched

Clickatell has launched a cross-channel live chat service, Touch Go, that transforms omni-channel customer care.

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It enables live chat across a company’s website as well as social platforms (Twitter and Facebook) and mobile apps, bringing customer care and engagement into a single business platform.

“Today’s consumers expect to engage with your brand on the digital channel of their choosing,” says Deon van Heerden, Clickatell Engage CEO and Group CFO. “They want to message your business and instantly have queries resolved, find the information and services they are looking for, without the need for a voice call. Clickatell’s Touch Go makes that happen with the right level of capabilities for businesses of all sizes.”

Businesses can start using Touch Go immediately, with a free Starter option. Touch Go requires no credit card for sign-up and is fully featured with a simple setup process. It offers customisable branding, a unified chat desk business application as well as reports and analytics.

As the business scales up its digital customer care, it can opt-in for the Touch Enterprise offering. Touch Enterprise is designed for scaling up customer care efforts through advanced capabilities including AI driven virtual agents, sentiment analysis, automated workflows, enterprise integrations and in-channel mini-applications.

“Customer care has become a defining factor for sustained business success ” says Nirmal Nair, Clickatell Engage EVP Product & Marketing. “In an ever-increasing mobile native world, customers often choose to interact digitally, but they also expect to be able to reach a human immediately, should they need. Monitoring multiple channels and providing immediate action becomes challenging with siloed deployments. Touch’s unified solution allows businesses of all sizes to provide the customer delight in a simple modular approach.”

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